Major Trend Index
The Boom/Bust Indicator, a weekly ratio of industrial-commodity prices to initial unemployment claims, has had a near-vertical rebound to old highs in the last several weeks. This index usually peaks out many months in advance of a business cycle peak (although not in 2007, when it provided no warning of the pain to come).
Within the Economic work, the big development was a bullish flip in our Dow Bond Oscillator (DBO), which crossed above the zero threshold by the thinnest of margins. Subjectively, however, we are troubled that government yields across the maturity spectrum have been holding near recent lows in the face of equities’ powerful rally.
From a Momentum perspective, chart work has improved across the board but much of the longer-term trend work has remained in neutral or bear territory. These measures are, by definition, late at turning points, and we strongly prefer that the “anticipatory” tools within the MTI drive most of the swings.
Although the Intrinsic Value category is now about 100 points above the worst levels recorded in early January, it is far too early to begin making a bullish valuation case for the stock market. Interestingly, some of the same pundits who warned “valuation is not a timing tool” on the way up are the ones trotting out these premature, value-based arguments—which are typically built on extremely-optimistic forecasts for 2019 operating EPS.
The abrupt decline in the Momentum work reflects deterioration in most trend models, along with bearish flips in the Chart Scores for the Russell 2000, NYSE Financials, KBW Bank Index, and Securities Broker/Dealer Index (XBD). The NYSE Daily Advance/Decline Line provided only limited warning of the impending weakness.
The weakening we’ve observed for several weeks in most internal stock market measures began to spread last week to the “externals,” i.e., the major market indexes like the DJIA and S&P 500. Still, we are amazed these indexes remain so close to their cycle highs in light of the extent of subsurface damage reflected in the daily and weekly breadth figures.
Read this week's Major Trend.
Swings within the five factor groups were muted, but the small loss in the Intrinsic Value work was enough to drop that category to a new negative extreme for the current bull market. The new low in this category counters the argument that U.S. stocks would “grow into” their valuations in 2018 thanks to the corporate tax cut and acceleration in GDP growth.