For at least the last year we have argued that late bull market conditions would tend to reward momentum strategies over mean-reverting ones. That’s played out not only during the market’s melt-up phase, but also (to our surprise) during the recent two-week air-pocket, at a time when we would have expected to see at least a temporary setback in the ratio above.
Last month we assessed the effectiveness of using valuation factors as a basis for country allocation. Using 20 years of data, our results showed that they work quite well specifically for Emerging Market (EM) country-rotation, however, the same valuation-based strategy does not appear to be value-added for Developed Market (DM) allocation/rotation.
Two years ago, we played the role of the bull market’s mortician, preparing it for burial after a six-year run that had taken it to valuations on par with those at the 2007 top.
After a two-month lull, stock market momentum reasserted itself in May bringing our summer S&P 500 target of 2,600 back into focus… Meanwhile, we’ve fielded several media calls about the “FANG” stocks’ large contribution to some YTD returns—but that doesn’t diminish the new highs being made elsewhere by disparate groups… NYSE Weekly A/D Line and New Highs/Lows figures also suggest the stock market isn’t yet top-heavy enough to tip over.
Last month we wrote that a big March gain would trigger a Very Long Term (VLT) Momentum BUY signal on the S&P 500 (Chart). The month’s 6.8% S&P 500 gain wasn’t quite enough to do the trick, but we’re intrigued that VLT did issue BUY signals for three of the market’s cyclical sectors, including Energy, Materials, and Industrials.
The S&P 500 decline has yet to come close to a bear threshold, but it’s nonetheless been sufficient to drive the Very Long Term (VLT) Momentum algorithm into oversold territory for the first time since late 2009. In 16 of 21 prior cases, VLT Momentum’s initial oversold reading was a harbinger of a market that was soon to become even more oversold.
Here’s an example of just how disparate underlying market action has become: with the S&P 500 only 2% away from a cycle high, several major U.S. and foreign market indexes have already moved into an oversold position on the basis of our Very Long Term (VLT) algorithm—with a few (including EAFE, Chart 1) actually triggering “long-term, low-risk” BUY signals in the last two months! We are not sure what to make of this action.
As expected, our VLT Momentum algorithm triggered a “low-risk” cyclical buy signal on crude oil in late October, only the 11th buy signal in the past 30 years. This algorithm was originally designed to identify low-risk entry points into the stock market, but we’ve found it useful with other assets as well.