Inside The Stock Market ...trends, cross-currents, and outlook
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.
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.
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.
Major market tops are drawn-out processes that can prove costly, and infuriating, to bulls and bears alike. Younger readers might be surprised to know that was true before Twitter.
The U.S. economy and blue chips have shrugged off the risk of the worst trade war since 1930’s Smoot-Hawley Act, while comparatively few stocks on either the NASDAQ or the NYSE have broken out to 52-week highs. There’s also the troubling talk of the Fed having tamed “the cycle.” Should investors bet on a potentially wild (but narrower) final melt-up over the next 6-12 months? We don’t like the odds.
The Major Trend Index has remained in neutral territory during the last several weeks of upside action, suggesting there remain significant fundamental and technical shortcomings beneath it all. But this precarious MTI stance didn’t preclude us from acting on a new bullish reading for Emerging Market equities at the end of April.
Similarities between 2019’s YTD up-move and the late-2018 recovery are so striking they must make even the most vociferous bear queasy. The trends are identical, but the magnitude of both the absolute and relative performance movements was greater in the earlier experience.
The six-month stretch beginning in May generally coincides with a narrow stock market in which non-cyclical and low volatility stocks tend to be the winners. Hence, don’t “sell” in May, but rather, tilt away from beta and away from “breadth.” These seasonal switching strategies have 70% batting averages.
As the market rebound has extended, we’ve noted its striking similarities with the rally of 1999—one that might have been the most speculative in U.S. history.