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:
Private equity firm Irving Place Capital ("IPC") and Victor Technologies ("Victor") announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement to sell Victor to Colfax Corporation ("Colfax") (NYSE: CFX), a global manufacturer of gas- and fluid-handling and fabrication technology products. The all cash transaction values Victor at approximately $947 million, including the assumption of debt, and is subject to customary closing conditions.
Victor is a leading designer and manufacturer of a comprehensive suite of metal cutting, gas control, and specialty welding products. IPC acquired Victor, which was previously named Thermadyne Holdings Corporation, in a take-private transaction in December 2010.
"We are pleased with the progress that we have made in partnership ...
Who says QE is ineffective? If you’re an owner of real estate or financial assets, it’s pretty darn f*cking effective.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The net worth of U.S. households and nonprofit organizations rose 14% last year, or almost $10 trillion, to $80.7 trillion, the highest on record, according to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday. Even adjusted for inflation using the Fed’s preferred gauge of prices, U.S. household net worth—the value of homes, stocks and other assets minus debts and other liabilities—hit a fresh record.
.."There is a time for all things, but I didn’t know it. And that is precisely what beats so many men in Wall Street who are very far from being in the main sucker class. There is the plain fool, who does the wrong thing at all times everywhere, but there is the Wall Street fool, who thinks he must trade all the time. Not many can always have adequate reasons for buying and selling stocks daily – or sufficient knowledge to make his play an intelligent play."...
Plenty of excuses out there for this evening's collosal miss in Chinese exports (-18.1% YoY vs an expectation of a 7.5% rise) mainly based on timing issues over the Lunar New Year (but didn't the 45 economists who forecast this data know the dates before they forecast?) This is a 6-sigma miss and plunges China's trade balance to its biggest miss on record and 2nd largest deficit on record. Combining Jan and Feb data (i.e. smoothing over the holiday), exports are still down 1.6% YoY - not good for the much-heralded global recovery. Exports to the rest of the BRICs were all down over 20% but no there is no contagion from an emergin...
The Global X Social Media Index ETF (Ticker: SOCL) touched fresh record highs on Thursday morning, surprising no one given the top three holdings of the Fund are Hong Kong-based Tencent Holdings (12.678%), Facebook Inc. (12.506%) and LinkedIn Corp. (8.166%), which are up 130%, 160% and 22%, respectively, since this time last year. The SOCL reflects the performance of companies involved in the social media industry, including companies that provide social networking, file sharing and other web-based media applications. Shares in the ETF rose 1.3% today to a new high of $23.00, and have soared approximately 65% since this time last year.
Today brought three better than expected economic releases from Construction Spending, ISM Manufacturing, and Personal Income. The ISM figure was quite unexpected and Personal Income was well above expectations. If we ignore for a moment that the Final GDP reading for Q4 was lowered on Friday (which may or may not have been primarily caused by severe weather), we have had a week of better than expected economic numbers. Corporate earnings have also continued to exceed forecasts, albeit with a bit more cautious guidance.
Of course, none of that matters when the “war drums” start beating. Russia and the Ukraine are engaged in a serious game of “chicken” with a bear in the hen house. The Russian ruble has borne the brunt of the damage so far with a double digit drop today again...
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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