Sunday, April 7, 2019

An unexpected sweet spot for equities

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 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: 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 the those email alerts is shown here.

Opportunities from uncertainty
Now that stock prices have recovered to within 2% of their all-time highs, what's next for the stock market? To be sure, stock prices are no longer cheap. FactSet reports that the market is trading at a forward P/E ratio of 16.7, which is just above its 5-year average of 16.3 and well above its 10-year average of 14.7.

Should investors throw in the towel? Not yet. While valuations are not compelling, equities remain in a sweet spot as cautious long-term sentiment readings can drive prices higher.

Strategas published a terrific analysis showing how forward US equity returns have historically been higher when global policy uncertainty is high. While the sample size for this study is small, it is consistent with the contrarian principle of buying when blood is running in the streets.

Indeed, the latest reading of global policy uncertainty shows that it remains at an elevated level.

Despite the elevated valuation, equities find themselves in an unexpected sweet spot. There is still room for stock prices to rise as tensions and risk levels fade.

The full post can be found here.

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