spx (72)

Admin

Bull Trap?

The bulls are back. $SPX up nearly 8% in January and nearly 14% off of the December lows. What slowing global growth? What reduced earnings expectations? Trade wars? Who cares. It’ll all sort itself out, all that matters was the Fed caving in spectacular fashion laying the foundation for the big bull case. The central bank 2 step is back: Dovish + dovish = nothing but higher prices. The lows are in, what else can I buy? This pretty much sums up current sentiment.

And so goes the familiar script during emerging bear markets, a general sense of relief that the lows are in and a return of optimism and greed after an aggressive counter rally following an initial scary drop. Long forgotten are the December lows after a torrent consecutive 6 weeks of higher prices.

While indeed a renewed fully dovish Fed may be all that’s needed to keep 2019 bullish (after all this playbook has worked for the past 10 years) there is evidence that this rally may turn out to be a big fat bull trap.

And it’s no

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Admin

With the SPX up ~8% in just the last month, increasingly nervous investors who still vividly recall the freefall days of December 2018, are wondering what will stop the unrelenting rally according to JPMorgan's Adam Crisafulli who writes this morning that while there are always risks, none of the (known) ones seem particularly threatening at the moment.

Still, according to the JPM strategist, investors should be wary about chasing the SPX above 16x (i.e. above ~2750) but the index is more likely to touch 16.5x (>2800) than it is to hit 15x (<2600) based on everything known right now.

With that modestly bullish bias in mind, Crisafulli lists 14 things that can go wrong and send stocks sliding once more.

  1. TSYs and the USD fail to ratify the Fed optimism – at some point the TSY curve needs to steepen and the USD has to weaken in order to confirm the dovish takeaways from the recent Fed decision.  If TSY yields fall across the board (or even worse, if the curve flattens) and/or the USD sta

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Admin

U.S. stocks experienced their third straight week of gains, with the S&P 500 Index rising 2.6% and gaining more than 10% since Christmas Day.1 Investors were encouraged by comments from the Federal Reserve indicating a less aggressive policy stance and a sense that trade issues may be improving. Strong outflows from stock funds have also been an important contrarian indicator that investor capitulation had reached a limit. Several market areas were standout performers last week, including industrials, retail sectors, technology and energy, which was helped by a 7.5% climb in oil prices.1 A near -term consolidation is possible, given the strong climb over the last few weeks, but a return to December’s lows seems unlikely.

 

1. The Fed should remain data dependent, which should be good for stocks. Fed comments in October seemed to indicate it would continue to raise rates and sell off its balance sheet for the foreseeable future. But Fed Chair Jerome Powell walked back those comments in

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Admin

Will Credit Cause A Slowdown

Saxo Bank thinks a slowdown in credit growth is bad news

20170909_BLP518.jpg?width=500

IF THERE is a consensus at the moment, it is that the global economy is finally managing a synchronised recovery. The purchasing managers' index for global manufacturing is at its highest level for six years; copper, the metal often seen as the most sensitive to global conditions, is up by a quarter since May

20170916_woc638_0.png?width=450But Steen Jakobsen of Saxo Bank thinks this strength will not last. His leading indicator is a measure of the change in private sector credit growth. This peaked at the turn of the year and is now heading down sharply. Indeed the change in trend is the most negative since the financial crisis (see chart). Since this indicator leads the economy by 9-12 months, that suggests a significant economic slowdown either late this year or early  in 2018. He says that

This call for a significant slowdown coincides with several facts: the ECB’s QE programme will conclude by end-2017 and will at best be scaled down by €10 billion per

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Admin

Market Complexity Could Trigger the Next Crash

Complex systems are all around us.

By one definition, a complex system is any system that features a large number of interacting components (agents, processes, etc.) whose aggregate activity is nonlinear (not derivable from the summations of the activity of individual components) and typically exhibits hierarchical self-organization under selective pressures.

In today’s infographic from Meraglim we use accumulating snow and an impending avalanche as an example of a complex system – but really, such systems can be found everywhere. Weather is another complex system, and ebb and flow of populations is another example.

Markets are Complex Systems

Just like in the avalanche example, where various factors at the top of a mountain (accumulating volumes of snow, weather, temperature, geology, gravity, etc.) make up a complex system that is difficult to predict, markets are similarly complex.

In fact, markets meet all the properties of complex systems, as outlined by scientists:

1. Diverse
Sys

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Admin

Well, here it comes—September. It’s widely considered the worst month of the year for equities for good reason since it has historically seen the worst performance. Per Ryan Detrick, Senior Market Strategist, “September is the banana peel month, as some of the largest dips tend to take place during this month. Although the economy is still quite strong, this doesn’t mean some usual September volatility is out of the question—in fact, we’d be surprised it volatility didn’t pick up given how calm things have been this year.”

With the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, and the European Central Bank all set to announce interest rate decisions this month, and the S&P 500 Index up on a total return basis nine consecutive months as of the end of July, the stage is set for some fireworks in September.

Here’s some data to consider as September approaches:

• Since 1928, no month sports a lower average return than September, with the S&P 500 down 1.0% on average. February and May are the only other

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Admin

It’s hard to predict when a stock market crash will occur, so the best defense is to be prepared.

Today’s infographic comes to us from StocksToTrade.com, and it explains what happens when a large enough drop in the market triggers a “circuit breaker”, or a temporary halt in trading.

What Happens To Trading in a Market Crash?

These temporary halts in trading, or “circuit breakers”, are measures approved by the SEC to calm down markets in the event of extreme volatility. The rules apply to NYSE, Nasdaq, and OTC markets, and were put in place following the events of Black Monday in 1987.

Circuit Breaker Rules

Previously, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was the bellwether for such market interventions.

However, the most recent rules apply to the whole market when a precipitous drop in the S&P 500 occurs:

  Before Feb 2013 After Feb 2013
Index Tracked DJIA S&P 500
Level 1 Threshold -10% -7%
Level 2 Threshold -20% -13%
Level 3 Threshold -30% -20%

Upon reaching each of the two first thresholds, a 15-minute ha

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Admin

Finding High Quality Companies 'Today'

We are having a hard time finding high-quality companies at attractive valuations.

For us, this is not an academic frustration. We are constantly looking for new stocks by running stock screens, endlessly reading (blogs, research, magazines, newspapers), looking at holdings of investors we respect, talking to our large network of professional investors, attending conferences, scouring through ideas published on value investor networks, and finally, looking with frustration at our large (and growing) watch list of companies we’d like to buy at a significant margin of safety. The median stock on our watch list has to decline by about 35-40% to be an attractive buy.

But maybe we’re too subjective. Instead of just asking you to take our word for it, in this letter we’ll show you a few charts that not only demonstrate our point but also show the magnitude of the stock market’s overvaluation and, more importantly, put it into historical context.

Each chart examines stock market valuation fro

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Admin

A Big Move Lies Ahead

move1.jpg?w=300&h=188&width=300Past tense; that is.  A big move is coming in the S&P 500 and it will take everyone’s breath away. Simply put: The S&P 500 has traded in a multi-year consolidation range with a high of 2134 and a low of 1810. A breakout or breakdown out of this range could result in a measured technical move of the height of the range, i.e. 2134 – 1810 = 324 handles. Consequently a break toward the upside would target 2458 (15% above all time highs) and conversely a breakdown would target 1486 and represent a 30.4% correction off of all time highs.

I’ve outlined the bear arguments in detail in Feeding the Monster, so I won’t bother rehashing them here. However, in analyzing the larger market structures an interesting duality is emerging: A fight for control between the historic precedence of earnings and technicals and a very much divergent development in money supply, one of the key drivers behind stock prices since the financial crisis.

This duality can be summarized in one chart:

spx-gaap-money-supply.png?w=610&h=458&width=610

Speaking for a bre

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Admin

The Big Picture

First and foremost let me point out that Ray Dalio, founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, has joined Twitter so I encourage you to follow him here.  Secondly I suggest you grab a cup of coffee or maybe the entire pot as he gradually lays out what he sees ahead for the market.  Enjoy!

Big picture, the near term looks good and the longer term looks scary. That is because:

  1. The economy is now at or near its best, and we see no major economic risks on the horizon for the next year or two,
  2. There are significant long-term problems (e.g., high debt and non-debt obligations, limited abilities by central banks to stimulate, etc.) that are likely to create a squeeze,
  3. Social and political conflicts are near their worst for the last number of decades, and
  4. Conflicts get worse when economies worsen.

So while we have no near-term economic worries for the economy as a whole, we worry about what these conflicts will become like when the economy has its next downturn.

The next few pages g

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Admin

Iff you're hesitant to make stock purchases at these levels, you're not alone.

Last week I updated the Warren Buffett yardstick, market cap-to-GNP. The only time it was ever higher than it is today was for a few months at the top of the dotcom mania.

However, when you look under the surface of the market-cap-weighted indexes at median valuations they are currently far more extreme than they were back then. As my friend John Hussman puts it, this is now “the most broadly overvalued moment in market history.”

Another way to look at stock prices is in relation

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Admin

I found this interesting (the rise) however I have my own reservations because of the possible change in rates and inflation in 2017.  When inflation rises, interest rates also normally rise to maintain real rates within an appropriate range. PE ratios need to decline to reflect the increase in the earnings discount rate. Another way to look at it is that equities then face more competition for money from fixed income instruments. The cost of equities must therefore decline to keep or attract investors.  Then there is the Rule of 20 to consider.  Rule of 20 equals P/E + long term interest rates (average of 10 and 30 yr bond rates).  If at or below 20 minus inflation -- the market is a buy.  If above 20 minus inflation -- the market is a sell. Today we're at just about 20.  I think I'll keep my cautious side up.  Keep moving up my alerts and stick to only brief swings.  Something tells me it's going to be an interesting year.  All focus on the Fed and inflation.  

During the past week (

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Admin

The stock market continues to weaken, as evidenced by these ETF charts.    If you zero in on a sector you wish to short, I would bear in mind that ETFs are comprised of market leaders.  I would look for names "outside" of the ETF components; consider them leaders and you want the weaklings to short.

The reasons for weakness are numerous. 

Consider the election weight (a Trump win would weigh on equities but Clinton weighs on pharma pricing).  Then there are flat-to-dropping sales.  Of course the USD movement (up will weigh on commodities and large caps with overseas exposure).  Then there's those who feel we are already at or above maximum value and they're not buying here.  They're hedged, short some and long financials ahead of the Fed rate hike.  Then there's that Fed hike itself.  High dividend is flushing down the toilet (SDY) in September.  Overseas weakness with China not helping boost confidence for demand.  And we also have more failure at the OPEC talks with no offer from o

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Admin

Tactically Cautious On Global Equities

A December Fed rate hike, uncertainty regarding the U.S. presidential elections, weak earnings growth, diminished buyback activity and concerns about European banks pose near-term risks to global equities.  Comments in italics are mine.

DIN-20161011-091957

The summer rally has left equity valuations looking stretched. The median U.S. stock now trades at a higher P/E ratio than even at the 2000 peak. The Shiller P/E ratio stands at 27, but would be 37 if profit margins over the preceding ten years had been what they were in the 1990s. The fact that interest rates are low gives stocks some support, but with the Fed likely to hike rates in December, that tailwind will begin to fade.

Lackluster earnings growth remains another concern. S&P 500 and economy-wide profit margins have rolled over. Granted, the collapse in profits in the energy sector has been the major culprit, and this headwind should wane if oil prices edge higher over the next 12 months, as we expect. Nevertheless, faster wage growth and a f

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Admin

Buyers Stay Home; See You Next Fall

markets.png?width=750

(Click image to enlarge)

There's nothing here that even remotely makes me want to make a purchase. These are weekly shots of the main indexes so what do you see?

We rallied up over weeks like crazy madmen, squeezing out weak shorts and even had the heaviest shorted sectors help out with a short covering rally; getting the weekly into 'overbought' levels. We came up right against the long term column trend line resistance, hit overbought levels...........the weekly is rolling over. Another failure. Sorry boys. So much for that.

Certainly day traders and short-term swing traders will make their long plays but who has time for that............and why go against the trend of 'this' market......which is down. That's rhetorical.

  • We know the market is stretched on a valuation basis.
  • Don't even throw out the strange valuation approaches.
  • We know there's no more QE coming out of Washington.
  • We know earnings are a disappointment and guidance has for the most part been completely uninspiring.
  • T

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Admin

The Global Economy: April 2016

The global economy has regained some composure, according to asset management firm Schroders. In their view, markets have regained a risk appetite following action by central banks, the normalization of commodity prices, and a lack of materialization for tail risks such as a U.S. recession or a Chinese hard-landing:

economic-infographic-apr-2016.jpg

While volatility is indeed near its YTD low with the benchmark VIX down 32% since the start of the year, we would point out that this is potentially some calm before the storm.

Here are some upcoming waves, and we’ll see how they break:

Earnings and Buybacks: The blended earnings decline for the S&P 500 so far in 2016 Q1 is -8.9%, according to Factset. When earnings season is done and if this stays on target, it will mark the first time the index has seen four consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in earnings since Q4 2008 through Q3 2009. That said, companies are doing whatever they can to stifle these declines via share buybacks. S&P Dow Jones says that nearly

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Admin

Understanding Market Structure

While there's been so much 'worrying' over the slowdown in China, the Fed possibly raising rates and energy defaults with the weight on banks, it's still a good idea to remember a stock markets structure; or the steps it takes before a bear market takes place.  The basic strategy is to pay close attention during the accumulation and distribution phases as the market shifts from buyers to sellers, or vice versa. Then, by recognizing the markup and decline phases, an investor can be appropriately long or short to make solid returns.  Click image to enlarge.

1291363?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024

Courtesy of the good folks at VisualCapitalist

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Admin

The Bloomberg US Financial Conditions Index and the S&P 500 tend to move in pretty close unison. In March, however, they started to move apart in a manner similar to late last year, before the market took a nosedive. Once again, either financial conditions improve or the stock market corrects.

bloomberg financial conditions spx
Source: Bloomberg

Shown below we see a similar wide divergence when looking at credit spreads (inverted in red) compared to the S&P 500 (in black). When financial conditions are healthy, credit spreads narrow since investors require less compensation for the risk of holding non-government securities. As financial conditions deteriorate and default risks increase, credit spreads widen. The credit markets were confirming the message of the stock market up until mid-2014 and have continued to diverge ever since. Either credit spreads narrow or the stock market adjusts.

BBB spread spx
Source: FinancialSense

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Admin

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Another one that says what could cause a collapse; of course they never say "when" it will happen.  Another reason to remain cautious and take winners where you can.

According to CNBC, the S&P 500 is close to its record high as earnings season heats up, but one of the major drivers of the market's advance - stock buybacks - looks to be sagging.

U.S. companies announced about $182 billion in buybacks in the first quarter, according to Birinyi Associates research, putting buybacks on pace for their weakest year since 2012. Strategists link this, in part, to falling cash flow, a trend that is expected to worsen in coming quarters.

First-quarter earnings per share are expected to fall 7.8 percent, but more importantly for the outlook for buybacks, revenues are set for a fifth consecutive quarter of decline. Thomson Reuters data forecasts a 1.1 percent revenue drop.

Cash flow is a better indicator of buybacks prospects than earnings, as per-share earnings can be managed through cost-c

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Admin

Stock-Market-Bubble.jpg?zoom=1.5&fit=800%2C540&ssl=1&width=600

Of course, no where does it say how long this can continue but it's important to be aware. No, it can't go on forever.

We are now entering earnings season once again. Pre-announcements have been the second-worst seen over the past decade.1291333?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024

This has analysts lowering estimates. In fact, they’ve been lowered so far quarterly earnings now look to fall all the way back to 2009 levels.

1291379?profile=RESIZE_1024x1024

For the trailing twelve months earnings are now back to 2011 levels…

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…even while stocks remain 75% above their own levels from back then. Taken together you get a price-to-earnings ratio of 24, higher than any other time over the past several years.

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It should go without saying that extreme valuations and falling earnings are not a bullish recipe for stocks.

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So the fundamentals are not supportive of higher prices. What then has been driving them higher in recent weeks?

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And the greater fools are none other than the companies themselves…

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…for now. If earnings don’t turn around soon (and corp

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