Stocks saw small moves after a US$2.7 trillion rally in November that was fueled by speculation the Federal Reserve will end its hiking cycle to prevent an economic recession. The dollar erased its 2023 advance.
The S&P 500 traded above 4,500, on pace for its third straight week of gains — the longest run since July. Piles of derivatives contracts tied to stocks and indexes were due to mature — which could amplify instability. Applied Materials Inc. sank on a report it faces a US criminal probe for allegedly violating export restrictions to China. Homebuilders rose as new home construction unexpectedly picked up.
Equities have made a rapid about-face to overbought from oversold levels within a few weeks — spurring speculation the market was due for a breather. Global stock funds attracted $23.5 billion in the week through Nov. 15, the second-biggest inflows of the year, Bank of America Corp. noted, citing data from EPFR.
After an “epic risk rally,” investors should offload those assets as technical and macroeconomic headwinds are building, according to Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA. “Fade it,” he noted.
The dollar was course for its worst week in four months amid bets the currency has already peaked, with softer-than-expected economic data reinforcing bets the Fed is done with rate hikes. Ten-year U.S. yields hovered near 4.4 per cent. Oil climbed, but posted its fourth straight weekly drop on supply pressures.
Stocks Set for Third Straight Up Week | S&P 500 on track for longest weekly rally since July
Traders also kept a close eye on the latest Fedspeak. Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr reiterated officials are likely at or near the end of their tightening campaign. Yet Fed Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly said policymakers aren’t certain inflation is on a path to their 2 per cent target.
Franklin Templeton’s Sonal Desai says this week’s bond-market rally has gone too far, too fast — as rate-cut bets are likely to be priced out for next year. “Markets are priced for beyond the perfect landing,” she added. “There do remain risks to inflation and there isn’t enough data to support the rate cuts priced for next year.”
“While it is unlikely the Fed will raise rates, investors are jumping ahead too quickly embracing rate cuts,” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Private Wealth US. “Some time in 2024, the Fed will start to lower rates. But we are in a waiting game.”
After the recent rally, the S&P 500 has been consolidating in a tight range, with the gauge having “bandwidth” to pull back further over the short run — without breaking the initial support at 4,350-4,400, said Dan Wantrobski at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Meantime, valuations of high-quality stocks — those with high profitability and low leverage — have become significantly more expensive compared to both the overall market and their low-quality counterparts, an analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence found.
The other times in the recent past when quality commanded such high valuation premiums were in 2020 and 2008-2009, both times of turmoil. These periods pushed people to seek safety in high-quality investments, leading to the valuation spikes.
“Quality stocks have historically outperformed in the late stages of the business cycle, including in periods of economic contraction, which should offer portfolio protection if the economy slows more than we expect,” said Solita Marcelli, chief investment officer for the Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management.
As earnings season draws to a close, so does the S&P 500’s profit recession. Earnings are up 4 per cent year-over-year with over 90 per cent of S&P 500 firms having reported results for the third quarter, meaning a three-quarter streak of earnings declines is likely done, data compiled by BI show.
Traders are gearing up for a few more earnings from retailers and tech companies next week.
Best Buy Co., Nordstrom Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. are set to post slumping sales, while Nvidia Corp.’s quarterly results could still exceed sky-high investor expectations thanks to strong demand for generative artificial intelligence.
End of Corporate America's Profit Recession in Sight | S&P 500 forecast to pull out of a three-quarter earnings slump in the third quarter
- Amazon.com Inc. is cutting hundreds of employees in the division responsible for its voice-activated Alexa assistant, according to a memo sent to employees.
- ChargePoint Holdings Inc. announced the sudden resignation of its longtime chief executive officer while posting disappointing quarterly revenue.
- Gap Inc. reported profit that exceeded forecasts and a smaller-than-expected drop in comparable sales.
- Ross Stores Inc., a discount department store chain, reported comparable sales that beat estimates.
- Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday lowered its outlook for Tyson Foods Inc. as it expects the largest US meat producer to keep burning cash in the coming 12 to 18 months.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX is poised to launch its deep-space Starship rocket system Saturday from South Texas for the second time ever.
Some of the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 rose 0.1 per cent as of 2:31 p.m. New York time
- The Nasdaq 100 rose 0.1 per cent
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed
- The MSCI World index rose 0.3 per cent
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.4 per cent
- The euro rose 0.4 per cent to $1.0900
- The British pound rose 0.3 per cent to $1.2452
- The Japanese yen rose 0.7 per cent to 149.61 per dollar
- Bitcoin rose 1.2 per cent to $36,406.65
- Ether fell 0.7 per cent to $1,941.8
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 4.43 per cent
- Germany’s 10-year yield was little changed at 2.59 per cent
- Britain’s 10-year yield declined five basis points to 4.10 per cent
- West Texas Intermediate crude rose 4.1 per cent to $75.86 a barrel
- Spot gold was little changed
This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.