With the big fall on Friday, a new and important reality has hit the stock market—indexes are actually down on the year. This is eye-opening because stocks came into the year with huge momentum from 2019’s big gains. However, between earnings and the Wuhan virus, stocks have taken a big hit. Adding to these fears is the fact that China just had a disastrous 8% loss today and there are escalating worries over how this virus might impact global growth.
FINSUM: Our own view is that the damage this virus has done to stocks is transitory and buy-the-dip might still be the best strategy.
The Iowa caucus kicks off today and do not be surprised if market get blindsided by the results. Bernie Sanders holds a solid lead in Iowa and he is likely to win the day in the state. That said, markets have been dismissive of Bernie for a long time, and it seems quietly realistic that despite all the predictions of him winning, him actually doing so might spook investors.
FINSUM: We would not be surprised at all if we saw a mini “Bernie correction” when Iowa results come out.
New polls are out and Sanders is at least tied with Biden. He has been reported as ahead recently, but a flurry of recent polls have all confirmed that he is at least tied. This could be a major issue for the stock market, as Wall Street is wary of Bernie. While they revile Warren, they understand her thinking and respect her regulatory acumen. Bernie is seen as a wildcard. It makes sense then that for each 10-point rise Sanders has seen in the polls, the S&P 500 has dropped 1% based on a rolling two-week relationship, according to UBS.
FINSUM: We would have to agree with this assessment. If Sanders wins the bid, the market will probably have a little blip, and then any polls that show Sanders ahead of Trump would be very worrying for markets.
Bonds have been in a bull market for the entire living memory of almost everyone in the financial industry. Yields are extremely low, prices are high, and stocks are peaking every week. Even if you are worried about bonds, the odds that they keep rising seem strong given some undeniably supportive factors. Those include a Fed that not only says it has no intention of hiking rates, but is actually undertaking a stealth form of QE by buying $60 bn of Treasury bills every month to make sure the financial system has adequate cash reserves.
FINSUM: Everything in the market is pointing to a repeat of the post-Crisis market paradigm—ultra-low rates, rising stocks. Should we expect a different outcome this time?
New data on the EU economy has just come in and it isn’t pretty. Overall, the bloc grew just 01% in the fourth quarter, while Italy and France actually contracted. According to Commerzbank, “The spectre of recession is back … Economic growth in the eurozone came to a virtual standstill at the end of the year . . . The ECB is likely to view this with concern”. Ironically though, this may be positive for market as the ECB is likely to take an even more dovish approach.
FINSUM: It feels like we just did a time warp back to around 2013, when central banks were ready to stick to ZIRP for years. We all know how stocks performed then!