The Trend is Your Friend

It’s tempting to over-analyze the markets. Every day another headline calls for attention. But the truth is, the media generates a lot of distractions at times. In the constant quest to attract eyeballs, that’s what the news/editorial cycle does. But behind the scenes, the markets are often times working on their own story.

The story of the current market isn’t a new one. It’s just colored by the news cycle. Presidents coming and going; covid; taxes; trade deficits. The list goes on. And certainly, the list is relevant. But the day-to-day, moment-to-moment stuff can lead to looking for more than perhaps there is.

The current story for the market has been going on so long it’s almost hard to accept. There’s just no other place to put money where you would expect to outpace inflation, so money moves into stocks. This demand has buoyed prices for years now, aided by the fact the Fed and other market forces have kept interest rates so low.

The question is, will rates continue to stay low and for how long?

The temptation is to believe rates will revert to a mean and begin to shift higher. This is certainly possible, but don’t get too far out over your skis on this one. True enough, the yield on the 10-year treasure has increased dramatically over the past few months when measured as a percentage. What remains to be seen is if this is the beginning of a long-term trend of rate increases, or a short-term spike in rates in response to the anticipation of a shift back toward a more global-focused Washington?

The reality is, it’s too early to call a trend shift. The bigger theme of this market has been going on, arguably, since 2009 following the financial crisis. It’s resulted in a much more central bank influenced market than perhaps many would care to admit.

Those central banks – the Fed chief among them – haven’t taken away the punch bowl yet. So while rates have drifted higher, it’s pretty early in this game. Rather than try to handicap the odds that rates will start to radically climb (something even the smart money in bonds struggles to do), let’s simply look at what we have: a trend that is still intact until proven otherwise.

So what is the trend? Simple, rates are beginning to climb, but stocks are still more attractive as a hedge against inflation (for now). However, stocks, at least by PE valuation, look expensive. So which is it? Are stocks too expensive, or are stocks attractive?

The answer may simple be yes.

Many stocks are expensive, but not all stocks are as expensive. So, if the economy continues to normalize out of covid-disruption, it would make sense the assets would rotate out of the more expensive ‘safe’ stocks into the slightly riskier but more affordable ‘risk’ stocks that have more attractive valuations.

In short, the market seems to be tipping its hat toward a re-open trade.

Granted, it’s early to call this. But the trend is your friend. And so far, the trend in equities has not failed. So this appears the most reasonable explanation to connect the technical and fundamental picture… for now.

For the week, futures are looking like a positive open. And, we have a holiday-shortened week. This typically means a little more volatility. But, superstition suggests the week will move in the direction of the open. If so, look for a positive bias this week, with a trend that will potentially re-test the all-time highs on the S&P 500. Support is at the 3750/3725 levels. Resistance should be as high as 3855/3871.


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