We are now entering the blackout period when US corporates normally refrain from buying back stock, in the four to six-week period prior to their next earnings release. There is no outright ban on buybacks during that period but discretionary repurchases are restricted.
Zerohedge illustrates the extent to which stock buybacks are currently driving the market:
Buybacks dwarf the $18 billion year-to-date inflow from ETF investors into US equities. The blackout period is likely to cause weakness.
10-Year Treasury yields also breached support at 2.60%, warning of a further decline in long-term interest rates. A sign of increased risk aversion.
Volatility on the S&P 500 has declined close to 1% but an upsurge in the next few weeks would warn of elevated risk. Breach of 2600 would indicate another test of primary support at 2350/2400.
We extend our sympathies to the victims of the shooting in Christchurch and their families. Our hope is that this atrocity will draw people together in support of each other rather than divide them.
It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence….
~ Eric Hoffer
Bloomberg: “U.S. stocks slid as investors grew anxious that the Trump administration won’t reach a trade deal with China before a March deadline for escalating the war. Treasuries surged.
The post-Christmas rally that added 16 percent to the S&P 500 came under increasing pressure amid reports the two trading partners remained far apart on a deal and that the nations’ presidents won’t meet before higher tariffs are slated to take effect on Chinese goods next month.”
S&P 500 volatility remains high. If the rally runs out of steam, a large Twiggs Volatility (21-day) trough above 1.0% would signal a bear market. Retreat below 2600 would reinforce the signal.
Crude prices retreated below resistance at $54/$55 per barrel, on fears of falling global (mainly Chinese) demand. Another test of primary support at $42/barrel is likely.
10-Year Treasury yields retreated to 2.65%. A Trend Index peak below zero warns of buying pressure from investors (yields fall when prices rise) who are looking for safety.
My conclusion is the same as last week. This is a bear market. Recovery hinges on an unlikely resolution of the US-China ‘trade dispute’.
The secret of happiness is freedom and the secret of freedom is courage.
~ Thucydides (460 – 400 B.C.)
10-Year Treasury yields respected their new support level at 3.00%, confirming a primary advance.
Breakout above 3.00% also completes a double-bottom reversal, signaling the end of a three-decade-long secular bull market in bonds.
The yield differential between 10-year and 3-month Treasuries is declining but a flat yield curve does not warn of a recession. Only if the yield differential crosses below zero, with short-term yields rising faster than long-term, will there be a recession warning.
Real returns on long-term bonds — the gap between the green and blue lines below — remain near record lows.
Only if the gap widens (real returns rise significantly) are we likely to see downward pressure on stock valuations, with falling price-earnings multiples.
Yields on 10-year US Treasuries are again testing resistance at 3.0 percent. Breakout seems inevitable.
The long-term chart shows how breakout would complete a double bottom reversal, after a 3-decade-long secular bull market in bonds/down-trend in yields.
While most major stock market down-turns are caused by falling earnings expectations rather than revised earnings multiples, I do agree with Hamish Douglass that rising yields are likely to soften stock valuations.
It is a terrible mistake for investors with long-term horizons – among them, pension funds, college endowments and savings-minded individuals – to measure their investment ‘risk’ by their portfolio’s ratio of bonds to stocks. Often, high-grade bonds in an investment portfolio increase its risk.
~ Warren Buffett, letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway – February 24, 2018
10-Year Treasury Yields are testing support at 2.30%. Expect this to hold. Breach of the rising trendline would warn of a correction but this seems unlikely with the Fed intent on normalizing interest rates. Breakout above 2.50% would offer a target of 3.0%.
The Dollar Index rally remains muted since finding support at 100. Rising long-term yields would fuel the advance, with bearish consequences for gold.
China’s Yuan is consolidating. Resistance on USDCNY at 7 Yuan is likely to be tested soon.
The PBOC has been burning through its foreign reserves to slow the rate of depreciation against the Dollar, to create a soft landing. A sharp fall would destabilize global financial markets and fuel capital flight from China.
Spot Gold broke through resistance at $1250, signaling an advance to $1300.
10-Year Treasury Yields are consolidating below resistance at 2.50%. Long tails suggest medium-term buying pressure. Breakout is likely and would offer a target of 3.0%.
The Dollar Index rally has so far been muted since finding support at 100. But rising long-term yields are likely to fuel the advance, with bearish consequences for gold.
Spot Gold is consolidating below $1250/ounce. Reversal below $1200 would warn of another decline. Breach of primary support at $1130 would confirm. Arguments for a further advance appear weak, but breakout above $1250 would signal an advance to $1300.
The Yuan is sliding against the Dollar, with USDCNY breaking through resistance at 6.60. Expect further capital flight, both from residents and offshore investors. Borrowers will also seek to repay Dollar-denominated loans and replace them with facilities in the local currency, adding further pressure on the Yuan.
The PBOC has been encouraged by fading prospects of further rate rises from the Fed, with 10-year Treasury Yields falling to a new all-time low of 1.37 percent, compared to 1.40 percent in 2012.
….And the Pound falling to a 30-year low.
Falling currencies and lower long-term interest rates are both good news for gold bugs, with spot gold surging to $1370/ounce. Expect retracement to test the new support level at $1300/ounce. Respect of the band of support at $1280/$1300 is likely and would signal another advance, with a target of $1400/ounce*.
* Target calculation: 1300 + ( 1300 – 1200 ) = 1400
China seems to have given up on its policy of supporting the Yuan against the Dollar, with USDCNY breaking through resistance at 6.60. Depleting foreign reserves to support the Dollar-peg was always going to be a tough call for the PBOC. But the alternative of increased capital flight and rising counter-measures from trading partners may exact an even higher price.
Perhaps the PBOC was encouraged by fading prospects of further rate rises from the Fed this year, after BREXIT. 10-Year Treasury Yields are headed for a test of support at the all-time low of 1.40 percent in 2012.
Gold broke resistance at $1300/ounce and is now retracing to test the new support level. BREXIT, a weakening Yuan, and lower interest rates are all likely to fuel demand for gold. Respect of the band of support at $1280/$1300 is likely and would signal another advance, with a target of $1400/ounce*.
* Target calculation: 1300 + ( 1300 – 1200 ) = 1400
Gold broke below its recent flag formation, warning of a test of support at $1200/ounce.
Selling is driven by expectations of a Fed interest rate hike in June …..and recent Chinese stimulus which postponed Yuan devaluation against the Dollar. But expectations of a rate hike are causing a sell-off of the Chinese Yuan, with the USDCNY strengthening over the last few weeks.
…Which in turn will cause the Chinese to sell foreign reserves to support the Dollar peg (…..else devalue which would panic investors and cause a downward spiral). Sale of Dollar reserves by China would drive the Dollar lower.
…and Gold higher. I remain bullish as long as support at $1200/ounce holds.
Disclosure: Our Australian managed portfolios are invested in gold stocks.