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Bitcoin Back Below $30,000 After A Record 8 Weeks In The Red

Bitcoin decoupled from equity markets to the downside on Monday after ending last week as the eighth consecutive weekly loss.

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Bitcoin decoupled from equity markets to the downside on Monday after ending last week as the eighth consecutive weekly loss.

Bitcoin has failed to hold the $30,000 level on Monday after scoring its eighth consecutive week in the red for the first time ever.

During these eight weeks, which began in late March and ended on Sunday, bitcoin has lost over 35% of its U.S. dollar value according to TradingView data. Before the beginning of the losing streak, BTC was trading at around $46,800.

Bitcoin has scored losses for eight consecutive weeks for the first time in its history and it is starting the ninth with yet another red candle. Image source: TradingView.

Bitcoin is changing hands slightly below $30,000 at the time of writing. The peer-to-peer currency climbed as high as $30,600 earlier on Monday to trade at around $29,400 as the trading in equity markets nears its end in New York.

While bitcoin turns south, major U.S. stock indices have been in the green. The Nasdaq, which is said to be highly correlated with bitcoin, decoupled from the digital money along with the S&P 500 to denote modest gains near market close on Monday, per TradingView data.

While bitcoin, Nasdaq and S&P 500 were trading in tandem for some time on Monday, the P2P currency saw a sharp sell-off decouple it from the two indices and take it to a more than 3% loss for the day. Image source: TradingView.

A Tough Year For Bitcoin

Despite making two new all-time highs in 2021, bitcoin already erased nearly all of those gains in 2022.

Bitcoin’s choppy trading year so far can be partly attributed to a broader sentiment of economic uncertainty as the Federal Reserve tightens the U.S. economy, withdrawing liquidity from the market after almost two years of quantitative easing.

The central bank has already raised its basic interest rates two times this year, the last of which was double the magnitude of the previous one and represented the largest hike in two decades: While the Fed increased interest rates by 0.25% in March, it raised them by 0.50% earlier this month.

Image source: Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED).

When the Fed raises or lowers interest rates through its Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), what it is actually doing is setting a target range. The graph above depicts the lower and upper bounds of that target range in red and blue, respectively.

While the U.S. central bank system sets the target, it cannot mandate that commercial banks use it — rather, it serves as a recommendation. Therefore, what banks end up using for lending and borrowing excess cash between them overnight is called the effective rate. This is shown by the green line in the graph above.

The Fed previously hiked interest rates consistently from 2016 to 2019, until plunging it near zero in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, as noted in the graph.

Bitcoin’s higher sensitivity to liquidity and therefore interest rates can be explained by a greater participation of institutional investors in the market, whose allocations are based on the availability of capital and broader economic conditions, Morgan Stanley reportedly said.

Therefore, while Bitcoin was able to sustain a bull market in the midst of the Fed increasing interest rates in 2017, raising nearly 2,000% from January to December that year, the odds aren’t on the side of the bulls this year.

For two weeks, bitcoin has now closed below a level of weekly support it formed over a year ago and had respected since, indicating it might be turning into a zone of resistance. Image source: TradingView.

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Zillow Case-Shiller Forecast for May: Slowing House Price Growth

The Case-Shiller house price indexes for April were released this week. The “April” report is a 3-month average including February, March and April closings.  So, this included price increases when mortgage rates were significantly lower than today. Th…

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The Case-Shiller house price indexes for April were released this week. The "April" report is a 3-month average including February, March and April closings.  So, this included price increases when mortgage rates were significantly lower than today. This report includes some homes with contracts signed last December (that closed in February)!

Zillow forecasts Case-Shiller a month early, and I like to check the Zillow forecasts since they have been pretty close.

From Zillow Research: April 2022 Case-Shiller Results & Forecast: Putting on the Brakes
With rates continuing their steep ascent and inventory picking up in months since, April is likely the first month of this deceleration as buyers balked at the cost of purchasing a home and pulled out of the market, leading to slower price growth. While inventory is improving, there is still plenty of room to go before it reaches its pre-pandemic trend. Still, coupled with relatively strong demand, that will continue to be a driver for sustained high prices even as sales volume is dropping in response to affordability constraints. As a result, more buyers will take a step to the sidelines in the coming months, which will help inventory to recover and price growth to slow from its peak, leading the market back to a more balanced stable state in the long run and providing more future opportunities for homeownership for those priced out today.

Annual home price growth as reported by Case-Shiller are expected to slow in all three indices. Monthly appreciation in May is expected to decelerate from April in both city indices, and hold in the national index. S&P Dow Jones Indices is expected to release data for the May S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices on Tuesday, July 26.
emphasis added
The Zillow forecast is for the year-over-year change for the Case-Shiller National index to be 19.5% in May. This is slightly slower than in February, March and April, but still very strong YoY growth.

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Spread & Containment

Airline stocks have been beset by external problems but could now be a good time to invest in a sector many think is in crisis?

It’s fair to say it has been a tough couple of years for the commercial aviation sector and investors in airline stocks. In 2019 the sector enjoyed record…

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It’s fair to say it has been a tough couple of years for the commercial aviation sector and investors in airline stocks. In 2019 the sector enjoyed record passenger numbers and 2020 was expected to be better yet. Low cost airlines were expanding aggressively, as they had been for years, and national carriers, in response, had made strides in cutting costs and introducing other efficiencies.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck, devastating the sector. Over the early part of the pandemic when international travel was severely restricted, airlines operated skeleton schedules. Severely reduced capacity, and schedules regularly interrupted by new lockdowns and shifting government policies bedevilled the sector for the next two years.

Even over the past few months which have seen most pandemic-related travel restrictions drop, a spate of new problems has hampered the sector’s recovery. Staff shortages, the result of a combination of the continuing need for those that become infected with Covid-19 to isolate and a tight labour market, have been a major headache. London-listed easyJet recently cut its capacity forecasts as a result of staffing issues.

And last week over 700 Heathrow airport staff voted to strike over the peak summer period, which promises chaos, and hundreds of cancelled flights, if an agreement can’t be reached over pay in the meanwhile. Staff at three Spanish airports are also calling for industrial action this summer and strikes are a threat elsewhere around Europe’s favourite holiday destinations.

Sky high fuel costs will also put pressure on margins this summer and potentially well into next year and a growing cost of living crisis sparked by inflation levels at 40-year highs will not help demand.

Airline share prices have predictably slumped since the onset of the pandemic. EasyJet’s valuation is down over 50% in the past year and over 75% since summer 2018. Its shares haven’t been worth as little as they currently are since early January 2012.

easyjet plc

Hope on the horizon?

But despite the fact the immediate future still looks tough for airlines, there are a number of reasons why investors might consider dipping into their stocks now or in the months ahead.

The first is that the bulk of the problems that have crushed airline valuations over the past couple of years have been external factors outwith control and unrelated to the underlying quality of companies. They are also all problems that are expected to be temporary and will ease in future. Covid-19 restrictions are, with the notable exception of China, no longer a big issue and hopefully won’t return. And even China recently reduced its mandatory quarantine period for anyone arriving in the country from two weeks to seven days.

That’s still problematic but a sign that an end to the dark cloud of the pandemic may finally be in sight. Most airlines were forced to either take on significant new debt or raise cash through equity issues that diluted existing shareholders, or through mechanisms such as selling and leasing back aircraft.

It will take time for that gearing to be unwound and balance sheets brought back to health. But the sector will eventually recover from the pandemic which should see higher valuations return, providing a buying opportunity at current depressed levels.

Airlines that have come out of the pandemic in the strongest positions will also likely gain market share from weaker rivals, improving their future prospects. British Airways owner IAG, for example, currently has access to more than £10 billion in cash after raising capital to cover losses over the pandemic. EasyJet has access to £4.4 billion. That means both should be well placed to cover any continuing short term losses until passenger numbers return to 2019 levels and push their advantage over less well-capitalised rivals.

Both IAG and easyJet have also seen their passenger capacity improve significantly in recent months. Over the all-important summer quarter to September, the latter expects its passenger capacity to reach 90% of 2019 levels despite the ongoing operational challenges. IAG expects to return to 90% of 2019 capacity over the last quarter of the year.

A full recovery to 2019 levels is possible by next year even if higher costs are likely to mean ticket price increases are inevitable. That does pose a risk for near-term leisure travel demand but there is confidence that remaining pent-up demand from the pandemic period will help soften the impact on discretionary spending on international travel that might have otherwise been more pronounced. Western consumers have also, the pandemic period apart, become so accustomed to taking foreign holidays that some analysts now question if they should still be considered discretionary spending rather than a staple.

Despite the transient and external nature of the problems that have hit easyJet’s valuation, not all analysts are convinced the current share price offers good value even despite its depressed level. They still look relatively expensive given the risks still facing the sector at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of close to x160.

iag

IAG could offer better value, currently trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of just x5.8 for next year. It is also expected to reverse return to a healthy profit by 2023. The company also has exposure to the budget airline market through Vueling and Aer Lingus and while it abandoned its move to take over Air Europa late last year it shows it has ambitions to further expand in this area. And it has plenty of capital available to it to make major acquisitions that could fuel growth when the sector recovers.

IAG’s cheap valuation does reflect the risks it faces over the next couple of years but for investors willing to take on a little more risk the potential upside looks attractive.

A dollar-denominated airline stock play

On the other side of the Atlantic, American airlines also suffered during the pandemic but are now recovering strongly. For British investors, dollar-denominated U.S. stocks also offer the attraction of potential gains in pound sterling terms as a result of a strengthening U.S. dollar. The Fed’s more aggressive raising of interest rates compared to the ECB or Bank of England is boosting the dollar against the pound and euro and it is also benefitting from its safe haven status during a period of economic stress.

One U.S. airline that looks particularly interesting right new is Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest low cost carrier. The USA’s domestic travel market has recovered so strongly this year that Southwest expects its Q2 revenues to be 10% higher than those over the same three months in 2019. It’s already profitable again and earnings per share are forecast to come in at $2.67 for 2022 and then leap to $3.84 in 2023. It’s a much more profitable operator than easyHet.

It also, unusually for an American airline, hedges a lot of its oil. That’s expected to see it achieve much better operating margins this year, predicted to reach 15.5% in Q2,  than other airlines being hit by much higher fuel costs. The company isn’t immune to the risk of the impact the inflationary squeeze could have on leisure travel but is seen as one of the most resilient airlines in the sector. It could be a better bet than either of its two London-listed peers.

The post Airline stocks have been beset by external problems but could now be a good time to invest in a sector many think is in crisis? first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Falling VIX Spells BIG Trouble For The Bears

If there’s one thing that a bear market – secular or cyclical – feeds on, it’s fear. The further the drop, the bigger the spike we see in the Volatility…

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If there's one thing that a bear market - secular or cyclical - feeds on, it's fear. The further the drop, the bigger the spike we see in the Volatility Index ($VIX). From the CBOE.com website, the VIX "measures the level of expected volatility of the S&P 500 Index over the next 30 days that is implied in the bid/ask quotations of S&P options. Thus, the VIX is a forward-looking measure..." So let's be clear about this. The VIX does NOT measure what's happening now or what just happened last week. Instead, it looks forward to determine expected volatility. High volatility is generally associated with falling equity prices and low volatility typically accompanies rising equity prices.

As fear dissipates, expected volatility drops, and bear markets end. That's the historical formula. Let's start off by looking back to the financial crisis in 2008 and how the spiking VIX unfolded:

The VIX topped in October 2008 and though the S&P 500 hit two lower price points, the bear market ran out of sellers as fear came tumbling down in late 2008 and into the first quarter of 2009.

During the market turbulence in 2014-2016, we saw a somewhat similar pattern:

Q4 2018 was a very short cyclical bear market (less than 3 months), as was the pandemic-led selling in March 2020 (4 weeks), so there really wasn't much time to evaluate the VIX at various low points, but currently we're seeing a similar pattern in the cyclical bear market of 2022:

But the action on the VIX was really strange this week. The S&P 500 saw selling pressure once again, yet the VIX finished very close to a 3-week low. Check out this 1-month 30-minute chart:

From mid-day on Thursday through the early morning Friday, the S&P 500 fell from 3820 to 3750 and the VIX was dropping right along with it. That's extremely unusual behavior. The VIX is looking ahead and it's pricing in less volatility. That suggests that we're being given a signal of a rally ahead. That's the reason the VIX goes down. Less volatility means higher equity prices.

We're heading into a fresh quarterly earnings season and I'll be featuring one company that I believe is poised to make a big run into its quarterly earnings report later this month. To read about it in our next newsletter article, simply CLICK HERE and sign up for our FREE EB Digest newsletter. It only takes a name and email address. There is no credit card required and you may unsubscribe at any time.

Happy trading!

Tom



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