A stronger U.S. dollar is “supposed” to be bearish for commodities, but it’s been a banner year for most commodities with gold among the few that are down on the year. However, keep in mind that gold tends to be a harbinger of major moves in industrial commodities, with a lead time of about six months—and its year-over-year change is now negative.
In recent months, we’ve highlighted some reasons to buy or add to Emerging Market equities, and at year-end received a formal endorsement from our monthly Emerging Market Allocation Model. The signal triggered after a 30-month period in which the model recommended the relative “safety” of the S&P 500—in retrospect, a good call.
We geek it up a notch and use some of the popular text-processing techniques to quantify the hawkish/dovish sentiment of the latest Fed statement. Some human “coaching” is needed in every step of the process (hence the “artificial” part). But when these tools are used properly for carefully chosen tasks, they can be quite intelligent.
Xenophobia continues to be a handsomely rewarded trait for U.S.-based equity investors, with the MSCI World Ex USA Index down 3.8% YTD through December 3rd—and now (incredibly) unchanged from its May 2011 high. Comparable period gains for the S&P 500 are +12.2% YTD and +50% from spring 2011 highs.