We've reached the time of year when investors flip the calendar and try to anticipate the events to come for 2012. I've weighed in with my own near-term strategies and provided a glimpse of my three favorite sectors for the coming year.
Right now, bearish factors such the European crisis, still-high unemployment rates and a pervading sense that Washington can do no right are the key factors behind the market. Indeed, the S&P 500 is down roughly 10% since late July, and it feels even worse than that. Stocks could slump even more -- recall that they were quite cheap at the start of 2009 and fell even further for the next two months before posting a stunning two-year rally.
Yet in some respects, a focus on the next few quarters may be obscuring a far larger set of trends that may or may not affect the market in 2012, but will surely dictate the trading action in 2013 and beyond. Simply put, there are a lot more reasons to bullish on stocks for the long haul then there are reasons to be bearish. The longer-term is brighter than you may think. Here's why...
1. An era of inexpensive energy
Lost in all of the hand-wringing about the slow-growth economy has been the remarkable turnabout in our nation's energy supply. With each passing month, we're making the switch to low-priced natural gas fueling out power plants and factories. Better still, gas prices may rise moderately in coming years, but are likely to remain very low, especially in relation to crude oil.