Friday, June 5, 2020

May Jobs Report: Back from furlough

I don't usually offer instant reactions to economic news, but the May Jobs Report was a shocker. Non-Farm Payroll gained 2.5 million jobs, compared to an expected loss of -8 million. The Diffusion Index bounced back strongly, indicating breadth in job gains.


This was a positive and highly constructive report for the economy. Before everyone gets overly giddy, the report also highlighted some key risks to the outlook.

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Trading the Energizer Bunny rally

Mid-week market update: As regular readers are aware, I have been increasingly cautious about the equity outlook for the past few weeks as the market advanced. This has become the Energizer Bunny rally that keeps going beyond expectations.

Where will it stop? One of the indicators that I have been keeping an eye on is the NYSE McClellan Summation Index (NYSI). In the past, whenever the NYSI has fallen to an oversold extreme of -1000 or less, the indicator has rebounded so that the weekly stochastic bounced from an oversold to an overbought level. We are now overbought on the weekly stochastic.


To be sure, past rebounds have seen the weekly stochastic become even more overbought. These conditions suggests that there may be one or two weeks of more upside on NYSI, this relief rally is running on borrowed time.

The full post can be found here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Brace for the second waves

As we progressed through the pandemic induced recession, there have been much discussion about a second wave. Second waves appear in many forms, and they can threaten the current consensus expectation of a V-shaped rebound.


Here are some of the second wave risks the market faces.
  • A second wave of COVID-19 infections
  • A second wave of layoffs and wave cuts
  • A second wave of bankruptcies
Finally, investors have to face the risk of permanent economic scarring that impair long-term growth potential. Under that scenario, slower growth rates will persist even after any recovery, and affect asset prices in ways that the market hasn't fully discounted.

The full post can be found here.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A bull market with bearish characteristics

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is the Trend Model becoming more bullish, or bearish?) and overbought/oversold extremes (don't buy if the trend is overbought, and vice versa). Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here. The hypothetical trading record of the trading model of the real-time alerts that began in March 2016 is shown below.



The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Sell equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Neutral*
  • Trading model: Bearish*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.

Subscribers can access the latest signal in real-time here.


A new bull?
Is this the start of a new bull market? Ed Clissold of Ned Davis Research got a lot of people excited when he pointed out that the percentage of stocks above their 50 day moving average (dma) had exceeded 90%. Such events are intermediate term breadth thrusts with bullish implications.


Does this mean we are witnessing the birth of a new bull market?

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Back to basics: Is this market is overvalued?

There has been a recent continuing controversy about the usefulness of forward P/E as a valuation tool in the current recessionary environment. On one hand, past bear markets have typically bottomed out at a forward P/E ratio of 10, with a low of 7 (1982) and a high of 14 (2002). FactSet's reported market rating of 21.5 forward earnings is very stretched by historical standards.


On the other hand, Liz Ann Sonders at Charles Schwab observed that stock prices and earnings estimates have shown a correlation of over 0.90 in the last 20 years and the recent correlation is a mirror image -0.90 as stock prices rose and earnings estimates fell. She then qualified that analysis by allowing the same negative correlation occurred during the GFC.


Do forward P/E ratios matter at this stage of the cycle? Is the market forward looking and discounting the current weakness and valuing the market at its "intrinsic value"? To answer those questions, let's get back to basics by considering the drivers of equity valuation.

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Knife fight at the 200 dma

Mid-week market update: For the last two days, the SPX tested the 3000 level and its 200 day moving average levels and finally broke up today. However, market breadth presents a mixed picture. Fresh 52-week highs have been understandably strong for NASDAQ stocks, as they have been the recent leadership. However, new highs for both large and small caps are less than impressive, which calls into question the sustainability of this rally.


Who wins the knife fight at the 3000 and 200 dma? Here are bull and bear cases.

The full post can be found here.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Waiting for the inflection point

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is the Trend Model becoming more bullish, or bearish?) and overbought/oversold extremes (don't buy if the trend is overbought, and vice versa). Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here. The hypothetical trading record of the trading model of the real-time alerts that began in March 2016 is shown below.



The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Sell equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Neutral*
  • Trading model: Bearish*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.


Don't count on the Fed
There is a belief among the bullish contingent that Fed intervention can solve everything that's wrong with the stock market. While liquidity injection can boost equity prices, they do not represent a permanent solution. Otherwise, the Japanese and European markets would have been the clear leaders in the past decade.


Instead, the recent surge in stock prices has created a mini-bubble which is at risk of bursting.

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What gold tells us about confidence

How badly has the pandemic affected the global economy? The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has some answers in a recent report. It expects global human development to decline for the first time this year, and EM economies will bear the brunt of the impact. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that up to half of global workers could lose their jobs.
New UNDP estimates Global human development – as a combined measure of the world’s education, health and living standards – is on course to decline this year for the first time since the concept was developed in 1990. The decline is expected across the majority of countries - rich and poor - in every region.
  • Global per capita income is expected to fall four percent. The World Bank has warned that the virus could push between 40 and 60 million into extreme poverty this year, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia hardest hit.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that half of working people could lose their jobs within the next few months, and the virus could cost the global economy US$10 trillion.
  • The World Food Programme says 265 million people will face crisis levels of hunger unless direct action is taken.
While the human development is falling this year, the market's perceived decline of confidence did not begin with the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, I highlighted a comment by Joe Wiesenthal at Bloomberg when he focused on the stock/gold ratio as a barometer of optimism and pessimism (see Checking the small business economic barometer). I would go further to characterize the ratio as a barometer of investment confidence in human ingenuity.
It's such a pure and simple expression of optimism versus pessimism. When you bet on stocks you're betting on humans endeavoring to do productive things. When you bet on a shiny inert metal you're betting on a shiny inert metal.
The chart of the stock/gold ratio surprisingly revealed that it peaked in the summer of 2018 and it has been falling ever since. Since that 2018 peak, both stock and gold prices have climbed, but gold has outpaced stocks. The decline in the stock/gold ratio is worrisome for long-term equity investors.



The stock/gold ratio outside the US, as represented by the MSCI World xUS Index, looks even worse. The MSCI World xUS Index never recovered its pre-GFC peak. Gold, as priced in euros, has reached all-time highs. The post-GFC equity market recovery is entirely attributable to the outperformance in the US.



What is the market telling us about optimism and pessimism, and global investment confidence?

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Healing?

Mid-week market update: Is the market exhibiting signs of froth, or is the economy healing? There are signs of both. As Fed chair Powell indicated, the economy has encountered a health related shock, and the Fed can only do so much to stabilize markets. It cannot provide a cure.

Some of the market based indicators of covid related anxiety are showing signs of healing.


The full post can be found here.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Earnings Monitor: Digging in for the long haul

We are continuing our coverage of earnings season during these turbulent times. With 90% of the index having reported, this will be the final earnings monitor of the Q1 earnings season. This week, we are seeing greater additional signs of stabilization, but companies are digging for the long haul.

Let's begin with the big picture. FactSet reported that the bottom-up consensus forward 12-month estimate fell -0.64% last week (vs. -1.4% the previous week), and -20.0% since downgrades began nine weeks ago. The EPS and sales beat rates were both below their 5-year historical averages.


The full post can be found here.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The bulls are losing control, what's next?

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is the Trend Model becoming more bullish, or bearish?) and overbought/oversold extremes (don't buy if the trend is overbought, and vice versa). Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here. The hypothetical trading record of the trading model of the real-time alerts that began in March 2016 is shown below.



The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Sell equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bearish*
  • Trading model: Neutral*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.


A sideways pattern
Stock prices have been chopping sideways and gone nowhere in the past month. After a strong rally off the March low, the rally stalled repeatedly at the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level while the stochastic recycled from an overbought condition. It is becoming evident that the bulls have lost control. That doesn't mean, however, that the market is ready to go down. Instead, the sideways consolidation could continue for some time.


What's next? Will we see further chop sideways, or have the bears seized control of the tape?

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Checking the small business economic barometer

During past major market bottoms, the outperformance of small cap stocks has coincided with economic rebounds. The relative returns of small and microcaps appear to be trying to bottom. It is time to check in on how these stocks are doing.


One way to monitor the progress of these stocks is to check in on the health of small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy. According to the Small Business Administration, US small businesses provide 47% of private sector employment. Equally important to the check-up is the poor bargaining power of small firms, as they act as a sensitive barometer of economic health.

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The start of a new bear leg?

Mid-week market update: Is this market starting a new bear leg? There are numerous signs that may be happening. The SPX violated the trend line of a rising channel while the stochastic recycled from an overbought reading, which is a sell signal. The chart of the equal weighted index, which filters out the effects of heavyweight leadership, looks worse as that index tests a key support level.



The market's narrow leadership is evidenced by the concentration of the current leadership of technology, healthcare, and communication services, which is nearing the highs set during the Tech Bubble.


Narrow leadership and high concentration are high risk "this will not end well conditions". Could the latest pullback be the bearish trigger?

The full post can be found here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

FIFO: Can China save global growth (again)?

Remember the Great Financial Crisis (GFC)? As the GFC engulfed the global economy, China stepped up with a shock-and-awe campaign of fiscal and monetary stimulus that stabilized not only the Chinese economy, but global growth. Can China save global growth again?

China recently reported surprisingly strong export growth for April, but the closely watched early May trade figures from South Korea badly missed expectations. Exports plunged -46.3% YoY. Exports to China fell -29.4%, which is hardly the picture of a robust economic revival.


Since China was the first major economy to enter the pandemic crisis, what does that mean for the world, based on a first-in-first-out principle?

The full post can be found here.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Earnings Monitor: Stabilization and hope

We are continuing our coverage of earnings season during these turbulent times. Last week, we highlighted the disconnect between earnings expectations and valuation (see Earnings Monitor: Reality bites). This week, we are seeing greater signs of stabilization, and hope for the future.

Let's begin with the big picture. FactSet reported that the bottom-up consensus forward 12-month estimate fell -1.4% last week (vs. -1.9% the previous week), and -19.5% since downgrades began eight weeks ago. The EPS and sales beat rates were both below their 5-year historical averages.


The full post can be found here.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Setting up to climb a Wall of Worry?

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is the Trend Model becoming more bullish, or bearish?) and overbought/oversold extremes (don't buy if the trend is overbought, and vice versa). Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here. The hypothetical trading record of the trading model of the real-time alerts that began in March 2016 is shown below.



The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Sell equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bearish*
  • Trading model: Neutral*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.


An AAII crowded short?
Why is AAII sentiment so bearish? Is that contrarian bullish?

Jason Goepfert at SentimenTrader highlighted how the latest American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) weekly sentiment survey, which showed that bearish sentiment had spiked despite the stock market rally. Readings have become sufficiently net bearish that subsequent returns are bullish.


What's going on? Is the market climbing the proverbial Wall of Worry?

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

What's the next market narrative?

This crisis has so far gone through two phases of market psychology. The first phase was panic, as it became apparent that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic, and economies around the world were shutting down. Stock prices rebounded during the hope phase, supported by a flood of fiscal and monetary stimulus, and the hope that reopening the economy might bring some semblance of normalcy.


What's the next phase of the market's narrative, and how should investor position themselves?

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A clash of sentiment

Mid-week market update: What should one make of sentiment readings? Credit Suisse reported that long/short hedge funds are now in a crowded long position:
One result of April’s latter month short covering is an all-time high net long exposure among equity long/short managers globally, albeit on a historically low gross exposure.

That's contrarian bearish, right? Yes, but that snapshot isn't the whole story.

The full post can be found here.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Earnings Monitor: Reality bites

Now that we are slightly over halfway through Q1 earnings season, it would be useful to see what we have learned, and how market expectations have developed through this pandemic period.

Let's begin with the big picture. FactSet reported that the bottom-up consensus forward 12-month estimate fell -1.9% last week, and -18.3% since downgrades began seven weeks ago. I have been monitoring the evolution of forward 12-month EPS for several years, and this level of revision is extraordinarily high. In the past, the magnitude of weekly revisions was usually about 0.1%, and swings of 0.2% would be considered high. Now, revisions are an order of magnitude higher at 1% or more. In addition, estimates have been falling while stock prices have been rising.



Companies gave little in the way of earnings guidance during this earnings season. In fact, 47 companies withdrew their 2020 EPS guidance for the full year as management as uncertainty rose. However, there is a remedy for investors looking for greater clarity on the earnings outlook.

The full post can be found here.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Buy the dip, or sell the rip?

Preface: Explaining our market timing models
We maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The "Ultimate Market Timing Model" is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.

The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, "Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?"

My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is the Trend Model becoming more bullish, or bearish?) and overbought/oversold extremes (don't buy if the trend is overbought, and vice versa). Subscribers receive real-time alerts of model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts are updated weekly here. The hypothetical trading record of the trading model of the real-time alerts that began in March 2016 is shown below.



The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Sell equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bearish*
  • Trading model: Bearish*
* The performance chart and model readings have been delayed by a week out of respect to our paying subscribers.

Update schedule: I generally update model readings on my site on weekends and tweet mid-week observations at @humblestudent. Subscribers receive real-time alerts of trading model changes, and a hypothetical trading record of the those email alerts is shown here.


Buy or sell?
Looking to the week ahead, the recent market action presents a mixed picture. The SPX, DJIA, and NYSE Composite all broke above their 50 day moving averages (dma), which are positives. But they remain under the broken rising trend lines, which are signs that the bulls have lost control of the tape.


Should traders be buying the dips, or selling the rips? Here are the bull and bear cases.

The full post can be found here.