Inside The Stock Market ...trends, cross-currents, and outlook
By our count, the current bull market is the 13th of the postwar period. The 88% gain achieved by the S&P 500 in less than 14 months already places this bull sixth in terms of cumulative gains. We considered it a hindrance that this bull commenced from higher valuation levels than any other in history. Instead, they seem to have provided a head-start.
The speculative peak for this market rally may have occurred in either January (when GameStop and other “left for dead” short candidates soared), or February (when indexes tracking the “newborns”—IPOs and SPACs—both peaked). But even if we knew that for certain, a major peak in stock prices could still be months away.
Technicians are collectively bullish because of the absence of any serious internal divergences. But, severe corrections can erupt with little, or no advance warning from a deterioration in breadth and leadership. In fact, the first few years of the last bull market provided two such examples (mid-2010 and mid-2011).
Bond yields have paused in the last several weeks, but we think it’s likely to be a pause that “refreshes.” Many bond indicators, including the Copper/Gold ratio popularized by Jeffrey Gundlach, suggest yields should be moving dramatically higher in the months ahead.
We launched a revamped version of our Major Trend Index. The objective of the new methodology is to increase the flexibility, and even the subjectivity of the MTI. This approach recognizes the “subjective reality,” without forcing us into the tedium of re-weighting sub-factors if they become more or less critical as market dynamics evolve.
In one year, the bull market has persuaded investors to do something they were reluctant to do near the end of an almost eleven-year bull: Lever Up. Year-over-year growth in Margin Debt reached 49% in February and should catapult far above the “conventional” 50% danger threshold with March’s results.