There has been a lot of media coverage lately about how to protect one’s portfolio from the trade war. We came across an unusually clever idea recently, however, that has nothing to do with trying to forecasting the impact of tariffs on different sectors. Here is the strategy: buy exchange stocks (meaning the stock of stock exchanges, like the Nasdaq). The argument is that panicked buying and selling alongside a trade war will boost trading volumes, which in turn boosts revenue.
FINSUM: We think this is a brilliant strategy. If volatility rises, exchange stocks will likely do well. If volatility is down, meaning less trading volume, the rest of your portfolio is likely to be doing well.
Here is an eye-opener—all the carnage of December is almost in the rearview mirror for the Nasdaq. The index has just about risen out of its bear market, up 20% from its lows. That is an amazing turnaround from its nadir on December 24th. The index is heavily weighted towards big tech shares and has recently rallied on the back of optimism about improving US-China trade relations and a more dovish Fed.
FINSUM: We like good news, but the rally in the Nasdaq feels like too much too soon!
Yesterday was a full-on panic in markets. Shares plunged across the board from a broad mix of worries about rates, earnings, the economy, and trade war. The Nasdaq was hit hardest, falling 4.4% into correction territory. Losses in the Dow and S&P 500 were enough to eliminate all gains for the year. Earnings have continued to be strong, but it has not helped support stocks much, if at all. The S&P 500 is now 9.4% off its 52-week high.
FINSUM: Our own view on stocks is that this will be a temporary hiccup and equities will steady themselves soon. Given that earnings growth is strong and the economy is still very healthy, it is hard to imagine a bear market starting.
The markets took another dive yesterday, with the Dow losing well over a 1%, the S&P 500 down almost 1.5% and the Nasdaq down over 2%. That loss jolted investors out of the sense that things might be back to normal after a strong recovery in recent days. This all begs the question of whether it is really time to start worrying about a recession? A new study from Bank of America says no. The bank did analysis of economic performance going back to the sixties and have found that compared to previous pre-recession cycles, the US is actually moving away from recession now.
FINSUM: Relying on historical data is probably not going to be very fruitful right now as the pretext (artificially low rates etc.) is totally different for this economic cycle.
The market finally had a down day yesterday (with the exception of the Nasdaq) after a good recovery. That said, many are worried about the market’s breadth, as most of the gains this year have come from just the six FAANG stocks. However, Barron’s notes that “just three sectors out of 11 are up more than the S&P 500 this year—that would be tech, discretionary, and health care—seven sectors have stronger breadth readings than the S&P 500, and all except energy have more than half their stocks trading above their 50-day moving average”.
FINSUM: Market breadth seems to have improved considerably over the last month, and generally speaking, the fundamentals underlying the market look healthier.