Gold had a great first nine months of the year, rising 25%. Since September though, it has been quite bad, falling 7% versus an S&P 500 gain of 10%. So where is it headed? Godman Sachs says the metal still has a strong case. The bank’s research team says “gold’s strategic case is still strong … We expect ‘Fear’-driven investment demand for gold to be supported by late cycle concerns, political uncertainty and high [developing market] household savings”. Even if the Fed increases rates, GS thinks gold will be solid because rates still remain so low, which is a positive for the zero-yielding metal.
FINSUM: If you think the risk-on rally will continue, then stay away. However, if you think the market is going to be flat in 2020 because of political and economic uncertainty, then gold is at a decent buying point right now.
Despite all the worries that plagued the market this year, things have actually been very strong. Exceedingly so. But don’t expect that any longer, says Blackrock. The world’s largest asset manager expects returns in 2020 to come way down. The firm says that the big changes in monetary policy this year outweighed the geopolitical issues and caused huge returns, which won’t happen next year. Blackrock thinks returns in the mid single digits in 2020 seem realistic.
FINSUM: This is sort of a middle of the road call in terms of forecasted numbers, but we like the summary of what happened this year and how next year’s performance is not likely to be duplicated.
If one thing is for sure about markets at the moment, it is that investors are less worried about the economy and less stressed about the chances of a bear market. That is exactly why the market is at risk. The market’s fear index, the VIX, jumped a whopping 16% yesterday, signaling some underlying anxiety building after a calm and positive stretch. One of the factors that is looming over markets is whether the tariff deadlines on China get delayed or not, which will be a sign of progress or failure on the trade deal. Further, fears over the election, and higher rates, are likely to dampen corporate spending and slow the economy.
FINSUM: Our worry is that the anxiety level at the moment does not seem to be matching the real risk, which ironically is when the chance of a market downturn is at its highest.
There are some very worrying signals coming out of the high yield sector. In particular, stocks at the riskiest end of the market have been underperforming. Bonds rated CCC, CCC+, and CCC-, which are the three lowest rungs before default, have been underperforming all year and that weakness has now reached an “unprecedented size”. What is worrying is that very lowly rated bonds are usually the most influenced by economic perceptions, and it is unusual that with junk rallying so much this year that this cohort has not taken part.
FINSUM: So there are two options for what this could mean. Either it means investors are just being cautious, or much more negatively, that credit conditions are tightening, which would be a sign of a pending economic downturn.
Goldman put out a warning on Friday and advisors should pay attention. The bank is warning of what it calls a “baby” bear market. The focus this time is not on equities but on bonds, which have mostly been very hot this year. Goldman thinks that Treasury yields are going to take a hit in 2020, falling back to around 2.25% on the ten-year. That is a pretty large move from the 1.7% level seen today. The catch on Goldman’s call is that it doesn’t really see the move beginning until the second half of 2020, so it is a bit of a delayed bet.
FINSUM: This is quite a long-term view and in Goldman’s own words is contingent upon investors thinking the Fed might hike rates. That seems a LONG way off; at least post-2020 election we would think.