Stock Market Close to Bottom, Panelist Says

Infrastructure is poised for growth as an investment opportunity, according to a panel hosted by Dow Jones Indexes.

Craig Noble, portfolio manager at Brookfield Redding, said during the panel that the federal stimulus package focuses on infrastructure, which will translate into growth for partners and operators of infrastructure assets.

Much of the $50 billion allocated in the stimulus plan to infrastructure is set to go to “shovel-ready’ projects, which will have an immediate economic impact. However, long-term projects will see growth as well, as President Barack Obama’s Administration has long-term priorities. Those projects will have more of an impact on the private sector due to longer-term investment horizons. “I believe that the stimulus bill is a positive for the private infrastructure sector,” Noble said.

Green Future

Richard Sandor, chairman and CEO of Chicago Climate Exchange, said the Obama Administration’s focus on energy and environment will generate employment, help companies better manage their energy costs, and help the economy maximize benefits of the cap-and-trade mechanism.

The Chicago Climate Exchange is a voluntary, legally binding integrated greenhouse gas emissions reduction, registry, and trading system. Members have promised to reduce emissions 6% in 2010, Sandor said. “Carbon trading is not a thing of tomorrow; it’s a thing of today and yesterday,’ he said.

“I believe we are just in the first inning of a vast structural exchange with regards to power and pollution,’ Sandor said. “It’s a very, very bright spot in a dim economy.”

When Will It End?

Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics for Moody’s predicted that the stock market will bottom out shortly, followed by home sales and then housing prices by the end of this year. The jobless rate should peak halfway through 2010 at close to 10%. Faucher noted that the jobless rate would have reached 12% by 2011 without the stimulus.

“The United States is experiencing the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, and conditions are expected to worsen before we see signs of recovery,’ he said.