A Market Timing Report based on the August 16, 2019 Close, published Saturday, August 17th, 2019…
I deliver focused comments on market timing once a week. These are supplemented with daily “Tweets/StockTwits” (see links below) and comments in the “markettiming” room on StockTwits.
I provide quite a bit of intraweek commentary, and if you don’t see it, you will miss out on quite a bit of context, so please click on the social media links below and have a read… Thank you as always for being loyal readers and interacting on social media with your questions and comments!
1. SP500 Index Market Timing (S&P 500 Index®; SPY, SPX):
Up or down? Good question! Ahhh, what will the market do next? The answer? Before we get to that…
Let’s next check my “Bull Market Health Score”…
What would satisfy me that the Bulls are serious?
Let’s check the list once again… The Bull Market Health Score this week? Bulls 0.5/Bears 4.5. At the end of July we were at Bulls 2.5/Bears 2.5.
For each checklist item below, I give you the points scored as Bullish or Bearish.
1. New high? Bears 1.0 point. Answer: No. Bulls must retake S*PX 2943.31 and S*PY 294.15 to be convincing that the current correction is over at least in getting us back to a test of the prior ATH (all time high). (*’s added to throw off the “web crawlers”; it’s not my goal to become part of the “consensus.” :))
2. VIX below the “Bull Nirvana Number” AND my bonus number? Bears 1.0 point. Answer: No. At the Friday close, the VIX was 18.47. The VIX Game Score as I call it is Bulls 0/Bears 8 as of the close Friday. We should see the VIX fall through those targets listed at the base of this report AND the goal noted in #1 above achieved to be sure this rebound is real.
3. AD % Line in an Uptrend (proprietary stat; see base of report about this)?: Bears 1.0 point. Answer: No. It’s at 16,446 as of Friday. Lower highs are seen with a descending triangle, which is Bearish.
4. Volume on Up Moves?: Bears 1 point. Answer : No. I said earlier this week, “Volume did not rise on the 1.88% up move in the market on Thursday, August 8th. That was one signal to ‘sell some.'” Volume also did not rise this past Friday on the rally, which makes it suspect. The summer cannot be blamed as this assessment is relative to recent volume numbers.
5. The “U.S. Index Matrix Signal” (as I call it) Positive? Bulls 0.5 point. Answer : Split. One day off a low is not an “all clear.” Mid caps held a higher low than the June low, and small caps (small caps were the worst, as warned) held the end of May low. A breach of those levels would mean more pain for the large caps as well. The bounce in small-mid caps indicates there is room for at least a general market bounce, perhaps of more than a few days.
As I review the entire set of my indicators, beyond the above score, the picture is mixed. Some say the pullback has been enough, and others say there is more downside ahead. The worst performers have attracted new blood vs. the May 31st low – there has been a 67% rise in the number of horribly acting stocks vs. that prior low. That means investors are dumping bad performers left and right. The percent of stocks doing the best technically held above the May low. In a panic out of stocks, “they sell everything.” That’s not been quite the case yet, although it was when the 2 and 10 Year Treasury Yields inverted this week. Everything fell. That’s what a crash looks like.
The bounce that began on Friday could simply form a double 2 wave UP, meaning two bounce waves that reach the same level and lead to a larger 3rd wave down, which I call “The Big Red Wave.” That level of correction would take us down to 2694 or -11.0% from the all time high (ATH). Alternatively, the lower upward sloping SPX channel line (yellow in chart below) may hold. That level is rising over time as it’s an uptrend line, but for now is at 2759, or a drop of 8.9% from the ATH. The June low is in between those two numbers and is therefore a viable target as well.
My guesstimate, therefore, is that a breakdown from the Friday close (as opposed to a continued rally, which I’ll get to next) would take us to around 2694 – 2759 for a drop of between about 9 to 11% from the ATH. The drop to the 8-05 low was 6.8% for comparison. That puts the drop in this leg down in “correction territory” per my “New Rules” for market correction naming HERE (scroll down to “New Rules”). It’s already been in what I call correction territory; it will just have the chance to drop a bit deeper in correction range.
What if the market rallies from here? First let’s ask what could CAUSE a sustained rally (rise of more than 2-3 days)?
The market needs a bone to provide perceived “upside opportunity.” Possible bones include:
1. The U.S. Federal Reserve lowers interest rates more quickly than suggested by their latest “mid-cycle adjustment” language. That would be required to inflect the yield curve back to normal. The banks hate the idea of still lower rates as it impairs their profits. Financial stocks have been a horrible investment for that reason. BAC is just off its June low.
If the Fed acts aggressively the market may then look past what turns out to be temporary global slowing as central banks continue to attempt to stimulate their economies DESPITE the fact that Japan and Europe are both slipping toward recession WHILE interest rates are NEGATIVE! No worries, the ECB will simply buy more debt they claim. Real interest rates (adj. for inflation) are DEEPLY negative in these countries. So if that does not work, just do more of it??? I’ve heard Rick Santelli rail against the dubious policy of negative interest rates.
Negative yielding global debt is now at a massive $15 Trillion (Ref. @ CNBC) I am NOT very optimistic that this will do anything but chase more money into U.S. stocks for a last market rally before a crash. I will admit that’s a rally you want to be a part of, although you had better have protection via cash, gold, and individual high grade bonds/Treasuries that you can hold to maturity.
There are Bulls that say that U.S. stocks are very cheap vs. the cost of money, specifically U.S. Treasuries. But are rates low because the economy is sliding globally? It would seem so. So the low rates flash a buy signal to these “value investors” as the world slips into recession, which is the one time you absolutely need to have a lower exposure to stocks. It is true that investors tend to run to stocks for yield when yields crash, but what they’ve done recently is buy bonds, because bonds rally as rates fall. If we turn into Europe and Japan so to speak and head to negative yields, we will be in or be barrelling toward a recession. Remember: Rates rise in a strong economy! They at least stay flat AT HIGHER LEVELS, but they definitely don’t linger at the current historically low levels.
Decide what you believe, but this is why I am between a recessionary equity exposure and the full exposure I’d have in a strong Bull market. We are navigating an uncertain period of weak earnings, tariff wars, and diving yields. The market has had two 3% down days in the past 10 days. That often leads to more downside. It may not, but that’s the correlation.
My Bull market exposure is what I call “100% of maximum exposure” during a strong Bull Market. My recession exposure level is 60% of max exposure, although I reserve the right to drop it lower! By the way, 60% does not mean being at 60% stocks in this context; it’s 60% of max exposure during a strong Bull Market. If you are 20 years old and your exposure level is 100% normally in a strong Bull Market, then if you shifted to 50% of max exposure, you’d drop to 50% raw exposure. That’s just an example.
I only share relative numbers, so you can adjust your numbers to taste. I think it would be reasonable, given the current setup, to be 9% higher as a % of max. exposure than I am now (see social media on 8-14).
Read/consult with an advisor about where you should be in stock exposure risk at your age and then make your own decision. Remember, if you have riskier stocks, that means your beta is higher than the market, and you need to lower your exposure level to compensate for that. 50% in high fliers is not equal to the risk of 50% in SPY. My current exposure level is shared on social media (on 8-14-19). Ray Dalio who manages $150 Billion says his team has “recession risk” for the U.S. at about 40% (@CNBC).
By the way, the yield curve just inverted as nearly everyone heard even in the mainstream press, but only for less than 1 day, so that may not even count, but let’s say the signal has been triggered and a recession is coming. A recession could start between 6 and about 18 months from now based on the inversion event. In 2000, it took about two years. During that period the market typically goes on one last buying binge with very strong stock market returns. Keep that in mind in adjusting your exposure level. You can still have more cash than usual and participate in the last inning(s) of the Bull Market.
2. Europe and Japan provide FISCAL STIMULUS to their economies. I am not saying they “should” do this, but it would help to create demand, while their debt levels rise. Germany has an inherited fear of debt, which has the ECB focused on inflation alone as their mandate and NOT full employment as well, as is the case in the U.S. However, there is now talk the Germans may provide fiscal stimulus. In the U.S. the Democrats won’t help Trump out with an infrastructure bill. They want to pass it when they take over the Presidency and take credit for helping the economy and improving the nation’s infrastructure, something that is visible to voters as well.
3. Trump’s U.S. China Trade War Ends: A positive resolution to the impasse would encourage investment around the world. My belief currently is that Trump knows his election chances will suffer if his trade policies lead to a recession, and he is in the process of pivoting toward a compromise solution with China (unless he’s politically suicidal, because subconsciously he just wants to build Trump Towers in Russia and Saudi Arabia). Democrats will say he was directly responsible for the recession, if he does not change course soon and induces one. The Democrats have an advantage numerically as proven in the last election in which Clinton won the popular vote and lost the electoral vote. Trump cannot lose the farmers or the midwest manufacturers and win in 2020.
Much of our multinational company growth now depends on China’s growth, which Trump is impairing through tariffs. Less uncertainty would provide a big boost to stocks, although then the Federal Reserve would be watching for inflation as things improved. Let’s take thing one step at a time though. On an immediate basis, the end of the trade war would boost global markets including the SP500 Index.
4. Bulls may argue: “Timing is everything. Things will be better on a comparative basis in Q4 2019 and Q1 2020, so buy stocks now.” Just the comparative improvement in earnings and revenues, IF the world does not in fact slip into a recession, would help the stock markets globally. This is not only true in the U.S., but also is the case in Europe and China. The issue is whether further weakness for Q3 results will drive stocks down more before they recover.
Let’s check in on the context around the price action of the market by looking at the current RISKS…
No Earnings Update this week. The FactSet writer is on vacation, so there is no new data this week. 😉
Earnings Risk: what is shown are the projections in the FactSet 3-15-19 report followed by the reports from 4-12-19 through 8-09-19 (details HERE)… The last numbers for Q2 are numbers for the current reported earnings from 90% of SP500 Index companies to date. The arrows “—>” indicate 3 weeks of of omitted data in order to compress the data.
For Q2 2019, analysts are projecting earnings growth of 0.1% —> -1.3% -> —> -2.1% —> -2.6% -> -2.6% -> -3.0% -> -1.9% -> -2.6%-> -1.0% -> -0.7%
and revenue growth of 4.6% —> 4.3% —> 4.1% —> 3.8% -> 3.8% -> 3.7% -> 3.8% ->4.0% ->4.1% -> 4.1%
For Q3 2019, analysts are projecting earnings growth of 1.8% —> 0.8% —> 0.3% —> -0.5% -> -0.5% -> -0.8% -> -1.4% ->-1.9% -> -2.2% -> -3.1%
and revenue growth of 4.4% —> 4.4% —> 4.2% —> 3.8% -> 3.8% -> 3.3% -> 3.2% ->3.2% -> 3.1% -> 3.0%
For Q4 2019, analysts are projecting earnings growth of 8.1% —> 7.5% —> 7.2% —> 6.3% -> 6.3% -> 6.0% -> 5.4% ->4.9% -> 4.5% -> 3.9%
and revenue growth of 4.8% —> 4.8% —> 4.6% —> 4.3% -> 4.3% -> 4.2% -> 4.0% ->4.0%-> 4.5%-> 4.0% -> 4.0%
For CY 2019, analysts are projecting earnings growth of 3.4% —> 3.2% —> 2.7% -> 2.6% -> 2.4% -> 2.3% -> 1.7% -> 1.9% -> 1.5%
and revenue growth of 4.7% —> 4.7% —> 4.5% -> 4.4% -> 4.3% -> 4.4% ->4.4% -> 4.4% -> 4.3%
For Q1 2020, analysts are projecting earnings growth of 10.5% -> 10.7% -> 10.3 -> 9.9% -> 9.8% -> 9.5% ->9.2% –>9.0% -> 8.5%
and revenue growth of 6.2% -> 6.1% -> 6.0% -> 5.8% -> 5.8% -> 5.9% ->5.9% -> 5.7% -> 5.6%
For Q2 2020, analysts are projecting earnings growth of 13.3% -> 13.3% -> 12.9% -> 13.2% -> 13.5% -> 12.0% ->12.6% -> 10.7 -> 9.9%
and revenue growth of 6.8% -> 6.8% -> 6.6% -> 6.6% -> 6.6% -> 6.7% ->6.6% -> 6.5% -> 6.4%
I’ll leave this from last week: Conclusion: Is it still the case that earnings are weak (about flat) for the 2nd quarter in a row and are due to be negative for a third quarter (Q3 2019). The market is waking up to the fact that the Federal Reserve does not see the level of risk it sees! Hence, we have crashing 10 Year Treasury yields and falling stock markets around the world, when the Fed lowering rates aggressively should cause yields to rise at the long end. The market sees the Federal Reserve as being behind the curve.
Here’s a Brief Review of the Other Market Risks at Hand:
China Deal Risk: A deal is still promised, but the jawboning is not working at all anymore. Trump withdrew much of the tariff threat that would have impacted U.S. consumers at Christmas. That went beyond talking. Without a strong Christmas, our economy would take a further BIG hit. Q4 is the most important retail quarter of the year.
U.S. Iran War Risk: Simmering at a low boil, but not over. A tanker was just released from Gilbralter that the U.S. had tried to prevent from leaving.
Mueller Report/Trump Impeachment Risk: Ongoing. Read my analysis in the July 26th issue HERE.
2020 Election Risk: No important change. Probably the biggest risk to the markets and most Americans are oblivious to this from the markets’ point of view. I’ll stand by this: “The market will likely pull back at least 10-15% going into the election if the outcome is even unclear, meaning President Trump is NOT ahead by a wide margin (a likelihood, but not a certainty, depending on whether the Dems go for a “McGovern” candidate, as in Nixon-McGovern in 1972, a Democrat disaster.” Bernie Sanders has fallen out of favor. His message seems tired, and he appears to be very unhappy. His campaign has attacked CNN for making negative comments about his demeanor! He has the right to be unhappy! 😉 Warren’s ideas are actually his ideas with a more positive spin on them, and she’s taking away his support. Same policies. She smiles; he frowns.
Could a very left leaning self-proclaimed capitalist like Elizabeth Warren take Donald Trump in an election by promising the world to students (loan forgiveness), healthcare for all, and wealth taxes on the ultra rich, as well as higher taxes on the less than ultra-rich? She is gaining ground on Biden who needs to strengthen his positive message vs. saying “I’ll take you back to the Obama era” with no vision of the future. The African American vote may give Biden the edge. Polling says that’s likely based on 1. his leadership experience 2. his being #2 to Obama, and therefore “Obama’s pick.” This is a big barrier for Warren to overcome as she receives little support from African American voters.
Deficit/Debt Threat: No important change. I’ll leave this here as a monument to our monumental debt: “They all see the problem and do nothing about it. They just keep spending. Per the NY Times: ‘Within a decade, more than $900 billion in interest payments will be due annually, easily outpacing spending on myriad other programs.’ The 2018 defense budget was $800 B. Medicare? $582 B. Think about that! Trump and the GOP may be spending dollars meant for your future Medicare and Social Security today.”
Fed Rate Cut Risk: Fed Chair Powell talks at 10 am ET on Friday at Jackson Hole where he meets with all the other market saviors. As said: “The decline in yields is getting worse. The market is still leery of Federal Reserve Chair Powell’s ‘mid-cycle adjustment’ in rates statement, meaning it believes he won’t be aggressive enough in lowering the Fed Funds rate.”
Now take a look at the SP500 chart.
SP500 Large Cap Index (click chart to enlarge; SPX, SPY):
Now let’s check in on two “Canary Signals” we’ve been following:
“Intel-igent Market Timing Signal” (Intel; INTC): Negative. Just above the May low. Trump has to fix the China Trade War soon, and Intel would benefit from that. That means there is the opportunity for a pop. A rise with volume above the 47.5 level would be the first step.
Bank of America (BAC) Market Timing Signal: Negative but up off of support. Back above the March and May/June lows after being below both on Thursday. May work out as a trade as rates are stretched to the downside and due for a pop. Maybe Powell does that with his words on Friday.
Notice both canaries are positioned for a rally? But they must hold current support – or else. That’s called a pivot point.
Keep up-to-date during the week at Twitter and StockTwits (links below) where a combined 34,101 investors are following the markets with me…
Now let’s go on to review investor sentiment…
Sentiment of individual investors (AAII.com) showed a Bull minus Bear percentage spread of -21.67% vs. -26.54% last week . From last week: “The low in Sentiment in December was -28% for the poll ending on 12-12-18, but the price low was on December 26th intraday. Sentiment has room to become more extreme, but the December comparison says to me there is more room for a further decline in the SP500 Index ahead, even if sentiment does not worsen.” This is the same pattern as the December pattern. Sentiment FELL after it peaked as the price of SPX fell. Not a big help for the Bulls.
|Thurs. 12 am CT close to poll|
2. U.S. Small Caps Market Timing (IWM):
A trade perhaps, even if a quick one off the June low. They are higher beta, so they’ll fall harder in a further market decline. I’d rather stick to large caps at this point, but the small cap trade could work out. Use a stop. 😉
Russell 2000 U.S. Small Cap Index (click chart to enlarge; IWM, RUT):
3. Gold Market Timing (GLD):
I said on 7-26-18: “Still a Bull. Add on dips.” I think you can still do that soon, but the risk is a rise of long rates with Powell’s comments this Friday or even just a technical bounce in rates, which would further hurt gold/gold stocks along with Treasuries. I would rather buy more gold/gold stocks after rates move back up in a counter-trend move.
The Gold ETF (click chart to enlarge the chart; GLD):
4. Interest Rate Market Timing (10 Year Treasury Yield; TNX, IEF, TLT):
As I said Monday: “The 10 Year Treasury Yield is still crashing, down 8.0 basis points just for Monday, which is a very bad sign for the stock market, and a very good sign for gold/gold stocks. I exited TLT early, but did so knowing I still had exposure to long municipal bonds and gold/gold stocks as hedges.”
If the economy worsens from here, there will be more upside for TLT etc. If not and/or if Powell cuts rates aggressively, watch out below. Long rates will rise and bonds will be hurt. If he does it too slowly, long rates may fall further.
Investors who are hiding in long bonds and running from stocks will suffer if the Fed acts aggressively. Also, if the economy improves in late 2019/early 2020, rates will snap back UP and cause bond/Treasury losses. Set your stops on profits on all interest rate sensitive investments. Sell in stages perhaps to benefit from further panic. That’s what I’ve been doing.
Check out the “Market Signal Summary” below – after you review the following chart…
U.S. 10 Year Treasury Note Yield (click chart to enlarge; TNX, IEF, TYX, TLT, TBF):
Now let’s review three key market timing signals together….
Do not use these signals as a trading plan. They are rough guidelines. I currently share my BUYS and SELLS in as timely a way as possible on social media (links above).
MY MARKET SIGNAL AND TREND SUMMARY for a Further U.S. Stock Market Rally with Real GDP Growth (“Real” means above inflation):
Stock Signal RED for a further U.S. stock market rally with a Bearish SP500 Index trend. The stock signal is based on small caps, as they often lead the market down.
The V*IX (which relates to SPX volatility; * added to symbol to throw off the webcrawlers!) These are the targets: 13.31, 14.04-14.08, 15.04, the “fulcrum” range = [15.94-15.95 to 16.09], 17.06, 17.27, and 17.89. The bonus target #8 is [12.-17-12.37]. The Bears have 8 of 8 targets at a VIX of 18.47 (Friday close). I consider the “fulcrum” the key decision point that turns the market from Bearish to Bullish, when the VIX falls below that entire fulcrum range.
The ‘Bull Nirvana Target’ is our V*IX # of 2018: 13.31.” (That is target #7 for the Bulls.)
Gold Signal RED for a further U.S. stock market rally with a BULLISH Gold Trend. What gold does mostly as I’ve written HERE is follow real interest rates.
From before: “Remember GLD is being used as an indicator for the ECONOMY here.” If gold continues to rise, it means the market believes real rates will fall, which in the current context means the global economy is slowing. That will ultimately hurt U.S. stocks.
Rate Signal RED for a further stock market rally with a BEARISH 10 Year Yield Trend.
For Reference: “Rates usually RISE slowly in a strong recovery and the stock market rally continues as they rise, as I’ve repeated multiple times on social media and here. Empirically though, rates that are “lower” (than 3.11%) and are NOT rising rapidly have allowed the market to climb back above the prior all time high (ATH).”
I said weeks ago, “Watch the oil price too. Higher oil tends to mean higher rates.” It closed at 54.81 last week and is up off the May low, but in a Bearish descending triangle. That means it could head lower.
Just a reminder (not a current problem, because rates are “too low” now on a relative basis): If TNX bounces too quickly and too high, this will give rise to Rate Shock III… As said before: “Watch the rate at which TNX climbs if the current trend reverses. If it shoots up very fast, stocks will correct.” In the Sept. 28th issue: “A rapid push higher in rates would mean trouble for stocks, as occurred in early 2018. That’s what I called ‘Rate Shock.'” The period of rising rates in early October I called #RateShockII.
The risk lately has been “Negative Rate Shocks.” (Not negative rates in the U.S. yet! “Negative” refers to the direction of the shock.) First we had “Negative Rate Shock I” in December 2018 (because rates FELL while the Fed raised the Fed Funds rate 0.25% in mid-December, in what was perceived as a policy error), “Negative Rate Shock II” in May, and “Negative Rate Shock III” in August.
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I thank Worden Brothers for the charting system I use to post these charts. If you want to know more about the charting system I use every day, contact me. It makes it much easier to follow along with me if you can see the charts and manipulate them on your own computer. It’s a great investment to have an excellent charting system.
Note: I’ve updated my criteria for the equity signal for a further U.S. stock market rally to the following: GREEN = Bullish, YELLOW = Neutral, RED = Bearish. In other words, the colors tell you whether the signal supports the stock rally or not, while the Bullish, Neutral, and Bearish designations are about the trend.
A BEARISH trend signal does not mean we should not buy. A BULLISH trend signal does not mean you cannot sell some exposure. It depends on what is going on in the economy and how oversold/overbought the market is at a given point whether the Bearish signal is to be sold or bought, sold on the next bounce, etc. and whether a Bullish signal is to be bought or if profits should be taken. A NEUTRAL trend signal does not mean the end of the Bull or Bear. It means to wait and look for possible subsequent entry points within the existing trend, Bull or Bear, but preserve capital if the entry fails. Our strong intention is to buy low and sell high. By the way, I will keep showing the prior orange “Trigger lines” in the IWM and GLD charts for now as reference points only; they have historical value for us from the post-2016 election period.
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