Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Can the melt-up continue?

Mid-week market update: The week began on a bullish note this week as the melt-up theme dominated early in the week (see Jeremy Grantham`s call for a possible melt-up, and my own views published last November: Embrace the blow-off, but with a stop loss discipline). On Monday, the market rose for a fifth consecutive day, which flashed a First Five Day (FFD) buy signal. Ryan Detrick at LPL Financial detailed the historical evidence of this momentum effect for the remainder of the year.

In addition, analysis from Jeff Hirsch of Almanac Trader showing a shorter positive momentum effects of the FFD for the remainder of January, shown as JB in the table below (January Barometer). Since 1950, whenever the first five days was positive, the rest of January went on to be positive 86% of the time, with an average return of 2.6% and median return of 2.1% for the remainder of the month (N=29).

The market celebrated with another win on Tuesday, making its winning streak an astounding six consecutive days. The risk-on rally came to a screeching halt when China reported was considering slowing down or halting its purchases of Treasury paper. The initial reaction saw the yield on 10-year Treasury note spiked and a steepening of the yield curve, though both ended the day roughly unchanged. At the same time, the stock market took a risk-off tone. Here is the Bloomberg report:
Senior government officials in Beijing reviewing the nation’s foreign-exchange holdings have recommended slowing or halting purchases of U.S. Treasuries, according to people familiar with the matter. The news comes as global debt markets were already selling off amid signs that central banks are starting to step back after years of bond-buying stimulus. Yields on 10-year Treasuries rose for a fifth day, touching the highest since March.
Arguably, the response from Beijing was a warning shot to the Trump administration over the prospect of a trade war (see Could a Trump trade war spark a bear market?).
China holds the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, at $3.1 trillion, and regularly assesses its strategy for investing them. It isn’t clear whether the officials’ recommendations have been adopted. The market for U.S. government bonds is becoming less attractive relative to other assets, and trade tensions with the U.S. may provide a reason to slow or stop buying American debt, the thinking of these officials goes, according to the people, who asked not to be named as they aren’t allowed to discuss the matter publicly.
Is this the end of the momentum rally?

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