Is LTRO the Draghi Put?
Most notable is the performance of the banks. The relative performance of the Banking Index shows a pattern of a rally through a relative downtrend. The ECB's LTRO program of providing unlimited liquidity for up to three years to eurozone banks has bought the politicians time and created the perception of a Draghi Put for the market. The recent relative performance of the BKX, which is heavily weighted with the large TBTF banks, is reflective of this relief.
Similarly, the performance of the Euro STOXX Index shows a pattern of global healing. Despite all of the financial stress evident in the eurozone, this index formed a wedge and the wedge resolved itself to the upside.
In addition, we have been seeing positive European price action in the face of bad news, which is bullish. I wrote last week that European banks have been testing a key support but that level has been holding up, despite all of the bad news in the last few months. Italian 10-year bond yields, which is a key measure of investor confidence, has stayed below the important 7% level in the face of the downgrades.
Inter-market analysis confirms the turnaround
Sectorally, I am seeing signs that the market expects a cyclical rebound, at least in the US. The chart below shows the relative performance of the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index against the market, which has been rallying and is now in the process of testing a relative resistance level.
The Industrials are also showing a similar pattern of relative strength as the sector began a relative uptrend in October.
So have the Materials sector, which show the familiar pattern of rallying through a relative downtrend:
...while defensive sectors such as Utilities have lagged the market and is now in the process of testing a relative support level.
Constructive on commodities
Commodity prices are also showing signs of global healing. The chart below of the CRB Index shows that commodities have rallied through a minor downtrend and it tested the longer term major downtrend, which remains intact.
The commodity heavy Canadian market is also showing a similar pattern of rallying through a short-term downtrend, though the longer term major downtrend remains intact.
Regular readers know that I am a long-term commodity bull. These charts indicate a constructive outlook on the commodity complex. Mary Ann Bartels of BoA/Merrill Lynch recently showed that large speculators (read: hedge funds) have unwound their crowded long in commodities and readings have retreated to a level where previous bull phases have begun in the past:
Positive breadth divergence
Tom McLellan, writing at Pragmatic Capital, has confirmed my observation of a market turnaround. He wrote that the Ratio Adjusted Summation Index is showing strength:
So all of this leads us to the current RASI reading, which at +618.2 is above the +500 level but still below the peak of +763 seen on Nov. 15, 2011. So it is a divergent lower high, but it is still high enough to say that the uptrend which started in October 2011 is not over. There can be ordinary pullbacks along the way, but the message of the RASI is that the final highs of this current new uptrend have not yet been seen.
Not out of the woods yet
To be sure, it's not up, up and away here for stocks and numerous risks remain. Greece is edging closer to a default as talks with creditors appeared to have broken down. The situation in Hungary remains volatile and has the potential to take down the Austrian banking system. Just because there is a Draghi Put in the market doesn't mean that investors are immune from losses, but I would encourage investors to think of the Draghi Put as an insurance policy with a deductible where you have to incur the first X% in losses.
In addition, China isn't out of the woods. While the Chinese leadership is making noises about stimulus, the property bubble in China is deflating in a dangerous way and it is unclear whether the authorities can achieve a soft landing. The Shanghai Composite has been rallying in line with global equity markets but the index remains in a downtrend. The one silver lining for the bulls is that there appears to be a turn-of-year effect in Chinese equities. The current rally is consistent with the pattern of market updrafts seen starting at about the time of past Lunar New Years.
Since China's economy remains a major engine of growth in a growth-starved world, this is one indicator to watch carefully. The bulls can also take solace in the Hong Kong market, which formed a wedge that resolved itself to the upside recently:
In addition, Nomura believes that Chinese real estate may be in the process of forming a bottom. The firm's analysts pointed to a positive divergence between land purchased by property developers and new construction activity:
Cautious short-term, constructive medium term
Putting it all together, what does this all mean?
My inner trader tells me that in the short-term, the rally looks overdone. Over the next few weeks, continue the strategy of buying weakness and fading strength. Indeed, Macro Story confirms a high risk level for equities by pointing out that AAII sentiment is at a bullish extreme, which is contrarian bearish.
Longer term, my inner investor tells me to expect a period of sideways consolidation, likely followed by a bull phase in equities with an expected return of 5-15% in 2012 - assuming that there are no accidents.
Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. ("Qwest"). This article is prepared by Mr. Hui as an outside business activity. As such, Qwest does not review or approve materials presented herein. The opinions and any recommendations expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or recommendations of Qwest.
None of the information or opinions expressed in this blog constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other instrument. Nothing in this article constitutes investment advice and any recommendations that may be contained herein have not been based upon a consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. Any purchase or sale activity in any securities or other instrument should be based upon your own analysis and conclusions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Either Qwest or Mr. Hui may hold or control long or short positions in the securities or instruments mentioned.