|Source: Capital Pixel|
I go to MarketWatch and begin at the data source shown:
Next I click "FX" and record "WSJ $ Idx, a basket of currencies, as well as the euro. Both of these have moved higher. On January 14, for example, the WSJ Idx and the euro stood at 84.02 and 1.18, respectively. Today they are at 85.40 and 1.12, respectively. The bottom line is U.S. Notes and Bonds look very attractive to global investors both on a yield level basis and dollar appreciation basis. This was the major factor confounding prognosticators in their prediction that rates would rise in 2014!
I next click "Futures" and record both the price of oil and gold. In reading Barron's "Roundtable," I have gotten chuckles, as I'm sure some of you have, over the hand-wringing by participants of the failure to foresee the collapse in oil prices. Some of the participants seem to question the whole pundit/prediction exercise!
One final data point I started picking up recently was the yield on the S&P 500 which, itself, has gone above the yield on the 10-year Treasury. I get it by going to Yahoo! Finance and looking at the yield on SPY, the ETF tracking the S&P 500:
As shown, the yield is 1.87%.
All of this takes less than 10 minutes in the morning and gives me a good feel for how markets are behaving.
A couple of years from now, I will surely be tracking different indicators. That's the nature of markets - what is important at various times changes. There was a time when the P/E ratio on internet stocks was a driving factor. At another time, it was the rate on adjustable rate mortgages. Today it happens to be the spread between U.S. interest rates and global rates along with the value of the dollar.
Since some of you may go to the MarketWatch site, it is a good time to tout the "RetireMentors" which can be found by clicking the "retirement" link at the top of the homepage. IMHO, this is the best ongoing collection of articles online for people interested in retirement.