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Inside The Stock Market ...trends, cross-currents, and outlook

Oct 05 2019

The Last “Spoos” To Drop?

  • Oct 5, 2019

For many months, we’ve argued that global stocks have been tracing out a major cyclical top. But the global stock market “tape” has narrowed so much that it’s really only the U.S. blue chips that are left to do the tracing.

Oct 05 2019

“Quant Quake” But No Market Quake

  • Oct 5, 2019

Value, High Beta, and Small Cap stocks all captured a few rays of sunlight for the first time in a long while. It’s too early to tell if last month’s leadership U-turns can be sustained, but major market trends are the most susceptible to reverse during cyclical bear markets.

Oct 05 2019

Where Would You Rather Be?

  • Oct 5, 2019

On October 3rd, the S&P 500 briefly traded below the high it made in January 2018 before reversing to close the day higher.

Oct 05 2019

Small Cap VLT BUY: Not Quite...

  • Oct 5, 2019

Small Caps came tantalizingly close to activating a major VLT BUY signal in September, with the Russell 2000 closing less than a half percent below the trigger level. A new bull signal from this indicator wouldn’t “fit” into our market and economic narrative, but we won’t sweep it under the rug if it occurs.

Oct 05 2019

Making Money In The Money-Losers

  • Oct 5, 2019

Despite an economy operating “beyond” full employment for the past seven quarters, more than one-fourth of the companies in the Leuthold 3000 universe are losing money on a 12-month trailing basis. The Fed has subsidized what’s truly become irresponsible behavior.

Oct 05 2019

The Trend Is Your “Fiend!”

  • Oct 5, 2019

Over the last year of market swings, we’ve tracked the horrific performance of what had previously been a solid long-term system for timing the S&P 500, the 10-month moving average crossover system. In the last 12 months, this generally low-risk approach has generated a total return loss of 13.74%.

Oct 05 2019

More Trends We Don’t Find Friendly…

  • Oct 5, 2019

The yield curve’s ten-month moving average inverted in September, hence the yield curve inversion can no longer be dismissed as transitory; the Boom/Bust Indicator remains below its descending 10-month moving average, confirming economic weakness predicted by the yield curve; and, the “Present Situation” component of September’s Consumer Confidence survey slipped below its 10-month moving average for the third time in 2019.

Oct 05 2019

More Yield Curve Musings

  • Oct 5, 2019

The U.S. yield curve inversion has lasted long enough that even a few economic optimists now concede it will ultimately prove significant.

Oct 05 2019

Last Bastion Breaking Down?

  • Oct 5, 2019

We’ve been expecting weakness in the manufacturing sector to spread to the service economy, but were not prepared for the nearly four-point drop in the latest ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite. We don’t want to overplay a single monthly reading from an historically volatile report, but the Non-Manufacturing Price Index spiked despite the drop in New Orders.

Oct 05 2019

Credit Cracking?

  • Oct 5, 2019

One of the key pillars of the bullish case has been the supposedly “benign” trend in corporate credit. While that’s been true for holders of the popular junk bond ETFs (HYG and JNK), the broader credit picture is not as reassuring.

Oct 05 2019

Quality Stocks’ Stronghold

  • Oct 5, 2019

Despite higher volatility, market performance is still up in the high double-digits YTD. Interestingly, as our index of High Quality Stocks versus Low Quality Stocks shows, High Quality is prevailing in terms of relative performance.

Sep 07 2019

We’re All Economists Now!

  • Sep 7, 2019

It’s now been more than 19 months since global stocks peaked on January 26th, 2018. Those lucky enough to have been invested solely in the S&P 500 and to have held on for the volatile ride have a 3.7% gain to show for it. Nice going.

Sep 07 2019

More Extreme Than 1999?

  • Sep 7, 2019

We noted that the December 2018 stock market low was the second most expensive in history, second only to that of October 1998. Similarities between 2019 market action and the 1998-99 rebound remain eerie. Something isn’t right, and it’s not bullish.

Sep 07 2019

ISM Shows This Is A Different Kind Of Cycle

  • Sep 7, 2019

The manufacturing economy has thrown us a deflationary curve in 2019: The Price Index broke down in advance of New Orders, a reversal of the textbook recession/recovery sequence between these two measures.

Sep 07 2019

Monetary Madness

  • Sep 7, 2019

We always do our own work and draw our own conclusions. Lately, though, we’ve wondered what the late “Monetary Marty” Zweig might say about the stock market’s current liquidity backdrop.

Sep 07 2019

Pricing In “Peak” EPS

  • Sep 7, 2019

A recent theme in our valuation work is that we no longer need to assume a full-blown “reversion to the mean” to illustrate current U.S. stock market risks: Even a reversion to “old” bull market highs in ratios like S&P 500 Price/Sales, Price/Cash Flow, and Normalized P/E would result in bear-sized losses.

Sep 07 2019

“Too Smooth” Of A Ride?

  • Sep 7, 2019

While investors in Value, Small Caps, and especially foreign stocks might beg to disagree, a key MTI technical measure suggests this decade’s stock-market ride has been almost entirely “pain free.”

Sep 07 2019

Small Caps: “What If?”

  • Sep 7, 2019

The Russell 2000 is the most important major index on the cusp of a new BUY signal. Our best guess is that Small Caps will still trend lower for now, creating a buying opportunity in the months ahead.

Sep 07 2019

Commodity Stocks: “Low” But Not Cheap

  • Sep 7, 2019

A general rule of thumb for thematic equity investors is that the dominant leadership sectors and groups in a given bull market normally don’t repeat as leaders in the subsequent bull.

Sep 07 2019

A Final Warning

  • Sep 7, 2019

This Stock Market section’s unifying theme has been that of an historically two-tiered market, one in which Domestic, Large Cap, Growth, Consumer-oriented, and Low Volatility stocks have reigned supreme.

Sep 07 2019

Worrisome Profitability Trend Among Small Cap Companies

  • Sep 7, 2019

Despite a historic economic expansion during the past decade, there is an ever-increasing number of companies that are finding profitability has become harder to achieve.

Aug 07 2019

Are You Really A Contrarian?

  • Aug 7, 2019

The need to sound contrarian has become a borderline obsession among market pundits. Media opportunities for talking heads have exploded in the last decade, forcing those who hold the safest consensus views to falsely portray themselves as lonely and misunderstood market mavericks.

Aug 07 2019

August Is No Time To Disconnect

  • Aug 7, 2019

Rather than stocks disconnecting from the economy, as some equity bears contend, we see the blue chips disconnecting from the rest of the market. The underperformance of leading groups, along with multimonth divergences in momentum, bullish sentiment, and credit spreads are all consistent with the deteriorating prospects for earnings and the economy.

Aug 07 2019

Who Doesn’t Love “Excess” Money?

  • Aug 7, 2019

We’d concede the monetary backdrop for stocks is now mixed, an upgrade from the almost uniformly negative environment of last fall. On the negative side, the U.S. yield curve inversion has now persisted long enough that even the economic optimists are getting nervous.

Aug 07 2019

Low Vol For All Seasons?

  • Aug 7, 2019

The early August setback took the S&P 500 below its late-January 2018 high—and the time when we first trimmed net equity exposure in Leuthold tactical funds from a nearly fully-invested posture.

Aug 07 2019

The Fed Subsidy Is Wearing Off

  • Aug 7, 2019

Earnings results for the second quarter have so far "beaten" expectations (as they always seem to), but that hasn’t changed the calculus for Small Cap companies. About one-third of them have negative earnings over the last twelve months.

Aug 07 2019

Altitudes And Attitudes

  • Aug 7, 2019

Trend followers who use the ten-month moving average discipline finally had a positive month in July. But after the early-August decline, they are still holding an S&P 500 loss of 60 points from their latest trade initiated at the end of June.

Aug 07 2019

Consumer Vulnerability

  • Aug 7, 2019

While re-leveraging of the U.S. corporate sector during this economic cycle has been well-documented, the common belief is that the consumer balance sheet remains in good shape. That’s technically true.

Aug 07 2019

Assessing The Commodity Free-Fall

  • Aug 7, 2019

For at least two years, the unofficial title of “the scariest chart in the Leuthold database” belonged to the S&P 500 Price/Sales ratio. That chart still rattles us, with the July month-end ratio still in the vicinity of its old Y2K high.

Aug 07 2019

Odds & Ends

  • Aug 7, 2019

Here are some brief follow-up notes on topics covered in recent months’ Green Books.

Aug 07 2019

Seeking Yield Among ETFs

  • Aug 7, 2019

The 2.00%-4.99% yield range is the sweet spot for yield investors from a risk/reward standpoint; while the other end of the spectrum (>5% yield) incurs too much risk for the fat payouts. Here we spotlight four ETF strategies that focus on dividend paying stocks.

Jul 05 2019

Mid-Year Mea Culpa

  • Jul 5, 2019

The S&P 500 has rallied 9.2% in the 22 trading days since its June 3rd low, but the move hasn’t (yet) been enough to lift the Major Trend Index out of its negative zone.

Jul 05 2019

Recession Evidence: How Much Is Enough?

  • Jul 5, 2019

Over a 12-month horizon, we now believe a U.S. recession is very likely, but aren’t confident enough to make the call when the forecast window is cut in half. Second-half stock returns could be decent if the business-cycle peak is still a year away. Then again, there’s peril in waiting for “too much” confirmation of recession.

Jul 05 2019

Breadth: Is It Different This Time?

  • Jul 5, 2019

The granddaddy of all technical indicators—the NYSE Daily Advance/Decline Line—continues to make new highs alongside the S&P 500, suggesting the market should move to even higher (but perhaps narrower) highs well into the fall. As noted a month ago, we increasingly suspect that granddaddy may be telling a lie.

Jul 05 2019

Big Is Still Beautiful

  • Jul 5, 2019

The 10-year-old bull grabs most of the headlines, but its younger sibling has begun to command more respect.

Jul 05 2019

Reliving ‘99... Tick By Tick

  • Jul 5, 2019

Current leadership trends continue to track their 1998-99 behavior in an almost eerie fashion—so much so that we now wish we’d used that historical period as our instruction manual!

Jul 05 2019

Building The Wall?

  • Jul 5, 2019

One of the more impressive feats that bullish pundits have pulled off is their successful portrayal of themselves as lonely and misunderstand contrarians even as the eleventh year of a cyclical bull market grinds on.

Jul 05 2019

Does BUY Now Mean SELL?

  • Jul 5, 2019

Many technicians consider the 10-month moving-average crossover technique as the gold standard among long-term timing practices. The method was successfully applied to several asset classes in the SSRN’s most-downloaded paper of all time, “A Quantitative Approach To Asset Allocation” by Meb Faber.

Jul 05 2019

Correlations Are Worthless, Except This One

  • Jul 5, 2019

We’ve never understood investment quants’ desire to project correlations among assets. Such correlations are inherently unstable.

Jul 03 2019

Return Implications Of Dividend Cuts

  • Jul 3, 2019

Last month we noted that current interest-rate expectations might indicate good timing for dividend investments; however, we strongly suggested being selective, and lean toward high-quality dividend payers.