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Markets could see big changes

Sat., Sept. 1, 2012

NEW YORK – The dull days are almost over.

For the last couple of weeks, markets slipped into a late summer lull, with investors seemingly nodding off in their beach chairs. The only thing to get excited about was a long-awaited speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday.

In his annual talk in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke signaled that the Fed can provide more support for the plodding U.S. economy but stopped short of laying out any new steps. The talk proved less exciting – or market-moving – than many had hoped. But, get ready, the next two weeks promise to make up for it.

The calendar is brimming with events that could send markets soaring or plunging, depending how they turn out. The European Central Bank is expected to detail plans to support the region’s troubled countries at its meeting Thursday. The U.S. employment report for August comes out the next day.

The following week, Germany’s Constitutional Court will rule on whether it’s legal for the country to participate in a bailout fund, and the Federal Reserve holds its monthly meeting.

On Friday, investors eventually decided they liked what they heard from Bernanke, and stock indexes rose enough to put them into positive territory for August.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day up 90.13 points at 13,090.84.

Investors looking for help from the Federal Reserve may only have one more chance before the election, said Frank Fantozzi, CEO of Planned Financial Services in Cleveland. The Fed’s policy-making arm meets on Sept. 13. If it doesn’t announce some form of stimulus then, it probably won’t until after the election, he said.

Bernanke’s said at a Fed meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., that it’s “probably not a coincidence” that stock prices have risen since March 2009, when the Fed first announced its plan to buy Treasuries and other securities. The Dow is up 77 percent since the 2009 announcement.

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