Subdued inflation mollified concerns that the Federal Reserve might speed up rate hikes this year. In the wake of this, investors’ appetite for riskier assets, including tech and energy, has increased, pushing major bourses higher. In turn, market volatility continued to ebb.
Thus, picking stocks from desirable sectors seems prudent. And why not? Buffet’s bet on Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) and Facebook, Inc.’s (FB - Free Report) shrugging off of the data fiasco have boosted investor confidence. Meanwhile, energy shares have shifted to high gear as oil touched its highest level since November 2014.
Wall Street Rallies: Here’s Why
The Dow Jones added nearly 200 points on May 10 to notch its longest string of advances — six straight days – since Feb 16. And if the blue-chip index can gain on May 11, it will mark its longest winning streak since Oct 5, 2017. The broader S&P 500 finished in the green, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq registering its fifth successive day of gains.
Stocks scaled higher as the tumultuous market phase seems to have faded — at least for the time being. Softer inflation numbers helped allay fears of faster interest rate hikes this year, while concerns about a US-China trade war have somewhat subsided.
Tepid Inflation Data, Trade War Fears Subside
Rising inflation played spoilsport at the beginning of the year. It compelled the Fed to quicken its monetary policy instead of raising rates at a gradual pace, aggravating market fears. But, softer-than-expected rise in consumer prices in the month of April cooled inflation fears. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.2% in April from the prior month, per the Labor Department. Market pundits, however, expects the CPI to tick up to 0.3%.
Fears about a full-blown trade war between the two largest economies, the United States and China, have been doing the rounds for quite some time. This in turn could deal a massive blow to the global economy. However, China is expected to import more American goods as the two sides are looking for means to avert an all-out trade war.
With investors’ anxiety seems to have eased, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) — Wall Street’s so-called “fear gauge” — fell for the sixth straight session, down 2.4% to 13.09 on May 10. Now, the index is likely to slip to its lowest close since Jan 26.
This indicated that the index has almost erased the huge spike witnessed in early February. During that time period, concerns over inflation saw the index more than double in a single session. Moreover, the VIX’s average level is 20. Thus, the current level is extremely low compared to historical standards.
Appetite for Riskier Assets Rises
With fears taking a back seat, investors are looking to bet on riskier assets. Technology and Internet stocks regained their crown as the most sought-after stocks. Bellwethers Apple and Facebook, to name a few, saw their shares move north. The recent tax cut has already given the much needed windfall to tech, while cloud computing, artificial intelligence and big data remain growth areas (read more: Buffett's Bet on Apple Sparks Tech Rally: 5 Solid Buys).
One of the least popular sectors last year, energy, is now hogging the limelight. It’s kind of a comeback for them as oil prices springs above the $71 a barrel. Iran sanctions have majorly kept oil prices at a three and a half year peak. A cut in global oil output initiated by the OPEC and other major oil producers, including Russia, has helped prices more than double from the collapse in early 2016. Venezuela’s production woes also drove the rally (read more: Oil Hits $70 for First Time in 4 Years: 5 Top Energy Picks).
Rosy Earnings Picture
Both tech and energy sectors are also witnessing solid first-quarter performance. For the quarter as a whole, total tech earnings are expected to be up 28.5% on 12.6% higher revenues.
The energy sector’s earnings are expected to grow 76% from the same period last year on 14.4% higher revenues. Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM - Free Report) and Chevron Corporation (CVX - Free Report) have already seen the best first-quarter performance in years last month.
5 Top Winners
Given the bullishness, investing in sound stocks from the aforesaid sectors seems judicious. We have, thus, selected five such stocks that flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and a VGM Score of A or B. Here V stands for Value, G for Growth and M for Momentum and the score is a weighted combination of these three metrics. Such a score allows you to eliminate the negative aspects of stocks and select winners.
ASGN Incorporated (ASGN - Free Report) provides IT and professional services in the technology field. The company currently has a Zacks Rank 2 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 12.9% in the last 90 days. The stock’s projected growth rate for the current year is 34.4%, compared with the Computers - IT Services industry’s gain of 19.2%.
DXC Technology Company (DXC - Free Report) provides information technology services and solutions. The company currently has a Zacks Rank 2 and a VGM Score of A. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 1.2% in the last 90 days. The stock’s estimated growth rate for the current year is 153.6%, compared with the Computers - IT Services industry’s gain of 19.2%.
Seagate Technology plc (STX - Free Report) provides data storage technology and solutions. The company currently sports a Zacks Rank 1 and a VGM Score of A. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 8.8% in the last 90 days. The stock’s projected growth rate for the current quarter is 123.1%, against the Computer- Storage Devices industry’s decline of 109.4%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Evolution Petroleum Corporation (EPM - Free Report) is an independent oil and gas company. The company currently has a Zacks Rank 2 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 2.2% in the last 90 days. The stock’s expected growth rate for the current year is 84%, compared with the Oil and Gas - Exploration and Production - United States industry’s gain of 19.9%.
Oasis Midstream Partners LP (OMP - Free Report) provides crude oil, natural gas, and water-related midstream services in North America. The company currently has a Zacks Rank 2 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 8.5% in the last 90 days. The stock’s estimated growth rate for the current year is 346.5%, compared with the Oil and Gas - Production Pipeline - MLB industry’s gain of 6.8%.
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