The Stock Market

     

 

 

Introductory Remarks by PT

We have discussed the proprietary Incrementum Inflation Indicator in these pages on previous occasions, but want to quickly summarize its salient features again. It is a purely market-based indicator, this is to say, its calculation is based exclusively on market prices and price ratios derived from market prices.

However, contrary to most measures of inflation expectations, the Incrementum Inflation Signal is not primarily focused on yield differentials, such as is e.g. the case with 5-year breakeven inflation rates.

 

The 5-year breakeven inflation rate is derived from the differential between 5-year treasury note yields and 5-year TIPS yields. Interestingly, it has recently begun to tick up as well after declining sharply for several months.

 

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Has a Bear Market in Stocks Begun?

The stock market correction into late December was of approximately the same size as the mid 2015/early 2016 twin downturns, so this is not an idle question. Moreover, many bears seem quite confident lately from an anecdotal perspective, which may invite a continuation of the recent upward correction. That said, there is not much confirmation of said confidence in data that can be quantified.

 

Our proposed bearish wave count for the S&P 500 Index, which could easily be completely wrong, so take with a big grain of salt. Let us just note here that this chart looks bearish regardless of the wave labels. The latter are mainly meant to serve as an orientation aid (i.e., if something very different from the expected fractal shape develops, we would know that this interpretation is wrong; on the other hand, if the expected shape does develop, we could be reasonably confident of where short term turning points are likely to occur and would have further confirmation that a large scale bear market has begun).

 

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… Something Wicked this Way Comes

Last week the price of gold went up $18, and that of silver 6 cents. Looking at the ongoing stock market drop, someone asked us if this is “it”. So far in Q4, the stock market (S&P 500) has now lost more points than in any quarter during the great financial crisis (though so far less as a percentage). Is this it, will gold hit $10,000?

 

S&P 500 Index, daily – an unseemly slipping on the banana peel. [PT]

 

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Offering Peace and Joy

Heading into the final weekend before Christmas we’ll take a brief hiatus from the economy and markets. We do so, however, with intent and purpose. Our principal objective is to offer peace and joy as you go about your merry way.

 

Unfortunately, Santa isn’t coming this year. Right after losing his behind in cryptos, he went all in with everything he had left on FANG stocks, margined up to his eyebrows. He trusted his well-worn ability to deliver the traditional “Santa Claus rally”, but was waylaid by the dollar-dissolving vampire bat Ptenochirus Iagori Powelli  hiding in a snowdrift. He needs some time off to forget. [PT]

 

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The Seasonal Trend Inversion Continues

By now it has been pretty well telegraphed that the Fed will likely announce that it is going to end its “automatic 25 bps rate hike every quarter” policy and replace it with some sort of “incoming data dependent” version. Normally one would expect this to constitute a “buy the news” event, especially in view of the recent sharp decline in the stock market. However, there are still a few problems with this idea –  the chart below illustrates one of them.

 

The eerie, almost perfect inversion of the usual seasonal mid-term election pattern continues unabated – and even though we have pointed this out for quite some time, we are also a bit surprised by how persistent this phenomenon has been.

 

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The Santa Claus Rally –  A Well-Known Recurring Phenomenon

every year a certain stock market phenomenon is said to recur, anticipated with excitement by investors: the so-called Santa Claus rally. It is held that stock prices typically rise quite frequently and particularly strongly just before the turn of the year.

I want to show you the Santa Claus rally using the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) as an example. The DJIA has a very long history and is therefore particularly useful for conducting a long-term analysis.

 

Santa Claus, usually known as a reliable purveyor of presents, occasionally steps on something. When he does, it can be fatal. That said, December crashes are historically so rare, one needs only one finger to count them. When the NYSE reopened in December of 1914 after having been closed for several months following the outbreak of WW1, it did so with a~40% gap down – however, the market quickly recovered as war-time inflation began to boost prices. By early 1916 the market was trading at new highs. [PT]

 

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Mud Volcanoes

There are numerous explanations for just what in the heck is going on with the economy.  Some are good.  Many are bad.  Today we’ll do our part to bring clarity to disorder…

 

Two data series it is worth paying attention to at the moment: the unemployment rate (U3) and initial claims. As the chart at the top shows, when the former makes a low it is time to worry about the economy. Low points in the U3 UE rate slightly lead the beginning of recessions. Claims on the other hand are near coincident indicators of the stock market, this is to say, lows in initial claims tend to happen within a time period of four to six weeks surrounding major stock market peaks (in most cases they lead slightly, but small lags have occasionally occurred as well). Note: neither indicator confirms an imminent turning point as of yet – initial claims would e.g. have to rise to around 300k in order to do so. The same is true of other major recession indicators, their most recent readings do not yet confirm that the business cycle is about to turn down. However, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that indicates such a downturn may soon be confirmed, including recent market moves (i.e., deteriorating stock prices and rising credit spreads). [PT]

 

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A Plethora of Headaches

We hope the recent market turmoil is not giving our readers too much of a headache. As you are no doubt aware, the events of the last few weeks have made maneuvering around global markets rather difficult.

 

A less than happy NYSE floor trader [PT]

Photo crdit: Brendan McDermit

 

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Investment Grade Junk

All is now bustle and hubbub in the late months of the year.  This goes for the stock market too. If you recall, on September 22nd the S&P 500 hit an all-time high of 2,940.  This was nearly 100 points above the prior high of 2,847, which was notched on January 26th.  For a brief moment, it appeared the stock market had resumed its near decade long upward trend.

 

We actually did not believe in the validity of the September breakout attempt: the extremely large divergence between the broad market and the narrow big cap leadership was one of many signs that an internal breakdown in the stock market was well underway. It is probably legitimate to refer to the January 2018 high as the “orthodox” stock market peak – the point at which most stocks topped out. [PT]

 

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The Mighty Gartman

Investment newsletter writer Dennis Gartman (a.k.a. “the Commodities King”) has been a target of ridicule at Zerohedge for a long time. His pompous style of writing and his uncanny ability to frequently make perfectly mistimed short term market calls have made him an easy target.* It would be quite ironic if a so far quite good recommendation he made last week were to turn into the call of a lifetime (see ZH: “Gartman: ‘We Are Officially Recommending Shorting This Rally'”).

 

A little collage devoted to the Commodity King. It is easy to see how he ended up being made fun of. Actually, by now he has garnered a quite sizable fan community at Zerohedge and other web sites that report on his frequently ill-timed flip-flops (often announced with great conviction). However, a major call on the stock market he recently made seems to have been perfectly timed.

 

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From Crash Danger to End-of-the-Year Ramp

 

[Ed note by PT: we are unfortunately a week late in posting this issue of SI, which didn’t reach us in time due to a technical problem. We decided to post it belatedly anyway: for one thing, the effect under discussion is normally in effect until the end of the year; for another, the statistical validity of this information goes beyond the current year, as it is a recurring phenomenon. Lastly we would note that we have a strong suspicion that the effect may actually be cut short this year – details to be discussed in a follow-up post]

 

Knock, knock… it’s Jack, from Wall Street

 

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Just a Little Avalanche or an Implosion?

A few years ago, we briefly discussed the dynamics of sand piles in these pages, which are a special field of study in mathematics and physics (mathematically inclined readers can take a look at two papers on the subject here:”Driving Sandpiles to Criticality and Beyond “ (PDF) and  ‘Games on Line Graphs and Sand Piles “(PDF) – unfortunately two other studies that used to be available have in the meantime disappeared from the inter-tubes).

 

Waiting to crumble: a giant sand dune in the Namib desert.

 

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