A market bottom checklist update

Mid-week market update: For several weeks, sentiment surveys such as AAII and Investors Intelligence have signaled extreme levels of bearishness seen at past market bottoms. However, some observers have played down the sentiment surveys because indications of positioning are inconsistent with extreme fear. As an example, funds are still pouring into the Cathie Wood’s Ark...

Peak hawkishness = Risk-on?

The Economist is becoming known as a source of the contrarian magazine cover indicator. As the world holds its collective breath for the FOMC decision next week, the recent cover of the magazine begs a number of important questions for investors. How far beyond the inflation-fighting curve is the Fed? What are the likely policy...

How to time the recession stock market bottom

Recession fears have arrived on Main Street. From a statistical perspective, Google searches for “recession” have spiked.     From an anecdotal perspective, recession talk has emerged as the talk of the party.     These conditions beg three crucial questions for investors: Will there be a recession? If so, how much of the slowdown...

US equity investors are playing with fire

In bull markets, valuation generally doesn`t matter very much unless it reaches a nosebleed extreme, such as the NASDAQ Bubble. In bear markets, valuation defines the downside risk in equity prices.   As the Powell Fed has signaled it is dead set on a hawkish policy that does not preclude inducing a recession, valuation will...

Imagining War and Peace

The Russia-Ukraine war has dealt an unexpected shock to the global economy and markets. Even as the world began an uneven recovery from the COVID Crash of 2020 and inflation pressures began to rise, the war has spiked geopolitical risk premiums and exacerbated supply chain difficulties and added more inflationary pressures. From an economic perspective,...

How to spot a market bottom

Did the stock market make a meaningful bottom last week? Financial markets had been taking a risk-off tone coming into the week, but when the Powell Fed was slightly more hawkish than expected, the market rallied.    The S&P 500 was -14.6% peak-to-trough on an intraday basis in 2022. Ed Clissold of Ned Davis Research pointed...

Not your father’s commodity bull

Some chartists have recently become excited over the commodity outlook. Setting aside the headline-driven rise in oil prices, the long-term chart of industrial metals like copper looks bullish. Copper is tracing out a cup-and-handle pattern breakout that targets strong gains in the years ahead. Moreover, the one-and the two-year rate of change, which is designed...

An energy and geopolitical recession?

Much has happened in the space of a week. In the wake of Russia's Ukrainian invasion, the West has responded with a series of tough sanctions designed to tank the Russian economy. Energy and other commodity prices have soared and this is shaping up to be another energy and geopolitical crisis. The last three episodes...

Can the Fed engineer a soft landing?

Stock market pullbacks happen. The normal equity risk of pullbacks is the price investors pay for better long-term performance. But a recent analysis by Oxford Economics found that the average S&P 500 pullback during non-recessionary periods is -15.4% and -36% during recessions.     Here is why this matters for equity investors. The recent peak-to-trough...

A recession in 2023?

The Fed has spoken by pivoting to a more hawkish trajectory for monetary policy. The FOMC announced that it is doubling the scale of its QE taper, which puts the program on track to end in March. The December median dot-plots show that Fed officials expect three quarter-point rate hikes in 2022 and three quarter-point...

How small caps are foreshadowing the 2022 market

Small-cap stocks have lagged their large-cap counterparts in 2021. Even as the S&P 500 steadily rose to fresh highs this year, the Russell 2000 and S&P 600 finally staged upside breakouts in November out of a multi-month trading range, but they have struggled to hold those breakouts. Small-cap relative performance peaked in March, but they...

Making sense of the Great Resignation

An unusual labor market shift has occurred since the onset of the pandemic. Employers everywhere are complaining about a lack of quality employees. The Beveridge Curve, which describes the relationship between the unemployment rate and the job opening rate, has steepened considerably.      Workers are not returning to their jobs, at least not without...

Where are we in the market cycle?

Where are we in the market cycle? The accompanying chart shows a stylized market cycle and changes in sector leadership. Bear markets are characterized by the leadership of defensive sectors such as healthcare, consumer staples and utilities. Early-cycle markets are sparked by the monetary stimulus or the promise of monetary stimulus. The market leaders in...

Team Stagflation, or Team Transitory?

Stagflation fears are rising again. It's a natural reaction to the short-term data. September headline CPI came in hot, though the core CPI print was in line with expectations and PPI was soft. Inflation expectations are spiking...     ...while the Atlanta Fed's GDP nowcast is plummeting. Consumer confidence is dropping, driven by supply chain...

Will the energy price surge cause a recession?

As energy prices surged around the world, I had an extensive discussion with a reader about whether the latest price spike could cause a recession. This is an important consideration for investors as recessions are equity bull market killers.   The evidence isn't clear. On one hand, every recession in the post-War period (shaded grey...

Time for a mid-cycle swoon?

The S&P 500 fell as much -4% from its all-time high in Evergrande panic pullback last week. Is the recent weakness just typical seasonal weakness or something more serious? The intermediate-term breadth looks disconcerting. The percentage of S&P 500 stocks above their 200-day moving average (dma) had been at the 90% level which indicates a...