Big bank Credit Suisse thinks the stock market rally will keep going. They say the big gains this year are mostly because of improved investor sentiment on the back of a more dovish Fed, weaker inflation, and the better prospects for a US-China deal. Further, the bank’s chief US equity strategist says “Our work indicates that investors have not fully re-risked portfolios following 4Q’s turbulence—despite a sharp decline in volatility and spreads—and that valuations will drift higher as they do so”.
FINSUM: We have to tentatively agree with this view. Sentiment is up, and combined with lower valuations and the fact that investors have not fully re-entered the market, there does seem to be a good runway higher.
If history is any indication, the big surge in stocks that has started this year seems likely to continue. Markets have had a great week and the S&P 500 is up 11% on the year. Prices are only 5.3% off their all-time high. That bodes well because stocks tend to track their first two-month performance for the rest of the year. 64% of the time stocks continue to perform throughout the year just like they did in January and February. The last time the S&P 500 climbed more than 10% in January and February (1991), it rose an additional 14% for the year.
FINSUM: Stocks are in a sweet spot right now, with the Fed having backed off and trade fears easing. That seems likely to stay in place for a while, but we wonder if any stresses related to the 2020 election might start to weight on the market later this year.
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!
One of the most respected hedge fund managers, Jeremy Grantham, believes that this is a false rebound. And not only is it a false rebound, rather, it is the beginning of a big bubble bursting. The head of GMO believes as far as the fourth quarter is concerned, “The volatility is consistent with a bubble bursting”. Though he does caution that stocks could reflate before the burst continues, as they did in 1998-2000. Grantham is famous for his calls of the 2000 and 2008 downturns, but has been criticized for being overly bearish during this bull market.
FINSUM: We do not think there is going to be a further meltdown. Valuations reached their nadir at a 13.6 p/e ratio last month, down from eye popping numbers. Between earnings gains and price declines, we think the worst may be behind stocks for now.
There has been a lot of bearish sentiment over the last couple of months, with more of a positive trend lately. Put this piece in the positive bucket. The argument in question is from Capital Group, a $1.8 tn manager, who contends that while we are in the late stage of an economic cycle, there should still be a couple years of good earnings growth and returns. The late stage of an economic cycle typically lasts 1-3 years, says Capital Group, and that shouldn’t be any different this time. According to the the firm, “Given that this expansion has been pretty measured, I think we’re expecting that the late stage of the cycle will probably also be quite measured as well … And it doesn’t have to end in a recession”.
FINSUM: We really like that final thought. Everything about this market and economy has been steady for years. A slow and steady end makes sense.