Trading Diary: Dull times, little conviction on Wall Street

We’re back from a week-long holiday and it appears we didn’t miss much in a market that can’t make up its mind as Washington impasses continue.

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Tourists at New York soldiers' memorial atop Little Round Top, Gettysburg battlefield, Gettysburg, PA. (Photo by T. L. Ponick, (c) 2017 by the photographer)

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2017 – In case you missed us over the last few trading days, that’s because we were on holiday with old high school friends celebrating our “Golden” 50-year class reunion up in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio.

We actually had a grand time seeing old pals and acquaintances we hadn’t encountered, in several cases, for half a century. From a graduating Class of 1967, we also sadly noted that 30 out of our roughly 270 member graduating class were no longer with us.

After what is likely our last-ever major class get-together, we, our amigos and spouses headed off for a few days in and around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit that Civil War battlesite and National Military Park. This writer’s last visit there was some 30 years ago, and the environment has changed for the better, as much of the honky-tonk and tackiness that marred our last visit has disappeared, with the town and the area largely restored to its bucolic pre-Civil War tranquility.

Nonetheless, the memorials, museums and vivid displays – including numerous homes and businesses that remain, even today, pockmarked with countless bullet holes and occasional artillery hits – still remind us that when political differences can no longer be resolved amicably, violence can be the next option, something we were reminded of just two days ago on a neighborhood baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia.


Trading Diary

It’s been a bit tough to get back into the swing of things since our return Thursday. We really did take a bit of a needed holiday and didn’t watch the market much while we were gone, which was fine, as nothing extraordinary happened until that Alexandria shooting spree got underway Wednesday morning.

Oil continued weak, although it’s catching a weak bid Thursday as market close is now 30 minutes away. Tech remains generally lousy, healthcare stocks remain surprisingly resilient, and financials are trying to regain their luster – surprising, since Wednesday’s intellectually dubious Federal Reserve interest rate hike should be putting pep in the step of banks and insurance companies, which benefit from better returns on their longer-term investments.

As a result of the uncertainty, we’ve simply been buttoning up ETF positions here and there, buying small amounts of shares in Schwab ETFs on down days as we build up positions slowly and steadily. With free commissions on these trades, there’s no harm in moving very gradually.

We did sell our position in Gardner Denver Holdings (symbol: GDI), an energy infrastructure IPO we acquired on May 12. Our profit – rather surprising in the current lousy energy price environment – was a nifty 15.65 percent for roughly a 5-week hold. We’ll take it. Alas, there haven’t been any available IPO offerings through our brokerage for at least 3 weeks, given the ongoing market and political turmoil, so we’re eagerly awaiting a return to IPO action when, well, whenever it returns.

Aside from this, there’s not much to say, except that we’re back at our computer and looking forward to making more money in an increasingly confusing environment.

Have a great weekend.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17