Eq: Total Market
Your eyes don’t deceive you. Well, at least not this time.
In the second quarter of the year, there was a bounce of 12% year over year to $88.6 billion, reported limra.com. The catalyst: a tag team of unprecedented registered index linked annuity and fixed indexed annuity sales, according to preliminary results from LIMRA’s U.S. Individual Annuity Sales Survey.
“Double-digit equity market increases and stable interest rates have prompted investors to seek out greater investment growth opportunity through RILAs and FIAs,” according to Todd Giesing, assistant vice president, LIMRA Annuity Research. Economic conditions continue to be favorable for the annuity market, he added.
-Last year, fueled by volatility in the equities markets and a spike in interest rates, there was a bump in annuities sales, according to winintel.com. Also in 2022, total U.S. annuity sales hit $310.6 billion -- a 23% increase over 2021. And, wait, there’s more. For you history buffs, it was a jump of 15% from the sales record hit in 2008.
What scent are they picking up on? The lay out: they want to leverage climbing interest rates, which are tugging the total in MMFs past $5tn. That said, many members of that pack were ready to segue into fixed income – when investors felt gob smack sure that yields would sidestep taking a hit by additional action on the Fed’s part, said Blackrock, according to ft.com.
“There is finally income to be earned in the fixed income market and we are expecting a resurgence in demand,” said Rob Kapito, president.* “There are trillions . . . that are ready, when people feel rates have peaked, to flood the market and we need to position ourselves to capture that.”
Like a boxer holding his own despite absorbing more than his share of a pummeling, while the U.S. economy continues to hold tough, when it comes to core fixed income, the macro outlook’s looking up, according to sageadvisory.com.
Over the upcoming quarters, a cocktail of appealing yield carry and escalating returns rates skews returns north.
Um, you might want to duck for cover. Why? Well, because of the explosive growth experienced by the ETF industry, according to zacks.com.
Against the backdrop of a burgeoning stock market, it’s gathering mucho assets. The fact that investors sunk about $200.6 billion in new assets into U.S.-listed ETFs in the first half of the year, didn’t exactly hurt.
Pacing the field was U.S. fixed income ETFs with inflows of $86.7 billion, according to etf.com. Nipping at its heels was $52.9 billion in U.S. equity ETFs and $48.5 billion in international equity ETFs.
Meantime, almost assuredly considerably more on the money than many weather prognosticators, the macro outlook for core fixed income is thumbs up, according to sageadvisory.com. Over approaching quarters, attractive yield carry is tag teaming with peaking rates skews returns to the upside. Fed timing aside, market and dot plots each have rates much lower over the oncoming year or two. What’s more, yield carry looks as good as it has in 15 years.
In an article for MarketWatch, William Watts covers comments from Fundstrat’s Thomas Lee where he discusses why falling volatility is one of the major factors behind the stock market rally in 2023. YTD, the S&P 500 is up 16%, and the index is more than 25% higher from its lows last October.
Equally impressive is that the stock market has recovered more than half of its losses. At its nadir, the market was down by 25% from its all-time high set in January 2022. Currently, it sits just 9% off these levels.
According to Lee, the volatility index is the biggest influence on S&P 500 performance, eclipsing other variables like the US dollar, earnings, rates, monetary, or fiscal policy. However, Lee’s view is not the consensus as many continue to see the market as being in a bear market rally rather than a new bull market.
These skeptics point to historically high valuations for the stock market in addition to analysts’ expectations of a modest decline in earnings per share over the next few quarters. Another headwind is that inflation continues to be stickier than expected resulting in the Fed continuing to hike further.
Finsum: Fundstrat’s Thomas Lee was one of the few to be bullish on stocks entering 2023. He remains bullish and believes the plunging volatility index is a major factor driving returns.
Return flights.No return policy.
Well, whichever way you look at it, as the first half of the year hits the rearview mirror, you might say fixed income has a take of its own. according to schwab.com.
The topsy turvy market aside, all signs are up on year to date returns in virtually every sub asset class of the fixed income market, Modest gains were posted by short term investments with low durations. Meantime, a duo of higher starting coupons and yields, which tracked south, boosted intermediate to long term bonds.
All that said, in 18 months, fixed income markets have been feeling their oats.
That wasn’t the case last year, according to janushenderson.com. After all, that was in light of the central bank’s concerted monetary tightening. With that, yields rose sharply while the prices of bonds retreated. The feeling toward bonds these days? Markedly different.
Global flows into fixed income? Thumb’s up. Year to date, $152 billion entered fixed income funds, reported EPFR Global.
In an article for MarketWatch, Mark Hulbert discusses the collapse of the volatility index (VIX) over the last couple of months, and why it could be a harbinger of a sustained stock market rally according to historical data.
According to Hulbert when the VIX reaches a fresh, 3-year low, it’s likely to remain low for a couple more months which implies further gains for equities. However, this view is contrary to the consensus expectations on Wall Street which see further erosion in the economic outlook, causing the economy to stumble into a recession. This perspective sees the low Vix as a sign of complacency rather than a ‘continuation’ signal.
Hulbert points to history. Since 1990, the best performing months from a risk and return perspective, have come with low VIX readings. Based on this data, investors should increase equity allocations as the volatility index declines and reduce it as it rises.
Another benefit of this strategy is that it dampens the impact of volatility on the portfolio which increases the odds that investors will stick to their investment plan and not let the market’s twists and turns shake them out of their holdings.
Finsum: Many on Wall Street see the plunge in the volatility index as a contrarian signal, implying complacency. Mark Hulbert disagrees and sees it as the start of a sustained rally.