ASX 200 lifted by resources

The ASX 200 is advancing towards its medium-term target of 7200 after breaking resistance at 6800. A high trend index trough signals buying pressure.

ASX 200

Primary driver of the advance is Resources. Signing of phase one of the US-China trade deal lifted iron ore, which is  testing resistance at 95. Consolidation at/below 95 is likely, however, given that the mid-2019 peak was caused by supply disruption in Brazil.

Iron Ore

The ASX 300 Metals & Mining index is headed for a test of resistance at 4800.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

Financials are weak, but the ASX 300 Banks index found support at 7250. Respect of the descending trendline would warn of another decline, with a short-term target of 7000. Penetration of the trendline is less likely but would warn that a bottom is forming.

ASX 300 Banks

The ASX 200 REITs index is testing resistance at 1680, reflecting the investor demand for yield.

ASX 200 REITs

A weakening Australian Dollar may lift exports slightly but reflects concerns over the phase one US-China trade deal and the impact substantive purchase commitments made by China will have on other energy and commodity suppliers. Breach of 68.50 would offer a short-term target of 67 US cents.

AUDUSD

We continue to hold a bearish view on the domestic economy but recognize that the tailwind from resources 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.

ASX 200 breakout

The ASX 200 broke resistance at 6800, signaling a fresh advance. Expect retracement to test the new support level; respect would strengthen the bull signal.

ASX 200

Primary driver of the advance is resources. Talk of an imminent phase 1 US-China trade deal lifted iron ore, which is now testing resistance at 95. Expect retracement to test primary support at 80 but respect would confirm that a base has formed.

Iron Ore

The ASX 300 Metals & Mining index is advancing in step with iron ore prices, with a short-term target of 4800.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

Financials remain weak, with the ASX 300 Banks index ranging in a bearish narrow band between 7200 and 7500. Respect of the descending trendline would warn of another decline, with a short-term target of 7000.

ASX 300 Banks

The ASX 200 REITs index recovered after a false break below 1580, with a short-term target of 1680.

ASX 200 REITs

We maintain a focus on defensive and contra-cyclical (gold) sectors because of our bearish outlook for the Australian and global economy.

ASX 200 hesitant because of banks

Financials are still weak. The ASX 300 Banks rally appears short-lived, posting a red candle for the week. Expect another test of support at 7200; breach would test primary support at 6750.

ASX 300 Banks

The ASX 200 REITs index recovered above support at 1600. False breaks on both the bull and bear side indicate hesitancy but declining peaks on the Trend Index warn of long-term selling pressure.

ASX 200 REITs

The ASX 300 Metals & Mining index is more bullish, having broken resistance at 4450. Expect retracement to test the new support level; respect would confirm the target of 4800.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

Talk of an imminent trade deal lifted iron ore above previous support at 90. Expect another test of primary support at 80, but respect would confirm that a base is forming above 80.

Iron Ore

A bearish financial sector is holding the ASX 200 back. Follow-through above recent weekly highs would signal another advance, while reversal below 6600 would test primary support at 6400. Further consolidation between 6400 and 6800 is just as likely given the gradual decline on the Trend Index.

ASX 200

We are avoiding highly-priced growth stocks and focusing on defensive and contra-cyclical sectors because of our bearish outlook for the Australian and global economies.

ASX 200: Don’t argue with the tape

“A prudent speculator never argues with the tape. Markets are never wrong; opinions often are.” ~ Jesse Livermore

The ASX 200 broke resistance at 6800, signaling a fresh advance with a short-term target of 7200. Declining Trend Index peaks still warn of secondary selling pressure at present. Expect retracement to test the new support level at 6800. Respect of support would confirm the advance.

ASX 200

But divergence from fundamentals is growing.

NAB cut their GDP forecast to 1.5% in their November Forward View.

Housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne have recovered somewhat, but building approvals for houses remain 21% below their 2017 high and 57% for apartments. Construction activity is likely to remain low.

Exports are strong, boosted by increased LNG exports, but iron ore prices are falling. Currently testing short-term support at 80, our long-term target for iron ore is $65/metric ton.

Iron Ore

Business investment has slowed, causing wages to stagnate.

Australia: Business Investment

Retail sales weakened as a consequence, contracting for the first time since the early 1990s.

Australia: Retail Sales

Annual credit growth slowed to 2.5%, the lowest since 2010.

Banks were spooked last week by AUSTRAC pursuing Westpac for 19.5 million breaches of anti money-laundering and counter-terrorism regulations. The ASX 300 Banks index broke support at 7600, completing a double-top reversal, but this week they consolidated in a narrow range. Expect retracement to test resistance at 7600. Declining peaks on the Trend Index, however, continue to warn of selling pressure. Respect of resistance would confirm the decline, with a target of 6800.

ASX 300 Banks

The ASX 200 REITs index broke out of its descending triangle, signaling another advance. Financial markets are searching for yield.

ASX 200 REITs

The ASX 300 Metals & Mining index penetrated its descending trendline, suggesting that a base is forming. Expect another test of support at 4100 (neckline of a large head-and-shoulders reversal pattern). Breach would offer a target of 3400. The Trend Index penetrated its descending trendline but a peak near zero would warn of continued selling pressure.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

We shouldn’t argue with the market but we should wait for confirmation; bull and bear traps are common. Investors, bear in mind that market risk remains elevated. I leave you with this quote from Westpac in their recent credit update:

For businesses, the economic backdrop has become more challenging. The global economy is slowing and household spending is soft. In this environment business investment in the real economy has lost momentum across the non-mining sectors – which will weigh on credit demand.

….and on jobs, wages growth and household spending.

We maintain low exposure to Australian equities, with a focus on defensive and contra-cyclical stocks, because of our bearish outlook.

ASX: Iron ore breaks support

Iron ore broke support at 90, falling sharply to $83.55/ton. Expect a decline to test the long-term target at 65.

Iron Ore

ASX 300 Metals & Mining index rallied slightly but another test of support at 4100 is likely — the neckline of a large head-and-shoulders reversal pattern. Declining peaks on the Trend Index warn of selling pressure. Completion of the head-and-shoulders reversal would offer a target of 3400.

ASX 300 Metals & Mining

Residential mortgage activity is recovering in response to recent rate cuts but banks are under pressure, with lower interest margins, lower fee income and high remediation costs from malpractices exposed by the Royal Commission.

ANZ reported a flat full-year profit at $6.4 billion but revealed margin and retail fee pressure:

“The halving of the Reserve Bank’s cash rate during the year was the major factor in a 12 basis point compression of ANZ’s net interest margin to about 1.72 per cent. The net interest margin is the difference between the bank’s funding costs and what it charges for loans, and it’s as low as it has ever been – in the mid-1990s the margin was about 4 per cent – with no reason to believe the pressure on margins will abate.” [Stephen Bartholomeusz]

ASX 200 Financials index met resistance at 6500. Declining peaks on the Trend Index now indicate selling pressure. Expect a test of primary support at 6000; breach would offer a target of 5300.

ASX 200 Financials

REITs recovered slightly from their recent sell-off but the descending triangle is bearish. A lower Trend Index peak would strengthen the bear signal. Breach of support at 1600 would offer a short-term target of 1500.

ASX 200 REITs

ASX 200

The ASX 200 continues to give mixed signals. An ascending triangle on the index chart is bullish, but declining peaks on the Trend Index warn of selling pressure. Breakout above 6800 would signal another advance, while breach of support at 6400 would warn of a decline with a target of 5400. The two biggest sectors, Financials and Mining, are likely to lead the way.

ASX 200

We maintain low exposure to Australian equities, with a focus on defensive and contra-cyclical stocks, because of our bearish outlook.

ASX: Rate cuts not helping

From David Scutt at SMH:

A growing body of evidence suggests interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia may be draining confidence in the economy rather than boosting it.

Key Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) figures released on Thursday showed a deterioration in Australian business conditions, impacted by what firms are describing as a general lack of confidence across the economy.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Australia “flash” Composite PMI produced in conjunction with IHS Markit, fell 2.6 points to 49.5 in August.

Commonwealth Bank Markit Flash PMI

The Composite PMI surveys firms from manufacturing and services sectors, accounting for around 75 per cent of the Australian economy. Activity levels have only declined three times since the survey started in May 2016, the last time in March this year.

“Households are taking the lower cash rate as a negative sign, raising concerns about what is happening with the economy that we need interest rates to go even lower,” said Kristina Clifton, senior economist at the Commonwealth Bank.

Ms Clifton cited the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, the RBA’s rate cuts, and the drought as factors hurting confidence. “Businesses are feeling this pessimism,” she said.

The decline in the PMI data echoes a similar slump in consumer confidence in the wake of the RBA’s July rate cut, which took the cash rate down to 1 per cent. “That lines up with what we’ve seen in [consumer confidence] where we saw quite a sharp drop following the June and July rate cuts” Ms Clifton said.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment survey fell to its the lowest level since August 2017 that month. Confidence subsequently recovered in August following the RBA’s decision to keep the cash rate steady.

Westpac Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment

Consumer sentiment is trending lower but there is also a recent series of higher troughs. Breakout from the triangle will indicate future direction.

On the downside, new vehicle sales for July 2019 fell for the 16th straight month.

Vehicle Sales

New vehicle sales are a leading indicator for the economy. Automotive Holding Group (AHG) is normally a useful bellwether for the overall ASX 200 index but its latest rally is distorted by a proposed merger with rival AP Eagers (APE).

AHG/ASX 200

The consumer outlook (below) is bearish, with family finances for the next 12 months down 6.5% (YoY) and the next 5 years down 5.3%. But one factor has definitely improved with the latest rate cuts: time to buy a dwelling (YoY) is up 16.7%.

Westpac Melbourne Institute Consumer Survey

Improving sentiment towards housing and rising auction clearance rates, albeit on low volumes, has helped banks, with ASX 200 Financials index finding support at 6000.

ASX 200 Financials

But UBS warn that further interest rate cuts would squeeze bank interest margins and may force them to cut dividends.

Australia: Bank Net Interest Margins

And a major threat is the potential cutback in business investment, because of the uncertain global outlook, and its impact on employment and consumer sentiment.

Australia: Business Investment

Iron ore is edging below support at $94/tonne, suggesting another decline to test support at $80/tonne.

Iron Ore

Materials are undergoing a strong correction. Declining Money Flow peaks warn of strong selling pressure. Breach of support at 12700 is likely and would warn of a test of primary support at 10700/11000.

ASX 200 Materials

On a more positive note, REITs are enjoying strong buying pressure, signaled by Money Flow troughs above zero, as the scramble for yield intensifies. Breakout above 1700 would signal another advance.

ASX 200 REITs

With a bearish outlook in its two largest sectors, the ASX 200 is likely to follow. A harami consolidation above support at 6350/6400 is bearish and breach would warn of a strong decline.

ASX 200

With the uncertain impact of a trade war on the Chinese economy, we reduced our exposure to Australian equities to 20% of portfolio value on 19 August 2019.

ASX 200: Iron ore tailwinds continue

The ASX continues to enjoy a massive tailwind, with iron ore spot prices holding above $120/tonne. Prices are expected to moderate, with Brazilian exports recovering. Clyde Russell at Mining.com comments:

“Even if Brazil’s exports do remain slightly below normal, it may be the case that the iron ore forward curve is currently too optimistic. The Singapore Exchange front-month contract closed at $121.24 a tonne on Wednesday, while the six-month contract was at $100.52 and the 12-month at $89.52. This shows traders do expect prices to moderate…”

Iron Ore

The Materials index continues to climb, with rising troughs on the Trend Index signaling buying pressure.

ASX 200 Materials

REITs continue their strong up-trend, in expectation of lower interest rates. The equity (dividend) yield on VAP/ASX 300 REITs has fallen to 4.3%.

ASX 200 REITs

Financials are testing resistance at 6450 but face headwinds from declining house prices and construction work.

ASX 200 Financials

The ASX 200 is headed for a test of its 2007 high at 6830, with a rising Trend index indicating buying pressure. Penetration of the rising trendline on the index chart is not likely but would warn of a correction to test support at 6000.

ASX 200

We continue to maintain a high level of cash in our Australian Growth portfolio.

ASX 200 bull trap

The ASX 200 retreated below its new support level at 6350, warning of a bull trap. Declining Money Flow peaks indicate selling pressure. Expect retracement to test support at 6000.

ASX 200

With the Aussie Dollar testing support at 70 US cents, international investors are noticeably skittish, as illustrated by price action in REITs over the past few weeks. Penetration of the rising trendline warns of a correction.

ASX 200 REITs

ASX 200 Financials is also retracing, to test its new support level at 6000. Lower peaks on the Money Flow indicator warn of secondary selling pressure.

ASX 200 Financials

Banks face headwinds from a declining housing market and the RBNZ call for an additional $8.1 billion in common equity capital (as estimated by S&P Global Ratings).

Materials have started a correction after penetrating its rising trendline. Expect a test of support at 12000. Declining Money Flow peaks warn of strong selling pressure.

ASX 200 Materials

I remain cautious on Australian stocks, especially banks, and hold more than 40% in cash and fixed interest in the Australian Growth portfolio.

ASX 200 breakout

ASX 200 Financials broke resistance at 6050, signaling continuation of the up-trend after a weak correction. Rising troughs on the Trend Index indicate buying pressure. The next target is the August 2018 high at 6450.

ASX 200 Financials

Low inflation, with March Quarter CPI at 0%, increases the chance of another RBA rate cut. Short-term market response to this has been positive but we need to remember that the RBA will only cut rates, which are already at record lows, if the economy is going down the gurgler.  Banks also face headwinds from a declining housing market and the RBNZ call for an additional $8.1 billion in common equity capital (as estimated by S&P Global Ratings).

Materials penetrated the rising trendline after encountering resistance at 13500. Expect another test of support at 12500.

ASX 200 Materials

The ASX 200 broke resistance at 6350, signaling another advance. Expect retracement to test the new support level (at 6350). Respect would strengthen the bull signal.

ASX 200

Long-term (LT) target for an advance is 7400 but I remain cautious on Australian stocks, especially banks, and hold more than 40% in cash and fixed interest in the Australian Growth portfolio.

I suspect that the RBA will resist cutting rates unless the situation gets really desperate. Ultra-low interest rates encourage risk-taking and speculative behavior, offering short-term gain but courting long-term disaster. Walter Bagehot, editor of The Economist, observed more than 100 years ago: “John Bull can stand many things, but he cannot stand 2%.” Sound economic management requires that central bankers make the hard choices, resisting pressure from commercial banks and politicians.

ASX 200 divergence

REITs and Utilities found support, partially recovering from their sell-off last week.

ASX 200 REITs

Financials continue to test support at 5800; breach would signal another test of primary support at 5300.

ASX 200 Financials

The RBA sums up the outlook for banks in its April 2019 Financial Stability Review:

“Analysts expect minimal growth in bank profits over the year ahead. Net interest income growth is expected to be below average as credit growth slows further and NIMs [net interest margins] remain under pressure. Bad and doubtful debt charges are also expected to pick up a little from their current very low level. The final cost of remediation for misconduct identified over recent years is uncertain, and could exceed existing provisions, while spending on compliance and IT may remain elevated in order to address some of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. Overall, there appears to be greater-than-usual uncertainty about the future profit outlook for banks because of the increased scrutiny on banks and the weaker outlook for property prices and housing credit growth.”

Materials encountered resistance at 13500, with a lower peak on the Trend Index warning of selling pressure. Another test of support at 12500 is likely.

ASX 200 Materials

The ASX 200 is heading for another test of resistance at 6350 but divergence with a declining Trend Index continues to warn of a correction. Expect stubborn resistance at 6350, followed by another test of 6000. Breach of 6000 would signal another correction to test primary support at 5400/5500.

ASX 200

I remain cautious on Australian stocks, especially banks, and hold more than 40% in cash and fixed interest in the Australian Growth portfolio.