Eq: Total Market
Retail stocks have seen management boost outlooks recently, but that hasn’t helped prices, which have been falling to end the year. However, despite headwinds in the sector, there are a handful of retailers that look likely to see good performance in the near term. Those stocks are Ulta Beauty, Target, and Kohl’s. All three stocks are up for the year but down big in the fourth quarter. One stock analyst summarized his views this way, saying “We like these three stocks given the strong underlying consumer, not easily replicable product assortments, digital investments and innovation”.
FINSUM: These are very consumer-staple oriented, which we think is a good choice for the currently tenuous market environment.
Banks are usually the last ones to forecast a recession. Saying things are heading south is usually not good for business. However, despite this a slew of major banks, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and BofA, are all saying that the risks of a recession in 2019 are rising. While they are still loath to say a recession will happen next year, JP Morgan just increased the odds considerably, saying there is a 35% chance. In March they said it was just 16%. Jobs data has just started to weaken, which is a warning sing, and the yield curve has begun to invert, another indicator of trouble ahead.
FINSUM: We know a recession is on the way, but the timing is the tough part. Our best bet is towards the end of 2019 or Q1 2020.
This market is going against all precedent. December is usually a strong month for stocks, with momentum usually dominating trading. However, everyone knows this month has been brutal, continuing the strong volatility and losses that have plagued the market since October. The same old problems are dogging the market too—rising rates, a trade war, and the threat of recession. What has really gotten worse is that part of the rate curve has inverted, which seems to have really spooked investors globally. Last week the S&P 500 saw it worst performance since March, falling 4.6% for the week.
FINSUM: Here is a question for our audience: what is going to stop this market from falling? There are so many factors pushing the market down, none of them easy to resolve. This makes us worry that there is no floor on prices right now. Even the Trump-Xi “truce” didn’t save things.
Markets plunged on Tuesday, at least partly because of fears over the fragility of the US-China truce on trade. China tried to bolster belief in a deal this week by publicly reaffirming its commitment. However, any hopes of a trade agreement took a definitive nose dive today as the CFO of Chinese giant Huawei was arrested in Canada at the US’ request. Futures markets dove so sharply on the news that the CME had to stop trading for a period.
FINSUM: This could be a very wild day. Market are off to a rough start this morning, but the mood in the afternoon will be the big test of sentiment, in our opinion.
There is a lot going against equities right now. A trade war, rising rates, a weaker 2019 earnings outlook, a fading tax effect, and high valuations. There is one more to add to the list, and it could end up being the worst of all—stocks are now yielding significantly less than short-term bonds. Two-year Treasuries are yielding 2.82% while the S&P 500 is yielding just 1.9%. Yields better than bonds had been an incentive for investors to put money in stocks for years, a phenomenon called “TINA”, or “there is no alternative”.
FINSUM: With all the volatility and headwinds facing equities, and relatively unattractive yields as well, it is hard to see what force is going to swoop in to help out stock indexes.
One of the scary facts of yesterday’s selloff was that there wasn’t a single identifiable catalyst for it. That said, one of those that had a certain effect was growing doubt about the strength of the Trump-Xi trade truce. Well that concern got a bit of support today as China publicly reaffirmed its commitment to the trade détente. Beijing said it was working toward a trade agreement with the US by March 1st, a sign that it intends to follow through on the promises made by Trump and Xi over the weekend.
FINSUM: We think it is a good sign China made this kind of statement. It seems an obvious reaction to the big stock market drop yesterday, but the fact that they care to help out is a good indication of where things are heading.