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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

    Video: Towards A Sustainable Boom?

    With a shoot-the-lights-out number universally expected when the US reports first quarter GDP data this week, Tan Kai Xian looks at the drivers propelling growth to determine whether US performance is sustainable, or just a flash in the pan. As a number of risks continue to loom large on the radar screen, in this video interview he assesses the implications of US growth for investors in risk assets.

    0
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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...

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, April 2021

    In the long years between the 2008-09 financial crash and the 2020 Covid crisis the US stock market massively outperformed equities in the rest of the world. In recent quarters, however, the US market has lost its edge. Yesterday, Louis, KX and Udith weighed the merits of ex-US equities versus US stocks in a post-pandemic world.

    0
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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

    Strategy Monthly: The Case For Ex-US Equities

    The US trade deficit cycle suggests the world is heading towards a protracted period of US dollar depreciation. With valuations outside the US relatively attractive, and deglobalization meaning ex-US equities will offer greater diversification benefits in future, investors should consider increasing their exposure to ex-US equities.

    0
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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

    Webinar: The Future Of The Great US Rotation

    Much has happened in the US in the last eight weeks. More than 80mn Americans have been vaccinated against Covid, Congress has passed a stimulus bill worth 9% of GDP, and the Fed has confirmed its determination to remain among the most peaceable of inflation doves. In response, 10-year US treasury yields have leapt, and the rotation from growth stocks to value has grown more violent even as the broad equity market has ascended new heights. In...

    0
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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

    Let's Twist Again

    When they sit down on Wednesday, the members of the Federal Open Market Committee will face a couple of knotty questions. Should they attempt to do anything about rising bond yields? And if so, what?

    4
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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

    Webinar: The Economic Impact Of A New Era

    Vaccines, fiscal stimulus and cheap money are working together to bolster the outlook for growth and inflation in the United States. The US is also under new leadership with new priorities. Our US team of analysts explained what this all means for the economy and asset markets.

    0
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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

    Follow The Money

    After last spring’s lockdowns, the Federal Reserve undertook a huge liquidity response and the US government borrowed hand over fist to keep a range of economic actors afloat: US companies got forgivable loans, households received cash grants and the jobless were offered enhanced unemployment payments. Even after this splurge, the Treasury is still left with wheelbarrow-loads of cash. In the year ahead, how these record sums of money are...

    6
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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

    Webinar: Facing Down US Risks

    The world is focused on the US election, with concerns over a disputed result. Our US team of analysts are less worried about process than the substantive impact of big changes in domestic economic policy settings. Will, Yanmei and KX assessed the likely fallout from November 3 and assess the latest US economic data with a focus on threats to the US recovery should the pandemic worsen and near-term fiscal responses remain uncertain.

    0
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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

    Strategy Monthly: The Real US Election Risks

    Some investors worry that a contested US election may spark social and political unrest that is serious enough to threaten US risk assets. They are likely focused on the wrong risk. The US’s democracy faces heavy strains but is nowhere near a breaking point, but the differing outcomes that can occur on (or after) November 3 pose threats to portfolios.

    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

    Video: Assessing The Midwest Outbreak

    While the pandemic continues to ravage the US, the last month has seen rates of infection decline across most of the country. That situation has recently reversed in some low-population Midwestern states, but on balance the US has learnt to live with Covid, and therefore a resurgence in the fall will not result in the kind of disruption seen in March and April.

    0
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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

    The Implications Of A Disputed Election

    The pundits bill every US presidential election as the most important and dramatic for years, if not decades. This time they may have a point. However, an examination of the laws governing elections and of past ructions suggests any turbulence for investors will be limited and short-lived.

    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

    Strategy Monthly: From Bullish To Neutral On The US

    The upsurge in second-round Covid-19 infections has put the US economic recovery on hold for now. But government, businesses and consumers have got better at coping with Covid, and in contrast to the first round, the economy is not going backwards.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Webinar: Global Investment Roundtable, July 2020

    In our monthly Global Investment Roundtable, US analyst Tan Kai Xian analyzed the latest US data and assessed the risk that the present economic stall-out turns into a double-dip recession. Arthur Kroeber explained why the Trump Administration has amped up its Cold War rhetoric on China. Anatole Kaletsky tied it all together and tried to explain the recent movements in global markets.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Playing Volatility Convergence

    When the initial Covid-19 panic gripped US financial markets in March, the near term volatility priced in by both equity and bond markets leapt steeply. But the volatility priced in by the equity market rose far more in relative terms, and has been much slower to recede. As a result equity market vol remains abnormally elevated relative to bond market vol, offering investors an opportunity.

    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

    Learning To Transact Through Covid

    The Covid-19 flare-up in the southern and western United States threatens to slow the country’s recovery, but it is unlikely to be a rerun of the severe economic contraction seen in March and April. Since Americans are learning to maintain economic activity during Covid-19, a Nike swoosh or “stairstep” recovery seems more likely than the feared W-shaped outcome.

    2
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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

    Webinar: US Outlook (May 2020)

    In yesterday's webinar, Will Denyer, Tan Kai Xian and Yanmei Xie joined Simon to discuss the outlook for the US and answer viewer questions as the country tries to return to normal after Covid-19 lockdowns.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    The Upside For Autos And Housing

    As the US begins to reopen for business, some segments of the economy will bounce back faster than others. Among the more vigorous will be the auto and housing sectors, where activity will be lifted by a favorable combination of tailwinds. Investors should consider positioning for a strong recovery in both the automobile and residential construction sectors.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: In Defense Of US Equities

    With most big US firms having reported their first quarter earnings, the picture is not pretty and worse may follow in 2Q20. Yet the stock market rally of the last six weeks suggests that investors have a fairly cheery view about US firms’ prospects. So what gives? Near-term expectations are, in fact, appropriately set and the fundamentals of the US market are better than they appear.

    0
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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

    Video: The US Can Do A V-Shaped Recovery

    The US economy can be assumed to already be in recession, yet KX is relatively confident in its ability to generate a V-shaped recovery once lockdowns are materially eased.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Is US$2trn In Fiscal Support Enough?

    Will the US$2trn fiscal packiage prove big enough? The initial market reaction might have suggested that it won’t. However, if extreme lockdowns last no longer than a month or two, the fiscal package may well succeed in its twin objectives of averting mass business failures and preventing a big rise in long term unemployment.

    2
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    Gavekal Research

    High Frequency Data For Tracking Covid-19

    As national lockdowns upend normal economic activity, conventional economic indicators are being rendered useless to investors. High frequency indicators may be helpful in spotting future turning points and gauging the strength of any eventual recovery. In this short chartbook, KX suggests a range of indicators for monitoring the US economy.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    What US$35 Oil Means For The US

    Much of the commentary on the -30% downward breakout in the price of oil over the last couple of weeks has focused on the negative fallout for the US economy. The demand destruction caused by Covid-19 which initiated the oil price fall is a clear economic negative. Yet cheaper energy also promises positive effects. KX weighs the forces at work.

    3
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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

    Still Dollar Bears (Humbly)

    The Covid-19 outbreak has sparked a flight to safety, reversing an incipient weakening of the US dollar. This is hardly unfounded, as the US so far has been spared a major outbreak and its economy is decently insulated. Yet most of the factors weighing on the US dollar late last year remain valid. Thus Will and KX advise a negative dollar bias.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Video: Still The Safest Port In A Macro Storm

    It took a while, but fear of contagion is gripping Wall Street. In the last week, the S&P 500 has fallen -8%, while 10-year US treasury bills have hit a new all-time low. Yet the risk-off move in US asset markets triggered by worries the coronavirus epidemic is turning into a global pandemic is at odds with underlying US fundamentals.

    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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    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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    Video: US Autos Ride Again

    A range of cyclical and structural factors have conspired to hit US auto sales in recent years. But with the US labor market remaining in rude health and US monetary policy being loosened, that may be about to change. The impact could be positive for US growth and for risk assets, argues KX in this interview.

    0
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    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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    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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    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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    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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    The US Manufacturing Slump Abates

    US manufacturing output fell -1.5% year-on-year in October to mark its weakest month since December 2015. The worry is that a US manufacturing recession causes such a drag that even well-performing sectors like housing get sucked down as well. The good news is that these production numbers look like a nadir.

    1
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    Looking Through To US Inflation

    In Congressional testimony yesterday, Jay Powell expressed optimism that US inflation will gradually rise toward the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. If this is the case then it is reasonable to think that the US central bank could be done with rate cuts in this cycle but some way away from any rate hikes—this points to a Goldilocks of sorts.

    0
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    Time To Embrace The US Consumer

    Whether moving into a fixer-upper or a freshly finished McMansion, most homeowners will splurge on big ticket items to embellish their new abode. With the US housing market looking strong, investors should bet on consumer discretionary—it has the advantage of offering protection if long-dated bond yields move materially higher.

    0
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    Strategy Monthly: Towards A Dollar Decline

    The last five years have been an era of US dollar strength. That era may now be coming to an end. After the US Federal Reserve halted its balance sheet contraction and last month resumed buying T-bills at a rate of US$60bn a month, the Fed is now printing money faster than the other central banks. As a result, relative liquidity growth now favors US dollar weakness.

    0
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    Video: Playing The Un-inversion

    Having inverted over the summer, the US yield curve has steepened sharply. In the past such a move has often presaged recession—but not always. Twice since the 1960s an inversion and steepening was not followed by recession. Then, as now, the return on invested corporate capital was higher than the cost of that capital.

    0
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    Culling The Pessimists

    A series of head-spinning flip-flops in the on-again-off-again trade war over the summer has caused US businesses to delay fresh investment. As a result, business surveys have been giving readings consistent with a US recession. Yet it seems likely that any damage wrought by the trade war remains ephemeral—at least hard data suggests this.

    0
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    The Fed Goes On The Offensive

    Grocery shoppers get perturbed when they buy produce labeled as “organic” but get something from the agro-industrial complex. Investors, on the other hand, should welcome the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet boost, that was described on Friday as nothing more than “organic” growth. As it turns out, this is a heavily engineered offering by the custodians of money.

    0
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    Watching For Signs Of A US Spillover

    Is the rot spreading? In the eurozone, there are signs that this year’s slump in manufacturing may be beginning to spill over to weigh on activity in the broader economy. Plenty of observers believe the US economy is destined to follow a similar path. Their fears may yet be realized, but so far there is no evidence the US economy is heading that way.

    0
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    Quantifying Trade War Risk

    Investors seem to have grown somewhat blasé about the US-China trade war lately. Over 12 months after the outbreak of hostilities, the S&P 500 is up 2.2% year-on-year. Part of the reason for this nonchalance appears to be a belief that US growth and domestic profits are invulnerable to any escalation of the conflict. This belief may be mistaken.

    2
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    What If The Fed Has Finished Cutting

    What happens to the US equity market if the Federal Reserve has already finished cutting interest rates? Last Friday, Will made the case for a rebound in US growth, but withheld judgement whether it would be driven by real growth or inflation. The prospect raises the very real possibility that the Fed may decide rates have been cut enough.

    9
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    US Banks To Shine Again

    Ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, US bank stocks look set to break out of their 21-month underperformance trend. Investors are betting on a 25bp rate cut, with at least one more to come before December. They are also cheering the rise in long rates globally over the last week or so, which has acted to steepen yield curves. Given that US consumers will benefit from even cheaper money and should brush off whatever the trade war throws...

    0
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    Tariffs Won't Trouble US Consumers

    As US growth has slowed this year, consumer spending has been the economy’s bright spot. Personal consumption expenditure was the principal contributor to growth in the second quarter and July. However, fears are growing that the US consumer will come under increasing pressure in the coming months as the latest round of tariffs go into effect.

    4
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    Weathering Trump’s Trade War

    It may be the dog days of summer, but investors got a truckload of news this weekend that points to a bad situation getting worse. Given President Donald Trump’s escalation of tariffs and threat to bar US firms from operating in China, the worry is that his hardline stance spurs a US recession. KX and Will think this is unlikely.

    3
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    The Diminishing Market Impact Of Tariffs

    After the US imposed its first major round of tariffs on Chinese goods last September, the S&P 500 sold off by -20%. After the second round went into force, it fell -6.8%. And since President Trump announced a third round, it has sold off by -6.1%. It seems each successive escalation in the trade war is having a smaller impact on the US stock market.

    2
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    The Long Term Impact Of Trump’s Latest Tariffs

    Aftershocks from Donald Trump’s August 1 tweets promising new tariffs on US imports from China continued to reverberate through Asian markets on Monday morning. Most notably, China’s yuan fell by some -1.3%, with the USD-CNY exchange rate breezing unimpeded by the Chinese authorities through the CNY7.00 to the US dollar mark for the first time since early 2008. Equity markets in the region were also hard hit, with Japan down -2% and Hong Kong...

    0
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    Strategy Monthly: Focus On The Fed, Not On US Tariff Threats

    Trade war fears are once again front and center of investors' minds. But the reduced magnitude of pledged US tariffs indicates that Trump is anxious to avoid damaging the US economy and financial markets. This leaves the focus on the Fed, and how much it is likely to cut interest rates.

    0
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    Unpicking US 2Q GDP

    Second quarter US GDP growth came in at 2.1%, slightly better than expectations. In itself, this headline figure is not especially illuminating. But dig deeper into the various components of 2Q growth, and there are reasons for moderate optimism about the trajectory of the US economy through the second half of 2019.

    4
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    The Future Of Big Tech

    Big Tech is in the US government’s cross-hairs. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple face probes into their behavior, and legislation is in the works to clip their wings. The question for investors is: How serious will the stand-off with the government get and will a prolonged downturn in tech spark a broader decline in the US equity market?

    0
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    Housing Points To Solid US Growth

    US mortgage applications fell in the week ended July 12, compared with the week before. But do not be misled by the latest week-on-week decline in this high frequency data series. In year-on-year terms, mortgage applications for home purchases have been rising consistently since the beginning of 2019, pointing to a rise in housing construction over the coming months.

    0
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    Why This Time Is Different

    The evolution of the yield curve over the last four months—an inversion after a series of Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, followed by a rapid steepening—has been characteristic of the early stages of the last four US recessions. However, investors worried that the US economy may already be in recession can relax.

    4
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    Look For Just One-And-Done

    In Congressional testimony on Wednesday, Jay Powell cooed just like the dove investors want him to be. The Fed chairman dispelled any lingering doubts that either the end-June trade truce between the US and China or June’s strong US payrolls number will dissuade the Fed from cutting interest rates at the end of July.

    0
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    The Direction Of The Dollar

    The US dollar’s strength over the last year or so has been attributed in large part to expectations that the US administration would impose additional tariffs on imports from China. So, with those expectations on hold following last week’s agreement to resume trade negotiations, you might think the US dollar should be falling.

    0
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    The Focus Turns To The Fed

    After the de-escalation of the US-China economic cold war at the weekend’s G20 summit in Osaka, all eyes are now on the US Federal Reserve, following policymakers’ recent indications that they are ready to cut interest rates. It could be argued that the trade war ceasefire reduces economic risk, and therefore will leave the Fed less inclined to loosen policy. But the Fed’s primary focus is on inflation expectations, and the degree to which they...

    2
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    The Story Behind Low US Volatility

    When Donald Trump declared his trade war against China in the spring of 2018, investors could have been forgiven for expecting the resulting uncertainty and additional economic friction to add both to US equity market and GDP growth volatility. In fact, equity market volatility has generally been low, and US economic growth has remained stable.

    0
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    Don't Worry About The US Consumer

    There is a schizophrenic quality to commentary on the health of the US consumer. On the bright side, sentiment readings are cheery and the labor market is generally solid. Yet on the other hand, Cassandras point to rising credit card delinquency rates, and weakness in sales of autos and homes as early signals of a recession. So what gives?

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