Wednesday, May 5, 2021

What Sell in May really means

Mid-week market update: Should you Sell in May and go away? While many traders are familiar with the Wall Street adage, what "Sell in May" really means is the six months starting May 1 has experienced subpar returns compared to the six months starting in November 1. It's not necessarily bearish.


While it's not advisable to trade strictly on seasonality, investors might want to be extra cautious with their equity allocations this year.

The full post can be found here.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Q1 earnings monitor: Priced for perfection

We are well into Q1 earnings season. 60% of the S&P 500 has reported their results and the top and bottom line beat rates are well above average. The V-shaped recovery is complete.


Here is the more difficult question. The six largest companies in the S&P 500 reported last week and all of them beat consensus EPS expectations. Why was the S&P 500 flat last week?


The full post can be found here.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

As good as it gets?

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 that 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 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: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bullish*
  • 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 those email alerts is shown here.

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


What's wrong with this picture?
The six biggest stocks in the S&P 500 reported earnings last week. Every one of them beat consensus expectations. In addition, the FOMC reiterated its dovish stance after its meeting. These developments should all be bullish. Instead, the S&P 500 only made marginal gains while exhibiting negative divergences.



From a longer term perspective, the weekly S&P 500 chart shows the index recycling after overrunning  a rising trend line indicating a possible blow-off top. The S&P 500 then printed two consecutive weekly doji candles, each of which are signs of indecision.


What's wrong with this picture?

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The inflation red herring

Rising inflation fears are all over the headlines. From a top-down perspective, inflation pressures are clearly rising.


The Transcript, which monitors earnings calls, documented companies reporting rising inflationary pressures from supply chain bottlenecks and commodity price strength, which have the potential to create margin squeezes.
“…the inflationary pressures, particularly surrounding some of our key commodities, looks like it is going to be more of a headwind in ’22” – Coca-Cola (KO) CFO John Murphy

“…we’re watching and seeing SG&A inflation in different parts of the world and in different parts of the business, ranging from wage inflation in selective geographies. You’ve got global logistics inflation. You’ve got commodity inflation.” – Genuine Parts (GPC) President William Stengel

“In the first quarter, global semiconductors and resin shortages amplified existing supply constraints, and thus impacted our product availability. Further, we are faced with rapidly rising inflationary pressures, primarily in steel and resins. To address these issues, we swift the responses with the necessary actions to protect margins and product availability. We announced significant cost based price increase in various countries across the globe ranging from 5% to 12%” – Whirlpool (WHR) CEO Marc Bitzer
BoA also documented a surge in the mentions of "inflation" on their earnings calls.



Instead, I would argue that the inflation threat to equity prices is a red herring. Tax policy poses a stronger threat.

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Has technical analysis stopped working?

Mid-week market update: Bloomberg recently featured an unusual article titled "Sell Signals All But Useless in Unchartable 2021 Stock Market".
If you bailed because of Bollinger Bands, ran away from relative strength or took direction from the directional market indicator in 2021, you paid for it.

It’s testament to the straight-up trajectory of stocks that virtually all signals that told investors to do anything but buy have done them a disservice this year. In fact, when applied to the S&P 500, 15 of 22 chart-based indicators tracked by Bloomberg have actually lost money, back-testing data show. And all are doing worse than a simple buy-and-hold strategy, which is up 11%.

Of course, few investors employ technical studies in isolation, and even when they do, they rarely rely on a single charting technique to inform decisions. But if anything, the exercise is a reminder of the futility of calling a market top in a year when the journey has basically been a one-way trip.

“What we’ve seen this year is a very strong up market that didn’t get many pullbacks,” said Larry Williams, 78, creator of the Williams %R indicator that’s designed to capture a shift in a security’s momentum. A long-short strategy based on the technique is down 7.8% since the end of December.
Sell signals have failed. Much of this can be explained. Some, like this sentiment signal from BoA's private client holdings, indicate a record crowded long in equities which is contrarian bearish. However, how much can investors allocate to fixed-income instruments in an era of low and rising rates? Stocks are the only game in town, even for income investors.



The straightforward view is the strength of momentum has overwhelmed all other technical signals.

The full post can be found here.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Q1 earnings monitor: Reopening giddiness

Q1 earnings season is well underway. 25% of the S&P 500 has reported, and a number of large-cap bellwether technology companies will report this week. So far, the EPS and sales beat rates are above their historical averages, and forward 12-month EPS estimates continue to surge.


However, risks are rising as the sunny bottom-up view is coming into conflict with a more cautious top-down outlook.

The full post can be found here.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sell in May? Where to hide if you do

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 that 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 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: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bullish*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* 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 those email alerts is shown here.

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


Sell in May?
Is it time to sell in May and go away? Market internals are starting to look wobbly. The relative performance of the defensive sectors is flashing warning signs. Two of the four sectors are testing relative breakouts, and the other two are consolidating sideways after rallying out of relative downtrends.



If the market does weaken, where can investors hide?

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

A pause in the reflation trade?

Recently, a growing narrative in the market is arguing for a pause in the reflation trade for the following reasons:
  • Both the cyclically sensitive copper/gold and base metal/gold ratios have moved sideways.
  • The 10-year Treasury yield peaked out in March and it is now falling, which is an indication of the bond market's belief of a retreat in growth expectations.
  • The Chinese stock market has tanked relative to global stocks, as measured by MSCI All-Country World Index (ACWI).


If these market signals are indeed pointing to a pause in growth expectations, then investors should be prepared for either a risk-off tone in the markets or some choppiness and consolidation in the months ahead.

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

An exhausted bull, or a bear trap?

Mid-week market update: How should investors and traders react to the recent stock market weakness? The bears will argue that the S&P 500 spiked past a trend line resistance and fell back, which is an indication of bullish exhaustion. Moreover, the 5-day RSI recycled from an overbought condition to neutral, which is a tactical sell signal. The logical initial downside target is the 3840-3900 zone, which represents about a 5% pullback.

The bulls will argue that the bull trend remains intact. The S&P 500 is rising steadily in a channel, and the recent pullback is just a bull flag, which is a bullish continuation pattern. The market can go higher.


This is where the interpretative part of technical analysis comes in.

The full post can be found here.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Q1 earnings season: Sell the news?

Q1 earnings season began with the reports from a number of major banks last week, and it is about to go into full swing this week. Expectations are high, but how much of the good news has been discounted by the market?


The full post can be found here.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

A blow-off top ahead?

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 that 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 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: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bullish*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* 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 those email alerts is shown here.

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


Setting up for a blow-off top
The S&P 500 has been rising steadily since late February. As the stock market advanced, readings became increasingly overbought. The S&P 500 has spent two consecutive weeks above its weekly Bollinger Band (BB). Past upper BB episodes have tended to be signals of positive momentum. that led to further gains. The market spent several months on an upper BB ride in late 2017 and early 2018 before it finally topped out.


It appears the S&P 500 is undergoing another melt-up, with a blow-off top ahead. In the last four years, overruns of a rising trend line have been signals of an imminent blow-off top that lasts no more than two weeks.

A closeup look at the S&P 500 daily chart shows more details. The index has overrun rising trend line resistance, which happened twice since the March low. The market topped out after prices went parabolic within a week of the overruns.


The full post can be found here.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

A "value" industry that's about to be the "next best thing"

Recently, an investor aptly characterized value investing as a portfolio of problems with a call option on good news. One sector stands out as a group of value stocks that are taking on growth characteristics. As shown by its relative performance against MSCI All-Country World Index (ACWI), this cyclical industry bottomed out on a relative basis in March 2020 just as the stock market bottomed and it has been on a tear ever since.


The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Trading a possible melt-up

Mid-week market update: Even as selected sentiment models and market internals scream for caution, the S&P 500 is on the verge of melting up as it tests overhead resistance as defined by a rising trend line. The melt-up condition would be confirmed if the index were to rally through the trend line, which it did on two other occasions in the past 12 months. In that case, the regular trading rulebook goes out the window.


The full post can be found here.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Q1 earnings preview: All calm, but what's next?

Q1 earnings season is about to begin in earnest, with JPMorgan Chase scheduled to report on Wednesday and the rest of the big banks during this week. 



Ahead of the reports, equity volumes have plunged even as the S&P 500 rose to all-time highs.


It's quiet, maybe a little too quiet.

The full post can be found here.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Internal rotation + Seasonality = More gains

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 that 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 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: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bullish*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* 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 those email alerts is shown here.

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


Positive April seasonality
I normally only give seasonality secondary consideration in my analysis. But April is the most bullish month of the year for S&P 500 in the last 20 years and positive 80% of the time. Combined with the recent healthy internal rotation in the market, and if seasonality continues to track, the stock market should grind higher for the remainder of the month.


The full post can be found here.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

How Powell "the Un-Volcker" is remaking the Fed

Jerome Powell may turn out to be the Un-Volcker Fed Chair. Paul Volcker wrung all the inflation expectations out of the system and convinced everyone that the Fed is an inflation hawk. By contrast, Jerome Powell is attempting a mirror image policy of convincing everyone the Fed is an inflation dove.

A considerable gulf has opened up between the Fed's stated monetary policy path and the market's expectations. Ed Yardeni recently conducted a LinkedIn poll of interest rate expectations. While the poll is unscientific in its methodology, the results roughly parallel market expectations that the Fed would begin to raise rates in late 2022, and raise them several times in 2023. By contrast, the Fed's own Summary of Economic Projections doesn't see any rate hike until late 2023.


Fed governor Lael Brainard appeared on CNBC soon after the release of the Fed minutes and she addressed the issue of the market's disbelief of Fed's interest rate path by distinguishing between outcome and outlook. The Fed is focused on the realized outcome of employment and inflation. The market is focused on expectations, whose forecasts may not be realized.

Here is why it matters, not only for the path of interest rates but how the Fed's outcome-based approach affects the economy and equity prices.

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Momentum, meet bullish sentiment

Mid-week market update: What should traders make of this stock market? On one hand, the S&P 500 is exhibiting strong positive price momentum. Not only is the index trading above its daily Bollinger Band (BB), it's trading above its weekly BB. In the last 10 years, there have been eight occasions when the S&P 500 was above its weekly BB. Most (five out of eight) of those instances were associated with sustained advances indicative of positive price momentum. The market corrected in three of the eight occasions, but in one of the three corrections (in early 2018), the upper BB ride persisted for three weeks before the market exhibited a blow-off top. That's what strong price momentum looks like.


On the other hand, short-term sentiment is off-the-charts bullish, which is contrarian bearish.

The full post can be found here.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

A change in leadership?

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 that 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 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: Buy equities*
  • Trend Model signal: Bullish*
  • Trading model: Bullish*
* 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 those email alerts is shown here.

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


The revenge of the tech nerds?
A reader pointed out an unusual market anomaly last week. Market leadership had shifted significantly some time during Q2 or Q3 2020. The old Big Three leaders of US over non-US stocks, growth over value, and large-caps over small-caps had made unmistakable trend reversals. Recently, even as the S&P 500, the Dow, and the Transports made fresh all-time highs, leadership was shifting back. US equities are dominant against non-US again; NASDAQ stocks are enjoying a minor revival; and small-caps are faltering against their large-cap counterparts.


Is this the start of a reversal, or just a blip?

The full post can be found here.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Biden's American Rescue Plan: Bullish or bearish?

If you thought that Biden would govern as a centrist, you were wrong. In the wake of the passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, President Joe Biden is planning to attack the enduring challenge of inequality by expanding government spending with a second ambitious $3 trillion economic renewal plan and a revamp of the tax code. It is intended to be a repudiation of the Reagan Revolution and the neoliberal consensus that has dominated economic thinking for decades. He reportedly decided to go big on reform for the following reasons:
  • Biden is enjoying his honeymoon period, and his approval ratings are strong. The New York Times reported that a Republican pollster found that even 57% of Republican voters supported Biden's recent $1.9 trillion spending package.
  • The Democrats have full party control of Congress, and a short window before the mid-terms to enact legislation.
  • The pandemic recovery is offering both economic and political tailwinds to enact legislation.
What does this mean for investors?

The full post can be found here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Making sense of the Archegos Affair

Mid-week market update: You can tell a lot about the character of a market by how it reacts to news. In response to the Archegos Affair, the contagion effect has mostly been contained. Other than the share prices of Nomura, Credit Suisse, and the liquidated stocks, the market averages have been steady and this is not a repeat of the Long-Term Capital Management debacle.

Still, there are still nagging doubts about pockets of hidden financial leverage in the banking system. Is there another shoe waiting to drop?



The full post can be found here.