Market Commentary, November 18, 2019
The longest bull market in history showed no signs of slowing last week.
U.S. stock markets climbed higher for the sixth week straight – the longest rally in U.S. markets in two years – and the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed 28,000 for the very first time, reported Bloomberg.
The Economist reported, “It has been a year of mood swings in financial markets. In the spring and summer, anxious investors piled into the safety of government bonds, driving yields down sharply. Yields have recovered in recent weeks…Equity prices in America have reached a new peak. But what is more striking is the performance of cyclical stocks relative to defensive ones. Within America’s market the prices of industrial stocks, which do well in business-cycle upswings, have risen relative to the prices of utility stocks, a safer bet in hard times.”
Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell confirmed the United States appears to be in good economic shape. The U.S. economic outlook remains favorable despite weakening business investment, which has slowed because of sluggish global growth and uncertainty surrounding trade. The unemployment rate remains low and more people are returning to the workforce, which is a positive development. Overall, Powell and his colleagues believe economic expansion is likely to continue.
A similar phenomenon has occurred in European markets.
Randall Forsyth of Barron’s cited a source who stated, “…the global economic backdrop has, for the first time in 18 months, begun to improve.” Forsyth went on to explain, “It’s not just because of prospects of a trade deal. Recession risks have, well, receded. Growth may slow to a 1 percent annual rate in the current quarter, but odds of falling into an outright recession have slid.”
Whenever investors are happy and markets are moving higher, contrarians begin to ask questions. For example, a leading contrarian indicator is the Investors Intelligence Sentiment Survey. The survey queries investors and investment professionals about whether they are feeling bullish or bearish. When the ratio of bulls to bears is above 1.0, the market may be overly bullish. When it is less than 1.0, it may be too bearish.
Yardeni Research reported the ratio stood at 3.22 last week; 57 percent bulls and 18 percent bears.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, THE WINNER WAS #435. For the last five years, Katmai National Park and Preserve in Western Alaska has hosted ‘Fat Bear Week’ to celebrate bears as they prepare for hibernation. The participants are coastal brown bears who live along Alaska’s Brooks River.
The event helps people better understand hibernation. You may not have realized it, but bears spend the summer fattening up because they lose about one-third of their body weight during the winter. It’s an interesting scientific phenomenon. The Katmai National Park Service website explained:
“Hibernation is a state of dormancy that allows animals to avoid periods of famine. It takes many forms in mammals but is particularly remarkable in bears…After a summer and fall spent gorging on food, a bear’s physiology and metabolism shifts in rather incredible ways to help them survive several months without food or water.”
In Katmai, conservancy media rangers select twelve participants from among the park’s 2,000 bears and post before-and-after photos on social media to showcase the effects of summer feasting. People near and far can participate by watching bear cams. There is even an ursine madness bracket where voters choose the fat bear that wins each pairing, and the crowd favorite moves on to the next match-up.
This year, the Fat Bear Week champion was number 435, a.k.a. Holly. The Katmai announcement touting 435’s win stated, “All hail Holly whose healthy heft will help her hibernate until the spring. Long live the Queen of Corpulence!”
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
--Anne Bradstreet, Poet
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https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/11/14/the-improved-mood-in-financial-markets (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-18-19_TheEconomist-The_Improved_Mood_in_Financial_Markets-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/articles/next-stop-dow-30-000-it-could-happen-51573871667?mod=hp_DAY_1 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-18-19_Barrons-Next_Stop-Dow_30000-It_Could_Happen-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.yardeni.com/pub/stmktbullbear.pdf (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-18-19_Yardeni-Stock_Market_Indicators-Bull_Bear_Ratios-Footnote_6.pdf)