Turn on financial television at any random time, and you’re likely to soon hear the argument that still-high U.S. stock market valuations are “justified” by extremely-low interest rates. We’ve countered that these low U.S. rates are simply a reflection of the secular slowdown in economic and earnings growth.
March’s mad dash for cash didn’t stop with rates/credit/FX markets. Among equities, there was also a strong preference for cash liquidity. The market rewarded companies that had strong cash positions and punished those without—which explains why traditionally defensive styles actually underperformed.
In recent commentaries, we’ve highlighted the surprising number of U.S. stocks making 52-week lows on both a daily and weekly basis, a sign that the market’s push higher has become more fractured. While pondering the significance of those lows, however, we missed a new 52-week high last Friday in a series we think will be especially critical to the stock market’s near-term fortunes: the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield. Specifically, the yield matched its weekly closing high of 3.07% posted on May 18th.
While a plunge into a recession could always result in a final “blow-off” phase to the 35-year secular bull market in bonds, any youthful, long-term buyer of 10-Year Treasurys should weigh that exciting possibility against the odds that bonds do no more than match the inflation rate over the next 30-50 years.
Last spring’s “Double Death Cross” in the Dow Transports and Dow Utilities had been partially reversed even before the February low, when the Dow Utilities’ 50-day moving average crossed above its 200-day moving average (thereby issuing a “Golden Cross”). The Dow Transports remain in a bear pattern based on the 50/200-day relationship, but the gap is closing fast.
We like to think our models and indicators help us preserve a high degree of market objectivity. But sometimes we wonder: the latest rally has progressed to the point where we see trouble afoot in both the strongest and weakest charts we can find.