Saturday, January 26, 2019

Weekly Market Summary

Summary:  SPX has now gained 13% since Christmas Eve, while the Nasdaq is up 16%. After the recent plunge, it would be normal for the indices to give up most of their gains and retest the lows again. That's been a consistent pattern over the past 40 years. But when a plunge is followed by exceptional breadth like we have witnessed in the past month, a low retest has been unlikely.

Rapid plunges when the economy is still expanding - like now - are typically followed by strong forward returns. Moreover, it is encouraging that emerging markets, which have been the hardest hit by the threat of a trade war, reached a 4 month high this week. Those markets originally bottomed in October and retested those lows in December (a possible basing pattern).

It's certainly possible that some of the rapid gains since Christmas will be given back before SPX moves materially higher. A period of consolidation and retrenchment in the weeks ahead would not be surprising. The trade war isn't the only thing driving the market, but it has clearly been important and further deescalation will likely drive SPX to the top of its October-December range, just as reescalation could plunge it back towards its Christmas low.

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The bounce that started on Christmas Eve took a small pause this week. Still, SPX has gained 13% since the low while the Nasdaq is up 16%. According the Ryan Detrick, this is the market's best January in at least 30 years (table from  Enlarge any chart by clicking on it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Weekly Market Summary

Summary:  Since the 20% fall in equities into Christmas Eve, equities have rallied 3 weeks in a row, gaining over 10%. So is the correction over?

Sharp falls of at least 15% have a strong tendency to have their original low retested in the weeks/months ahead. That is true even, as now, a sharp 10% bounce occurs. But what is notable this time is the persistence of the gains each week, and the exceptional breadth (participation) that has driven the indices higher.

This is important because, in the past 70 years, this has never taken place within the context of a bear market. In fact, breadth momentum like this is often associated with the start of new bull markets. Net: the Christmas low may still get retested, but it seems likely to hold and new highs are probably ahead. Nothing in the stock market is ever guaranteed, but this has been the consistent, historical pattern.

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The bounce that started on Christmas Eve continued this week. SPX gained for a third week in a row, adding 2.6%. NDX was up 3% and small caps were up nearly 5%. Volatility fell 10% (table from  Enlarge any chart by clicking on it.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Weekly Market Summary

Summary:  Equities fell 20% from their September high into Christmas Eve. Since then, they have rallied almost 8%. While this is encouraging, there were two similar rallies, at the start of November and December, that both fizzled out. What is different this time?

For one, there have been two massive accumulation days in the past week. Second, outflows from risk-seeking equity and credit funds and into safe assets has become the most extreme, by far, in the past 10 years. Third, the volatility index spike on Christmas Eve matches those near the lows in SPX following every major sell off since 2010. Fourth, the valuation de-rating is now the largest outside of a recession since 1994.

Nonetheless, when SPX drops 15-20% or more, it has a strong tendency to retest those lows in the weeks/months ahead.

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2018 ended with a thump. NDX lost 1%, SPX lost 6%, small caps lost 12% and financials (the consensus favorite a year ago) lost 15%.  Treasury bonds also dropped for the year, as did commodities. The only winner in 2018 was volatility (table from  Enlarge any chart by clicking on it.

Friday, January 4, 2019

January Macro Update: 2018 Employment Was The Second Best Since 2000

SummaryThe macro economic story has started to change. The data from the past month continues to mostly point to positive growth, but there is a very important exception: weakness in housing is apparent. If this persists and other measures, especially employment, start to also weaken, a recession in 2019 is possible.

For now, the bond market sees continued growth. The yield curve has 'inverted' (10 year yields less than 2-year yields) ahead of every recession in the past 40 years (arrows). The lag between inversion and the start of the next recession has been long: at least 8 months and in several instances as long as 2-3 years. On this basis, the current expansion will likely last into mid-2019 at a minimum. Enlarge any image by clicking on it.