East to West: Asian stocks find support

Asian stocks are finding support after a sell-off over the last three months.

The Shanghai Composite Index is showing a slight bullish divergence on the Trend Index. This is secondary in size and suggests a bear market rally.

Shanghai Composite Index

South Korea’s Seoul Composite Index displays a stronger bullish divergence. Breakout above 2350 and the descending trendline is still unlikely but would indicate that a bottom is forming.

Seoul Composite Index

Japan’s Nikkei 225 broke through resistance at 23,000, signaling an advance to the January high at 24,000.

Nikkei 225 Index

India shows strong buying pressure, with long tails on the Nifty suggesting another strong advance.

Nifty Index

Europe

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 600 is trending lower. Support at 374 is secondary but the Trend Index near zero indicates hesitancy.

DJ Euro Stoxx 600 Index

The Footsie found medium-term support at 7250 but a declining Trend Index warns of another test of primary support at 6900/7000.

FTSE 100 Index

North America

The S&P 500 retracement respected support at 2875, suggesting an advance to the long-term target of 3000.

S&P 500

Canada’s TSX 60 on the other hand is undergoing a correction, perhaps exacerbated by concerns over NAFTA. Expect support at 935/940.

TSX 60 Index

Nothing much has changed. While Japan and India are bullish, China and South Korea remain in a bear market. Europe looks hesitant, while the S&amp:P 500 continues in a strong bull market.

The generally accepted view is that markets are always right — that is, market prices tend to discount future developments accurately even when it is unclear what those developments are. I start with the opposite view. I believe the market prices are always wrong in the sense that they present a biased view of the future.

~ George Soros

East to West: Bonds & tariffs hurt developing markets and crude prices

10-Year Treasury yields are consolidating in a triangle below long-term resistance at 3.00 percent. Breakout above 3.00 would signal a primary advance, ending the decades-long bull market in bonds. This would have a heavy impact on developing economies, including China, with a stronger Dollar forcing higher interest rates.

10-year Treasury Yields

A Trend Index trough above zero would signal buying pressure and a likely upward breakout.

Crude oil prices, as a consequence of higher interest rates and the threat of trade tariffs, are starting to form a top. Bearish divergence on the Trend Index warns of selling pressure. Breach of support at $65/barrel would signal reversal to a primary down-trend.

Nymex Light Crude

Commodity prices are leading, breach of support at 85.50 already having signaled a primary down-trend.

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

China’s Shanghai Composite Index is in a primary down-trend. Trend Index peaks below zero warn of selling pressure. Breach of support at 2700 is likely. The long-term target is the 2014 low at 2000.

Shanghai Composite Index

Germany’s DAX is headed for a test of primary support at 11,800. Descending peaks on the Trend Index warn of secondary selling pressure. Breach of primary support is uncertain but would offer a target of 10,500.

DAX

The Footsie also shows secondary selling pressure on the Trend Index, warning of a test of primary support at 6900/7000.

FTSE 100

In stark contrast, North American tech stocks have made huge gains in the last four months, but are now retracing to test support. Breach of the rising trendline and support at 7400 would warn of a correction; a test of the long-term rising trendline at 7000 the likely target.

Nasdaq 100

The S&P 500 has also made new highs. Penetration of the rising trendline would warn of a correction to the LT trendline at 2800.

S&P 500

North America leads the global recovery, developing markets including China are falling, while Europe is sandwiched in the middle, with potential loss of trade from East and West if a trade war erupts.

From the AFR today:

President Donald Trump said he’s ready to impose tariffs on an additional $US267 billion in Chinese goods on short notice, on top of a proposed $US200 billion that his administration is putting the final touches on.

“….I will say this: the world trading system is broken.” Trump is “dead serious” in his determination to push China to reform its trade policies, [White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow] added.

Can’t say he didn’t warn us.

East to West in three charts

The S&P 500 is making new highs while a rising Trend Index indicates buying pressure. Target for the advance is 3000.

S&P 500

China’s Shanghai Composite Index is in a primary down-trend. Trend Index peaks below zero warn of selling pressure. Breach of support at 2700 is likely and would offer a long-term target of the 2014 low at 2000.

Shanghai Composite Index

The Footsie broke support at 7600. Follow-through below 7500 warns of a correction to test primary support at 6900/7000.

FTSE 100

North America leads the global recovery, China is falling, while Europe is sandwiched in the middle, with potential loss of trade from East and West if a trade war erupts.

East to West: US rallies, China falls

The S&P 500 is testing its January high at 2870. A rising Trend Index indicates buying pressure. Follow-through is likely to test resistance at 3000.

S&P 500

A monthly chart of the NASDAQ 100 illustrates tech stock strength, with a rally from 4500 to 7500 in just two years. Breakout above medium-term resistance at 7500 is more likely, offering a target of 8000, while a correction would test support at 7000. Breakout from the triangle pattern on the Trend Index would indicate index direction.

Nasdaq 100

Canada’s TSX 60 index is also advancing. A rising Trend Index suggests buying pressure. Retracement that respects support at 960 is likely and would signal another advance, with a target of 1040.

TSX 60

China paints the opposite picture, with the Shanghai Composite Index testing long-term support at 2700. Trend Index peaks below zero warn of selling pressure and breach of support would offer a long-term target of the 2014 low at 2000.

Shanghai Composite Index

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index broke support at 28,000/28,500 offering a long-term target of 25,000.

Hang Seng Index

South Korea’s Seoul Composite Index found support above 2200. Retracement to test new resistance at 2350 is likely. A lot depends on progress in peace negotiations with North Korea.

Seoul Composite Index

Japan’s Nikkei 225 is consolidating between 23,000 and 24,000 suggesting uncertainty over fallout from a threatened US-China trade war.

Nikkei 225

India is more on the periphery of current trade disputes, with the Nifty continuing its advance toward a target of 12,000.

Nifty

In Europe, Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 600 continues to reflect uncertainty, with long-term consolidation below 400. Breakout would signal a fresh advance but don’t hold your breath. It could take a while.

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 600

The Footsie is retracing to test support at 7500 but respect is likely and would offer a target of 8000.

FTSE 100

North America clearly leads the global recovery, while Asia lags. Europe is sandwiched in the middle, with potential loss of trade in the East and West if a trade war erupts.

Thucydides once wrote “When one great power threatens to displace another, war is almost always the result.” In his day it was Athens and Sparta but in the modern era, war between great powers, with mutually assured destruction (MAD), is most unlikely. What we are witnessing is negotiation to define rules for peaceful coexistence in the 21st century. A lack of clear rules increases the risk of miscalculation and rapid escalation to a hard conflict.

Absent the willingness to use military force, the country with the greatest economic power is in the strongest position to set the rules.

War is a matter not so much of arms as of money.

~ Thucydides (460 – 400 B.C.)

Bears in the East, Bulls in the West

Market fears of a trade war appear to be easing but investors in China and South Korea remain cautious.

The Shanghai Composite Index is retracing to test resistance at the former primary support level at 3000.

Shanghai Composite Index

Dow Jones – UBS Commodity Index shows a similar retracement in commodity prices.

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

While crude oil prices have found support at the LT rising trendline.

Nymex Light Crude

South Korea’s Seoul Composite Index is in a primary down-trend but retracement to test the former primary support level at 2350 is likely.

Seoul Composite Index

Japan is more isolated and the Nikkei 225 is testing resistance at 23,000. A rising Trend Index suggests that breakout is likely, which would test the January high at 24,000.

Nikkei 225 Index

India is stronger, with the Nifty breaking resistance at its January high of 11,100 to signal a primary advance with a target of 12,000. But first, expect retracement to test the new support level.

Nifty Index

Europe

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 600 was boosted by news that the EU-US trade dispute is settled. A Trend Index trough above zero signals strong buying pressure. and another test of 400 is likely.

DJ Euro Stoxx 600 Index

A bullish saucer pattern on the Footsie suggest further gains. The Trend Index trough above zero indicates buying pressure. Breakout of the index above 7800 would signal another advance, with a target of 8200.

FTSE 100 Index

North America

The Nasdaq 100 retreated when Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) reported disappointing growth for the quarter. Bearish divergence on the Trend Index warns of selling pressure but this appears secondary and support at 7000 is likely to hold. Respect would confirm another advance.

Nasdaq 100

Friday’s retreat is also evident on the S&P 500 daily chart. Expect retracement to test new support at 2800. A strong GDP result should strengthen support.

S&P 500

Canada’s TSX 60 retraced to test the new support level at 970. Respect would signal a test of 1000 but breach is as likely, testing support at 940.

TSX 60 Index

Avoiding the hubris trap

Great example of how even the most professional management teams can fall into the hubris trap.

Michael Chaney describes to The Age how Wesfarmers burnt a billion dollars on the highly successful Bunnings hardware chain’s expansion into the UK market:

S&P 500

Bunnings Warehouse by Bidgee – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Chaney was the chairman that signed off and despite everything contends he had never seen a more thorough investment analysis than had been undertaken on Bunnings UK.

They had a base case set of projections and a downside case and it all looked very positive at the time according to Chaney.

But a couple of fundamental mistakes were made subsequently after acquisition of Homebase home improvement network of stores including the removal of 150 senior managers.

“One was moving out the senior management and replacing it with our Australian experts and the second was getting rid of a lot of the products and the franchises because they didn’t suit the Bunnings model,” says Chaney.

By way of example the Australian interlopers jettisoned Laura Ashley from the home decorator product line up – and British women voted with their purses.

It was the success of the Australian model and its management that blinded the higher ups inside Wesfarmers to the fact that these guys didn’t know better what the UK customers wanted. Wesfarmers got caught in the hubris trap.

Some years earlier hardware giant Lowes fell into a similar trap in the US. Number-crunchers at head office worked out that they could save a bundle by replacing senior salespeople with more junior, inexperienced staff. The knowledge base of experienced floor staff was decimated. Customer service and sales plummeted. As one manager described it: “we became find-it-yourself instead of do-it-yourself.” Fortunately Lowes were able to correct their mistake and should have learned a valuable lesson but it seems they did not.

Investors should always be on the lookout for the hubris trap. The more successful the company, the more vulnerable they are. Expanding operations away from the home country or state is often a high risk venture, where management may be blind to cultural differences, regulatory pitfalls and an array of new competitors. Expanding into new product lines or services that are outside management’s traditional core expertise may also present traps for the unwary.

Ask Woolworths (Australia) about their Masters hardware venture, Commonwealth Bank about their expansion into financial advice, NAB about their expansion into UK markets, Centro Properties (now Vicinity) and Westfield about their foray into US shopping centers,….. I could go on. It’s a long list.

East to West: Headed for war?

Followers of international relations can take their pick of wars at present. There is a trade war brewing between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, which could descend into a currency war with competing devaluations. We have a Russia waging a cyber war on the West, a Cold War in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, a proxy war in Yemen between Saudia Arabia and Iran, a frozen war in Georgia and Ukraine, and a hot war in Syria that threatens to escalate into a major confrontation between Russia and the West. On top of that we have Kim Jong-un trying to break into the big leagues by test-firing ICBMs over Japan. It’s a tough neighborhood.

The “peace dividend” that was supposed to follow the collapse of Communism is well and truly over. The next major ideological conflict is upon us. Democracy versus the Dictators. For the West to prevail it will have to engage in a coordinated muscular diplomacy over the next few decades. A good start would be Margaret Thatcher’s Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (2002):

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the oval office, 1988

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the oval office, 1988

“For my part, I favour an approach to statecraft that embraces principles, as long as it is not stifled by them; and I prefer such principles to be accompanied by steel along with good intentions.

…The habit of ubiquitous interventionism, combining pinprick strikes by precision weapons with pious invocations of high principle, would lead us into endless difficulties. Interventions must be limited in number and overwhelming in their impact.

….I should therefore prefer to restrict my guidelines to the following:

Don’t believe that military interventions, no matter how morally justified, can succeed without clear military goals.

Don’t fall into the trap of imagining that the West can remake societies.

Don’t take public opinion for granted — but don’t either underrate the degree to which good people will endure sacrifices for a worthwhile cause.

Don’t allow tyrants and aggressors to get away with it

And when you fight — fight to win.’

But the West also needs to clean up its own house and correct many of the abuses to which Capitalism has been subjected over the last few decades. Martin Wolf sums up the challenges in US-China rivalry will shape the 21st century:

‘The threat is the decadence of the west, very much including the US — the prevalence of rent extraction as a way of economic life, the indifference to the fate of much of its citizenry, the corrupting role of money in politics, the indifference to the truth, and the sacrifice of long-term investment to private and public consumption….’

Bold leadership is required. To fight the wars we have to but, more importantly, to resolve conflicts by other means wherever possible. That doesn’t mean avoiding conflict by retreating from red lines. It means establishing and vigorously enforcing new rules that benefit everyone. No one wins in a war. Whether it is a trade war, a cold war or a hot war. Everyone pays a price.

‘It must be thoroughly understood that war is a necessity, and that the more readily we accept it, the less will be the ardor of our opponents….’

~ Thucydides (circa 400 BC)

Around the markets: Hong Kong & India bullish

Canada’s TSX 60 continues to test resistance at the former primary support level of 900. Bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow warns of strong selling pressure. Decline below 880 would confirm a primary down-trend, with an initial target of 865*.

TSX 60 Index

* Target calculation: 900 – ( 935 – 900 ) = 865

The Footsie recovered above 7400 but bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow warns of long-term selling pressure. Another test of primary support at 7100 remains likely.

FTSE 100 Index

European stocks are taking a beating, with the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index testing support at 3400. Sharp decline on Twiggs Money Flow warns of selling pressure. Breach of 3400 would warn of a test of 3200.

DJ Euro Stoxx 50 Index

* Target calculation: 3650 – ( 3650 – 3450 ) = 3850

India’s Sensex remains in a bull market.

BSE Sensex

* Target calculation: 29000 + ( 29000 – 26000 ) = 32000

As does Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.

Hang Seng Index

* Target calculation: 24000 – ( 24000 – 21500 ) = 26500

While China’s Shanghai Composite index ranges between 3000 and 3300. Government interference remains a concern.

Shanghai Composite Index

Round the world: India & Hong Kong advance, Canada falters

Canada’s TSX 60 retraced to test resistance at the former primary support level of 900. Respect is likely and would signal a bear market. Decline of Twiggs Money Flow/Trend Index below zero would strengthen the bear signal. Medium-term target for the decline is 865*.

TSX 60 Index

* Target calculation: 900 – ( 935 – 900 ) = 865

The Footsie is losing momentum, with penetration of successive trendlines and declining Twiggs Trend Index. A test of primary support at 7100 is likely.

FTSE 100 Index

Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 Index, representing the 50 largest stocks in the Euro Zone, found support above 3400. Penetration of the declining trendline would indicate the correction is over and suggest the start of another advance — confirmed if the index breaks its recent (May 2017) high.

DJ Euro Stoxx 50 Index

* Target calculation: 3650 – ( 3650 – 3450 ) = 3850

It’s full steam ahead for India’s Sensex. Trend Index troughs above zero indicate strong buying pressure. Expect some profit-taking at the target of 32000* but any correction is likely to be shallow as the bull market gathers momentum.

BSE Sensex

* Target calculation: 29000 + ( 29000 – 26000 ) = 32000

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has also reached its target of 26500. Again Trend Index troughs above zero indicate solid buying pressure.

Hang Seng Index

* Target calculation: 24000 – ( 24000 – 21500 ) = 26500

China’s Shanghai Composite index is also rallying but I remain wary of government intervention.

Shanghai Composite Index