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:
It has been a long way up and quick ride down for SunEdison but bad news keeps piling up for the hedge fund hotel even as it dead-cat-bounces again. As the stock bounces, just as it bounced in September after Steve Cohen's Point72 exposed their stake and JPM jumped to the rescue, uncertainty remains extreme. Amid a surge in debt and increasingly negative operating cash-flow, the plunge in stock (asset) price may have triggered a cross-collateral margin call of around $315 million. Furthermore, mass layoffs ar...
Uncertainty about the health of the global economy led investors to flee U.S. equities during Q3, primarily driven by worries about China's growth prospects and the Federal Reserve’s decision to not raise rates. Sure, there are plenty of real and perceived headwinds, but on balance it seems that a recession here at home is not in the cards. And when you consider sentiment and the technical picture, it appears that a continuation of Friday’s bounce is in store. The question remains as to whether the seasonally strong Q4 will be able to propel the bulls through levels of resistance that have built up.
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With the VIX index jumping 120 percent on a weekly basis, the most in its history, and with the index measuring volatility or "fear" up near 47 percent on the day, one might think professional investors might be concerned. While the sell off did surprise some, certain hedge fund managers have started to dip their toes in the water to buy stocks they have on their accumulation list, while other algorithmic strategies are actually prospering in this volatile but generally consistently trending market.
Stock market sell off surprises some while others were prepared and are hedged prospering
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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