It’s the start of the lunar negative fortnight today. I think this lunar downward pressure can be realised in price action in US equities, for these reasons.
1. Bonds may put in a rally here. Yields look to be arching over.
2. Rydex equities involvement and sentiment at contrarian levels:
3. Diverging bullish percent over call put ratio – note the previous occurences here:
4. Breadth divergence. There are a few indicators showing this such as % stocks above 50MA, Mclellan Summation index, and, here, advance-declines (making a double top versus the higher high in equity prices):
No devastating decline in overall market internals. but enough to warrant a pullback. Countering this, the latest economic surprises, service PMI and manufacturing PMI, and overall earnings beat rate for the US have all been good. For a cyclical stock market top, we would need to start seeing some degradation in such data. However, if this is a topping process, then I expect we are only in the middle of it at this point, with a last push up to come ahead into September (assuming a decline can be realised over the next 2 weeks). By September I would then expect to see some macro reasons emerging to complete a topping process in equities.
I have doubled my short position on the Dow today and have specifically tallked about and targeted US equities because of the current divergence around the globe. The latest Markit PMIs really showed a vast difference between emerging and developed economies. Sober Look suggests this spread in economic cycle positioning:
UK and Eurozone are looking particularly impressive and USA ticking along nicely. Australia has suffered since China lost momentum, and its central bank reduced rates again this week. This is the collective picture for the major central banks:
Source: Action Forex
Despite the QE tapering talk in the US, the graphic shows that we are still in an era of easing, with interest rate reduction still being pursued. As you know, I believe demographic trends are the source of the global economic weakness, ensuring we will be in an era of negligible rates for some time. Maybe the Fed will start to taper as early as next month, but I believe an end to QE and a renewed rate-increase policy will not be seen soon.
So, China has cracked, in my opinion, since its demographic trends reversed circa 2010. Those developing nations that boomed directly as China partners and those commodity-economies that benefitted from the long rising trends in commodity prices (through China demand) are currently suffering. This would include Brazil and Russia. India’s issues have been more internal and it needs reforms to help realise its demographic potential.
For most of the 2000s, this China plus emerging markets story was the fuel for the global economy, but now we are looking back towards the developed world to take the batton. Unfortunately, the US and Europe have significant demographic headwinds. I therefore don’t believe that we are now going to see sustained growth in the West. I continue to believe that either another rally in commodities will tip the world into a global recession, or the world is heading that way in a deflationary trend.
And that remains the key question for my account. Will my commodities longs prosper, or continue to sink? Right now, the commodities indices are potentially carving out a higher low than late June, which could spell an end to their downtrend. I believe this is the time for that to occur, because of my belief that equities are in a topping process. Historically they should now outperform and largely act as late cyclicals. I see this next month as critical for commodities. If they cannot make a higher low than June at this point, paricularly as the USD weakens, then it would look bearish for commodities.
Here is corn, showing a potential rally set up.
And copper looks to be breaking out following a month-long basing pattern.
To draw the above themes together, can emerging markets strengthen into year-end, positively-infected by current developed economy performance? If so, the commodities rally would appear more likely. If on the other hand developed markets begin to join emerging economies in weakness, then a deflationary downdraft would be more likely. The wildcards remain the solar cycle (if the peak is ahead, then a speculative push in commodities could occur with increased geopolitical conflict an associated input) and climate (drought, flood and very high historical temperatures remain very much in play – it depends whether we see a devastating coming-together at the critical time and global location for agricultural crops).
OECD leading indicators just released today are more supportive to the first scenario of emerging markets strengthening and joining developed nations, with Russia stabilising and India improving: