Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why I am cautious on the market

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 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 the trading component of the Trend Model to look for changes in the direction of the main Trend Model signal. A bullish Trend Model signal that gets less bullish is a trading "sell" signal. Conversely, a bearish Trend Model signal that gets less bearish is a trading "buy" signal. The history of actual out-of-sample (not backtested) signals of the trading model are shown by the arrows in the chart below. Past trading of the trading model has shown turnover rates of about 200% per month.

The latest signals of each model are as follows:
  • Ultimate market timing model: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Risk-on*
  • 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 will also receive email notices of any changes in my trading portfolio.

An over-valued and frothy market
As the major market indices hit new all time highs, I have become increasingly cautious on the short-term outlook. I view the stock market through the following lenses, and all of them are showing either a neutral to bearish outlook:
  • Valuation
  • Interest rates outlook
  • Growth
  • Psychology
The one wildcard continues to be political developments from Washington. A recent AAII survey indicated that roughly 75% of respondents cited politics as affecting their investment decisions:
This week’s Sentiment Survey special question asked AAII members what factors are most influencing their six-month outlook for stocks. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) cited national politics, particularly President Donald Trump’s polices and what actions Congress may take. Tax reform was mentioned by many (20% of respondents), followed by regulatory reform and uncertainty over what legislation will actually be passed. Just under 23% of all respondents listed the ongoing rally and the prevailing stock valuations, with several of these respondents expressing concerns about the level of valuations or that a drop could be forthcoming. Monetary policy was cited by 8% of all respondents, followed by corporate earnings growth (7%) and investor sentiment (7%). Some respondents listed more than one factor.
Any changes in the path of fiscal or trade policy have the potential to create further market volatility.

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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