Theory: the dumb money (that’s us) has left the party leaving the bots (smart money) to pass the stocks back and forth between themselves. And to mix metaphors, the bots act like a herd all pretty much stampeding one way or another. While retail investors seek not to get trampled another time. – Ilene
The stock market has turned into a schizophrenic herd of sheep. Correlations have entirely converged in recent months as money simply flows from bullish to bearish depending on the current mood of our bi-polar friend. Jeff Saut of Raymond James says it is in large part due to the small investor throwing in the towel:
“The chart on page 3 shows the correlation of S&P 500 stocks to the S&P 500 Index. Studying the chart one finds that the correlation from September 2009 through early May 2010 ranged between 55 – 65. However, following the May 6th “flash crash” the correlation leaps to ~78 and eventually ~82, which is indeed the highest correlation since the 1987 crash. So what caused this fairly rare event? In my opinion it is because the retail investor – disgusted with high-frequency trading, dark pools, trading huddles, inter-market sweep orders, etc. – simply left the game, leaving the “pros” to trade among themselves. Obviously, when the alleged “dumb money” left the party correlation had to rise. Adding to the situation has been Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). To wit, when volume increases in say the Powershares Consumer Discretionary ETF (PEZ/$21.08), that ETF automatically goes in and buys ALL 60 of the mid-cap stocks within the fund. Plainly, that causes correlation to rise.”
I think it’s even simpler than that. This is classic herd mentality. The entire herd is either all grazing or all running scared at the same. Currently, the herd is grazing happily with not a care in the world. But don’t be fooled – when something spooks them you’ll get trampled if you don’t run with them…..
In today’s segment of bull versus bear we pit a bullish Jeff Saut against an ultra bearish Nouriel Roubini. Mr. Saut, who helps oversee $235B at Raymond James, says there is not a whole lot of downside to U.S. stocks and that there is a “bubble in pessimism”. Roubini, on the other hand, believes we are on the verge of a double dip.
Interesting commentary from Jeff Saut, Chief Equity Strategist at Raymond James this morning on the old investment saying “sell in May and go away.” Mr. Saut believes investors should be selling before May in anticipation of what other investors might do:
“Obviously we have modified that old axiom this morning given our statement – “Don’t wait for May to go away!” Nevertheless, despite having been too soon’ly cautious since S&P 1150 – 1160, which is tantamount to being wrong, we are “stepping up” our cautionary counsel this week.”
Saut’s cautious tone is driven by a series of technical and sentiment factors that are often followed by weaker market action:
“Our increased caution is driven by a number of metrics. To wit, preliminary data suggests last Friday was the first 90% Downside Day since February, our sentiment gauges are back to as bullish as they were in 1987 (read that bearishly), the CBOE equity put/call ratio is at 0.32, for its heaviest “call volume” relative to “put volume” since August of 2000, stocks are the most overbought since the rally began in March 2009, some of the leading stocks are not responding to good news, Thursday was session 34 in the “buying stampede” that began on February 26th (rarely do such skeins last more than 30 sessions), we’ve gotten that peak-a-boo “look” into the long envisioned target zone of 1200 – 1250, volatility is back to the complacent 2008 levels, and the list goes on.”
But that doesn’t mean Saut is turning full-blown bearish. He still sees upside in the market following a near-term correction:
“As for the ‘here and now,’ we are increasingly cautious, believing a near-term “top” in the equity markets has been registered. Longer-term, we remain bullish, thinking the profit-cycle recovery is alive and well. To that point, it’s worth considering that bottom-up operating earnings peaked in 2007 at ~$91 per share for the S&P 500 (SPX/1192.13). And, except for Japan, price-to-peak earnings power (PPE) has always made new highs, cycle after cycle. Again, as the good folks at GaveKal note, ‘Except during the bubble years of 1997 – 2001, the PPE for the SPX has fluctuated in a range of 10x to 20x (peak earnings);
Raymond James strategist Jeff Saut continues to present a cautious tone in his first research note of the year
Last Monday we wrote, "As we enter the New Year, we are once again turning cautious because the Treasury market is breaking down (higher rates) and the U.S. dollar is rallying. . . . Therefore, we think it prudent to ‘bank’ some trading profits and hedge some investment positions as we approach the new year."
Moreover, one of the lessons we have learned is that the beginning of a new year is often punctuated with head fakes, both on the upside as well as the downside. One of the greatest upside head fakes was in January 1973 when in the first two weeks of that year the DJIA rallied to a new all-time high of 1051.70 before sliding ~20%. While we are clearly not predicting that, what we have indeed experienced since the March "lows" is the second greatest percentage rally (69%), adjusted for time (nine months), since the 1933 rally. Following that 1933 explosion of 116% in just five months came a pretty decent downside correction. Since we tend to be "odds players," prudence suggests some caution is again warranted.
“we think the upside should continue to be driven by ‘game theory,’ which suggests that the under-invested institutional portfolio managers have to buy stocks into year-end driven by their under-performance, their subsequent ‘bonus risk’, and ultimately their ‘job risk.’ Verily, many of the portfolio managers we know remain under extreme pressure to commit their outsized cash positions in an attempt to ‘catch up’ to their benchmarks between now and year-end (see the nearby Credit Suisse institutional cash versus retail cash on the sidelines chart).”
“As the S&P 500 traded out to new reaction ‘highs’ in the first part of last week we heard a cacophony of crybabies. First was Meredith Whiney, banking analyst now turned strategist, who stated, ‘I have not been this bearish in over a year!’ One-upping her was Nouriel Roubini who exclaimed, ‘The worst is yet to come’….Despite such cantankerous cries, we have indeed entered the strongest seasonality of the year and we remain constructive. As the sagacious Bespoke Investment Group writes, “Since 1941, the Dow has averaged a gain of 0.50% in the week before Thanksgiving.” That said, we would not like to see the S&P 500 break below 1083. And speaking of breaking down, the Japanese stock market is breaking down and we are close to ‘uncle points’ on those recommendations.”
How does Saut recommend playing the year-end rally? Saut has been mindful of the recent divergence between large caps and small caps. He believes the trend will continue as breadth narrows and investors reallocate capital from the best performers to a bit of more defensive posture. This means large caps will outperform. In particular, he likes pharma stocks:
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
Most of my writing about the gold standard is about how it works, and how the paper dollar standard doesn’t. A casual conversation I had with someone recently underscored that there is an even stronger argument.
Our opponents, those who support central banking and irredeemable paper money, have to make two cases. One is to defend the theory and practice of central banking, that central bankers are wise and honest and that their debt-based paper money works. They have to argue that the dollar does everything you want money to do, such as hold its value, enable proper accounting, encourage savings, support a stable economy, etc. Well, they can go through the moti...
China eased purchase restrictions last month ending its four-year campaign to contain home prices. And what a ridiculous campaign it was. Prices are down less than 1% this month and less then 1% year-over-year.
Prices dropped in 69 of the 70 cities in September from August, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the data. They fell in 68 cities in August.
The central bank on Sept. 30 eased mortgage rules for homebuyers that have paid off existing loans, reversing course after a four-year camp...
If you're following Valeant's proposed takeover (or merger) of Allergan and the lawsuit by Allergan against Valeant and notorious hedge fund manager William Ackman, for insider trading this is a must-read article.
Linette Lopez describes the roles played by key Wall Street hedge fund owners--Jim Chanos, John Paulson, and Mason Morfit, a major shareholder in Valeant. Linette goes through the con...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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