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.

Netflix heralds end of COVID boom for tech stocks

A sharp fall in new Netflix subscribers may signal the end of the boom for many tech companies that enjoyed stellar gains since the start of the pandemic. Economies are starting to re-open as vaccination levels rise, warning of tepid growth ahead for companies that thrived during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Zoe Samios at The Age writes:

In the first three months of 2020, Netflix acquired 15.77 million paid subscribers, sending its already elevated shares into the stratosphere. In the corresponding period this year, Netflix added just 3.98 million subscribers, its results on Wednesday morning (AEST) showed.

Netflix (NFLX) momentum has slowed since July last year. Breach of support at 500 would warn of a correction, while breach of support at 460 would signal a primary down-trend.

Netflix (NFLX)

The big five technology stocks all enjoyed a huge surge, up to September 2 last year, gaining between 28% (GOOGL) and 91% (AMZN) since early January. Since then, only Alphabet (GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT) have recorded further gains.

AAPL,AMZN,GOOGL,FB,MSFT

The broad S&P 500 index has gained 16.5% since September 2, 2020.

Conclusion

Growth in large technology stocks is slowing as the economy re-opens.

This time is different

The chart below compares the Wilshire 5000 broad market index (light blue) to the money supply (MZM or “at call” money). The previous two recessions show a surge in the money supply (green circles) as the Fed injects liquidity into financial markets to forestall a deflationary spiral. In both cases, stocks took more than two years to react, with the low-point reached 8 quarters after the Fed started to inject liquidity in Q1 2001 and 9 quarters after liquidity injections commenced in Q3 of 2007.

MZM Money Supply and Wilshire 5000

It took almost 13 years for the index to make a new high after its Q1 2001 Dotcom peak and 5.5 years after its Q3 2007 peak (values are plotted relative to GDP).

The recovery in 2020 was quite different. The index formed a low two quarters after the Fed started to inject liquidity and had recovered to a new high in the next quarter.

While the recovery from the Dotcom crash took an unusually long time — because of the extreme valuations — we can still conclude that the latest recovery was exceptional. Record government stimulus caused a surge in disposable incomes, rather than the fall seen in previous recessions.

Disposable Personal Income

The surge in disposable income combined with a sharp fall in consumption caused a massive spike in personal saving, much of which flowed into the stock market.

Personal Saving

Huge inflows caused a surge in stock prices, which in turn led to similar exuberance to the Dotcom bubble of 1999-2000.

“This is the only time in my 88 years when I saw technology stocks go to 100 times earnings; or, when there were no earnings, 20 times sales. It was insane, and I took advantage of the temporary insanity.” ~ Sir John Templeton, in 2001.

Conclusion

While the government attempt to prevent a fall in personal disposable income during the pandemic is laudable, their overreaction caused a massive spike in personal saving — spreading the contagion to the stock market. Stocks are now trading at precarious levels relative to earnings, with no easy way for authorities to engineer a soft landing.

We are not sure how long the Fed can prop up the stock market but are certain that it will end badly for investors who ignore the risks.

Notes

Sir John Templeton (1912-2008) was an American-born contrarian and value investor, banker, fund manager, and philanthropist. He founded the Templeton Growth Fund in 1954, which averaged more than 15% p.a. over 38 years. In 1999, Money magazine rated him as “arguably the best stock picker of the century.”

Tech heavyweights pause for breath

Good progress has been made combating the pandemic but daily COVID cases seem to be struggling to break through a floor between 50 and 60 thousand. The vaccine roll-out is ahead of schedule but people need to stop listening to idiots like Rand Paul — who went to the Senate gym while infected — and listen to the Chief Medical Adviser whose advice is to wear a mask.

Daily US COVID Cases

Stocks have paused after the recent run up in Treasury yields. When both stocks and bonds are being sold, there is nowhere to hide.

The Nasdaq 100 is testing support at 12000. At this stage the correction looks mild, with declining Trend Index remaining above zero, but breach of 12000 would signal a test of the Sep 2020 low.

Nasdaq 100

The S&P 500 is performing better but Volatility troughs above 1.0% still warn of elevated risk.

S&P 500 & Twiggs Volatility 21-Day

The big five tech stocks are a mixed bag. Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) show strength. Microsft (MSFT) looks stable, while Mazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) are trending lower.

AAPL, AMZN, GOOGL, FB, MSFT

When leaders no longer lead normally signals the final stage of a bull market. The chart below shows the Russell 2000 small caps ETF (IWM) clearly outperforming the large cap Nasdaq (QQQ) and S&P 500 (IVV) indices with all the tech heavyweights.

IVV, IWM, QQQ

@Schuldensuehner

The steeper yield curve benefits banks, who profit from the wider net interest margin. Major banks have climbed 60% to 80% over the past six months, with Goldman Sachs (GS) leading and Bank of America (BAC) the laggard.

Major Banks

Consumer durables sectors are, again, a mixed bag. Household Goods (HG) is flat, Apparel Retail (RA) is climbing steadily, while Automobiles (AU) is down sharply — mainly because of Tesla (TSLA).

Consumer Durables

Though light vehicle sales were down a million units in February.

Light Vehicle Sales

And heavy truck sales were down 4,000 units compared to January.

Heavy Truck Sales

Prospects for the tire industry are improving. Goodyear (GT) retraced to test its new support level after breaking out above its high from late 2019. Respect would confirm another advance.

Goodyear Tyre Co. (GT)

Conclusion

The recovery is going to be a long hard slog with frequent setbacks. Banks are doing nicely but stocks generally are over-priced and ripe for a major adjustment. There are signs that this is the final stage of the bull market and market risk is elevated.

S&P 500 fueled by the Fed

The S&P 500 continues, unwavering, in a strong up-trend.

S&P 500

But compare the growth in the S&P 500 index relative to growth in the money supply (M2). In relative terms, the S&P 500 appreciated only 29%, or 2.6% p.a., over the past decade. Most of the stellar performance over the past 10 years can be attributed to the Fed’s expansionary monetary policy.

S&P 500/M2 Money Supply

Dollar Index

The Dollar Index continues to test support at 90. A Trend Index peak below zero warns of strong selling pressure. Breach of support is likely and would signal another primary decline.

Dollar Index

The Chinese Yuan, however, has halted in its appreciation against the Dollar. Trend Index peak below the 7-week MA warns of secondary selling pressure. Breach of support at 15.4 US cents would warn of a correction.

CNYUSD

Conclusion

The S&P 500 is likely to continue rising for as long as the Fed expands the money supply. The Dollar, however, is expected to weaken for the same reason.

Global stock market correction

Strong red candles across major market indices warn of a global correction.

Breach of 3650 on the S&P 500 would warn of a test of the strong band of support between 3250 and 3400. Bearish divergence on Twiggs Money Flow continues to warn of long-term selling pressure.

S&P 500

The European Stoxx 600 threatens a similar secondary correction with a test of support at 375.

DJ Euro Stoxx 600

The Footsie is testing support between 6300 and 6500, while Money Flow reversal below zero warns of strong selling pressure. Breach of 6300 is likely and would indicate a strong correction, with primary support at 5500.

FTSE 100

The reaction on China’s Shanghai Composite is of similar weight to the S&P and STOXX. Breach of medium-term support at 3400 would warn of a test of primary support at 3200.

Shanghai Composite

The reaction on Japan’s Nikkei 225 appears secondary and likely to test the rising trendline at 26000.

Nikkei 225

The Seoul Composite is similar, with a rising trendline at 2700.

Seoul Composite

Selling on India’s Nifty 50 is heavier, flagged by a sharp fall in Money Flow over the past three weeks. Support at the rising trendline is unlikely to hold — which would mean a test of support at 12500.

Nifty 50

Conclusion

The correction across global stock markets appears secondary at this stage and likely to test medium-term support levels. Selling is heaviest on the FTSE 100 and India’s Nifty 50. These are the canary in the coal mine and should be monitored for unusual activity. Further falls on strong volume would indicate that sellers are overwhelming support.

Can the Fed keep a lid on inflation?

Jeremy Siegel, Wharton finance professor, says the Fed has poured a tremendous amount of money into the economy in response to the pandemic, which will eventually cause higher inflation. David Rosenberg of Rosenberg Research argues that velocity of money is declining and the US economy has a large output gap so inflation is unlikely to materialize.

CNBC VideoClick to play

Both are right, just in different time frames.

Putting the cart before the horse

The velocity of money is simply the ratio of GDP to the money supply. Fluctuations in the velocity of money have more to do with fluctuations in GDP than in the money supply. If GDP recovers, so will the velocity of money. Equating velocity of money with inflation is putting the cart before the horse. Contractions in GDP coincide with low/negative inflation while rapid expansions in GDP are normally accompanied, after a lag, by rising inflation.

CPI & GDP

Money supply and interest rates

Inflation is likely to rise when consumption grows at a faster rate than output. Prices rise when supply is scarce — when we consume more than we produce. Interest rates play a key role in this.

Low interest rates mean cheap credit, making it easy for people to borrow and consume more than they earn. Low rates also boost the stock market, raising corporate earnings because of lower interest costs, but most importantly, raising earnings multiples as the cost of capital falls. Speculators also take advantage of low interest rates to leverage their investments, driving up prices.

S&P 500

In the housing market, prices rise as cheap mortgage finance attracts buyers, pushing up demand and facilitating greater leverage.

Housing: Building Starts & Permits

Wealth effect

Higher stock and house prices create a wealth effect. Consumers are more ready to borrow and spend when they feel wealthier.

High interest rates, on the other hand, have the exact opposite effect. Credit is expensive and consumption falls. Speculation fades as stock earnings multiples fall and housing buyers are scarce.

Money supply is only a factor in inflation to the extent that it affects interest rates. There is also a lag between lower interest rates and rising consumption. It takes time for consumers and investors to rebuild confidence after an economic contraction.

The role of the Fed

Fed Chairman, William McChesney Martin, described the role of the Federal Reserve as:

“…..to take away the punch bowl just as the party gets going.”

In other words, to raise interest rates just as the economic recovery starts to build up steam — to avoid a build up of inflationary pressures.

The Fed’s mandate is to maintain stable prices but there are times, like the present, when their hands are tied.

Federal government debt is currently above 120% of GDP.

Federal Debt/GDP

GDP is likely to rise as the economy recovers but so is federal debt as the government injects more stimulus and embarks on an infrastructure program to lift the economy.

With federal debt at record levels of GDP, raising interest rates could blow the federal deficit wide open as the cost of servicing Treasury debt threatens to overtake tax revenues.

Conclusion

Inflation is likely to remain low until GDP recovers. But the need to maintain low interest rates — to support Treasury markets and keep a lid on the federal deficit — will then hamper the Fed’s ability to contain a buildup of inflationary pressure.