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E.g., 18-05-2021
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    Gavekal Research

    Hardly Transitory, But Not A Spiral

    After headline and core CPI readings hit multi-year highs for April, investors have inflation on their minds. The rise in US bond yields and continued fall in equities reflects fears that the Federal Reserve is behind the curve, and could be about to slam on the monetary brakes. My view is that these price pressures are far from transitory, but a spiral higher does not beckon.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Changing State Of US Liquidity

    When it comes to creating and distributing US money, there are three main players: the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury and commercial banks. Recent events call for a status update on the prospects for money flows from each, and what it all means for the bond market.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Renter’s Housing Market?

    When GDP for 1Q21 is released on Thursday, the US economy will be shown to be booming. An exception to this cheery trend is the US residential property market, which, having led the recovery, now looks pretty anemic. The worry is that a pronounced housing downturn could even choke off the broader recovery.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Trading The Vaccination S-Curve

    Vaccination programs around the world have gotten off the ground at widely varying speeds. But everywhere they tend to follow a similar S-curve trajectory. While most countries are still in the early stages of their vaccination programs, a very few are in their late stages, where the S-curves begin to flatten. Their experience provides an investible roadmap.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Living In A Stock Picker’s Market

    When only one major factor affects equities, correlations rise. At such points, the name of the game is not to pick the best stocks, but to get the ebb and flow of that key factor right. At other times, multiple factors are in play and these affect different stocks differently; in such periods, picking winners is vital. For most of last year, the US market was macro-dominated as the Covid-induced economic collapse caused equity correlations to...

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Living With The Next Covid Wave

    Global markets are looking ahead to a post-pandemic world, but Covid-19 is still very much with us. Globally, new infection rates have risen sharply since late February, reversing their earlier decline. In the last few weeks, the US has experienced an alarming uptick in infections. The European Union is struggling to contain its latest Covid wave, which in several major countries compares with November’s for severity. And across the developing...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Costs Of Biden’s Spending Plan

    On Wednesday, Joe Biden unveiled an ambitious US$2trn program of public infrastructure investment, to be funded by corporate tax hikes. In a nutshell, the plan is a proposal to transfer wealth from the broad US market to sectors favored by the government. The sectors that benefit from this largesse stand to enjoy a multi-year boom, with the cost to be borne by the rest of the market. However, the extent of this cost should not be exaggerated....

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Short And Long For The US Dollar

    After ending 2020 amid heavily negative sentiment, the US dollar has confounded near-term bears by edging higher year-to-date. The DXY dollar index has gained 2.75%, clawing back just over a third of its -7.5% decline in 2020. Perhaps this should not be too surprising. First, by the end of 2020, the US dollar was no longer blatantly overvalued. Second, the DXY found support at 90, its low of early 2018. Third, the near-term outlook for nominal...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Strengthening Case For Value

    In the last two weeks, US value stocks have given up some of the outperformance relative to growth that they racked up over the previous five. So has value’s spurt of outperformance now run its course, leaving the S&P 500 value index’s 11pp of outperformance relative to growth since the beginning of February as just a counter-trend blip against a backdrop of more than a decade’s underperformance? Or are the relative gains in value since the...

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Enduring Cognitive Dissonance

    As yields continue to test new highs, Jay Powell is set to deliver a speech today reasserting the Federal Reserve’s view that inflation can push above its 2% target due to base effects and pent-up demand without monetary tightening being needed. This could offer temporary relief to equity investors, but resulting uncertainty in the bond market is likely to ensure an unstable trading environment.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Changing Composition Of US Inflation

    Investors are all in a tizz about US inflation as the economy begins to normalize and the effect of a huge fiscal stimulus is factored into calculations. Inflation expectations are above the Federal Reserve’s target at 2.2% and energy base effects mean the personal consumption expenditure reading is sure to rise from December’s 1.3%. So far, market action has been focused in the bond market (see A Discussion On Treasury Yields) but equity...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    US Banks And The Steepening Curve

    The brightening of the US economic outlook and the steepening of the US yield curve over the last three months have been positive for the shares of US commercial banks. The prospect of a return to normal as vaccination quells the pandemic means banks are more willing to extend credit. According to the Federal Reserve’s January senior loan officer survey, far fewer banks are now tightening their lending standards. Experience suggests this will...

    5
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Turns A Corner

    It was not surprising that the US economy grew at a mere 4% quarter-on-quarter annualized in the final period of 2020, but there was a grim recognition that the next phase of the recovery will be hard fought. There are, however, reason to be optimistic.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    An Unfavorable Risk-Reward Bet

    Today sees the US vaccination program initiated, and investors are enthused that some kind of return to normal life is finally becoming visible. Nowhere has this “glass half full” view been stronger than in the US corporate credit market, as yield spreads for both investment-grade and high-yield bonds have broken new lows. These moves have occurred despite treasury yields creeping higher, and are starting to look overcooked.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rising Yields And US Housing

    Investors are looking ahead to us economic growth picking up as vaccines are deployed and restrictions dialed back. With the Federal Reserve having anchored short rates near zero, this dynamic is causing a yield-curve steepening. The question is whether higher yields feed back into a still vulnerable US economy and choke off the recovery.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Georgia On My Mind

    In the four weeks since the US election, the S&P 500 has climbed 7.5%. The bulk of that run-up can be attributed to hopes for an early vaccine roll-out, but at least some is due to the perceived decline in US political risk, Yet although US electoral risk may have diminished, it has not disappeared, and may yet return to affect investor positioning in markets over the coming weeks.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Boost From US Restocking

    As the latest wave of US coronavirus infections continues to worsen, the probability of a modest contraction in fourth quarter GDP is rising. However, there are solid arguments for believing that the worst case scenario for 4Q remains no worse than a mild contraction in output.

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    The Brake On US Growth

    Hopes for effective coronavirus vaccination programs in 2021 propelled both the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 small cap index to record high, but on the ground in the US, accelerating infections and rising hospitalization rates prompted more state and local governments to order additional restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Either Steeper, Or Much Steeper

    Hopes of an early vaccine rollout mean that investors are now looking beyond rising coronavirus infection rates in the US towards an end to the pandemic in 2021. The resulting improved business and consumer confidence will favor stronger activity next year, and therefore a steepening of the US yield curve driven by higher long term bond yields. On top of this, there is an appreciable probability that the Democrats could yet capture the Senate in...

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    A Multi-Faceted US Sell-off

    As Covid-19 cases soar and investors fret about the economic recovery being snuffed out, US equities are getting sucked into a gathering sell off. The worry is that the US follows the kind of nationally-mandated lockdowns now being adopted in Europe. We would make the point that in the US, other factors are also at work.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dynamics Of US Curve Steepening

    October has seen the US treasury curve steepen, with the spread between three-month and 10-year yields widening by almost 20bp. In historical terms, however, the US curve remains anomalously flat. This suggests there is a greater probability of further steepening in the short to medium term than of flattening. With the short end of the curve pinned at zero by the Federal Reserve, possibly for the next two or three years, any changes in the yield...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The State Of The US Consumer

    Data released on Friday showed that US retail sales rose a welcome 1.9% month-on-month in September. However, fears are growing that the stars are now aligning against the US consumer. First, new Covid infections are climbing rapidly to rival the numbers seen at the height of July’s second wave. With government infectious diseases boss Anthony Fauci warning that things are set to get worse heading into winter, this new wave of infections raises...

    9
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    Gavekal Research

    A US Dollar Check-Up

    Over the last month, the US dollar has caught a bid. Admittedly, the rally is small. Since the end of August, the DXY US dollar index has edged up by 1.7%, with the rise in broader dollar indexes scarcely much greater. Nevertheless, the recent uptick is causing some to question whether the dollar’s decline has run its course.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When Higher Inflation Is Good News

    Equity markets often seem to have a split personality, but seldom more so than over inflation. A sizable portion of investors is worried that the Federal Reserve is struggling to overcome deflationary pressures, while many of the rest fear the explosion in monetary aggregates must inevitably lead to runaway inflation.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Positioning For A Yield Curve Steepening

    Little about the Covid-19 recession has been “normal”, including shifts in the US yield curve. Contrary to expectations at the end of a cycle, the spread between 10-year and three-month treasury yields "steepened" by just 109bp from the bottom. At the same time, the Fed’s hugely expanded quantitative easing program has boosted demand for long-dated treasuries, which continues to compress yields. So what gives?

    3
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    Gavekal Research

    Growth Scare? Or Rotation?

    After a three-day rout that has seen the US Nasdaq 100 index sell off by almost -11%, fear is in the ascendant. At this point a reality check may be a valuable exercise. Whatever the proximate trigger for the slump, the deep sell-off has been confined mainly to large-cap tech stocks, and is not generalized across the market. Moreover, there are reasons to believe the picture for the US economy and earnings is set to improve.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Rich, But Keeping It Real

    The US consumer's willingness to spend remains reliable, even during the pandemic, as shown by consumer discretionary stocks sharply outperforming the rest of the market. Since this stock grouping includes pandemic winners like Amazon and Home Depot there is little reason to bet on a trend-change, as the macro winds should remain favorable.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Solid US Earnings Do Not Mean Another Boom Beckons

    With more than 90% of firms in the S&P 500 having reported for the second quarter, the hit to earnings came in nowhere near as bad as expected. This picture is likely to be sustained in the coming year, or so and should lay the ground for solid US equity market performance. Yet, those hoping for a sustained economic recovery to generate the kind of epic returns seen in 2Q20, or in 2009 after the financial crisis, will likely be disappointed.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The State Of The US Recovery

    The renewed Covid-19 outbreak in the past two months put a brake on the US recovery, but that engine is again firing. Despite many states having reversed opening measures, Friday’s payroll report came in strong, with the unemployment rate down to 10.2%; high-frequency data like mobility readings paint a similar picture.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Living With Hard Times

    Even as the Covid-19 outbreak materially worsens in the US, the pricing of financial assets remains benign. Is this equanimity justified or are we just waiting for the next shoe to drop? Myself and Will Denyer have been in the constructive camp on US equities, even if we are now squeamish about valuations, and continue to think that markets have it about right.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Beyond Second Quarter Earnings

    The US 2Q20 reporting season gets into its stride this week, and for all but a fortunate few the earnings numbers will be abysmal. But abysmal numbers will come as no surprise to investors, and will have little impact on the market. A reasonable prospect of upside earnings surprises in 2H and upward revisions in earnings estimates will help support equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    From Bullish To Neutral

    There has been a lot of talk about how the rally in US markets has been driven entirely by irrational sentiment. We disagree, and have since late March argued that the rebound in risk assets was rational. Our assessment rested on four financial and economic pillars. Today a reexamination of these pillars suggests a moderation of our bullish stance.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The US Consumer Has Legs

    Another day, another upside surprise from the US data. For investors, the key question is whether this recovery will continue, or whether May’s bounce-back in consumption will prove a one-off flash in the pan, extinguished by a second wave of infections and long term unemployment. Happily, there are good reasons to expect the consumption recovery to have legs.

    1
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    Gavekal Research

    Rotating Into US Small Caps

    Despite some states seeing a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases, a US economic recovery is gaining strength as lockdowns are lifted. Barring unforeseen setbacks, there are reasons to think that the US recovery sustains itself and the equity rally continues. There is, however, a solid macro argument for rotating to a different class of US stocks.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    What US Payrolls Do And Do Not Mean

    May’s US payrolls report clearly came as a shock to many. Non-farm jobs climbed 2.51mn month-on-month, and the unemployment rate fell to 13.3%. Wrong-footed by the stronger-than-expected figures, investors rushed to bid up US equities. But while the payrolls are good news at the margin, it should not be taken as a reason to rush into equities.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    To Rotate, Or Not To Rotate?

    This week readers have heard a variety of views from Gavekal partners on the outlook for equity markets. What is not in doubt is that since hitting a peak on February 20, US growth stocks have outperformed value plays by a whopping 17%. Wherever one stands on the macro situation, there certainly seems to be an argument for rotating.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Return Of TINA

    All bull markets start as unloved beasts, but the one that began in US equities on March 23 has been especially despised. The news in the intervening two months has been dreadful, and it is still not really clear who is doing the buying, and why. So in seeking to understand if a market that is up 33% from its bottom can go further, KX considers four possible drivers.

    8
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    Gavekal Research

    Breasting The Trough

    The apparent divergence between the stock market and economic reality continues to widen. Equity investors are focusing on the expected effects of the Federal Reserve’s massive liquidity injections once states emerge from lockdown. The risk to this rosy view is that the easing of restrictions could cause an infection increase so severe that new lockdowns are imposed.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    US Labor And The New Economy

    US states are moving to end stay-at-home orders and slowly resume activity. With some 30mn workers having been laid off, they will do so in an economy that has been profoundly changed by Covid-19. At a macro level, a fairly swift recovery is likely. Yet it will be a painful exercise as structural changes wrought by the pandemic upend the US labor market.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    When Dead Cats Bounce

    The S&P 500 has now rallied 24% in a little over three weeks, making back almost half of its losses over the previous four weeks. The vigor of this rebound even as corporate earnings are collapsing naturally raises the question whether the market has really formed a bottom, or whether we are seeing a classic bear market rally, as Anatole has argued.

    10
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    Gavekal Research

    Buy The Dip, Or Sell The Rally?

    When the market falls -10% in a week, and then rallies 5% in a day, investors face a question: Do I buy the dip, or sell the rally? An investor selling the rally would in essence be making a bet that the negative impact of the coronavirus will outweigh the central bank support and G7 finance ministry action that has been promised.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Problem In US Equities

    As US equities power to new highs, investors have brushed off geopolitical ructions and fears of a global pandemic. It is less clear that weak earnings are incidental to the US bull market. With 420 firms in the S&P 500 having reported for 4Q19, earnings are only up 1.6% on the previous year.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    A Surfeit Of Money

    The fruits of the US Federal Reserve’s swing to monetary easing are ripening. In the last couple of months the about-turn in monetary direction has triggered a dramatic rebound in aggregate US money supply growth, which is outpacing GDP growth. This suggests excess cash may be piling up. If so, the excess is likely to further bid up US asset prices.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    The Dial Moves Against US Growth Stocks

    The outperformance of growth over value continues, yet an increasing number of serious US managers are making the case for value. On the macro front the worry is of a strong economy that continues to have an inflationary vibe. Over the last five years, I have taken an equity growth bias. Now I’m shifting towards the value camp.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    A Sweet Spot For US Jobs

    US non-farm payrolls came in stronger than expected in January. Examining more forward-looking data, such as job openings, many observers suspect the US jobs market may be heading for slower job creation and weaker wage growth in the coming quarters. These worries are likely misplaced.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    The Threat To US Equities

    On Friday the US equity market succumbed to coronavirus jitters, with the S&P 500 sliding -1.77% to wipe out its year-to-date gains for January. The sell-off was accompanied by a surge in the VIX volatility index, which could continue to rise. Happily, however, there are five good reasons to think any such elevated volatility will prove short-lived.

    4
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    Gavekal Research

    Credit Spreads: Not Worth The Risk

    US corporate bonds had a great run in 2019, and have started 2020 on a strong note. Both investment grade and high yield indexes rose by around 14% last year, with credit spreads contracting substantially in the fourth quarter to approach their narrowest for this cycle. However, as US corporate leverage has risen, considerable latent risks have accumulated in the system.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Echoes Of 2017

    Global markets began 2020 on a bullish note, with the US S&P 500 climbing to a fresh record close, up a chunky 4.3% over the last month. Indeed, the US monetary backdrop at the start of 2020 is reminiscent of that in early 2017, a year which saw the S&P 500 climb 19.4%. History may not repeat this year, but there are good reasons to believe it may yet rhyme.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    A Safety Rope On The Wall Of Worry

    Markets are heading into the end of 2019 on a broadly constructive note. Yet there are daunting risks hanging over 2020. And although a number of these risks may be of modest probability, the impact on portfolios should they arise will be great. This means investors are to an extent climbing a wall of worry. Fortuitously, there is a safety rope to hand.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Earningless Equity Rally

    In the third quarter, US macro-level domestic earnings fell -1.9% year-on-year. Behind this squeeze lies a weak sales picture tied to trading uncertainty and a rise in wages. In the near term, both factors could intensify. Yet there is nothing especially new in weak US profits and a ripping equity market. There are, in fact, three reasons to think this situation can be sustained.

    2
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