Monday, February 10, 2020
Please find below our latest Weekly Trend Update Report covering major asset classes and currencies.
Have a nice week and good luck.
Trend Status Update
Some analysts argued that, at least semantically, the corona virus is not a Black Swan because an outbreak of some sort was inevitable and predictable, not fitting the definition of “unknown unknown” of unquantifiable consequences. We are no specialist in epidemiology and won’t improvise ourselves as such. As everybody else, we look at the number of casualties going up and spreading, hoping that the vaccine and containment measures in China and elsewhere will prove effective. In the meantime, the official death toll surpassed that of SARS (at 813), new cases were confirmed outside of China and the massive release of sulfur dioxide gas from the outskirts of Wuhan suggested that the official tally may be underestimated. It is the passing away of Dr Li, a 34 year old medical doctor (who became famously popular as a whistle blower of the disease outbreak) last week that elevated concerns (I noticed people crossing the street as a child coming in the opposite direction was coughing in Basel yesterday to reflect on the mounting worldwide paranoia) but not sufficiently to unsettle the sentiment on Wall Street which remained focussed on Tesla going off chart, reasonably good earnings and economic reports (Friday’s US job report came in better than expected) and the overwhelming impression that the Central Banks’ put remains firmly in place. What made the situation highly unusual last week was a feeling of dual panic. On the one hand, the possible spreading of the disease and of its economic consequences (China is now 18% of World GNP from 5% in 2003 with a world economy much more dependent on Chinese exports for its supply chain with 170mn Chinese travellers criss-crossing the world, more than 10 times their numbers at the time of the SARS outbreak) had many worried. On the other hand, the impossibility of getting any correction on any bad news froze the blood of shorts and those under weighed in risky assets. Perhaps, if a Black Swan does not scare anyone, the Grey Rhino getting at us with a highly probable big impact ultimately will... For the moment, the only vaccine comes from the Fed’s “non-QE”.
Elsewhere in US politics, the debacle of the Iowa Primaries was a real blow for Democrats in general (allowing D. Trump to clamour something to the tune that if Democrats cannot handle a primary, their management of the country would be even worse) and for J. Biden, in particular. If J. Biden stumbles next week in New Hampshire (as is likely), M. Bloomberg might still emerge as the sole credible alternative to D. Trump. In our view, Sanders is the Corbyn of US politics and E. Warren, a “socialist” under the influence of deep French accent socialist ideologues à la Picketty (whose arrogance on Bloomberg TV last week was off the chart) who will come as a liability for her. Mocking Pete Buttigieg for his (German) unpronounceable name was not strikingly courteous from D. Trump but it won’t help him for sure (Issur Danielovitch Demsky became more popular when he changed his name to Kirk Douglas). Neither will his lack of following among the black community or his gender preferences. Baring a miraculous comeback of J. Biden, (the latest poll shows Sanders and Buttigieg leading with 28% to 21% over J. Biden and E. Warren coming in third and fourth with 12% and 9%, respectively), “mini” (as mocked by D. Trump) Bloomberg could well end up drawing the long straw as the ultimate challenger to D. Trump whose support, according to Gallup’s most recent poll, stands at a rather exceptional 49%.
Mike Pompeo went to Belorussia last week, suggesting that the US could sell oil to the country. Nobody listened, too busy with the corona virus and the Tesla squeeze. V. Putin did not respond to the provocation either.
One of the remaining investment themes (along with the value proposition of EM markets that was placed back on the shelter for now) remains “sustainable and green” investing. So, we decided to look into this theme (beyond taking public transportation, scrapping plastic bags in our shopping, switching to heat pumps and waiting for an attractive and still affordable enough suggestion to replace our history filled and still perfectly running German 13-year-old diesel car) to tilt our investment strategy towards greener. In our search we started screening for ETF’s focussed on that theme and what we found first was four letter word ETF of which the AUM more than doubled since January and was multiplied by 10 since last September, now totalling more than USD7bn. We were a little puzzled to see this ETF paying less than 1% dividend compared to the slightly less mediocre 1.7% available on the S&P500. But who needs an old-fashioned dividend these days? Investing in this ETF is for good cause anyway and an act of philanthropy from those managing other people’s money. What unsettled us more was to see that the top holdings of this ETF were the exact same Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet composing the top holdings of the S&P500 of which the performance is driven, for the most part, by the same four or five names. We have no problem with any of those specifically, nor with the fact that the same old names that drive demand into US markets should drive what has become an exploding demand for “green investing” vehicles or managers, just as if any of these names should be seriously associated with green investing. For what it is worth what currently drives growth for “all” of these companies (with the exception perhaps of Apple) is the cloud business which is a heavily carbonated activity serving the purpose of storing -for the most part- old pictures and emails for over 15 years, in an exponentially rising fashion (including for the people that have passed away). Most of this data is stored on millions of electricity consuming servers that are cooled with fresh waters from the oceans, actively contributing to warm up the oceans, heat up and disrupt the climate, for the sole purpose of having robots parse every mail that we write, remember links that we click to serve our internet experience with tailor made ads that we neither want, nor need, nor can get rid of and in violation of our privacy rights (except of course that we keep signing disclaimers that discharge anybody of being accused to do so).
Even Microsoft which outsmarts most in its peers in its investors’ communication strategy, vowed to become carbon “negative” by 2030 and to take back all the CO2 that it produced since its creation by 2050. That is a very laudable intention. But the way it will work is mostly through “replacement” by planting trees in compensation for the CO2 emitted. Should everybody decide to proceed the same way, we will run out of arable land soon to plant those trees…
Every problem should be taken and treated at its root.
Developing the cloud, as all these companies, sold to us as being “green”, are now doing is not the long-term solution. There are many reasons to want to buy these names (Trump twitter feed pushing up the S&P at any downturn (and upturn), trend, momentum, buy backs and rates heading to zeros being the main ones) but there is no need to add a “green label” to them so as to also give investors a good conscience on a less than convincing argument. The solution is to change/force people’s behaviour in their every day’s life (even if you delete your emails diligently somebody might store them somewhere for some reasons but you can delete the pictures or better store then on one or two hard drives at homes that do no harm) not in buying an ETF filled with names that earned a green label only too often for the merit of not being a car or oil related company. In some ways, it is just another way of feeding Wall Street, twisting markets and fuelling … “just” bubbles with the manipulation of the masses rather than addressing the problem at its core.
This of course did not close our search for truly green stocks…
Over the past week, the S&P500 rallied 3,3% (3,2% YTD) while the Nasdaq100 rallied 4,6% (7,8% YTD). The US small cap index rallied 2,7% (-0,5% YTD). CBOE Volatility Index sold off by -17,9% (12,3% YTD) to 15,47. AAPL rallied 3,4% (9,0%). FB rallied 5,2% (3,4%). LYFT rallied 5,1% (16,0%, Z-score 2,2). AMZN rallied 3,5% (12,5%). NFLX rallied 6,3% (13,4%). GOOG rallied 3,1% (10,6%). MSFT rallied 8,0% (16,6%, Z-score 2,0). INTC rallied 3,3% (10,3%). IBB (ISHARES NASDAQ BIOTECHNOLOGY)rallied 6,8% (0,8%).
The Eurostoxx50 rallied 4,5% (2,0%), outperforming the S&P500 by 1,3%.
Diversified EM equities (VWO) recovered 2,2% (-3,4%), outperforming the S&P500 by -1,0%.
The Dollar DXY Index (UUP) measuring the USD performance vs. other G7 currencies gained 1,4% (2,7%, Z-score 2,2) while the MSCI EM currency index (measuring the performance of EM currencies vs. the USD) dropped -0,2% (-1,3%). EURUSD dropped -1,3% (-2,4%, Z-score -2,1).
10Y US Treasuries underperformed with yields rising 8bps (-33bps) to 1,58%. 10Y Bunds climbed 5bps (-20bps) to -0,39%. 10Y Italian BTPs climbed 1bps (-47bps) to 0,94%, matching Bunds.
US High Yield (HY) Average Spread over Treasuries dropped -36bps (18bps) to 3,54%. US Investment Grade Average OAS dropped -7bps (5bps) to 1,06%. In European credit markets, EUR 5Y Senior Financial Spread dropped -5bps (-3bps) to 0,49%.
Gold dropped -1,2% (3,5%) while Silver dropped -1,9% (-0,8%). Major Gold Mines (GDX) sold off by -3,7% (-4,6%).
Goldman Sachs Commodity Index dropped -0,8% (-11,6%). WTI Crude sold off by -2,4% (-17,6%).
Trend Score Card
US & International Equities
Check out US and International Stocks’ Technical Trend Status.
Sector Trend & Momentum
Check equity sectors’ trend and performance …and when they break out!
Check out 10Y US Treasury and Bund yields, their trend, expected Fed rate moves and speculative positioning in 10-year Treasury Futures.
US Recession Risk Radar
A comprehensive list of economic indicators to compare the current situation with previous recessions.
Check out where the Dollar stands Trendwise and Breakoutwise vs. G7 and EM counterparts.
Check out where precious metals stand Trendwise and Breakoutwise. Get a sense of options (cumulative open interests on calls and puts) and futures traders’ sentiment (non-commercials open positions).
Check out how precious metals, the dollar and the Stock market correlate with each other and speculative futures positioning on Gold and the Dollar.
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