Market Update

Stocks, bonds and commodities all broadly finished the week lower in dollar terms, meaning it was a modestly good week for inflation sufferers.

Copper: -2.84%
Gold: -0.27%
Stocks: -0.57%
Bonds: -0.04%
(Figures reflect ETF proxies CPER, IAU, VT & GOVT).

Copper incidentally declined disproportionately just because of the exit of momentum traders piling on a breathtaking rally, ie a correction of a short term overbought state in a bull run.

Beneath the broad data it was a little more interesting. Big Tech – notably Nvidia – has for several weeks been sucking all the oxygen from the rest of the stock market. The Nasdaq has sharply outperformed the Dow 30 and Russell 2000. It’s party rational … with a few emerging shreds of weakening ecodata, quality – especially strong balance sheets of the kind hypercap corps enjoy – is an advantage over competition burdened with more debt and facing refinancing at higher rates. It’s also partly irrational, being offset with share prices well in excess of what future cash flows could colorably justify.

A big chunk of that disparity corrected over the course of this week. The Dow and Russell smartly outperformed. Anyone following the more advanced deliberately-light-on-overvalued-hypercaps Income Portfolios is likely to have noticed … in terms of price performance the US portion tends to roughly track a 75:25 mix of the Dow and Russell. Just today they rose 1.51% and 0.66% respectively while the Nasdaq fell -0.01%.

Gold continues to bump its head against the $2400 ceiling we identified when it was trading around $2200. The main upside risk would come from downside risk in the dollar, likely from a Fed leaning more unidirectionally towards easier money, likely in response to weaker employment data or lower stock prices. Other commodities, being more industrially sensitive, could go the other way. In very rough terms, gold tends to be more closely correlated to bonds while other commodities to stocks.

For most of the past few years though, stocks and bonds have tended to correlate with each other … or more accurately their price performance has been dominated by the currency unit more than intrinsic activity. I’ve long speculated an at least temporary respite to anticorrelation, but have been at least a couple years early, another way of saying wrong. When we have seen anticorrelation, for example over the past several months, it’s been in favor of stocks. We’ve had a taste of the reverse later this week, stocks selling off as bonds rallied (however weakly). A harbinger of more to come? If those emerging shreds of weakness are … yes.

5 thoughts on “Market Update

    1. Finster says:

      I still like Chinese stocks.

      At least as compared to most of the rest.

      Interesting video. Harvey is right about what he sees but wrong about the root cause. The west is losing because of too much government, too much money printing, too much war, etc.

      1. Milton Kuo says:

        I’m glad you mentioned Chinese equities. 🙂

        I’ve been looking at them for a long time and I know they’re definitely inexpensive when compared to U.S. equities. I think even without that comparison, they’re pretty inexpensive.

        However, I haven’t bought anything since my concern is that I could get badly burned by U.S. government actions. I got burned on Russian equities (thankfully, only about 1% of my total assets) and given what’s going on now with the current administration making Trump’s “trade war” look like a piker, I’ve been sitting on my hands.

        Do you think it’s safe, politically, to invest in Chinese equities at all? I’m going to continue to sit on my hands because my feeling is that the establishment has run out of levers to pull (after having totally wrecked the country) and all that’s left is war.

        1. Finster says:

          You could think of it as a least dirty shirt kind of thing. At least at the national level. There’s always risk, and I am a big believer in broad diversification, but if I were forced to choose between the S&P and MCHI right now, I’d go with the latter. It’s not quite as hated or cheap as it was back in February, but still far more so than the former.

          Sure there is political risk. If war were to break out with Taiwan, it’s possible to imagine all sorts of sanctions being thrown at China. Look at what happened with Russia. Except in the case of China everything else would be affected more. So in the real world where I don’t have to choose one or the other, I’m just modestly overweight China relative to its global market cap. And mostly via broader vehicles like VWO. I definitely feel more comfortable than if all my stocks were limited to the developed west. Apart from hypervalued tech, it looks like secular decline all over.

          But isn’t that the way it usually works? It’s hard to think of any bargains that don’t either have negative narratives associated with them or get little to no attention at all. The way I look at it, in investing, like most other endeavors, you’re paid for serving others. When they want to sell, you get paid to help them out.

  1. Finster says:

    Metals Mashed

    Metals are getting smaller today as jobs data reinforce expectations the Fed will not be cutting rates anytime soon. Bond prices fell, raising yields, strengthening the dollar, and so you see broad declines in asset prices. A day of deflation.

    It’s a gift to traders and investors looking for lower entry points. The long term outlook remains strong. Aside from their use as money, silver, copper and gold are, in that order, the three best electrical conductors, and platinum is a key catalyst in the hydrogen cycle. With increasing electrification involving everything from solar panels to artificial intelligence, these properties underly demand as far as the eye can see. With a popular financial media for whom the three major asset classes are Nvidia, GameStop and Bitcoin, metals are still relatively unhyped assets which continue to have upside possibly even in real terms.

    Gold was down over 3%, indicating the exit of fast money drawn in by recent rapid gains. Silver was slammed hardest, down in excess of 6%. Even considering having done this from an initially overbought point, and that the short term trend has been down, the sharp plunge foreshadows a sharp rally sometime in the next several trading days. Even if that doesn’t come to pass, the metals are still worthwhile longer term holdings, so are a low risk proposition for the trader with patience.

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