There have been a lot of bearish articles lately and few bullish ones. But today we are running are covering an optimistic argument that supports our own view of the market. We have been saying for some time that inflation is not necessarily bad for stocks—they are in fact an inflationary hedge. Now, Barron’s is making a key point about the current relationship between stocks and bonds to show why equities don’t stand to lose much if inflation and rates rise. The reason why is that the spread between equity yields and Treasuries is over 300 basis points, meaning there is a lot of room for rates to move higher before they would be wounded.
FINSUM: We think this is quite an astute view. And while we don’t believe the market is in for another strong run, we think it has a nice cushion for modest gains.
The market did something that seems quite odd yesterday. Despite inflation coming out ahead of expectations and Treasury bonds commensurately selling off, stocks rose strongly. It was the first time the two asset classes had moved in significantly opposite directions in some time. Yields on the ten-year bond extended their four-year high to 2.92%, seven basis points higher than in the previous session.
FINSUM: We have been saying for the last couple of weeks that investors would realize inflation wasn’t necessarily bad for stocks. The market seems to have woken up to that reality.
While the idea is more important for retail investors, we thought Bloomberg’s article today warning about buying ETFs might also be relevant for advisors. Bloomberg argues that the name “ETF” has become so vague as to be almost meaningless, and that investors need to be very disciplined in understanding the fund before buying it. The catch-all term “ETF” now encompasses everything from ultra-low cost index tracking funds to hugely leveraged volatility funds, all traded under often simple names and tickers.
FINSUM: The name of the game here is to read the fund prospectus and deeply understand the product being bought. But advisors already know that!
There have been relatively few updates on the Trump probe in recent weeks. Ever since the debate over whether Trump should let Mueller interview him calmed down, there has been little news. Now, reports are coming out that a group of investors in the Kushner family business—the family of Trump’s son-in-law—have been subpoenaed by the IRS and the Department of Justice. However, at this point, reports say the subpoenas are unrelated to the more broad probe into the White House’s connection to Russia.
FINSUM: Hard to see what is really going on here, but suffice it to say that the overall probe is deepening.
Many investors may have noticed that despite the big selloffs of the last two weeks, tech stocks have actually held up quite well. The sector is up 2.8% on the year versus an S&P 500 gain of just 0.2%. However, beware, as that number is largely an illusion. The reason why is that the vast majority of that performance comes down to Microsoft and Nvidia, which are up 5% and 20% this year.
FINSUM: The performance of tech during the recent downturn is largely an illusion, so investors need to be careful taking refuge in the sector.