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Fears surrounding the spread of the coronavirus spiked over the weekend bringing panic selling to the stock market. While the possibility of a global pandemic is frightening, anxieties have also been augmented because the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is again nearing its all-time record low. 

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Last year we published a report titled Price to Book: The King is Dead (available on the Leuthold Research website) with the objective to better understand the decade-long struggle of the value style. Our findings showed that indexes based on the Price to Book ratio have indeed lagged since 2007 but that other measures of value performed significantly better until just recently.

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Our recent commentary “1” For The Record Books noted that just one of seven S&P smart beta factors was able to outperform the S&P 500 last year, even though each style basket limits its holdings to constituents of the parent index.

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Investing overseas has mostly been a black hole through this bull market. Price momentum remains terribly weak for international stock markets and this has given investors pause every time they consider reallocating some assets offshore.

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Since the 2008 Great Recession, economic and investment uncertainties have been persistent and pronounced. The shocking depth of the last recession during the post-war era (the annual decline in real GDP growth had never been lower than -3%—until 2009—when it fell nearly 4%), its subsequent subpar recovery (real GDP growth has averaged only slightly more than 2% annually, a level which was traditionally considered the “stall speed” during past expansions), the wild actions of policy officials (Cash for Clunkers, TARP, a zero Fed funds rate, Quantitative Easing, and Modern Monetary Theory)..

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Super-easy monetary policy has been blamed for the rise in income and wealth inequality in recent years, and more recently we’d fault the Fed for performance inequality within the stock market.

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Super-easy monetary policy has been blamed for the rise in income and wealth inequality in recent years, and more recently we’d fault the Fed for performance inequality within the stock market.

 

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A lot of moving parts of late. Record high stock markets with near record-low bond yields? A re-inversion of the yield curve. A pop in the U.S. manufacturing industry. Blow-out job numbers at full employment. Impeachment—Not. A botched Caucus. Brexit—Done. And, a Pandemic! Eh, just another day at the office…
 

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Biotechnology and Publishing are this week's best groups. Integrated Oil & Gas and Oil & Gas Refining are this week's worst groups. 

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Read this week's Major Trend.

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Extraordinarily low bond yields—often negative bond yields outside the U.S.—have significantly elevated investor anxieties, leaving the impression of facing a high-risk, low-return world. Consequently, during much of the contemporary expansion, the existence of very low yields has pushed several investors toward a more conservative portfolio allocation.

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Please read this week's Major Trend. 

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Volatility has always been important when investing. It is one of the most widely accepted qualifiers of risk. All investors prefer a steady-return stream rather than the anxiety which comes with irregular and less predictable returns. But often, volatility provides financial signals.

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Dark energy makes up 68% of the universe, yet astrophysicists are having a devil of a time explaining what it is, why it is, or how it works. Quant investors are facing their own dark-energy mystery in understanding style returns of 2019.

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Today, it was reported that fourth-quarter U.S. real GDP growth was 2.1%, nearly in line with expectations. However, business investment spending declined for the third consecutive quarter, continuing to raise fears that companies are pulling back and it is only a matter of time before they also reduce employment, sending the economy into a recession.

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The S&P 500 did not suffer a bear market last year. At least not by the conventional definition of a 20% decline. However, it was razor close—dropping 19.8% from its highest- to lowest-daily close. Given that, in every way except for -0.2%, the U.S. stock market did suffer a Bear last year, how does its 2019 rally compare thus far to the average “Bull Market Rally?”

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