coasting toward the finish line

My sense is that Wall Street is, at least temporarily, beginning to run out of steam.

This is partly the way the calendar plays out.  Thanksgiving is this week.  But it falls on the latest possible day, the 28th.  When turkey-stuffed traders return to work next month, it will already be December–meaning only two weeks to go before Wall Street closes down for yearend.

At the same time, 2013 has been a spectacular year in absolute terms for equity investors.  The S&P is up by almost 30%, year to date, including dividends.  Why do anything in the final lap to muck up what has been an unexpectedly good outcome?

This is the mindset I see driving–or really not driving market momentum right now.

Two conclusions:

–this gives us much more time to think over how to play 2014, which at first blush seems likely to be a flattish year, and

–the coming trading sessions may well be dominated by yearend house cleaners, without much effort by anyone to bargain hunt.  This implies possible mild downward pressure on the S&P.  This also suggests that serious portfolio reshaping, if any, will probably be put off until January.  I doubt we’ll have much more clarity a month from today about 2014 than we do now.  But there’s a chance we will.  And until then most portfolio managers–outperformers and underperformers alike–will probably be content to bask in the glory of the absolute gains in assets under management (and, therefore, management fees) they’ve achieved this year.

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