Sunday, December 29, 2019

Just Own Something: Hyman & McLennan Global Outlook Part 2 Interview

Consuelo Mack of WealthTrack conducts Part 2 of her interview with Ed Hyman, Vice Chairman of Evercore and Matthew McLennan of First Eagle Investment Management. I published highlights and a link to Part I of the interview last week that focused on the U.S. outlook and below is the link to the Part 2 interview that focuses on the Global outlook. Not surprisingly, China gets a lot of attention from Ed and Matt, but Ed Hyman is cautious on the outlook for China, i.e., growth but slowing growth. Ed does not believe China and trade issues are a game changer to his positive 2020 outlook.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Steeper Yield Curve Should Benefit Financial Stocks

In 2018 the Federal Reserve pursued an interest rate policy the led to the yield curve (10y/2y) inverting. This year the Federal Reserve Bank has reduced the Fed Funds rate three times in response to a slowing economy that developed in 2018. The last 25 basis point rate cut occurred in October and some now believe this may be the last cut of this cycle. Coinciding with the last cut was a paper released by the San Francisco Fed that discussed the economic growth benefit of pursuing a negative interest rate policy. One outcome of a lower rate, flatter yield curve policy is the fact banks have difficulty earning an adequate spread on their loans. Now that the Fed seems to be on hold for the moment, and an economy that seems to be improving, the yield curve has begun to steepen with the 10-year Treasury yield rising nearly 30 basis points to near a 2.0% yield. The below chart shows the yield curve from six months ago (red line) to today (green line.) Clearly, the curve has steepened from six months ago.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sentiment Tends To Provide Insight Into Future Market Returns

In investing no one metric tends to provide 100% certainty into the future direction of the market or individual stock or bond for that matter. Though sentiment measures do provide insight into the so-called mind of the market, or better yet the mind of the individual or institutional investor. This is one reason I report on sentiment and fund flows from time to time during the year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Top Economist Ed Hyman Has Favorable 2020 Outlook For The U.S.

WealthTrack's Consuelo Mack is in the midst of conducting her annual year end interview with Ed Hyman, Vice Chairman of Evercore and this year, Matthew McLennan of First Eagle Investment Management. Part I of the interview below focuses on the U.S. with a later Part 2 interview focusing on the international outlook. As noted by WealthTrack, "Ed Hyman is the Founder and Chairman of its Evercore ISI division and leads its economic research team. He has been voted Wall Street’s Number One Economist for an unprecedented 39 years in Institutional Investor’s annual survey."

Friday, December 20, 2019

Buybacks Resume Growth In The Third Quarter

Buybacks for companies in the S&P 500 Index turned higher in the third quarter to $175.89 billion after declining from a peak of $222.98 billion in Q4 2018 as represented by the red line in the below chart. With a resumption of higher buybacks, the total of dividend and buybacks increased in Q3 to $299.01 billion versus $284.14 billion in Q2 2019. Quarterly totals for dividend payments consistently maintained growth on a year over year basis, unlike the decline in buybacks.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Individual Investor Sentiment Swings To Bullishness

Today's AAII release of the Sentiment Survey reported a 6.5 percentage point jump in individual investor bullishness. This increase came mostly from the bearish category as it declined 5.6 percentage poitns. With the bullishness reading now reported at 44.1%, this is above the long term bullish average of 38.0%. The plus one standard deviation above the average is 48% so individual investors are approaching an overly bullish level.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Just Not Enough Workers

The October Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released today reported a 235,000 increase in job openings to 7.3 million. The survey continues to show the economy is functioning at a level with more job openings than unemployed individuals. This can be seen in the following two charts with the first one showing only .81 unemployed workers available per job opening. The second chart shows the number of unemployed individuals (5.8 million versus the total job openings (7.3 million.)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Dividend Income Strategies Lagging In Strong Up Market

Investors positioned for higher stock and bond prices during the year have not been disappointed. With the Federal Reserve pursuing a lower interest rate policy, bond yields declined for most of the year with a commensurate increase in bond prices. Stock prices have mostly trended higher as well with some of the price increase a recovery from last year's fourth quarter selloff. Returns across most asset classes have been favorable as seen in the below chart. The top half of the chart below displays the asset classes with leading returns and is comprised of U.S. market segments with the bottom half largely foreign markets except for the income focused investments like the 10-Year U.S. Treasury.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Small Business Carrying Its Weight

According to the November release of the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, small businesses have a favorable view on economic growth. The index rose 2.3 points in November to 104.7, the largest monthly increase since May 2018. There was not much to not like in the report as 10 of the seven index components rose.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Investor Cash Balances Elevated Or Maybe Not So Much

Over the course of the equity rally this year, periodically I have noted the significant level of outflows from equity mutual funds and ETFs. Commensurate with these outflows has been the significant inflows into bond mutual funds and ETFs and money market mutual funds. The Investment Company Institute (ICI) is one organization that tracks fund and ETF flows and for the week ending November 26, 2019, domestic equity funds and ETFs experienced an inflow of $609 million. This was the first domestic equity inflow since mid October. A slightly higher $631 million outflow occurred in international equity vehicles. The magnitude of the equity outflows is seen in the below chart showing cumulative equity outflows this year total $142.7 billion.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Gold Losing Its Luster

There can be a number of reason for an investor wanting to have an allocation to Gold. One reason for owning Gold is it tends to serve as a safe haven asset and perform well in an environment where economic activity is slowing. On the other hand investors might look to Copper as an investment if they expect a pickup in economic activity as it tends to rise with a growing economy. 

Monday, December 02, 2019

Conflicting Reports On Manufacturing PMI's

One potential consequence of an economy that is growing at a slow pace is the higher likelihood that reported economic data has a tendency to conflict with some of the other economic reports. An example of this is the report on manufacturing activity today. Both the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and Markit reported November Purchasing Manager Index data with the ISM PMI report coming in at 48.1%, down from October's reading of 48.3%. The Markit PMI was reported at 52.6% up from October's reading of 51.3%. As the below chart shows, the Markit PMI did not dip below 50 when the ISM PMI fell below 50.

Investing At All Time Highs In The Equity Market

One difficulty for investors in the U.S. market at the moment is the fact it seems to be hitting new highs on what seems like a daily basis. What gets missed by investors though is a market reaching new highs is actually a bullish signal and tends to be a precursor to additional highs. Below is a chart of the S&P 500 Index provided by The Kirk Report and the red dots show instances where the market achieved ten plus new highs within the last twenty trading days. Following the red dot periods the market tends to achieve additional highs. A table that accompanied the chart highlighted, since 1945, in the periods following the 10+ highs in 20 Trading days, the market was up an average of 8.6% one year later, and positive 72.8% of the time.