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MARKET – ALERT – Rumblings Up. Down, and Around Wall Street – Issue #432 dated May 14, 2017 with Ray Dirks of RAYDIRKS Research and his team of Securities Analysts and Money Managers, along with the internationally-followed Web Sites : and, where Fashion meets Finance, and where Stocks meet Blonds.

Well, well, well…’Twas a wild week away from Wall Street last week ending May 12 – with President Trump’s presidency under serious attack over his firing of the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who still had six years to go on his 10-year term. In trying to explain his decision to fire FBI director James Comey, “The Donald” Trump gave several contradictory explanations, some of which are outlined in tomorrow’s “The Trader” column in Barron’s, The Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly, which is headlined : “Dow Dips 0.5% as Stocks Shrug Off Scandal”.

The column starts off : “If a scandal breaks out in Washington, and the market doesn’t react, did it really happen?

The scandal, of course, was the abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey last week, which provoked an outcry from Democrats – and even a few Republicans – but was dismissed by President Donald Trump as the removal of a “showboat”. The headlines continued throughout the week – some even drew comparisons to Richard Nixon – but stocks couldn’t be bothered to respond one way or the other. “The market is telling you it’s background noise,” says TD Ameritrade strategist JJ Kinahan.

It certainly was another yawner despite the pyrotechnics in Washington. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 119 points, or 0.5%, to 20,897 last week, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined 0.3% to 2,391. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.3% to 6,121. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, closed at 10.41 after falling into the single digits earlier in the week.

It wasn’t all quiet. Retailers such as Macy’s (M), Nordstrom (JWM), and J.C. Penney (JCP) suffered double-digit losses after releasing earnings, but, warns Daniel Chung, CEO of asset manager Alger, don’t blame their disappointing sales on consumer weakness. “It’s the internet, not (a lack of) consumer strength,” he says. As if to serve a confirmation, retail sales grew at a 0.4% clip last month, weaker than the 0.6% that economists had predicted but not low enough to worry.

Other earnings reports, however, suggest that the economy may be stronger than it looks. Vulcan Materials (VMC), a maker of concrete, reported first-quarter sales of $787.3 million, an increase fr0ppppppppom the previous year’s $754.7 million While that might seem like a lot, 2016’s sales had benefited from a warm winter, and analysts had expected sales to decline. “The first quarter should have looked worse, given the favorable weather we had last year,” says Stephan DeNichilo, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors. “That says spades about the strength of the economy.”

But what about that low volatility? The Dow has had only four moves of 1% or more in either direction this year, after all the lowest since 1965. For some, the extreme calm is like silence in a horror film – it means something terrible is about to happen. Not quite, says State Street Global Advisors strategist Michael Arone. Volatility won’t stay this low,” he says. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean it leads to a correction or a bear market.”

Not that we’re expecting one.

Rumblings’ Favorite Stocks for 2017 did very well last week – led by Apple, Inc. (APPL) and Fusion (FSNN). Apple hit a new all-time high and closed at $156.10. Fusion reported its first quarter earnings, which seems to indicate that this “cloud” company is meeting its objectives.

Rumblings suggests that readers/investors place most or all of their investment funds in common stocks with emphasis on Rumblings’ Favorite Stocks.

Rumblings also suggests that readers/investors place no more than 1% of their investment funds in the securities of any one company. It pays to diversify…!

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