ASX confirms a bear market

The ASX 200 broke primary support level at 7000, confirming a bear market.

ASX 200

Long-term interest rates are rising, with bond ETFs falling.

Australia: Bond ETFs

A-REITs respected resistance at the former primary support level of 1500, confirming the primary down-trend. Trend Index peaks below zero warn of strong selling pressure.

ASX 200 REITs

Financials fell dramatically last week, testing primary support at 6000, as the prospect of falling residential property prices and rising defaults looms. Higher interest rates and wider net interest margins should offset this to some extent. Expect retracement to test resistance at 6000. Follow-through below this level would confirm a primary down-trend and strengthen the overall bear market (Financials have been one of the stronger sectors).

ASX 200 Financials

Consumer Discretionary respected resistance at 3000, signaling another decline with a target of 2600 [3000-400]. Trend Index peaks below zero warn of strong selling pressure.

ASX 200 Consumer Discretionary

Consumer Staples broke support at 13K, with respect of the new resistance level warning of another test of 12K.

ASX 200 Consumer Staples

 

Utilities continue their primary up-trend, rising Trend Index troughs indicating strong buying pressure.

ASX 200 Utilities

Industrials are headed for another test of support at 6350. Breach would warn of another test of primary support at 6000.

ASX 200 Industrials

Telecommunications broke support at 1400, signaling a primary down-trend. Trend Index peaks below zero warn of strong selling pressure. Breach of support offers a target of 1200 [1400-200].

ASX 200 Telecommunications

Health Care is consolidating below 42.5K. Reversal below 40K would warn of another test of primary support at 37.5K. A Trend Index peak close to zero would warn of fading buyer interest.

ASX 200 Health Care

Information Technology continues in a primary down-trend, with Trend Index peaks below zero warning of selling pressure. Follow-through below 1400 would offer a target of 1100 [1500-400].

ASX 200 IT

The Energy sector is advancing strongly, while Trend Index troughs above zero signal buying pressure. The prospect of Chinese lockdowns easing is likely to boost demand for oil and gas, sending prices soaring.

ASX 200 Energy

Metals & Mining respected resistance at 6250, warning of another test of 5500. Declining Trend Index peaks suggest buyer interest is fading. Respect of support at 5500 would signal that the up-trend is intact but breach seems more likely and would offer a target of the November ’21 low at 4750.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

The broad DJ Industrial Metals Index respected resistance at 200, while Trend Index peaks below zero warn of strong selling pressure. Easing of lockdowns in China may increase demand but a bear market remains likely.

DJ Industrial Metals Index

Iron ore is also undergoing a correction. Breach of support at 125 would warn of another test of primary support at 90.

Iron Ore

The All Ordinaries Gold Index is again testing support at 6000, while Trend Index below zero warns of selling pressure.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

The price of Gold in Australian Dollars, however, is trending upwards, with rising Trend Index troughs indicating increased interest from buyers. Expect a test of A$2800 per ounce. Breakout would offer a target of A$3400 [2800 + 600].

Gold in Australian Dollars

Conclusion

ASX 200 broke support at 7200, confirming a bear market. Rising long-term interest rates and a poor global economic outlook are expected to weaken most sectors, while easing of China’s lockdown restrictions should provide some relief to energy and metals.

Our weighting for ASX sectors is:

  • A-REITs: heavily underweight
  • Financials: neutral
  • Staples: neutral
  • Discretionary: heavily underweight
  • Utilities: overweight
  • Industrials: neutral
  • Telecommunications: underweight
  • Health Care: neutral
  • Information Technology: heavily underweight
  • Energy: heavily overweight
  • Iron ore & Base Metals: underweight
  • Critical Materials (e.g. Lithium and Rare Earth Elements): heavily overweight
  • Gold: overweight

Inflation is coming

Inflation tops investor concerns according to Fed report

Concerns over higher inflation and tighter monetary policy have become the top concern for market participants, pushing aside the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Monday in its latest report on financial stability. ….Roughly 70% of market participants surveyed by the Fed flagged inflation and tighter Fed policy as their top concern over the next 12 to 18 months, ahead of vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variants and a potential Chinese regulatory crackdown. (Investing.com)

The market is no longer buying the Fed’s talk of “transitory” inflation.

Fed’s Bullard expects two rate hikes in 2022

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard on Monday said he expects the Fed to raise interest rates twice in 2022 after it wraps up its bond-buying taper mid-year, though he said if needed the Fed could speed up that timeline to end the taper in the first quarter. “If inflation is more persistent than we are saying right now, then I think we may have to take a little sooner action in order to keep inflation under control,” Bullard said in an interview on Fox Business Network……Bullard has been among the Fed’s biggest advocates for an earlier end to the Fed’s policy easing, given his worries that inflation may not moderate as quickly or as much as many of his colleagues think it will. (Reuters)

The Fed are reluctant to hike interest rates, to rein in inflationary pressures, as it would kill the recovery.

Producer Price Index

Producer prices (PPI) climbed more than 22% in the 12 months to October 2021, close to the high from 1974 (23.4%). Consumer prices have diverged from PPI in recent years but such a sharp rise in PPI still poses a threat to the economy.

Producer Price Index (PPI) & Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Iron and steel prices, up more than 100% year-on-year (YoY), will inevitably lead to price increases for automobiles and consumer durables. Other notable YoY increases in key inputs are construction materials (+30.6%), industrial chemicals (+47.3%), aluminium (+40.7%), and copper (+34.5%).

Producer Price Index: Commodities

Underlying many of the above price rises is a sharp increase in fuel, related products and power: up 55.7% over the past 12 months.

Producer Price Index: Fuel & Energy

Conclusion

Inflation is coming, while the Fed are reluctant to hike interest rates. Buy Gold, precious metals, commodities, real estate, and stocks with pricing power —  a strong competitive position which enables them to pass on price increases to their customers — if you can find them at reasonable prices. Avoid financial assets like bonds and bank term deposits.

Productivity not population key to Aussie living standards | Macrobusiness

From Leith van Onselen at Macrobusiness:

Former ALP minister Craig Emerson has penned an article in The AFR calling on the Morrison Government to tackle Australia’s declining productivity growth, which is central to boosting the nation’s living standards:

“Productivity growth has contributed 95 per cent of the improvement in Australians’ material living standards since 1901”.
“From the turn of the century, Australia’s productivity performance began to slide and the longer it has gone on the worse it has gotten”.
“Over the period from 2015 until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, actual productivity growth was worse than the low-productivity scenario included in the 2015 intergenerational report”.
“In the decade since 2010 – even excluding last year – Australia recorded its slowest growth in GDP per capita of any decade in at least 60 years”.
“Without a comprehensive economic reform program, Australia will inevitably have weak growth in living standards during the remainder of the 2020s and into the 2030s”.

Craig Emerson’s assessment is broadly correct, as evidenced by the stagnant real per capita GDP, wage and income growth experienced over the past decade (even before the coronavirus pandemic).

Sadly, however, the Morrison Government with the help of the Australian Treasury seems hell bent on leveraging the other ‘P’ – population growth – to mask over Australia’s poor productivity performance and to keep headline GDP growing, even if it means per capita GDP, income growth and living standards deteriorate.

Rather than using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to reset the Australian economy to focus on quality over quantity, the Morrison Government is intent on repeating the policy mistakes of the past by returning to the lazy dumb growth policy of hyper immigration.

Rebooting mass immigration will inevitably contribute to Australia’s poor productivity growth by:

  • Crush-loading cities, increasing congestion costs and rising infrastructure costs;
  • Encouraging growth in low productivity people-servicing industries and debt creation, rather than higher productivity tradables; and
  • Discouraging companies from innovating and adopting labour saving technologies.

It’s time to put the Australian Treasury’s Three-Ps framework to rest once and for all, along with the snake oil solution of mass immigration.

Policy makers must instead focus first and foremost on boosting productivity, followed by lifting labour force participation. These are the two Ps that actually matter for living standards.

We agree with the concern over poor productivity growth, but focusing on labor force participation is putting the cart before the horse. The key cause of low productivity growth is declining business investment.

Business Investment

Without business investment, new job creation and wages growth will remain low. The way out of this trap is to prime the pump. Boost consumption through infrastructure programs — investment in productive infrastructure that will boost GDP growth (to repay the debt). Boost business investment through strong consumption, a lower Australian Dollar and tax incentives (like accelerated write-off) for new investment.

The lower exchange rate is important to rectify a serious case of Dutch disease1 from the resources industry. There are only three ways to achieve this:

  1. Increase imports, which would be self-defeating, destroying jobs;
  2. Reduce exports; or
  3. Export capital, of which Australia has little.

China is doing its best to help us with the second option, by restricting imports of a wide variety of Australian resources, but that has so far achieved little. David Llewellyn-Smith came up with an interesting alternative:

If we accept that the CCP is the latest manifestation of the historical tendency to give rise to political evils intent on dominating the lives of freedom-loving humanity, then why don’t we cut the flow of iron ore right now…….

The results would be instant. The Chinese economy would be structurally shocked to its knees. 30% of its GDP is real estate-related. 60% of the iron ore that drives it is sourced in Australia. Roughly speaking that is 18% of Chinese GDP that would virtually collapse overnight. Vast tracts of industry would fall silent. An instant debt crisis would sweep the Chinese financial system as its bizarre daisy chain of corruption froze. Local governments likewise. Unemployment would skyrocket.

…..What we can say with confidence is that it would pre-occupy the CCP for many years and hobble it permanently. Its plans for regional domination would be set back decades if not be entirely over.

The problem is how to convince the old boys around the boardroom table at BHP that this would be in their interest as well as in the country’s interest.

Notes

  1. Dutch disease is a term coined by The Economist to describe the impact on the Netherlands’ economy of a resources boom from discovery of large natural gas fields in 1959. The soaring exchange rate, from LNG exports, caused a sharp contraction in the manufacturing sector which struggled to compete, in export markets and against imports in the domestic market, at the higher exchange rate.

ASX: Financials suffer, A-REITs advance on lower rates

The ASX 200 advance is tentative, with a short doji candle signaling hesitancy, and we expect retracement to test support at 7000.  The Trend Index trough above zero indicates longer-term buying pressure. Respect of support is likely and would signal a fresh advance.

ASX 200

Financial Markets

Bond ETFs broke through resistance, signaling falling long-term interest rates.

Australian Bond ETFs

A-REITs advanced on the prospect of lower long-term interest rates.

ASX 200 Property

Bank net interest margins, however, are squeezed when interest rates fall.

Bank Net Interest Margins

ASX 200 Financials retreated to test support at 6500. The trend is unaffected and Trend Index troughs above zero indicate long-term buying pressure.

ASX 200 Financials

Mining

Mining continues to benefit from the infrastructure boom, with iron ore respecting support at $200/ton1. Troughs above zero, flag buying pressure, and respect of support both signal another advance.

Iron Ore

The ASX 300 Metals & Mining index is again testing resistance at 6000. Breakout would signal another advance, with a target of 65002.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

Health Care & Technology

Health Care respected its new support level and is advancing strongly. Expect resistance between 45000 and 46000.

ASX 200 Health Care

Information Technology recovered above former resistance at 2000, warning of a bear trap. Expect resistance at 2250; breakout would signal a new advance.

ASX 200 Information Technology
Gold

The All Ordinaries Gold Index (XGD) is testing resistance at 7500. Breakout would signal a fresh advance, with a target of 9000.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

The Gold price is retracing to test the new support level at A$2400 per ounce. Respect of support is likely and breakout above A$2500 would be a strong bull signal for Aussie gold miners.

Gold in AUD

Conclusion

We expect A-REITs and Bond ETFs to advance on the back of lower long-term interest rates.

Financials are expected to undergo a correction as interest margins are squeezed.

Metals & Mining are in a strong up-trend because of record iron ore prices.

Health Care is recovering well and expected to test resistance.

Technology had a strong week but the outlook is still uncertain.

We expect the ASX 200 to retrace to test support at 7000 as its largest sector (Financials) undergoes a correction.

Notes

  1. Tons are metric tons unless otherwise stated.
  2. Target for Metals & Mining is calculated as support at 5000 extended above resistance at 5750.

ASX Technology stocks fall

The ASX 200 continues to test its February 2020 high at 7200. Narrow consolidation below resistance is a bullish sign but we need to keep a weather eye on the US and China.

ASX 200

Financial Markets

Bond ETFs, in a sideways consolidation, indicate that long-term interest rates are holding steady. Inflation remains muted and the RBA is following through on their stated intention to suppress long-term yields.

Australian Bond ETFs

A-REITs are testing resistance at 1500. Reversal below 1340 is unlikely but would warn of a double-top reversal.

ASX 200 REITs

Financials are testing resistance at 6500. A rising 13-week Trend Index — with troughs above zero — flags buying pressure, suggesting that a breakout is likely.

ASX 200 Financials

Health Care, Discretionary & Technology

Health Care is testing resistance at 42500. The rising Trend Index is bullish but failure to cross above zero would confirm long-term selling pressure. Breach of 40000 would complete a bull-trap (a bear signal for investors) and warn of another test of primary support at 37500.

ASX 200 Health Care

Technology broke support at 1900 to signal a primary down-trend, imitating the pattern in US markets. Breach offers a medium-term target of 14001.

ASX 200 IT

Consumer Discretionary is testing its rising trendline. We expect a test of support at 2900 as the impact of government stimulus fades.

ASX 200 Discretionary

Mining

Iron ore retreated slightly, to $210/metric ton. Chinese steel mills are stockpiling — due to rising tensions with Australia and anticipated production curbs in China (to reduce pollution levels). The boom is only expected to last as long as stockpiling continues. Then prices are likely to fall steeply as mills run down stockpiles. Reversal below support at $175-$180 would warn of a sharp decline.

Iron Ore

The ASX 300 Metals & Mining found resistance at 6000. A tall shadow on this week’s candle warns of short-term selling pressure. Another test of support at 5000 is likely.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

The All Ordinaries Gold Index (XGD) continues to test its new support level at 7000. Follow-through below recent lows would warn of another test of 6000, while recovery above 7300 would signal a fresh advance. Breakout above the long-term descending trendline would strengthen the bull signal. Gold bullishness is fueled by rising inflation fears.

All Ordinaries Gold Index

The Gold price, in Australian Dollars, is testing its descending trendline and resistance at 2400. Breakout above the two would deliver a strong bull signal.

Gold in AUD

Conclusion

Technology stocks have commenced a primary down-trend. Metals & Mining look highly-priced and susceptible to a sharp reversal. They have looked that way for months but sooner or later we are bound to see a rapid re-pricing.

Steady long-term interest rates and a buoyant housing market are lifting REITs and Financials respectively. Health Care and Consumer Discretionary look hesitant, while Gold stocks are making a tentative rally.

Notes

  1. Target for XIJ is its 2400 peak extended below 1900.

Long-term trends: Battery electric versus hydrogen

Scania EV

The shift towards sustainable transport systems is growing, with progress being made in electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells as alternatives to carbon fuels.

Heavy Transport

The major obstacle with heavy transport has been low battery range and lengthy charging times for electric vehicles (EV), leaving hydrogen fuel cells as the obvious choice.

Now, Sweden’s Scania AB, one of the world’s largest truck and bus manufacturers, is shifting emphasis to EV. Citing progress in battery technology — energy storage capacity per kg, charging times, charging cycles and economics per kg — Scania expects electrified vehicles to account for around 10 percent of their total vehicle sales volumes in Europe by 2025. And as high as 50 percent by 2030.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

“Scania has invested in hydrogen technologies and is currently the only heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer with vehicles in operations with customers. The engineers have gained valuable insights from these early tests and efforts will continue. However, going forward the use of hydrogen for such applications will be limited since three times as much renewable electricity is needed to power a hydrogen truck compared to a battery electric truck. A great deal of energy is namely lost in the production, distribution, and conversion back to electricity.

Repair and maintenance also need to be considered. The cost for a hydrogen vehicle will be higher than for a battery electric vehicle as its systems are more complex, such as an extensive air- and cooling system. Furthermore, hydrogen is a volatile gas which requires more maintenance to ensure safety.” (Scania, January 19, 2021)

The Volkswagen AG-owned heavy vehicle manufacturer does, however, note that stationary fuel cells will still play an important part in electric charging systems. Especially in areas with abundant renewable energy, and in rural areas off the main electricity grid.

Conclusion

Electric vehicle technology has progressed much faster than hydrogen fuel cells and is the clear leader in the race for sustainable transport systems.

Markets that are likely to outperform in 2021

There is no reliable benchmark for assessing performance of different markets (stocks, bonds, precious metals, commodities, etc.) since central banks have flooded financial markets with more than $8 trillion in freshly printed currency since the start of 2020. The chart below from Ed Yardeni shows total assets of the five major central banks (Fed, ECB, BOC, BOE and BOJ) expanded to $27.9T at the end of November 2020, from below $20T at the start of the year.

Central Banks: Total Assets

With no convenient benchmark, the best way to measure performance is using relative strength between two prices/indices.

Measured in Gold (rather than Dollars) the S&P 500 iShares ETF (IVV) has underperformed since mid-2019. Respect of the red descending trendline would confirm further weakness ahead (or outperformance for Gold).

S&P 500 iShares ETF/Gold

But if we take a broad basket of commodities, stocks are still outperforming. Reversal of the current up-trend would signal that he global economy is recovering, with rising demand for commodities as manufacturing output increases. Breach of the latest, sharply rising trendline would warn of a correction to the long-term rising trendline and, most likely, even further.

S&P 500 iShares ETF/DJ-UBS Commodity Index

Commodities

There are pockets of rising prices in commodities but the broader indices remain weak.

Copper shows signs of a recovery. Breakout above -0.5 would signal outperformance relative to Gold.

Copper/Gold

Brent crude shows a similar rally. Breakout above the declining red trendline would suggest outperformance ahead.

Brent Crude/Gold

But the broad basket of commodities measured by the DJ-UBS Commodity Index is still in a down-trend.

DJ-UBS Commodity Index/Gold

Precious Metals

Silver broke out of its downward trend channel relative to Gold. Completion of the recent pullback (at zero) confirms the breakout and signals future outperformance.

Silver/Gold

Stock Markets

Comparing major stock indices, the S&P 500 has outperformed the DJ Stoxx Euro 600 since 2010. Lately the up-trend has accelerated and breach of the latest rising trendline would warn of reversion to at least the long-term trendline. More likely even further.

S&P 500 iShares ETF/Euro Stoxx 600

The S&P 500 shows a similar accelerating up-trend relative to the ASX 200. Breach of the latest trendline would similarly signal reversion to the LT trendline and most likely further.

S&P 500 iShares ETF/ASX 200

Reversion is already under way with India’s Nifty 50 (NSX), now outperforming the S&P 500.

S&P 500 iShares ETF/Nifty 50

S&P 500 performance relative to the Shanghai Composite plateaued at around +0.4. Breakout would signal further gains but respect of resistance is as likely.

S&P 500 iShares ETF/Shanghai Composite

Growth/Value

Looking within the Russell 1000 large caps index, Growth stocks (IWF) have clearly outperformed Value (IWD) since 2006. Breach of the latest, incredibly steep trendline, however, warns of reversion to the mean. We are likely to see Value outperform Growth in 2021.

Russell 1000 Value/Growth

Bonds

The S&P 500 has made strong gains against Treasury bonds since March (iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF [TLT]) but is expected to run into resistance between 1.3 and 1.4. Rising inflation fears, however, may lower bond prices, spurring further outperformance by stocks.

S&P 500 iShares ETF/Long_term Bond ETF (TLT)

Currencies

The US Dollar is weakening against a basket of major currencies. Euro breakout above resistance at $1.25 would signal a long-term up-trend.

Euro/Dollar

China’s Yuan has already broken resistance at 14.6 US cents, signaling a long-term up-trend.

Yuan/Dollar

India’s Rupee remains sluggish.

Indian Rupee/Dollar

But the Australian Dollar is surging. The recent correction that respected support at 70 US cents suggests an advance to at least 80 cents.

Australian Dollar/Dollar

Gold, surprisingly, retraced over the last few months despite the weakening US Dollar. But respect of support at $1800/ounce would signal another primary advance.

Spot Gold/Dollar

Conclusion

Silver is expected to outperform Gold.
Gold is expected to outperform stocks.
Value stocks are expected to outperform Growth.
India’s Nifty 50 is expected to outperform other major indices. This is likely to be followed by the Stoxx Euro 600 and ASX 200 but only if they break their latest, sharply rising trendlines. That leaves the S&P 500 and Shanghai Composite filling the minor placings.
Copper and Crude show signs of a recovery but the broad basket of currencies is expected to underperform stocks and precious metals.
The Greenback is expected to weaken against most major currencies, while rising inflation is likely to leave bond investors holding the wooden spoon.

The S&P 500 and Plan B

The S&P 500 penetrated its rising trendline, warning of a re-test of support at 3000. But selling pressure on the Trend Index appears to be secondary.

S&P 500

Transport bellwether Fedex retreated below long-term support at 150 on the monthly chart — on fears of a slow-down in international trade. Follow-through below 140 would strengthen the bear signal, offering a target of 100. The bear-trend warns that economic activity is contracting.

Fedex

Brent crude dropped below $60/barrel on fears of a global slow-down. Expect a test of primary support at 50.

Brent Crude

Dow Jones – UBS Commodity Index broke primary support at 76 on the monthly chart, also anticipating a global slow-down.

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

South Korea’s KOSPI Index is a good barometer for global trade. Expect a re-test of primary support at 250.

KOSPI

While Dr Copper, another useful barometer, warns that the patient (the global economy) is in need of medical assistance.

Copper (S1)

The Fed can keep pumping Dollars into financial markets but at some point, the patient is going to stop responding. In which case you had better have a Plan B.

ASX 200 retracement likely

A short candle with a tall shadow on the ASX 200 weekly chart warns of short-term selling pressure. Expect retracement to test the new support level at 6800.

ASX 200

Weakness has been driven by the Resources sector, with a gravestone candle on the ASX 300 Metals & Mining index warning of selling pressure at resistance at 4800 and a likely reversal to test support at 4450.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

A short candle on the ASX 300 Banks index warns of increased short-term selling pressure. Respect of the descending trendline would signal another decline; breach of support at 7250 would confirm. Penetration of the trendline is less likely but would suggest that a bottom is forming.

ASX 300 Banks

We continue to hold a bearish view on the domestic economy but recognize that the temporary tailwind from resources (iron ore) may partly alleviate this. IT and Healthcare sectors are, in our view, over-priced and we maintain our focus on defensive and contra-cyclical (gold) stocks.