Stocks try to steady after sell-off

Morning Note

What did I miss? Markets in Europe steadied but failed to really bounce after a brutal sell-off on Wednesday saw all the major indices deeply in the red and trading at levels not seen for some time.

The instigation of second national lockdowns in Germany and France rattled markets.

Election nerves may also be present, particularly as the path to a stimulus package in the US will not become clear until after the results are known.

We know that governments are supportive of business, but we also know it was a long slog out of lockdown last time and won’t be easy this time. Markets had become a little complacent about the recovery and secondary lockdowns tell a different story – it will be rocky and uneven.

The S&P 500 tumbled 3.5% and closed below 3,300 with similar losses on the Dow Jones and Nasdaq. Vix futures rose to levels not seen since the sell-off at the start of September.

Futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. US GDP figures later will give the first look at the Q3 bounce back. The dollar rose back to the top of the recent range with the euro coming under pressure from lockdowns measures in the bloc’s two largest economies.

GBPUSD was steady at 1.30 but won’t move until there is a significant Brexit headline.

Lockdowns are not good for oil sentiment. Prices slumped on the lockdown announcements but also felt the pinch from a rise in US crude stocks. EIA figures showed a 4.3m barrel build in US crude inventories.

As we have been warning, the threat of falling demand leading to inventories flipping from draws to builds has been present and we can expect this trend to weigh on prices.

Nevertheless, Shell raised its dividend after reporting better-than-expect earnings for its third quarter. Management hiked the divi by 4% to 16.65 cents – having made an historic cut to the dividend during the peak of the pandemic earlier in the year. Shares rose over 3% in early trade.

Lloyds shares also rose after it swung back into profit and set aside less for impairments than feared – chatter around dividends returning will get louder, particularly as these results come in the wake of some pretty upbeat notices from the larger banks.

The risk is that the fiscal support runs out and new lockdowns and depressed demand due to the chronic impact of the pandemic on consumer and business sentiment means impairments are going to rise later in 2021.

It’s a big day for corporate earnings in the US and the focus will undoubtedly fall on the FAANGs with Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) all set to report quarterly earnings figures later.

Earnings come amid heightened scrutiny on big tech as the US Department of Justice opened an antitrust case against Google’s parent company, Alphabet, whilst executives from social media giants faced a Senate hearing yesterday on reforming so-called Section 230 rules that give tech platforms immunity from prosecution over user-generated content. Shares in all fell sharply on Wednesday amid the market turmoil.

With lockdowns in focus, today’s European Central Bank meeting will be of particular importance for European markets. Many market participants are increasingly betting on the ECB carrying out further easing in a bid to boost faltering economic growth and stagnant prices.

The Eurozone slid into its second straight month of deflation in September and with further lockdowns being imposed across the bloc, the risks to the economic outlook have clearly deteriorated since the last meeting and the assumptions for growth contained in the ECB’s September look out of step with reality. Weakness in Friday’s PMIs highlights the concern among businesses, particularly in services.

The threat of a double-dip recession is real – Christine Lagarde recently commented that the resurgence of the virus is a clear risk to the economy – and that was long before the imposition of national lockdowns in Germany and France.

Given the murkier outlook and dreadful inflation backdrop, it seems all but certain the ECB will increase its bond-buying programme by another €500bn by December – albeit it may choose to increase PSPP rather than PEPP – for the markets these acronyms won’t matter too much – it’s the size and duration of the liquidity injection that matters, not how it is presented.

Lagarde may drop some hints in the press conference to increasing PSPP/PEPP envelopes in December but will not over-commit. Moreover, with progress on delivering on the fiscal side slow, the ECB will feel obligated to step up.

To get a flavour of the mood in the ECB, the usually hawkish Austrian central bank head Robert Holzmann said recently: “More durable, extensive or strict containment measures will likely require more monetary and fiscal accommodation in the short run.” Fundamentally it will be more of the same from the ECB with it stressing it is ready to do more and the momentum is with the doves to ease more.

Ahead of the election next Tuesday, Biden leads by 7.5pts nationally, and by 3.6pts in the battlegrounds.

How to invest in shares

Investing in shares is a way to generate income, save for the future and speculate on individual companies, sectors and the entire stock market. Of course, the value of your investments can go down as well as up. In this short 7-step guide we will explain the basics of investing.

What is an investment?

Investing is a way to put money to work – in other words instead of parking excess cash you have in the bank and getting a fractional amount of interest, an investment is expected – but not guaranteed – to deliver a higher return. Investing is inherently riskier than leaving money in the bank. There are lots of ways to invest – from property to fine art – but arguably the most common and simplest way to invest is in the stock market. 

How do stock markets work?

Stock markets are simply a marketplace for shares of individual companies. Buyers and sellers meet to exchange shares. In the past this was all done in person on trading floors, but increasingly the vast majority of buying and selling shares is carried out online via a network of regulated exchanges like the NYSE, Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange among others 

Companies issue shares – each one a claim on a tiny portion of the business – in order to raise cash to grow, or sometimes for founders to exit the companyThe process of listing shares on an exchange is usually called an Initial Public Offering, or IPO. Usually individual investors can only purchase shares once the stock has begun trading. 

Sometimes companies already trading on the stock market will issue fresh shares to raise more money, which can reduce the price of the shares already on the market. Sometimes they carry out buybacks, when the company buys up existing shares to reduce the number of shares, which can increase the price of the remaining shares. 

At all times, shares trading on public exchanges are constantly changing hands as private investors, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds and private equity firms buy and sell stocks based on the most up-to-date information they possess. This creates a market and gives us a share price, which is usually quoted as the midpoint between the bid price – the highest price a buyer will pay – and ask price – the lowest a seller will accept. 

What is a share?

A share is simply a right of ownership of a fraction of the company. It entitles the owner to a financial claim on the business and usually entails voting rights which are exercised from time to time, for example if a company is subject to a takeover. For example, there are about 70bn shares of Lloyds. If a large shareholder owned 7bn shares, they would own 10% of Lloyds and would have considerable sway over the company.  

How much income can investing generate? 

The first thing to bear in mind is that investing is not a one-way street – the value of your investment can go down as well as up. 

But the idea of investing is to grow the value of your assets over time. There are two ways you can generate returns. The first is capital appreciation – the value of the shares rising over time to be worth more than they cost you. The other is through dividends, which is when a company returns some cash to shareholders from the profits they make. 

Dividends are like interest payments on a savings account, only they can be more volatile since these depend on each company deciding to pay a dividend. For example, in 2020 the coronavirus pandemic saw large numbers of companies suspend dividends in order to protect their balance sheets. Nevertheless, the FTSE 100 was able to offer investors a dividend yield of around 4%, which is considerably more than the 0.1% Bank of England base rate. 

How can I invest in shares?

The simplest way to invest in shares is to open a share dealing account. It’s a relatively straightforward process and within minutes you could be building your very own stock portfolio 

You can pick individual shares or choose to invest in a broader collection of shares that give you exposure to different areas of the economy.

Example: UK stocks

For example, you may like to invest UK banks, so you could split your portfolio across Barclays, NatWest, HSBC, Lloyds and Standard Chartered. Or you could decide you would like exposure to the UK property market, because for instance you think house prices will rise and the market is fundamentally sound. In this case, you may only invest in Lloyds and NatWest but also purchase shares in housebuilders like Barratt Developments and Persimmon, as well as estate agents like Foxtons and Countrywide. 

How do I decide which stocks to buy?

There are thousands of stocks to invest in, so choosing which shares to buy can seem daunting. There are lots of different approaches to investing, from value investing to growth investing. Growth stocks are companies with the potential to outperform the broader stock market because they are expected to grow earnings at a much faster rate than other stocks. Value stocks are considered those trading below what they are ‘worth’.

Risk gains as Powell signals lower for longer on rates

Equities

Fed chair Jay Powell announced a new monetary policy framework based on average inflation targeting (AIT), as had been anticipated. I read this as admission by the Fed that the monetary and fiscal response to the pandemic will ultimately prove inflationary (M1 increase, deglobalisation etc), but that the Fed does not want to pull the handbrake on a long and slow recovery by being constrained with a mandate to keep inflation level. It’s also increasingly politically tuned into recent events in prioritising jobs over price stability.

Essentially the Fed is taking a step back from price stability, it is not going to worry about inflation overshooting; the focus is on employment not stable money. It’s about supporting the economy not prices – this is an important shift, albeit one that we have largely assumed unofficially to be the case for some time. The Fed today made it clear it won’t take the punch bowl away as quickly as it would have done in the past.

Fed AIT framework leaves unanswered questions

But the Fed is keeping its hands relatively free by not sticking to any specific formula relating to AIT – this poses some unanswered questions for the FOMC. There was not much in the way of detail of how the Fed plans to  deliver the new framework. For instance, if inflation runs at 1% for 5 years, does that mean it allows it to run at 3% for the next 5?

Powell’s speech lacked in specifics on the nature of forward guidance that the FOMC is clearly leaning towards – this will be an important lever of the AIT approach, so it needs to be clarified at the next meeting in September.

Should forward guidance be based on a time horizon or specific economic data? Yield curve control has been shelved as an idea by the FOMC but remains an option should it desire. The September 16th meeting will be of great importance to iron out how AIT will be delivered.

Powell stressed that if ‘excessive inflationary pressures’ were to build, or inflation expectations were to rise above levels consistent with its mandate, the Fed ‘would not hesitate to act’. This gives it a degree of latitude down the line should there be a major inflation overshoot.

Dollar offered, stocks and gold bid

Markets are trying to make sense of the changes. The dollar index sold off initially to 92.40 but pared losses and came back to 93 as US yields started to pick up with 10s back above 0.719% having dipped to 64bps. EURUSD spiked to 1.190 but quickly retreated to 1.180. GBPUSD surged to 1.3280 before coming back in to the round number support.

Stocks rose with Wall Street hitting fresh record highs at the open as AIT is fundamentally supportive of risk assets, entailing as it does lower interest rates for longer. The S&P 500 approached 3,500 for the first time, meaning it’s up 100 points for the week. Gold drove sharply higher to $1976 but retraced as quickly as it rallied to $1940 as yields climbed. The key for the market is what will AIT do to inflation expectations.

Earlier data showed just what a big task the Fed has in getting unemployment back to pre-pandemic levels (3.5%). It’s clear the US still has a very troubled jobs market – initial claims still above 1m, continuing claims only came down a small amount to 14.54m from 14.76m a week before. Q2 contraction in the US was a little less than previously estimated, with the annualised figure coming in at –31.7% vs –32.9% on the first reading.

Stocks slide on US-China tensions, weak US jobs report

Morning Note

European exceptionalism? Led by a rebound in France and Germany,  business activity in the Eurozone picked up sharply in July, whilst the dogged British shopper has lifted UK retail sales back to pre-Covid levels. At the same time, US jobless claims unexpectedly rose amid a surge in cases which is being replicated in many other large economies, but not so much in Europe. Could Europe and the UK be handling the reopening phase of the pandemic better, and does this suggest economic outperformance? The obvious answer is that it’s not that simple – more on this below.

Stocks and other risk assets slid sharply as rising US-China tensions and a concerning US jobs report conspired to take the shine off the equity market gloss, with a decline in US big tech names weighing heavily on the broader market. The DAX fell 2% in early European trade and the FTSE 100 fell back under the 6,100 level after Chinese shares led Asian markets lower in a brutal session.

The S&P 500 declined over 1% yesterday fell as big tech shares slid. When big tech falls so does the whole market. The S&P big five – Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft – which now make up almost a quarter of the index by market capitalization – were all down more than 3%, with Apple off 4.5% after a note from Goldman Sachs called the rally in the stock ‘unsustainable’. Intel share plunged 10% after it warned on delays to the next generation of microchips which is having a clear read across to European technology sector this morning.

US-China tensions are a concern as the latter retaliated for the closure of its consulate in Houston by telling its American friends in Chengdu to shut their consulate. I would reiterate that this kind of tit-for-tat is not new; a trade war has been raging for years – what’s new is the coronavirus and a presidential election in a few months.

The weekly US jobs report was very disappointing and indicated that the progress made as lockdown ended has not just stalled but gone into reverse as various states rolled back their reopening. Against expectations for a flat reading of 1.3m, initial claims in the week to July 18th actually rose 100k from the week before to 1.4m. Continuing claims were better than expected at 16.2m vs the 17m anticipated. It looks like the surge in coronavirus cases across the ‘Sun Belt’ and other areas of the country, which caused many states to pause or roll back reopening of the economy, resulted in an increase in layoffs. The question we will continue to ask is how much is temporary and how much is permanent?

Futures indicate the S&P 500 to open lower and down marginally for the week, which has been quite a volatile one. Monday’s aggressive rally at the close was countered by a sharp reversal in the last hour of trade on Tuesday before the uptrend resumed to take the broad market to its best level since February. What we are seeing is a slow grind and lots of indecision, which could be the hallmark of the next 6 months with a largely sideways but volatile market.

Watching the data remains a tough ask – PMIs will show rebounding sentiment, but these are full of flaws and may not be entirely relied upon. Harder data like the unemployment claims report is not as sensitive to mood swings and will continue to indicate a long hard slog before we get back to pre-Covid levels.

Nevertheless, we are seeing some better data here in Europe. Germany’s manufacturing PMI rebounded into positive territory for the first time in 19 months, whilst France’s services PMI accelerated at a healthy clip. Combined, the Eurozone composite PMI moved up to 54.8 from 48.5 in June and was ahead of the 51.1 expected. I would issue the usual caveats about the nature of these diffusion indices, which only ask survey participants if things were better, worse or the same as the previous month. But at least they are positive – things are clearly looking up, albeit from a very low base level during lockdown. Can it last is the big question, and with backlogs of work declining and costs rising the picture for employment is not good. On the face of the headline numbers are encouraging, but these mask some real trouble ahead and a long, hard slog to get back to pre-Covid activity levels.

And today’s UK retail sales print is encouraging in some ways. Sales rebounded 13.9% in June, which easily beat expectations and came after May’s 12.3% jump. Taken together, the increases in the volume of retail sales in May and June have brought total sales back to a level similar to as before the pandemic. Ex-fuel, total retail sales are better than they were a year before. But on-food and fuel sales, while up sharply, are still not back to where they were before the lockdown took hold. High streets are being stripped bare, but at least you can now stick a four-storey block of flats without any planning permission where the grocer used to have his shop.

Gold continued to push up as US real rates edged even lower with the rally only encountering resistance close at the $1,900 round number and a retest of this level looks likely. US 10yr TIPS  declined again to –0.90% as benchmark 10yr Treasury yields slipped under 0.6%. The record at $1,921 is well within sight and the bulls are not about to let go of this opportunity to set an all-time high.

In FX, the euro continues to make ground against a faltering dollar as DXY slips to its weakest in almost two years. EURUSD has notched 5 straight positive sessions and momentum to the upside appears strong. The pair has broken free from the Jan 2019 resistance around 1.1570 and is trying to make 1.16 stick. Decent German PMI data helped sentiment towards the euro this morning, with the composite reading up to 55.5, ahead of expectation. However, the broad risk off tone to the market on Friday is underpinning some bid for the dollar which could see the rally falter, at least in the near-term.

GBPUSD held gains above 1.27 and moved clear of the 200-day SMA in a bid to clear out the descending trend resistance, even as the tone from the Brexit negotiators yesterday did not bode well for the chances of securing a deal.  If cable can make this move stick it opens the path back to 1.30 despite the Brexit worries, chiefly as the long dollar trade unwinds.

Chief negotiator for the EU, Michel Barnier, said a deal was unlikely by the end of the year. We should also remember that the pound faces multiple downside risks in terms running large twin deficits, a protracted economic recession from Covid that is forecast to be greater in magnitude than Europe and the RoW, and talk of negative rates still holding water. However, we can also look are record low and negative gilt yields as a sign that the UK is not seen in any real danger of exploding debt loads. Britain still has some friendly strangers to count on, or perhaps just a sign that central bank intervention is working well.

These are the most popular stocks for day trading

CFD Trading
Equities

Goldman Sachs recently reported that a basket of stocks favoured by retail day traders had outperformed their hedge fund basket by nearly 20% when the coronavirus sell-off was at its worst.

Retail day traders have helped fuel the market recovery from the March 23rd low, struck as fears over the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reached their zenith.

Here’s what our signals tools have to say about some of the most popular stocks amongst day traders.

Moderna

Moderna is a hotly watched biotech company whose stock has seen a surge in popularity as markets try to bet on the winner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine.

The stock is up 144% since March 23rd and over 230% year-to-date. Our Analyst Recommendations tool shows a consensus “Strong Buy” rating amongst Wall Street analysts, with the average price target of $87.64 representing a 35% upside even after months of incredible growth.

Tesla

Even CEO Elon Musk tweeting that the stock in his own company was overvalued couldn’t put the brakes on the Telsa stock rally this year. Day traders have helped drive this stock up 131% since March 23rd. Since January 1st the stock is up 140%.

The stock broke above $1,000 for the first time on June 10th, although it has since struggled to hold this level. The rally has left Wall Street analysts struggling to catch up – the average price target of $678.82 represents a -32% downside. Hedge funds snapped up three million shares in the last quarter, and news sentiment around the stock has been almost evenly split between bullish and bearish.

Snap

Snap is up 106% since March 23rd, although on a year-to-date basis the stock is up a more ‘modest’ 35%.

Our signals tools are sending bearish signals, however. Although the consensus rating amongst analysts is a “Buy”, at $19.91 the average price target represents a downside of -14%. Hedge funds dropped five million shares in the last quarter, and company insiders sold $206 million worth of shares.

MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with its stock down 44% for the year. However, traders who bought it at the depths of the March sell-off would have netted a return of 103%.

The average price target amongst analysts of $17.92 represents an upside of just 1%, and the stock has a “Hold” rating. Hedge funds scooped up 48 million shares in the last quarter, while company insiders bought $24.5 million worth of the stock.

Spirit Airlines

SAVE is another stock that is down heavily on the year, but has surged from the March low. Since the market bottomed out, Spirit Airlines has recovered 102%, although it remains down -51% since January 1st.

Analysts rate the stock a “Hold”, although it has an average price target 11% higher than the current price of $20.56. Hedge funds trimmed their holdings by one million shares in the last quarter.

Day traders are beating Wall Street pros

CFD Trading
Equities

Some of the world’s top money managers have been outperformed by retail day traders recently.

Goldman Sachs reports that a portfolio of stocks traded by retail investors grew 61% in March, compared to just 45% for a basket of hedge fund picks.

Watch our video to find out more and discover how Marketsx stock trading tools can give you the edge when trading the most popular stocks amongst both retail investors and hedge fund bosses.

Find out more about our stock trading tools here.

Week Ahead: BoE, BoJ meetings; data to crush quick Covid recovery hopes

Week Ahead

Last week the Federal Open Market Committee effectively killed hopes that the global economy could rebound quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of the data due this week is expected to deteriorate further. Any bright spots could be overshadowed by growing fears we may be facing a second wave of infections.

The Bank of England and Bank of Japan both hold policy meetings this week. Expect more signals that stimulus is here to stay for a long time.

Make sure you’re prepared for the coming week – read our full breakdown of the key events and data that markets will be watching.

China industrial production to accelerate, retail sales decline to slow

China is still the bellwether for the global recovery, with markets watching the data closely to see how quickly an economy can rebound from lockdown. Industrial production returned to growth on an annualised basis in April after three months of contraction. Forecasts for May suggest growth accelerated to 5%.

Retail sales are expected to continue to contract, although the rate of decline has moderated sharply since the -20.5% drops recorded in January and February. April saw a drop of -7.5% and the decline is expected to have slowed to -2% in May.

Bank of Japan to set out timeline for low rates

Last week the US FOMC stated that interest rates would remain near zero until 2022. This could prompt a similar move by the Bank of Japan, which will look to curb yen strength on the flight to safety caused by the FOMC’s gloomy economic predictions. The BOJ may therefore decide to give its own timeframe for keeping rates at their current, or lower, levels.

Fading hopes of V-shaped recovery to drag ZEW sentiment lower

German and Eurozone economic sentiment has climbed since April, but forecasts suggest the latest readings could see investor confidence pull back again. Assessment of the current conditions is in dire territory anyway, but the overall numbers were pulled up by improving expectations for a swift recovery – something that is becoming increasingly unlikely.

UK, Canada inflation – price growth to remain under pressure

Lockdowns and collapsing oil prices have exerted heavy pressure on consumer prices. Inflation data this week from the UK and Canada is expected to show further weakness. The UK’s core inflation rate was just 0.1% in April. Forecasts for Canada’s data expect a drop of -0.2% on the month, after the -0.7% recorded in May.

Retails sales decline to worsen for UK, Canada – US looking brighter?

Retail sales figures for the UK and Canada this week are expected to post more huge drops, with consumers still restrained by lockdown measures and business closures. Those businesses that are able to reopen have seen trade affected by the strict social distancing measures.

The UK, Canada, and the US all saw retail sales drop by the most on record in April. In the case of the UK and Canada things are expected to have gotten even worse in May.

However, in the case of the US data, recent figures from Mastercard suggest that the decline in retail sales may have softened notably in May. Sales fell -16.4% in April, but Mastercard says it saw a much smaller decline in transaction volumes last month.

New Zealand growth data: calm before the storm

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern was able to declare last week that Covid-19 had been eradicated in the country and that things could go back to normal.

However, the economic hit caused by the government’s actions to combat the virus will be severe. The OECD predicts a -8.9% drop in GDP this year, with the economy not returning to pre-Covid levels until the end of 2021.

This week’s GDP data is for the first quarter, and a drop of just -0.4% is expected. But as we already know, it’s the second quarter reading that really matters.

Australia jobless rate to keep climbing

Data this week is expected to show another 200,000 jobs were lost last month, on top of the nearly 600,000 in April. The unemployment rate jumped a whole percentage point to 6.2% in April, although this was well below market expectations of a surge to 8.3%.

The jobless rate is predicted to climb to 6.9%, although the true rate is likely much higher, considering how many Australians are currently relying on the government to pay their wages.

Bank of England to expand QE

The Bank of England is expected to expand its quantitative easing programme this week, with estimates for the increase ranging from £70 billion to £200 billion.

Negative rates are sure to get a mention, but policymakers are approaching the issue cautiously. While governor Andrew Bailey has recently softened his opposition to such a tool, he has only gone as far as saying that it would be “foolish” to rule them out. BoE chief economist Andy Haldane said at the end of May that, while the MPC was exploring the idea of negative rates, it was very much in the review phase and a decision on the matter was not close.

Kroger earnings

Kroger is expected to report earnings growth of 23.6% year-on-year when it releases quarterly earnings on June 18th. EPS is predicted at $0.89, while net sales are expected to have increased 7.7% year-on-year to $40.12 billion.

Kroger stock has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic well, having swiftly rebounded from the March sell-off, and is now trading up around 12% for the year. Our Analyst Recommendations tool shows it has a consensus “Buy” rating. Hedge funds bought 20 million shares in the last quarter.

Highlights on XRay this Week 

Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.

07.15 UTC Daily European Morning Call
09.30 UTC 17-June FXTrademark Course – Moving the Odds
11.00 UTC 17-June Introduction to Currency Trading: Is it For Me?
11.30 UTC 18-June Trading with the Killswitch Approach
10.00 UTC 19-June Supply & Demand – Approach to Trading

 

Key Events this Week

Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week:

02.00 UTC 15/06/2020 China Industrial Production / Retail Sales
01.30 UTC 16/06/2020 RBA Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
03.00 UTC 16/06/2020 Bank of Japan Rate Decision
09.00 UTC 16/06/2020 German/EZ ZEW Economic Sentiment
12.30 UTC 16/06/2020 US Retail Sales
06.00 UTC 17/06/2020 UK Inflation Rate
12.30 UTC 17/06/2020 Canada Inflation Rate
14.30 UTC 17/06/2020 US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
12.45 UTC 17/06/2020 New Zealand Quarterly GDP
01.30 UTC 18/06/2020 Australia Employment Change / Unemployment Rate
Pre-Market 18/06/2020 Kroger (Q1) – Pre-Market
11.00 UTC 18/06/2020 Bank of England Rate Decision
12.30 UTC 18/06/2020 US Weekly Jobless Claims
14.30 UTC 18/06/2020 US EIA Natural Gas Storage
06.00 UTC 19/06/2020 UK Retail Sales
12.30 UTC 19/06/2020 Canada Retail Sales

May’s top Blends: Einhorn rises, Corona falls

CFD Trading
Equities

The top performing Blends in May and the latest YTD performance.

May’s Star Performer: Einhorn Blend

David Einhorn led the way in May as global stocks continued their bounce back. The hedge fund boss – founder of Greenlight Capital – enjoyed a strong month as holdings like General Motors and Green Brick Partners rose along with other holdings such as AerCap and Chemours. The Einhorn Blend rose 15% in May but remains down 23% for the year.

 

The second-best performing Blend in May was the Cannabis Blend, which rose almost 14%. Earlier in the month it had been down but recovered strongly in the last two weeks. The blend is flat for the year, at -0.11%. Tilray (40% of the blend by weighting) and Canopy Growth (33%) both rallied in May but remain significantly off the 2018 peak.

Third place goes to the Gerstner Blend, which climbed 12% last month. As the Analyst Recommendation tool shows, the portfolio is made up of a stocks rated as ‘strong buys’ by Wall Street analysts.

As risk appetite improved across the month of May, some of the better performers lagged. Notably, the Corona Blend, which had been doing well, was the only basket to record a fall over the month of May.

The Social Media Blend rose over 5% in May despite the sector attracting the ire of Donald Trump. Twitter, which makes up 10% of the index, came in for the most brutal attack by the president but shares in Facebook (45% weighted) also slipped in the final week of May.

YTD, the leaders remain the ESG, Corona, Crypto and Warren Buffett Blends. Buffett continues to do well despite admitting to ditching airline stocks after a bad call on the sector.

The worst performer this year is the UK High Street Blend, which is hardly surprising given the structural shift in retail coming up against the lockdown measures enacted by the British government which has slashed footfall.

Blends 2020 Leader Board

Blend YTD
ESG 194.01%
Corona Blend 118.86%
Crypto 29.15%
Warren Buffett 28.63%
Ecommerce 26.79%
US Tech 10.04%
Bill Ackman 2.33%
Trade War Winners 2.21%
Cannabis -0.11%
Soros -2.12%
Social media -5.22%
Brexit Winners -6%
Fashion -6.06%
Dogs of the Dow -11.90%
Gerstner -14%
Trade War Losers -14.36%
David Einhorn -23.08%
Icahn -24.11%
Brexit Losers -30.06%
Oil and Petroleum -32.32%
High Street -35.88%

Equity indices clear big hurdles even as Hong Kong tensions simmer

Morning Note

Tensions between the US and China are worsening, with the two sides clashing at the UN over Hong Kong. China rejected a US proposal for the Security Council to meet over the issue, whilst US secretary of state Mike Pompeo declared that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from Beijing. China’s ‘parliament’ this morning approved the controversial national security legislation for the territory.

We also note reports this morning that China escorted a US navy ship out of its waters. Meanwhile Taiwan is to buy Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the US, which is likely to further rile Beijing. Tensions are showing signs they could boil over – we cannot play down the importance of an embattled US president facing a national crisis at home in an election year – one he can blame on his chief geopolitical adversary. Expect more sabre rattling.

Shares in Hong Kong and Taiwan fell, whilst Japanese equities rose by more than 2% in a mixed session overnight in Asia. The FTSE 100 rallied towards 6200 on the open, but shares in Standard Chartered and HSBC fell, signalling investor concern about what’s going on in Hong Kong.

Nevertheless, equity markets continue to strengthen and move out of recent ranges and clear important technical resistance. Confidence in equity markets is strong thanks more stimulus and signs economies are reopening quicker.  A resurgence in cases in South Korea is a worry.

Yesterday, US stocks surged with the S&P 500 closing above 3,000 for its best finish since March 2nd, whilst the Dow added over 500 points to clear 25k at stumps. The S&P 500 cleared the 200-day moving average and is now trading with a forward PE multiple of about 24x – making it look decidedly pricey.

European followed Wall Street higher with broad-based gains. The DAX yesterday closed above the 61.8% retracement around 11,581 and extended gains through the 11,700 level. The FTSE 100 thrust towards 6200 this morning, hitting its highest intra-day level since March 10th. The 50% retracement around 6250 is the next target before bulls can seek to clear the gap to the March 6th close at 6,462.

EasyJet is planning to reduce its fleet by 51 and cut up to 30% of staff. This is the big fear playing out – temporary furlough becomes permanent firing once businesses figure out that demand has vanished. Whilst airlines will feel this more than just about any other sector, this trend will be seen in a wide range of industries, albeit to a lesser extent.

Shares in EZJ rose 8% – cost cuts are welcome of course for investors, but also the indication of running at 30% of capacity over the summer is better than had been feared. Efforts by the likes of Greece and Spain to salvage the summer season will help a lot. IAG and Ryanair shares rose 2-3%.

Twitter shares fell and were down more in after-hours trading after Donald Trump threatened to shut down social media sites that stifle conservative voices. Having been sanctioned by Twitter with fact-check warnings, the president is very unhappy. It hurts his ego and it blunts his most effective tool.

The White House said the president will sign an executive order on social media today. Facebook shares were also lower yesterday and extended losses in after-hours trade. Will Trump try to silence Twitter and Facebook? No, but he can put more of a regulatory squeeze on them and raise their costs.

Europe’s bailout proposals were greeted with optimism, but the frugal four countries of Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands did not seem terribly impressed at plans that will raise their budget contributions. They will need to be brought round. Estonia has also said it won’t vote for the proposals. Work to be done – getting all countries on board with a complex budget takes a long time in the best of circumstances, let alone amid a dreadful recession.

The euro has largely held gains after rising on the EU’s budget plans. EURUSD firmed above 1.10 but is struggling to clear the 200-day moving average around 1.1010. Bulls need to see a confirmed push above this to unlock the path back to 1.1150, the March swing high. Failure calls for retest of recent swing lows at 1.0880.

Sterling was steady with GBPUSD around 1.2270 after yesterday giving up the 1.23 handle and testing support at 1.220 following Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator gave a pretty downbeat assessment of trade talks to MPs.

Today’s data focuses on the US weekly unemployment claims, which are forecast at +2.1m. As we enter the summer and states reopen, the hiring will gradually overtake the firing but we are not yet there. Durable goods orders – an important leading indicator of activity – are seen at –19% month-on-month with the core reading seen at –14.8%. A second print of the US Q1 GDP is seen steady at –4.8%.

Oil dived and took a look at last week’s lows as API figures showed a surprise build in crude inventories in the US. Stocks rose by 8.7m in the week ending May 22nd, vs expectations for a draw of 2.5m barrels. The build in stocks means the EIA data today will be more closely monitored than usual, given that expected drawing down of inventories has underpinned the resurgence in crude pricing. WTI (Aug) slipped back to $31.60, just a little short of the May 22nd swing low.

Hong Kong dents optimism but stocks remain on track

Morning Note

US shares surged on Tuesday, with the Dow rising more than 2%, briefly trading above the 25k level again before closing a little short. The S&P 500 rose over 1%, traded above 3,000 for the first time since March 5th hitting a high at 3,021 before it too closed below this psychologically important level. The broad index traded above the important 200-day moving average but failed to close above this indicator.

Economies continue to reopen a little quicker than we’d feared. US airlines are reporting a uptick in passenger levels vs where they were last month, but were down about 80% from the same Memorial holiday weekend a year before. Globally, it seems as though countries are able to ease lockdown restrictions without sparking immediate secondary waves of infections – albeit the risk of such emerging down the line should not be ignored.

The higher the S&P 500 rises without earnings picking up the pricier it gets. PE multiples already look stretched and further gains for the index would come despite declining earnings, stretching these valuations still further. What happens when banks really lay bare all the non-performing loans they are going to need to write off?

US stock markets test key 200-day SMA

In the last two major recessions (see below chart), the 200-day simple moving average has been the ceiling for the market. A breakout here would be important for recovering market highs – failure could suggest it will contain price action for a while. I hate to say it but this time could be different – central bank largesse was not a factor like it is today. This only concentrates the power of the largest capitalised companies.

What’s going on in the real economy is not reflected by markets. Even as we reopen, the economic uncertainty and long-term health fears will support household deleveraging, boost savings rates and knock consumer spending.

Today the Fed will release its Beige Book providing anecdotal evidence of business activity across the US – there will be some very grim stories to tell and will underline how it will take a long time to get businesses and people moving at the same rate they were before the crisis.

Tensions in Hong Kong weigh on global equities – will the US sanction China?

The rally in global equities seen at the start of the week ran out of steam a little in Asia overnight though as tensions in Hong Kong hove into view once more. Riot police fired pepper pellets at groups gathering to protest a bill that would ban people from insulting the Chinese national anthem. This comes as tensions were stoked by China’s planned introduction of sweeping national security powers in Hong Kong.

There is a strong chance that the anti-Beijing feeling grows and leads to the kind of unrest we saw over several months last year. The US is said to be considering sanctions against China; Beijing said yesterday it was increasing its readiness for military combat. Whilst the eyes of the world are on Hong Kong, China is already engaged in a military standoff on its border with India.

Asia soft, European stocks firm

Asian shares fell broadly, although Tokyo held up as Japan said it will carry out another $1.1 trillion stimulus package on top of a $1.1tn programme already launched last month. The Hang Seng dipped by almost 1%. But European shares rose with the FTSE 100 recapturing 6100 and making a sally towards 6200 and to close the early March gap.

Yesterday the DAX made the move back towards its Mach 6th close at 11,541 to fill the gap but failed to complete the move on the close. This morning the DAX moved strongly through this level after a pause at the open, moving back to 11,600.

Euro, pound come off highs, retreat from key technical levels

In FX, both the euro and pound failed to really make any real breach despite a strong gain yesterday and have come off their highs. EURUSD moved back towards the middle of the recent range, having fallen short of a move back to 1.10 and was last trading around 1.0960.  GBPUSD has retreated under 1.23 having fallen short of the 50% retracement of the move lower over the last month around 1.2375.

After Germany and France proposed a €500bn bailout fund based on mutual debt issuance (what some have dubbed Europe’s Hamiltonian moment), EC President Ursula von der Leyen will present her plans, which will build on the Franco-German proposal and call for a €1 trillion plan. If the budget talks are successful it should lower the risk premium on EU sovereign debt, lowering bond yields and offering succour to the euro as well as to European equity markets. It would also mark a major step towards EU fiscal policy coordination and possible fiscal union. The frugal four remain a hindrance but Merkel’s weight is behind this.

We’re also looking at the appearance before MPs today by Michael Gove and UK Brexit negotiator David Frost.

Gold falls to test $1700, WTI crude oil edges down to $34

Gold was weaker, testing $1700 again as US yields rallied on economic reopening, but 10yr Treasury yields peeled back off the highs at 0.7% due perhaps to the US-China tension.

WTI (Aug) has retreated further from the $35 level and is testing support around $34. The pattern suggests a pause for thought as we try to figure out the mess of supply and demand. The pattern is one of consolidation with a bullish flag forming, with better demand forming the basis for the move alongside supply impairment that was evidenced by a new report from the IEA saying Covid-19 will cause investment in the energy sector to decline by $400bn this year. That is the kind of capex carnage that will remove a lot of supply and force rebalance quickly.

Chart: The 200-day line has been a ceiling in past recessions

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