Busy day for our friends from Goldman who are now turning quite bearish it appears following the two GDP cuts earlier.
We are closing our recommendation to be long the Russell 2000 index ahead of our 860 target for potential gains of c2.25%, opened at 799.26 on 26-Jan-2012. We initiated the trade to express the view that cyclical bits of the US equity market were likely to be supported by ongoing improvements in the US data, that US monetary policy had turned incrementally more accommodative, and that the Russell 2000, in particular, appeared (at the time) to be lagging behind both the data and other pro-cyclical implementations. After some impressive data in early February, which boosted the Russell 2000, over the last month still-solid macro data has failed to produce further results and the Russell -- along with other high beta/cyclical implementations -- have sagged (even though the S&P 500 has continued to progress). This may partly reflect the headwinds from higher oil prices and with today’s weaker-than-expected ISM, and forward-looking components also turning softer, we have decided to close this position with modest gains.
Despite our shift back to neutral, we will continue to use the data to inform our tactical trading stance, and will consider reengaging if the current softer patch in US data turns out to be transient. But our view of forward risks is more balanced at this point, having already seen a significant data-driven market rally, and with the data turning incrementally less uniformly good.