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Market Corrects As COVID Cases Surge 06-26-20

Market Corrects As COVID Cases Surge 06-26-20



In this issue of “Market Corrects As COVID Cases Surge.”

  • Market Holds Bullish Support
  • From Bubble, To Bust, To Bubble
  • The Problem With 2-Year Forecasts
  • A Bearish Pattern Remains
  • Portfolio Positioning
  • MacroView: Rationalizing High Valuations Won’t Improve Outcomes
  • Sector & Market Analysis
  • 401k Plan Manager

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Catch Up On What You Missed Last Week


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If you have any questions, I will continue to answer every question, every day. That is between sleeping on the beach, fishing, skiing, or eating. 

Market Corrects As COVID Cases Surge

Three overriding catalysts were driving the correction this past week:

  1. The market had gotten a good bit ahead of fundamentals.
  2. The surge in COVID cases is undermining the V-Shaped recovery narrative.
  3. End of the quarter portfolio rebalancing, which managers postponed in March.

We will go through each of these in more detail. However, let’s start with where we left off last week and update our risk/reward ranges.

Currently, the risk/reward dynamics have become slightly less favorable. The good news is that the 50-dma and 200-dma are so close there is strong support short-term. Such should give the bulls a bit of optimism. However, a breakdown below that level and things will get ugly quickly.

  • -2.2% to consolidation highs vs. +3.1% to the top of the current downtrend. (Positive)
  • -8.9% to previous consolidation lows vs. +7.7% to previous rally peak (Negative)
  • -13.1% to March bounce peak vs. +12% to all-time highs. (Negative)
  • -18.4% to April 5th lows vs. +12% to all-time highs. (Negative)

As shown, with the sell-off on Friday, the short-term oversold condition, a reflexive rally next week would not be surprising. Given that COVID concerns are escalating, it may be wise to use any rally to reduce risk further and increase hedges.

The Market Is Well Ahead Of Fundamentals

Part of the correction over the last two weeks is coming partially from the realignment of stocks back to reality. We specifically mentioned some of the more visible issues last week, but it was interesting to watch the “Daytraders Favorites” crash back to Earth (No pun intended.)

As we addressed on Tuesday, it is hard to justify paying current valuations.

“Furthermore, given the depth of the economic crisis, 49-million unemployed, collapsing wages and incomes, and a resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases, estimates are still too high. During previous economic downturns, earnings collapsed between 50% and 85%. It is highly optimistic, given the current backdrop, that earnings will only decline by 20%.”

fully invested bears, Technically Speaking: Unicorns, Rainbows, & Fully Invested Bears

6-Downside Risks

With States now beginning to back off of reopening plans, it is highly likely current earnings estimates will need to be guided lower over the next couple of months.

The most significant risk to investors currently is a “reliance on certainty” about future outcomes, when, in reality, there is no certainty at all. As Mike Shedlock pointed out just recently, there are numerous risks still present.

Six Downside Risks 

  1. The future progression of the pandemic remains highly uncertain.
  2. The collapse in demand may ultimately bankrupt many businesses.
  3. Unlike past recessions, services activity has dropped more sharply than manufacturing—with restrictions on movement severely curtailing expenditures on travel, tourism, restaurants, and recreation and social-distancing requirements and attitudes may further weigh on the recovery in these sectors. 
  4. Disruptions to global trade may result in a costly reconfiguration of global supply chains. 
  5. Persistently weak consumer and firm demand may push medium- and longer-term inflation expectations well below central bank targets.
  6. Additional expansionary fiscal policies— possibly in response to future large-scale outbreaks of COVID-19—could significantly increase government debt and add to sovereign risk.”

Again, the market is trading well ahead of underlying fundamentals. While the “Fed Put” may indeed put a “floor” below stocks, that doesn’t mean they can’t correct to realign with economic and fundamental realities.

COVID Makes A Second Appearance

As we discussed previously, the market rallied from the March lows based on 4-underlying premises:

  1. There would be no second-wave of the virus.
  2. There would be a vaccine available by year-end. 
  3. The economy would fully recover back to pre-pandemic levels.
  4. And, of course, “The Fed.”

While the bullish fantasy indeed prevailed over the last couple of months, suddenly, the world has shifted. The hope was that cases in the U.S. would slow into the fall before the potential onset of a “second wave” during a more traditional “flu season.” Unfortunately, the spike in cases in the still ongoing “first wave” will delay economic recovery longer.

In Texas, where I live, the Governor has shut-down bars again, is keeping businesses at reduced capacity, and potentially will reverse more if needed.

My wife went to the doctor recently for a test, and she received the “ole’ swap up the nose.” While the test came back negative. The doctor told my wife that COVID lives in the lungs and not the nasal cavity. Therefore, while her test was negative, it could be a false negative. If the doctor is correct, the real numbers of infected could be 10x higher. Such confirms a recent Reuters article:

“Government experts believe more than 20 million Americans could have contracted the coronavirus, 10-times more than official counts, indicating many people without symptoms have or have had the disease, senior administration officials said.

The estimate, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is based on serology testing used to determine the presence of antibodies that show whether an individual has had the disease, the officials said.”

If true, the ramifications could substantially impair the bullish thesis.

Timing Couldn’t Be Worse

Without a bill to extend more Federal Aid via Payroll Protection Programs and increased unemployment benefits, the ongoing restriction on trade will likely lead to a further surge in bankruptcies and layoffs.

“According to Bloomberg data, no less than 13 U.S. companies sought bankruptcy protection last week, matching the global financial crisis’s peak. The filings, led by the perennially weak consumer and energy sectors, were the most for any week since May 2009.”

There is a virtual spiral between job losses and bankruptcies. As more individuals lose their jobs, they have less to spend. Since consumption is what drives earnings for businesses, they have to lay off workers to stay in business. Pay attention to the “continuing claims,” which will tell the story of the economic recovery. (That doesn’t look like a “V”)

End Of The Quarter Rebalancing

There was one other factor which has weighed on stocks this past week, which was noted recently by Zerohedge:

“When adding all the other possible sources of the month- and quarter-end forced rebalancing, the total amount ‘for sale’ soars to an unprecedented $170 billion according to calculations by JPMorgan.

In the latest Flows and Liquidity report from JPM’s Nikolas Panagirtzoglou, writes that after correctly pointing out at the market lows on March 23rd that there is a massive $1.1 trillion in rebalancing flow into equities, all of that has since balanced out, and three months later, we are looking at a substantial outflow of about $170BN before month-end, resulting in a ‘small correction.'”

This rebalancing of portfolios was postponed by pension and mutual funds in March as they did not want to sell at market lows. That decision worked out well then, but now they need to rebalance portfolios by selling equities and buying bonds. We can see this action by looking at the performance between the S&P 500 index and Treasury Bonds over the last two weeks.

This rotation is either likely close to completion, or will complete early next week. As we stated previously, this is why we hedge our equity portfolios with fixed income. The risk offset reduces downside volatility and allows the portfolio to weather tough patches in the market.

With the market very oversold short-term, it would not be surprising to see a reasonably decent reflexive rally into the start of July. However, that rally will likely be an excellent opportunity to rebalance risk and rethink exposures accordingly.

Portfolio Positioning Update

As stated last week, with our portfolios almost entirely allocated towards equity risk in the short-term, we remain incredibly uncomfortable.

Our positioning in fixed income and gold has hedged the portfolio against the latest decline in the very short-term. Still, with the market getting very oversold short-term, as shown below, we expect a reflexive rally off of current support next week.

Most likely, we will use any counter-trend bounce to reduce equity risk a bit, rebalance exposures, and focus our attention on capital preservation for the next couple of months. With the virus resurfacing, the potential risk of disappointment to the earnings and economic recovery story has risen.

While it is easy for the mainstream media to write articles and post comments about the markets, it is an entirely different matter when you manage money. Currently, there is a battle raging between the fundamental and “hope” driven narratives.

On the one hand, it’s easy to see the fundamental problems in the market and the economy, which argues for much less risk exposure. However, on the other, you have the Fed and a Government, ready to throw money at, and “jawbone,” the markets at a moment’s notice.

Trying to navigate the two is like trying to thread a needle, in a moving car, on a bumpy road, with your eyes closed. Given we aren’t prescient, we will have to resign ourselves to doing the best job we can for our clients with the information we have available.

That is a fancy way of saying, “we are going to give it our best guess.”

The goal remains the same as always, protect our client’s capital, reduce risk, and try to come out on the other side in one piece.

Sometimes, however, it just gets messy.

The MacroView

If you need help or have questions, we are always glad to help. Just email me.

See You Next Week

By Lance Roberts, CIO

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The post Market Corrects As COVID Cases Surge 06-26-20 appeared first on RIA.

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Copper Soars, Iron Ore Tumbles As Goldman Says “Copper’s Time Is Now”

Copper Soars, Iron Ore Tumbles As Goldman Says "Copper’s Time Is Now"

After languishing for the past two years in a tight range despite recurring…



Copper Soars, Iron Ore Tumbles As Goldman Says "Copper's Time Is Now"

After languishing for the past two years in a tight range despite recurring speculation about declining global supply, copper has finally broken out, surging to the highest price in the past year, just shy of $9,000 a ton as supply cuts hit the market; At the same time the price of the world's "other" most important mined commodity has diverged, as iron ore has tumbled amid growing demand headwinds out of China's comatose housing sector where not even ghost cities are being built any more.

Copper surged almost 5% this week, ending a months-long spell of inertia, as investors focused on risks to supply at various global mines and smelters. As Bloomberg adds, traders also warmed to the idea that the worst of a global downturn is in the past, particularly for metals like copper that are increasingly used in electric vehicles and renewables.

Yet the commodity crash of recent years is hardly over, as signs of the headwinds in traditional industrial sectors are still all too obvious in the iron ore market, where futures fell below $100 a ton for the first time in seven months on Friday as investors bet that China’s years-long property crisis will run through 2024, keeping a lid on demand.

Indeed, while the mood surrounding copper has turned almost euphoric, sentiment on iron ore has soured since the conclusion of the latest National People’s Congress in Beijing, where the CCP set a 5% goal for economic growth, but offered few new measures that would boost infrastructure or other construction-intensive sectors.

As a result, the main steelmaking ingredient has shed more than 30% since early January as hopes of a meaningful revival in construction activity faded. Loss-making steel mills are buying less ore, and stockpiles are piling up at Chinese ports. The latest drop will embolden those who believe that the effects of President Xi Jinping’s property crackdown still have significant room to run, and that last year’s rally in iron ore may have been a false dawn.

Meanwhile, as Bloomberg notes, on Friday there were fresh signs that weakness in China’s industrial economy is hitting the copper market too, with stockpiles tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange surging to the highest level since the early days of the pandemic. The hope is that headwinds in traditional industrial areas will be offset by an ongoing surge in usage in electric vehicles and renewables.

And while industrial conditions in Europe and the US also look soft, there’s growing optimism about copper usage in India, where rising investment has helped fuel blowout growth rates of more than 8% — making it the fastest-growing major economy.

In any case, with the demand side of the equation still questionable, the main catalyst behind copper’s powerful rally is an unexpected tightening in global mine supplies, driven mainly by last year’s closure of a giant mine in Panama (discussed here), but there are also growing worries about output in Zambia, which is facing an El Niño-induced power crisis.

On Wednesday, copper prices jumped on huge volumes after smelters in China held a crisis meeting on how to cope with a sharp drop in processing fees following disruptions to supplies of mined ore. The group stopped short of coordinated production cuts, but pledged to re-arrange maintenance work, reduce runs and delay the startup of new projects. In the coming weeks investors will be watching Shanghai exchange inventories closely to gauge both the strength of demand and the extent of any capacity curtailments.

“The increase in SHFE stockpiles has been bigger than we’d anticipated, but we expect to see them coming down over the next few weeks,” Colin Hamilton, managing director for commodities research at BMO Capital Markets, said by phone. “If the pace of the inventory builds doesn’t start to slow, investors will start to question whether smelters are actually cutting and whether the impact of weak construction activity is starting to weigh more heavily on the market.”

* * *

Few have been as happy with the recent surge in copper prices as Goldman's commodity team, where copper has long been a preferred trade (even if it may have cost the former team head Jeff Currie his job due to his unbridled enthusiasm for copper in the past two years which saw many hedge fund clients suffer major losses).

As Goldman's Nicholas Snowdon writes in a note titled "Copper's time is now" (available to pro subscribers in the usual place)...

... there has been a "turn in the industrial cycle." Specifically according to the Goldman analyst, after a prolonged downturn, "incremental evidence now points to a bottoming out in the industrial cycle, with the global manufacturing PMI in expansion for the first time since September 2022." As a result, Goldman now expects copper to rise to $10,000/t by year-end and then $12,000/t by end of Q1-25.’

Here are the details:

Previous inflexions in global manufacturing cycles have been associated with subsequent sustained industrial metals upside, with copper and aluminium rising on average 25% and 9% over the next 12 months. Whilst seasonal surpluses have so far limited a tightening alignment at a micro level, we expect deficit inflexions to play out from quarter end, particularly for metals with severe supply binds. Supplemented by the influence of anticipated Fed easing ahead in a non-recessionary growth setting, another historically positive performance factor for metals, this should support further upside ahead with copper the headline act in this regard.

Goldman then turns to what it calls China's "green policy put":

Much of the recent focus on the “Two Sessions” event centred on the lack of significant broad stimulus, and in particular the limited property support. In our view it would be wrong – just as in 2022 and 2023 – to assume that this will result in weak onshore metals demand. Beijing’s emphasis on rapid growth in the metals intensive green economy, as an offset to property declines, continues to act as a policy put for green metals demand. After last year’s strong trends, evidence year-to-date is again supportive with aluminium and copper apparent demand rising 17% and 12% y/y respectively. Moreover, the potential for a ‘cash for clunkers’ initiative could provide meaningful right tail risk to that healthy demand base case. Yet there are also clear metal losers in this divergent policy setting, with ongoing pressure on property related steel demand generating recent sharp iron ore downside.

Meanwhile, Snowdon believes that the driver behind Goldman's long-running bullish view on copper - a global supply shock - continues:

Copper’s supply shock progresses. The metal with most significant upside potential is copper, in our view. The supply shock which began with aggressive concentrate destocking and then sharp mine supply downgrades last year, has now advanced to an increasing bind on metal production, as reflected in this week's China smelter supply rationing signal. With continued positive momentum in China's copper demand, a healthy refined import trend should generate a substantial ex-China refined deficit this year. With LME stocks having halved from Q4 peak, China’s imminent seasonal demand inflection should accelerate a path into extreme tightness by H2. Structural supply underinvestment, best reflected in peak mine supply we expect next year, implies that demand destruction will need to be the persistent solver on scarcity, an effect requiring substantially higher pricing than current, in our view. In this context, we maintain our view that the copper price will surge into next year (GSe 2025 $15,000/t average), expecting copper to rise to $10,000/t by year-end and then $12,000/t by end of Q1-25’

Another reason why Goldman is doubling down on its bullish copper outlook: gold.

The sharp rally in gold price since the beginning of March has ended the period of consolidation that had been present since late December. Whilst the initial catalyst for the break higher came from a (gold) supportive turn in US data and real rates, the move has been significantly amplified by short term systematic buying, which suggests less sticky upside. In this context, we expect gold to consolidate for now, with our economists near term view on rates and the dollar suggesting limited near-term catalysts for further upside momentum. Yet, a substantive retracement lower will also likely be limited by resilience in physical buying channels. Nonetheless, in the midterm we continue to hold a constructive view on gold underpinned by persistent strength in EM demand as well as eventual Fed easing, which should crucially reactivate the largely for now dormant ETF buying channel. In this context, we increase our average gold price forecast for 2024 from $2,090/toz to $2,180/toz, targeting a move to $2,300/toz by year-end.

Much more in the full Goldman note available to pro subs.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/15/2024 - 14:25

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Moderna turns the spotlight on long Covid with new initiatives

Moderna’s latest Covid effort addresses the often-overlooked chronic condition of long Covid — and encourages vaccination to reduce risks. A digital…



Moderna’s latest Covid effort addresses the often-overlooked chronic condition of long Covid — and encourages vaccination to reduce risks. A digital campaign debuted Friday along with a co-sponsored event in Detroit offering free CT scans, which will also be used in ongoing long Covid research.

In a new video, a young woman describes her three-year battle with long Covid, which includes losing her job, coping with multiple debilitating symptoms and dealing with the negative effects on her family. She ends by saying, “The only way to prevent long Covid is to not get Covid” along with an on-screen message about where to find Covid-19 vaccines through the website.

Kate Cronin

“Last season we saw people would get a flu shot, but they didn’t always get a Covid shot,” said Moderna’s Chief Brand Officer Kate Cronin. “People should get their flu shot, but they should also get their Covid shot. There’s no risk of long flu, but there is the risk of long-term effects of Covid.”

It’s Moderna’s “first effort to really sound the alarm,” she said, and the debut coincides with the second annual Long Covid Awareness Day.

An estimated 17.6 million Americans are living with long Covid, according to the latest CDC data. About four million of them are out of work because of the condition, resulting in an estimated $170 billion in lost wages.

While HHS anted up $45 million in grants last year to expand long Covid support initiatives along with public health campaigns, the condition is still often ignored and underfunded.

“It’s not just about the initial infection of Covid, but also if you get it multiple times, your risks goes up significantly,” Cronin said. “It’s important that people understand that.”

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Consequences Minus Truth

Consequences Minus Truth

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

“People crave trust in others, because God is found there.”




Consequences Minus Truth

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

“People crave trust in others, because God is found there.”

- Dom de Bailleul

The rewards of civilization have come to seem rather trashy in these bleak days of late empire; so, why even bother pretending to be civilized? This appears to be the ethos driving our politics and culture now. But driving us where? Why, to a spectacular sort of crack-up, and at warp speed, compared to the more leisurely breakdown of past societies that arrived at a similar inflection point where Murphy’s Law replaced the rule of law.

The US Military Academy at West point decided to “upgrade” its mission statement this week by deleting the phrase Duty, Honor, Country that summarized its essential moral orientation. They replaced it with an oblique reference to “Army Values,” without spelling out what these values are, exactly, which could range from “embrace the suck” to “charlie foxtrot” to “FUBAR” — all neatly applicable to our country’s current state of perplexity and dread.

Are you feeling more confident that the US military can competently defend our country? Probably more like the opposite, because the manipulation of language is being used deliberately to turn our country inside-out and upside-down. At this point we probably could not successfully pacify a Caribbean island if we had to, and you’ve got to wonder what might happen if we have to contend with countless hostile subversive cadres who have slipped across the border with the estimated nine-million others ushered in by the government’s welcome wagon.

Momentous events await. This Monday, the Supreme Court will entertain oral arguments on the case Missouri, et al. v. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al. The integrity of the First Amendment hinges on the decision. Do we have freedom of speech as set forth in the Constitution? Or is it conditional on how government officials feel about some set of circumstances? At issue specifically is the government’s conduct in coercing social media companies to censor opinion in order to suppress so-called “vaccine hesitancy” and to manipulate public debate in the 2020 election. Government lawyers have argued that they were merely “communicating” with Twitter, Facebook, Google, and others about “public health disinformation and election conspiracies.”

You can reasonably suppose that this was our government’s effort to disable the truth, especially as it conflicted with its own policy and activities — from supporting BLM riots to enabling election fraud to mandating dubious vaccines. Former employees of the FBI and the CIA were directly implanted in social media companies to oversee the carrying-out of censorship orders from their old headquarters. The former general counsel (top lawyer) for the FBI, James Baker, slid unnoticed into the general counsel seat at Twitter until Elon Musk bought the company late in 2022 and flushed him out. The so-called Twitter Files uncovered by indy reporters Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, and others, produced reams of emails from FBI officials nagging Twitter execs to de-platform people and bury their dissent. You can be sure these were threats, not mere suggestions.

One of the plaintiffs joined to Missouri v. Biden is Dr. Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician and professor at the Harvard Medical School, who opposed Covid-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates. He was one of the authors of the open letter called The Great Barrington Declaration (October, 2020) that articulated informed medical dissent for a bamboozled public. He was fired from his job at Harvard just this past week for continuing his refusal to take the vaccine. Harvard remains among a handful of institutions that still require it, despite massive evidence that it is ineffective and hazardous. Like West Point, maybe Harvard should ditch its motto, Veritas, Latin for “truth.”

A society hostile to truth can’t possibly remain civilized, because it will also be hostile to reality. That appears to be the disposition of the people running things in the USA these days. The problem, of course, is that this is not a reality-optional world, despite the wishes of many Americans (and other peoples of Western Civ) who wish it would be.

Next up for us will be “Joe Biden’s” attempt to complete the bankruptcy of our country with $7.3-trillion proposed budget, 20 percent over the previous years spending, based on a $5-billion tax increase. Good luck making that work. New York City alone is faced with paying $387 a day for food and shelter for each of an estimated 64,800 illegal immigrants, which amounts to $9.15-billion a year. The money doesn’t exist, of course. New York can thank “Joe Biden’s” executive agencies for sticking them with this unbearable burden. It will be the end of New York City. There will be no money left for public services or cultural institutions. That’s the reality and that’s the truth.

A financial crack-up is probably the only thing short of all-out war that will get the public’s attention at this point. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it happened next week. Historians of the future, stir-frying crickets and fiddleheads over their campfires will marvel at America’s terminal act of gluttony: managing to eat itself alive.

*  *  *

Support his blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page or Substack

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/15/2024 - 14:05

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