Scott Martindale  by Scott Martindale
  President, Sabrient Systems LLC

July was yet another solid month for stocks, as the major market indexes eclipsed and held above psychological barriers, like the S&P 500 at 3,000, and the technical consolidation at these levels continued with hardly any give back at all. But of course, the last day of July brought a hint of volatility to come, and indeed August has followed through on that with a vengeance. As the old adage goes, “Stocks take the stairs up but ride the elevator down,” and we just saw a perfect example of it. The technical conditions were severely overbought, with price stretched way above its 20-day simple moving average, and now suddenly the broad indexes (S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq) are challenging support at the 200-day moving average, while the small cap Russell 2000 index has plummeted well below its 200-day and is now testing its May low.

For the past 18 months (essentially starting with the February 2018 correction), investor caution has been driven by escalating trade wars and tariffs, rising global protectionism, a “race to the bottom” in currency wars, and our highly dysfunctional political climate. However, this cautious sentiment has been coupled with an apparent fear of missing out (aka FOMO) on a major market melt-up that together have kept global capital in US stocks but pushed up valuations in low-volatility and defensive market segments to historically high valuations relative to GARP (growth at a reasonable price), value, and cyclical market segments. Until the past few days, rather than selling their stocks, investor have preferred to simply rotate into defensive names when the news was distressing (which has been most of the time) and then going a little more risk-on when the news was more encouraging (which has been less of the time). I share some new insights on this phenomenon in today’s article.

The market’s gains this year have not been based on excesses (aka “irrational exuberance”) but instead stocks have climbed a proverbial Wall of Worry – largely on the backs of defensive sectors and mega-caps and fueled by persistently low interest rates, and mostly through multiple expansion rather than earnings growth. In addition, the recent BAML Global Fund Manager Survey indicated the largest jump in cash balances since the debt ceiling crisis in 2011 and the lowest allocation ratio of equities to bonds since May 2009, which tells me that deployment of this idle cash and some rotation out of bonds could really juice this market. It just needs that elusive catalyst to ignite a resurgence in business capital spending and manufacturing activity, raised guidance, and upward revisions to estimates from the analyst community, leading to a sustained risk-on rotation.

As a reminder, I am always happy to take time for conversations with financial advisors about market conditions, outlook, and Sabrient’s portfolios.

In this periodic update, I provide a detailed market commentary, offer my technical analysis of the S&P 500, review Sabrient’s latest fundamentals based SectorCast rankings of the ten US business sectors, and serve up some actionable ETF trading ideas. In summary, our sector rankings look neutral to me (i.e., neither bullish nor defensive), while the sector rotation model retains a bullish posture. Read on…

Scott Martindaleby Scott Martindale
President, Sabrient Systems LLC

Market conditions remain strong for equities, in my view, with stocks being held back only by the (likely transient) trade war uncertainty. The US economy appears to be hitting on all cylinders, with the new fiscal stimulus (tax reform, deregulation) providing the long-missing ingredient for a real economic “boom cycle” to finally get some traction. For too long, the US economy had to rely solely on Federal Reserve monetary stimulus (ZIRP and QE), which served mainly to create asset inflation to support the economy (aka “Ponzi financing”), while the bulk of our working population had to endure de facto recessions in corporate profits, capital investment, and hiring. But with fiscal stimulus, corporate earnings growth is on fire, underpinned by solid revenue growth and record levels of profitability.

So far, 2Q18 earnings reporting season has come in even better than expected, with year-over-year EPS growth for S&P 500 companies approaching 24%. Even when taking out the favorable impact of lower tax rates, organic earnings growth for full-year 2018 still looks as though it will come in around the low to mid-teens.

Cautious investors are seeing the fledgling trade war as a game of brinksmanship, with positions becoming ever more entrenched. But I actually see President Trump as a free-trade advocate who is only using tariffs to force our trading partners to the bargaining table, which they have long avoided doing (and given the advantages they enjoy, why wouldn’t they avoid it?). China is the biggest bogeyman in this game, and given the challenges it faces in deleveraging its enormous debt without upsetting growth targets, not to mention shoring up its bear market in stocks, its leaders are loath to address their rampant use of state ownership, subsidy, overcapacity, tariffs, forced technology transfer, and outright theft of intellectual property to give their own businesses an unfair advantage in the global marketplace. But a trade war couldn’t come at a worse time for China.

In this periodic update, I provide a market commentary, offer my technical analysis of the S&P 500, review Sabrient’s latest fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten US business sectors, and serve up some actionable ETF trading ideas. In summary, our sector rankings still look moderately bullish, while the sector rotation model retains its bullish posture. Read on....

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self confidence.” -- Robert Frost

Right now, it looks like it would take a major downside event to prevent the major indices from having a swimmingly good year.

daniel / Tag: SPX, DJIA, NASDAQ, COMP, VIX, VXX, KIE, FXO, XLF, IYF, VFH, volatility, CBOE, Fear Index / 0 Comments

An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate, it becomes transformed by thought.” — Pablo Picasso

Last week saw investors exposed to a broad swath of noise from a number of diverse sources, and the bottom line was that Wall Street pretty much ended the week close to where it had begun.

daniel / Tag: SPX, DJIA, NASDAQ, COMP, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, FXI, China / 0 Comments

It was another week of wild mood-swings on Wall Street, as Ben Bernanke seemed to be intent on roiling the markets. Deliberate or not, the effect was the same, as investors seemed hesitant to jump in on the dips with the same enthusiasm that they have for the majority of the year so far. The question is, will the volatility express continue to barrel through the summer vacation months?

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, VXX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, volatility, FED, BERNANKE, fear gauge, Chicago Board Options Exchange / 0 Comments

The last couple of weeks has seen Wall Street moving in something of a sideways trend, though that hardly indicates the increased level of intraday volatility that the equity market has been experiencing since the last week of May. Will it be more of the same for the coming week? Bet on it . . .

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, volatility, FED, Federal Reserve Bank, BERNANKE / 0 Comments

The VIX is looking a little bit jumpy as of late, perhaps reflecting something of a rising wariness among investors in terms of risk.

Can the Bulls be standing on something of a slippery slope, about to slide towards a trend reversal? Or is it just a seasonal thing, with investors tightening up their portfolios prior to summer?

 

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, PSP, WMT Volatility, FED, Federal Reserve Bank, BERNANKE / 0 Comments

"If you simply try to tell the truth you will, nine times out of ten, be original without ever having noticed it." -- C.S. Lewis

Another week, another victory lap for the Bulls.

Anyone notice a pattern here? Technically speaking, at least, that pattern is a solid uptrend, with nary an imminent level of resistance close to the horizon.

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, PSP, M, WMT, financial sector, consumer sentiment, Retail Sector, Eurozone, China, Syria / 0 Comments

There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it. -- Napoleon Hill

Wall Street seems to be feeling frisky lately, with major indices testing, poking and prodding record highs. And, in spite of the fact that the CBOE Volatility Index has been jolted back to life, the domestic economy seems to be exhibiting tendencies of slow, steady but solid growth.

But will Washington politics manage to upset Wall Street’s upbeat apple cart?

daniel / Tag: DJIA, SPX, COMP, PSP, KBE, KRE, IYG, XLF, ISM / 0 Comments

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  -- Lao Tzu

Wall Street has been traveling in a tight line this past week, a classic tightrope walk between greed and fear. Investors seem unwilling to take profits off the table resulting from the year’s uptrend, not wishing to miss any of current Bull Run, but also appear reluctant to allocate more cash towards equities, at least for the moment.

daniel / Tag: DJIA, SPX, PSP, KBE, KRE, IYG, XLF, Finance Sector, Eurozone, Europe, Sequester, CBO / 0 Comments

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