Investor sentiment seems to be unusually conflicted these days. There are worries aplenty, including numerous political skirmishes of consequence around the world, a slowing global economy, and lofty U.S. equity valuations. On the other hand, fiscal stimulus is high for this stage in an economic cycle and the Fed is easing monetary policy, two policy drivers it rarely pays to bet against.
Our group coverage spans most of the traditional groups as defined by Standard & Poor’s and Morgan Stanley Capital International. At times, we found ourselves in disagreement with the S&P/MSCI “standardized” group delineation, but this structure was maintained, with minimal modifications. We have, however, added additional component stocks to all groups and adopted our proprietary approach to component weightings.
Will this economic cycle end with “fire” (overheating) or “ice” (a whiff of deflation)? Interestingly, hedges against both outcomes have performed well in recent months, with both gold and Treasury bonds spiking. For many reasons, though, we believe the U.S. expansion is more likely to end in a deflationary bust.
Even our staid and august firm isn’t above a little Game of Thrones clickbait.
After nineteen years in the wilderness, an old king has returned for his throne. The House of Microsoft is once again the most valuable company in the S&P 500 and, as of last month, is the sole occupier of the “4% Club” (i.e., weighting in the index).
In 1962, President Kennedy clashed with steel companies over a 3.5% price hike and, in the midst of that, the S&P 500 declined 24% over the span of just a few months. In hindsight, that conflict about steel prices looks like BB gun material compared to the bazookas Trump and trade adviser Robert Lighthizer have fired in the last year. Could the present-day trade war with China “trigger” a decline like that (allegedly) of the Kennedy Slide?
In the first three months of 2019, the S&P 500 surged 13%, its best quarterly performance in nearly ten years. This is strikingly similar to the rally of 1999—which may have been the most speculative in U.S. history.
Based on standard technical retracements, the best-case S&P 500 bounce “should” have been exhausted in the range of 2,700-2,750. Less than three months since a 19.8% close-to-close decline, the market has rallied to within reach of a new high, a move which would commemorate the bull market’s 10th anniversary.
The Research Summary is now available for download on our website for February 2019. The Research Summary provides a synopsis of The Leuthold Group's monthly market outlook.
The fourth quarter selloff and subsequent rebound, as seen by Doug Ramsey (Chief Investment Officer) and Jim Paulsen (Chief Investment Strategist).
At some point in his career, famed stock trader Jesse Livermore ceased using the terms bull and bear, opting instead to describe trends in terms of “lines of least resistance.” He felt the change in terminology enabled a more flexible, unbiased mindset.
The bears gorged themselves in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and the S&P 500 closed at a correction low the day afterward. “Christmas” arrived immediately thereafter, with a six-day gain of 6%. But that was followed by a two-day collapse on December 4th and 6th, which undercut the post-Thanksgiving low on an intraday basis.