Treasury yields confirm bond bear market

10-Year Treasury yields respected their new support level at 3.00%, confirming a primary advance.

10-year Treasury Yield

Breakout above 3.00% also completes a double-bottom reversal, signaling the end of a three-decade-long secular bull market in bonds.

LT 10-year Treasury Yield

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.

1981 to 2018: 10-Year Treasury Yields and GDP Implicit Price Deflator

Only if the gap widens (real returns rise significantly) are we likely to see downward pressure on stock valuations, with falling price-earnings multiples.

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.

Yields rise but will stocks fall?

Yields on 10-year US Treasuries are again testing resistance at 3.0 percent. Breakout seems inevitable.

10-Year Treasury Yield

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.

10-Year Treasury Yield - Quarterly

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.

Life left in US stocks

According to market pundits, the latest stock sell-off was fueled by concerns over rising bond yields and slowing growth for Caterpillar (CAT).

From CNBC:

….Caterpillar shares reversed lower during the call, when Chief Financial Officer Brad Halverson said first-quarter adjusted profits per share will be the highest for the year because of increased investment later in 2018.

“We expect the targeted investments for future growth to be higher over the remaining three quarters,” Halverson said. “The outlook assumes that first-quarter adjusted profit per share will be the high-water mark for the year.”

Caterpillar (CAT)

The stock fell 6.2% on Wednesday, ignoring the earnings report:

In the earnings report, the Illinois-based machinery manufacturer raised its 2018 profit outlook by $2 a share over the previous quarter, to a range of $10.25 to $11.25 per share. The rosier guidance exceeds a Reuters analyst survey that expected a range of $8.39 to $10.60 a share. The company cited better-than-expected sales volume as the main driver of its improved full-year guidance.

Since when has “better-than-expected sales volume,” upward earnings revision and increased new investment been a bear signal? The market is unusually jittery at present, focusing on any semblance of bad news and ignoring the good.

Even concern over rising bond yields is nothing new.

10-Year Treasury Yields

10-Year Treasury yields are testing resistance at 3.0%. Breakout would complete a double-bottom reversal, warning of a bear market in bonds as yields rise. But rising long-term rates are not bad news for stocks, especially when off a low base as at present. I would go so far as to say that, over the last 20 years, rising 10-year yields have been bullish for stocks. The chart below compares annual percentage change in 10-year Treasury yields and the Russell 3000 Total Market index.

10-Year Treasury Yields and Russell 3000 Index 12-Month Rate of Change

There is plenty more good news that the market seems to be ignoring.

First quarter 2018 corporate earnings have so far impressed. According to S&P Indices, 117 stocks in the S&P 500 had reported results by the morning of April 24th. Of those, 91 (77.8%) beat, 10 (8.5%) met and 16 (13.7%) missed their estimates. Misses are largely concentrated in Materials ( 3 of 5), Industrials (4 of 26) and Consumer Discretionary sectors (5 of 13).

Freight activity remains strong, signaling a reviving economy.

S&P 500

Wages growth remains tame, with average hourly earnings of production and non-supervisory employees increasing at an annual rate of 2.42%. Growth above 3.0% would warn that underlying inflation is rising and the Fed will be forced to tighten monetary policy. But that does not appear imminent.

S&P 500

Muted wages growth allowed corporate profits (the blue line below) to rebound after a threatened down-turn.

S&P 500

Consumption has recovered. Per capita consumption of non-durable goods is recovering after a flat spot in 2017, consumption of durable goods has been rising since 2016, while services remain strong.

S&P 500

In financial markets, risk premiums on corporate bonds (Baa minus Treasuries) have declined to below 2.0%, suggesting a healthy credit outlook.

S&P 500

Bank credit is recovering after faltering in 2017.

S&P 500

The yield curve is flattening as the Fed gradually raises interest rates. A flat yield curve is not a threat. Only if it inverts, when the yield differential (gray line on the chart below) falls below zero, is the economy at risk of falling into a recession. Growth in the money stock (green MZM line on the chart below) has slowed but remains healthy.

S&P 500

The Fed has committed to shrinking its $4 trillion investment in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) run up by quantitative easing (QE) between 2009 and 2014. So far the decline has had no impact on financial markets as bank excess reserves on deposit at the Fed are declining at a similar rate. The effect is that net assets (Fed Assets minus Excess Reserves) are holding steady at $2.4 trillion.

S&P 500

The Philadelphia Fed’s Leading Index remains healthy at above 1.0 percent.

S&P 500

And our estimate of real GDP is rising (2.14% in March 2018), suggesting that the economy is recovering from its flat spot in 2016/2017.

S&P 500

Valuations are high and investors are jittery but the bull market still appears to have further to run.

How QE reversal will impact on financial markets

The Federal Reserve last year announced plans to shrink its balance sheet which had grown to $4.5 trillion under the quantitative easing (QE) program.

According to its June 2017 Normalization Plan, the Fed will scale back reinvestment at the rate of $10 billion per month and step this up every 3 months by a further $10 billion per month until it reaches a total of $50 billion per month in 2019. That means that $100 billion will be withheld in the first year and $200 billion each year thereafter.

How will this impact on financial markets? Here are a few clues.

First, from the Nikkei Asian Review on January 11:

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note shot to a 10-month high of 2.59% in London, before retreating later in the day and ending roughly unchanged in New York. Yields rise when bonds are sold.

The selling was sparked by reports that China may halt or slow down its purchases of U.S. Treasury holdings. China has the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves — holding $3.1 trillion, about 40% of which is in U.S. government notes, according to Brad Setser, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Chinese officials, as expected, denied the reports. But they would have to be pondering what to do with more than a trillion dollars of US Treasuries during a bond bear market.

Treasury yields are rising, with the 10-year yield breaking through resistance at 2.60%, signaling a primary up-trend.

On the quarterly chart, 10-year yields have broken clear of the long-term trend channel drawn at 2 standard deviations, warning of reversal of the three-decade-long secular trend. But final confirmation will only come from a breakout above 3.0%, completing a large double-bottom.

Withdrawal or a slow-down of US Treasury purchases by foreign buyers (let’s not call them investors – they have other motives) would cause the Dollar to weaken. The Dollar Index recently broke support at 91, signaling another primary decline.

The falling Dollar has created a bull market for gold which is likely to continue while interest rates are low.

US equities are likely to benefit from the falling Dollar. Domestic manufacturers can compete more effectively in both local and export markets, while the weaker Dollar will boost offshore earnings of multinationals.

The S&P 500 is headed for a test of its long-term target at 3000*.

Target: 1500 x 2 = 3000

Emerging market borrowers may also benefit from lower domestic servicing costs on Dollar-denominated loans.

Bridgewater CEO Ray Dalio at Davos:

We are in this Goldilocks period right now. Inflation isn’t a problem. Growth is good, everything is pretty good with a big jolt of stimulation coming from changes in tax laws…

If there is a downside, it is likely to be higher US inflation as employment surges and commodity prices rise. Which would force the Fed to raise interest rates faster than the market expects.

Gold bears grow as Fed hints at rate hike

The Fed is expected to hike interest rates next week. 10-year Treasury yields broke resistance at 2.5 percent, signaling an advance to the 2013/2014 high of 3.0 percent. Breakout above 3.0 percent is still a way off but would complete a large double bottom signaling the end of the 30-year secular bull market in bonds. Rising interest rates are bearish for gold.

10-year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index rally continues to meet resistance, with tall shadows on the last four weekly candles signaling selling pressure. Rising interest rates could strengthen the advance, with bearish consequences for gold, but Chinese sell-off of foreign reserves (to support the Yuan) is working against this.

Dollar Index

Spot Gold is testing support at $1200/ounce. Recovery above $1250 would indicate that the recent down-trend has ended. But breach of support is more likely and would warn of another test of long-term support at $1050/ounce.

Spot Gold

Gold hesitates as Fed hints at rate hike

From WSJ:

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen signaled the central bank is likely to raise short-term interest rates at its March meeting and suggested more increases are likely this year if the economy performs as expected.

“At our meeting later this month, the [Federal Open Market] Committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with our expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate,” Ms. Yellen said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Executives’ Club of Chicago.

The Dollar Index rally continues to meet resistance, with tall shadows on the last three weekly candles signaling selling pressure. Rising interest rates would strengthen the advance, with bearish consequences for gold.

Dollar Index

Spot Gold hesitated at $1250/ounce. Rising interest rates also increase the opportunity cost of holding precious metals. Reversal below $1200 would warn of another decline but recovery above $1250 remains more likely and would signal an advance to $1300.

Spot Gold

Gold breaks through $1250

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%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index rally remains muted since finding support at 100. Rising long-term yields would fuel the advance, with bearish consequences for gold.

Dollar Index

China’s Yuan is consolidating. Resistance on USDCNY at 7 Yuan is likely to be tested soon.

USDCNY

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.

China Foreign Reserves

Spot Gold broke through resistance at $1250, signaling an advance to $1300.

Spot Gold

Interest rates bearish for gold

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%.

10-Year Treasury Yields

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.

Dollar Index

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.

Spot Gold

Gold falls as the Fed hikes rates

10-Year Treasury yields jumped above resistance at 2.5 percent after the latest Fed rate hike. Penetration of the long-term descending trendline warns that the secular down-trend is ending. Expect a test of the 2013/2014 high at 3.0 percent. Breakout would confirm the long-term down-trend has ended.

10-Year Treasury Yields

The Dollar Index respected its new support level at 100, signaling an advance to 107*.

US Dollar Index

* Target medium-term: 100 + ( 100 – 93 ) = 107

Gold continued its descent in response to rising interest rates and a stronger Dollar. Steps by the Chinese government to limit private gold purchases, in an attempt to support the Yuan, will also impact on demand. Target for the decline is unchanged at the December 2015 low of $1050/ounce. Retracement that respects the resistance level at $1200 would further strengthen the bear signal.

Spot Gold