Before I get into my outlook for 2005, it is important to distinguish what I do from what I say. What I do is day-trade the US stock market based on my own proprietary stock trading system. My trades last minutes to hours, generally, although a very small proportion of my strategies do allow for "long term" holds of days to weeks. For the most part, I day-trade and as such, the general direction of the overall market is not a major factor in my trading. In fact, some of my signals are SELL signals, whereby I will short a stock for the requisite 2-4% pop. Some of the very best Insider-Buy signals come as Officers and Directors scoop up cheap shares that the market has totally mispriced. That all said, I do prefer an up market, the pops are easier to come by, but an up market is not an essential factor in what I do.
As for 2005, one's outlook must necessarily fall into one of three general categories, Bullish, Bearish or Agnostic. This last one, Agnostic, covers the "don't know" attitude which ordinarily would serve most investors best. But not this time. I have just finished my second read-through of Harry Dent's, The Next Great Bubble Boom. Dent is expecting that the years 2005-2009 will provide the real bubble in stock market appreciation, using a well documented confluence of Demographic Cycles, Technology Cycles, and Decennial Cycles. It is this latter cycle, the Decennial Cycle that is suggesting a gangbuster year for stocks in 2005, one that will likely send all major indexes into new all time high levels, except for the NASDAQ which might take another year to take out it's 2000 high.
I highly recommend that anyone with money invested or available to invest in the stock market read The Next Great Bubble Boom. You don't have to agree or buy into the premises and bullish conclusions presented by Dent in the book, but you need to at least be aware of this bullish argument so that if the markets unfold in the manner suggested, you will at least know why and maybe be able to participate accordingly.
The case for the Decennial Cycle and a bullish 2005 is compelling. To greatly simplify and summarize Dent's findings, going back 100 years, almost all the positive returns and gains in the US stock market are made in the second half of each decade. To quote Dent, "The Decennial Cycle basically says that you would never have lost money in the second half of any decade in the last 100 years and that the lion's share of gains were made in the second half." But Dent goes on to point out that of the last five years of every decade, it is the 5th year that stands out far and above any other year as producing the most consistent and powerful positive returns.
I am not doing justice to Dent's argument, because he adds the effect of demographics, spending cycles and presidential cycles to create a persuasive confluence of evidence suggesting a powerful rally in the months and year ahead. This is not a guarantee of a bullish 2005, but it does present a compelling reason to expect an up year and probably a big up year.
There is always uncertainty in the market and of course, always the possibility of some exogenous event to make this time different. But the opportunity is there for all to accept, reject, ignore or embrace as the year ahead unfolds. I think it's going to be a fun year.