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Listen to the Market

Perhaps the biggest challenge of the day is separating fact from opinion. Indeed, most stock market analysis is just opinion. Sure, the fundamental data is real. Earnings are earnings. Projections are projections. So, numbers be numbers. But what does the data tell us? And how does it inform as to where the markets are headed?

In the midst of a highly divisive social climate, much of our news has been colored with editorial. The major media resources require eyeballs to sell to advertisers. That means ratings. And that means appealing to an audience. You get the idea.

So discerning what is going on in the investment markets can be tough.

Dollar weakening? Commodities rising? Yields dropping? Do we have inflation on the horizon? Will we see a wave of evictions as renters default on payments? Will the real estate markets collapse as mortgages go unpaid as a knock-on consequence? Heck, are there even any jobs for the middle class to earn enough to pay rent?

And how about stimulus? Unemployment? Government programs and government shut-downs? What is essential in our economy? What is essential to Washington DC?

True enough, these are compelling questions. And they do matter. Ultimately, the answers will sway economic outputs and valuations for investors.

But today? It’s still a lot of noise and conjecture.

So what do we know?

We know what the market is signaling. Behind all the editorial chaos, major indexes have been climbing higher.

On any given day, there are pull-backs. But overall, the trend across most types of assets (except energy recently) have been recovering over the past three months.

The concept is fairly straight-forward. If the markets are a voting mechanism, investors are still voting in its favor. Sure, there are some bigger winners or losers out there. But overall, the trend has been recovery.

This trend is difficult to find confidence in given the general media narrative and backdrop of a pandemic. But make no mistake, since the March lows, this market has experienced an exceptional recovery.

The year-to-date figures for the major indexes are uninspiring. But the recovery from the lows is a different story. How one frames the story is important.

So, knowing there has been significant recovery from the lows, what now?

(In my opinion) There has been an underlying theme to this market for the past several years. Lots of variables underlie this theme, but in its simplicity, it’s only two things: don’t fight the Fed, and TINA (there is no alternative).

The Fed, really since the Bernake administration, has been highly transparent in its communication efforts. In effect, it has demonstrated it will take extraordinary measures to maintain a stable currency and economy. And, since Washington has been largely ineffective for the better part of a decade, the Fed has stepped in with significant monetary policy to bridge the gaps.

The transparency has been useful for the stock markets. It has also contributed to the TINA situation, since the Fed has taken such remarkable steps to keep treasury yields low. Investors have been left with limited options to place risk capital and expect any kind of return.

What this has done is kept a bid under the markets for a long time.

Today, we’re seeing interesting shifts in market behavior. For one thing, there are now winners and losers. The pandemic has seen to that, as ‘non-essential’ industries have been hammered (or perhaps eliminated) by government shut-down.

Expect airlines, travel, hospitality, and many small businesses to take years (or perhaps never) to recover from the Covid shutdown.

Meanwhile, other companies have thrived. The ‘stay and home’ economy has gone bananas (a technical term). And the largest of tech companies have grown into trillion-dollar behemoths.

So why discuss this at all?

Because the mega-companies have become such massive influences on the indexes… and also on politics and culture. They have massive and incredible sway over how everything now operates.

Understanding this can help us understand the future of the markets. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and the like do not require the consumer to walk into a store at all. So whether the economy shuts down or not, they survive. And they are all massive components in all the major indexes.

So, can markets keep going higher? Arguably, yes… despite the concept that we have major structural changes in our economy and many jobs are not only lost but gone.

Understand, bear markets are still possible. In fact, they’re probable. But it is also possible this market recovers and goes on to all-time highs (like the NASDAQ already has) before investors abandon some of the lofty names that have lifted the indexes in this recovery.

This is more of a mechanical issue than an economic issue. The money that is getting invested is likely going into these areas of the market.

At some point, valuations will be so stratospheric the bubble will burst… even for an Amazon or Tesla… but when is that day? You need go no further than the nearest financial media outlet to get opinions.

But what the markets are telling us today — from a technical perspective — is pretty straight-forward. Last week showed a possibility for correction. Instead, the markets has a weak break-out to the up-side. While we are over-bought by some measures, the trading pattern is indicating a move higher this week, with the possibility the S&P 500 will break above its all-time highs this week.

A close at new all-time highs will likely lead to further up-side from here.

For the upside, look for SPX 3400+ this week. For support, look at 3268.

Don’t get too invested in media headlines at this time. Until there is a material shift in information, the underlying thesis remains: the Fed is standing on the short end of the rate curve, and investors have nowhere else to go. That points to a higher stock market… (until it doesn’t, of course.)

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

 

Market Macro Fails

For the first time since 2016 the BigFoot Market Macro Signal has gone negative. And we’re already set up for a potential whipsaw, as futures are pointing to a higher open that would put the SPX above the threshhold to flip the Macro back into buy territory.

Over the weekend the big announcement was a temporary truce between the US and China. The details are a little fuzzy, but basically, no new tariffs, and some rollbacks on a few – at least for the next 90 days.

This doesn’t mean the trade war is over. But it is positive progress. So we should be good to go, right?

Woah, woah… slow your roll. Just because we have a deferral of action doesn’t mean everything is okay. And technically, things are still unclear. In fact, if the futures pop higher today as expected, there’s good chance a pricing gap will materialize.

We’ve spoken many times on conference calls about how the markets abhor pricing gaps. And in this case, unless the market managed to push above 2825 or so, it’s likely we’ll dip back down to 2760 some time this week first to fill that price gap.

From a Macro perspective, we just want to see the markets finish the year above 2754. This should be enough to flip the signal back to a buy. Which is interesting, because last Friday’s close would have done it. But, alas, that’s not how the signal works.

We’re in a bit of technical no man’s land. There markets have had a double-dip this year, but the fundamental news is pretty optimistic. Jay Powell and the Fed gave the market the gift it was looking for (a more dovish stance), and Trump has softened on the trade war. Pricing multiples have fallen to essentially their low-point for the year. So there’s room for the markets to go up, but the mixed pricing signals also mean there’s room for the markets to dip a bit yet.

Given we’re already into December, and most of the earnings for the year area already over, it’s difficult to see a rationale for why the markets should push to all-time highs before the end of the year. In fact, given the mixed Macro signal from the software – and the anemic 40% long positions ratio – it’s difficult to see much more than a sideways market from here – even with the ‘big news’ about the deferral of the trade war with China.

Make no mistake, Monday is shaping up to a be a positive day for the markets, with the SPX likely to push above 2800 intra-day. But Monday may not be enough to shake off the bear-market chatter just yet… Tis the season for miracles, sure. And perhaps Santa is bringing more than coal for the year. But it doesn’t look like yuge breakout to finish the year at this point.

Interestingly enough, the ‘bear market’ may have already silently happened in the form of asset rotation. Many of the high-flying tech names have already had over 20% corrections in pricing. We just haven’t seen the entire market dip simultaneously. A move like that may be reserved for our next recessionary environment. When that actually occurs is still a subject of much debate.

For the week – enjoy the reprieve. Just don’t let a few days in the market head-fake you into thinking everything is all clear. Plenty of up days happen in bear markets. Better to keep your cool and play this one by the numbers IMO.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different
types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance
that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product
(including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by
BigFoot), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly
in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance
level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due
to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the
content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you
should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the
receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from BigFoot. To the
extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue
discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the
professional advisor of his/her choosing. BigFoot is neither a law firm nor a certified
public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal
or accounting advice. A copy of the BigFoot’s current written disclosure statement
discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.