The economic data has continued to disappoint on virtually all fronts, earnings are weak and markets are grossly extended. Yet, investors are more bullish than ever...
GE stock is down almost 13% over the last 7 years, and this is with record shares being taken off the market. However, Jeff Immelt thinks he has a solution for this problem after 15 years at the helm of GE.
The US dollar has been even stronger than this bull thought let alone the perma-bears. Here's why,
"The fair value of hedges held by 57 U.S. companies in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Explorers and Producers index rose to $26 billion as of Dec. 31, a fivefold increase from the end of September," Bloomberg writes, noting that the very same Wall Street banks on the hook for the hedges also financed the shale boom.
The era of infrastructure investment and multilateral banks and financial institutions controlled, in large part, by Washington - often as an aggressive strategic policy tool - has come to an end.
Yesterday it was only the US that got the full benefit of the market-wide stop hunt that sent the US market soaring on its biggest opening ramp in 2015 following the worst payroll data since 2013, because Europe was closed for Easter Monday. Which means today it was Europe's turn to celebrate atrocious US data (yes, yes, snow - because somehow tremendous January and February jobs data was not impacted by snow), and in the first European trading session of the week, equities have started off on the front-foot.
"Never, since 1900, have investors been this persistently bullish," warns Wells Fargo's Jim Paulsen. While the 13 previous cautionary signals since 1900 suggesting investor sentiment was too high have not been perfect, they have proved to be fairly good warning signs; and along with "massive overvaluation", and a dramatic "decoupling of markets from economic productivity" this extreme sentiment reading completes the trifecta of flashing red warning signs for US equity markets.
No one thinks this market is real. Everyone believes that it’s a by-product of outrageously extraordinary monetary policy actions rather than the by-product of fundamental economic growth and productivity, and what the Fed giveth … the Fed can taketh away. This is a big problem for the Fed, as their efforts to force greater risk-taking in markets through LSAP and QE (and thus more productive risk-taking, or at least inflation, in the real economy) have failed to take hold in investor hearts and minds. Yes, we’re fully invested, but only because we have to be. To paraphrase the old saying about beauty, risk-taking is only skin deep for today’s investor, but risk-aversion goes clear to the bone. It’s also the root of our current advisor-investor malaise. De-risking a bull market is a very different animal than de-risking a bear market. And neither is the same as diversification.
Did stocks window dressing come one day early in this volatile, bipolar, stop-hunting, HFT-infested market? Looking at futures this morning, which are down about 12 points already on yet another surge in the USD which has sent the EURUSD just above 1.07, the lowest since March 20 , and the USDJPY back under 120 now that the "strong dollar is bad for stocks after all" algo seems to be back from vacation, all those hedge funds who chased risk higher yesterday because their peers did the same, may find they are all selling on the way down. It will be oddly ironic if all of yesterday's widely touted gains evaporate comparably in the first 10 minutes of trading today, and lead to an end in the longest streak of quarterly increases in two decades.
In 2007 we see another dive in correlation as the last high close occurs and fades away. We are again seeing a violation of the sub-60 area.
If normalisation is the result of economic recovery we will be familiar with the playbook. However, The Fed has to face the possibility that, for whatever reason, highly suppressed interest rates are not working, and an escape from the zero interest rate bound without economic recovery may have to be contemplated. If interest rates cannot rise, then the dollar itself is ultimately exposed to loss of confidence in the foreign exchanges. The dawning realisation that after recent strength, the dollar is vulnerable after all can be expected to be reflected in a positive sentiment towards gold, which once under way could drive the price up dramatically due to the lack of available bullion.
Forget about Rig Counts, we need to see Producer Counts go down considerably, until that happens the oil market hasn`t bottomed.
The negative divergence of the markets from economic strength and momentum are simply warning signs and do not currently suggest becoming grossly underweight equity exposure. However, warning signs exist for a reason, and much like Wyle E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, not paying attention to the signs has tended to have rather severe consequences. When the market eventually cracks, the "disposition" effect will trump all the good intentions of "buying and holding" for the long-term. The eventual "panic to sell" will lead to a significant destruction in investment capital and a reversion in investor psychology to extreme negativity. While the basic premise of investing is to "buy low" and "sell high," repeated studies show that there are precious few who do.