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Moving Macro Markets

This note was originally published at 8am on March 16, 2015 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Moving things around is hard – really hard.”

-Peter Zeihan

 

In an excellent book that I just cracked open, The Accidental Superpower, Peter Zeihan wasn’t talking about Global Macro markets – he was referring to moving real stuff. And our centrally-muppeteered markets are getting less real, by the day.

 

Moving macro markets around is easy – really easy. And those with un-elected-central-planning-powers know that. So prepare for more, not less, of this. As their economy continues to slow, the Chinese were the latest to issue the almighty “stimulus” word to markets this weekend. The Shanghai Composite closed up +2.3% overnight on that to +6.6% YTD.

 

With the US stock market down -0.3% YTD, all Janet has to do at the Fed’s gravity-smoothing meeting this week is say that she is going to keep the word “patient” and she can fix those lousy relative and absolute US stock market returns. I mean, seriously, Yellen – Lithuania’s stock market is +65% YTD with Draghi burning the Euro – get with the market moving program!

Moving Macro Markets - Central banker cartoon 03.03.2015

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Do we have $100 on the US Dollar Index? Indeed, we do, fellow green-card holding Americans! With the US Dollar Index up another +2.8% last week, those of us paid in US Dollars have seen the purchasing power of our hard-earned currency rise +19.1% in the last 6 months.

 

Oh, dearest Janet, you must stop those of us who have large cash positions in America from getting paid…

 

Most people who are in the business of telling me that my being in some cash isn’t cool don’t look as cool as our YTD return in US Cash does. At +11.1% YTD and the US stock market down for 3 straight weeks, US Cash is king!

 

For those same people who didn’t know that a rip-roaring ramp in the US Dollar was going to crash both Foreign Currency and Commodity markets, worldwide – now they know. Here’s what that “stuff” has done in the last 6 months:

 

  1. Euros have crashed, losing -19% of their value for the European people who earned them
  2. Japanese Yens and Canadian Loonies have been devalued by -11.6% and -13.2%, respectively
  3. Brazilian Reals have crashed -28%
  4. Russian Rubles have collapsed by -39%
  5. Commodities (CRB Index, 19 commodities) have also crashed, -25.3% in 6 months
  6. Oil (WTI) has been bludgeoned, losing -50.3% of its “value”, over the same time period

 

In other non-stock-market news (i.e. economic data), Switzerland reported accelerated #Deflation of -3.6% year-over-year in producer prices this morning. No, that’s not good for the dude who is selling in whatever that is which is hard to move and produce…

 

And that currency-adjusted risk management thought has to be what is on the mind of many investors who have foreign currency risk to both revenues and earnings these days. That’s probably why the 15-day inverse correlations to USD currently look like this:

 

  1. SP500 -0.94
  2. CRB Index -0.75
  3. Gold -0.94

 

That, “folks”, is called #deflation - when the US Dollar goes parabolic as both US and global bond yields fall. Last week, the US 10yr Yield dropped -13 basis points to 2.11% taking it to down -6 basis points for the YTD.

 

Sovereign Bond Yields down was good for what really works during what we call #Quad4 Deflation:

 

  1. US Healthcare Stocks (XLV) up another +0.6% last week to +5.0% YTD
  2. REITS (MSCI Index) +2.4% last week to +1.1% YTD

 

And not so good for what doesn’t work during #Quad4 Deflation:

 

  1. Energy Stocks (XLE) down another -2.8% last week to -5.7% YTD
  2. Emerging Market Stocks (MSCI Index) -3.3% last week to -1.8% YTD

 

The sneaky thing is that as the world’s economy remains in #Quad4 (both growth and inflation, slowing, at the same time), the USA is in #Quad1 for another month (real consumption growth accelerating on real FX adjusted purchasing power, as inflation slows).

 

That’s the main reason why I’ve liked the Russell 2000 over the SP500 so far in 2015. It’s a purer play on the domestic economy, so it didn’t surprise me whatsoever that the Russell (IWM) was +1.2% last week to +2.3% YTD in a down tape for the Dow and SP500.

 

Moving asset allocations around isn’t easy. But if you get both the US Dollar and rates right, it gets less hard.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro risk ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.01-2.22%
SPX 2025-2075

RUT 1220-1245
DAX 11690-12004
VIX 13.28-17.45

USD 97.99-100.87
EUR/USD 1.03-1.07

Oil (WTI) 43.26-49.03

 

Best of luck out there this week,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Moving Macro Markets - Chart of the Day


Quarter-end Markup

Client Talking Points

CHINA

The dude from the PBOC called it a “very huge” growth problem in Q1, so the Chinese are going to bet on very huge stimulus as a result! Shanghai Composite ramps another +2.6% overnight to +17.1% year-to-date and +65% from the OCT lows.

USD

It’s a #StrongDollar morning, and we like it – EUR/USD backed off our $1.10 resistance, hard, last week and is back down to $1.08 this morning – German Stocks love it +1.4%, erasing all of last week’s losses at +22.7% year-to-date – Denmark +30.1% year-to-date!

OIL

Get the Dollar right and you’ve been getting Oil right, for 8-9 months – staying with our Commodity #Deflation call as WTI backed off the top-end of my range - risk range is now $42.82-51.40, signaling lower-intermediate-term highs yet again.

Asset Allocation

CASH 26% US EQUITIES 16%
INTL EQUITIES 15% COMMODITIES 0%
FIXED INCOME 26% INTL CURRENCIES 17%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
MTW

Manitowoc  (MTW) is splitting the business into two companies. Given the valuation differential between the sum-of-the-parts and the current enterprise value of the company, the break-up should be a substantial positive. Recent nonresidential and nonbuilding construction data remains firm for 2015, which suggests that MTW’s crane sales should see a pickup in the first half of the year. The Architecture Billings Index (a survey of architects) typically leads nonresidential and residential construction spending by approximately 9-12 months. More importantly, the ABI Index leads MTW Crane Orders by 2 quarters.

ITB

iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) is a great way to play our long housing call, U.S. #HousingAccelerating remains 1 of the Top 3 Global Macro Themes in the Hedgeye Institutional Themes deck right now. Builder Confidence retreated for a 3rd consecutive month in March and New Home Starts in February saw their biggest month-over-month decline since January 2007.  We think the underlying reality is more sanguine with the preponderance of the weakness in the reported February data largely attributable to weather.

 

While labor supply constraints may serve as a drag to builder confidence, presumably it is rising demand trends that are driving tighter conditions in the resi employment market.  All else equal, we’d view improving demand as a net positive.  On the New Construction side, while the sharp drop in Housing Starts captured most of the headlines, we believe the real story was in the 3% gain in permits. We'd expect to see a big rebound in the next two months in housing starts as the data plays catch-up to the thaw.

TLT

Low-volatility Long Bonds (TLT) have plenty of room to run. Late-Cycle Economic Indicators are still deteriorating on a TRENDING Basis (Manufacturing, CapEX, inflation) while consumption driven numbers have improved. Most of the #Deflation trades bounced to something less-than-terrible (both absolute and relative) for 2015, whereas the real alpha trending in macro markets continues to play to the lower-rates-for-longer camp’s advantage.

Three for the Road

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

-John W. Gardner

STAT OF THE DAY

The Euro bounced +0.6% to -10.0% year-to-date vs the USD.



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Ole Fashioned Group Patterns

“Individual persons tend to act pretty randomly.”

-Peter Zeihan

 

“But put those individual persons into large groups and individual randomness gives way to group patterns.”

-The Accidental Superpower, pg 92

 

Zeihan was alluding to one of the most important research topics @Hedgeye right now (demographics), but it can very well be applied to intermediate-term TRENDs in Global Macro positioning.

 

Eventually, most have to chase. And until everyone has given up on inflation expectations, I think the chase for #StrongDollar Deflation performance remains very much #on.

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

I do both bottom-up and top-down investing. And while some of their respective rate-of-change analytics are the same, how I consider “valuation” in each discipline is not.

 

In Global Macro, funds flow to and from specific exposures and styles; whereas in value-investing, for example, you can buy something that’s “cheap”, and get paid – provided there is a catalyst. In macro, “cheap” tends to get cheaper – and “expensive” tends to stay expensive, until a phase transition finds a causal factor to arrest it.

 

In the case of what was our Top Global Macro Theme for Q1 of 2015, Global #Deflation, the causal (and correlating) factor is the US Dollar. Get the TREND in the US Dollar right, and you’re going to get a lot of other things right.

 

Last week, the US Dollar had what we call a counter-TREND move, closing down for the 2nd straight week. Down Dollar weeks provide us both buying (stocks) and selling (commodities) opportunities – here’s what a -0.6% wk-over-wk decline in the US Dollar Index delivered:

 

  1. Burning Euros bounced +0.6% to -10.0% YTD vs. USD
  2. Commodities (CRB Index) bounced +0.5% to -6.4% YTD
  3. Oil (WTI) bounced +4.9% to -11.1% YTD
  4. Gold bounced +1.3% to +1.3% YTD
  5. Copper bounced +0.2% to -2.0% YTD

 

That’s a lot of bouncing! Notwithstanding that I was long 0% of those 5 things, I am quite pleased that I didn’t chase any of them either. Come Friday afternoon, most of these counter-TREND bounces failed @Hedgeye immediate-term resistance.

 

In Global Equities last week, Down Dollar didn’t get either the #BigBeta chasers (Biotech and Technology) or #YieldChasers (Utilities and REITS) bulls paid. For one of the few weeks of the year, it didn’t get European Equity bulls paid either – Emerging Market equities were weak as well:

 

  1. SP500 lost -2.2% on the week taking it to +0.1% YTD
  2. EuroStoxx600 corrected -2.1% wk-over-wk to +15.5% YTD
  3. Emerging Markets LATAM dropped another -2.3% to -11.8% YTD

 

In other words, if you chased the counter-TREND move in Oil mid-week, by the weekend you were getting spanked, in Brazilian stock market terms, as the Bovespa reversed sharply, closing down -3.6% on the week at +0.2% YTD.

 

But why does CNBC’s beloved SP500 look as anemic as a major equity market index that is tied to commodities (like Brazil). Oh, right – they’ve morphed the SP500’s earnings into an international basket that is very much infected by #StrongDollar too. That sucks.

 

This is why, instead of owning the SP500, Global #Deflation Bulls have appropriately re-allocated their US equity exposure to US domestic revenue and earnings expectations:

 

  1. US Housing Stocks (ITB) were +0.1% in a down tape to +7.3% YTD
  2. US Consumer (XLY) and Healthcare (XLV) stocks continue to beat the SP500 at +3.8% and +6.8% YTD, respectively
  3. Russell 2000 and Nasdaq are +3.0-3.3% for 2015, beating their International Earnings Index competition too

 

If I didn’t signal “BUY” in what I signaled on red last week (and I had to chase the green US Equity futures this morning), I’d definitely buy more of the aforementioned basket over the SP500. It’s much more appropriately positioned for #Deflation.

 

The last point I wanted to make this morning has to do with Consensus Macro Sentiment. Going back to the weekend wood chopping, here’s how Wall Street’s (non-Commercial CFTC Futures & Options) net positioning looks going into quarter-end:

 

  1. SP500 (Index + Emini) net SHORT position came in by 41,359 contracts last week to -35,152
  2. Russell 2000 net SHORT position came in by 12,952 contracts last week to -13,277
  3. US Treasury 10yr Bond net SHORT position ROSE by 23,083 contracts last wk to -155,983

 

So you’ll probably get paid on hedge fund guys getting squeezed in both SP500 and Russell 2000 today anyway. We call this a good ole fashioned group pattern of a month-end markup!

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 1.84-2.01%

SPX 2043-2080
RUT 1
DAX 113
USD 96.35-100.02
EUR/USD 1.05-1.09
Oil (WTI) 42.82-51.40
Gold 1150-1208

 

Best of luck out there this week,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer

 

Ole Fashioned Group Patterns - 03.30.15 chart


REPLAY | The Macro Show with Keith McCullough

Did you miss today's Macro Show? Watch the replay here.

 

Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough distill the world's market, economic and political news in 15 minutes or less, then answer viewer questions.

 


March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 - Slide1

 

BULLISH TRENDS

March 30, 2015 - Slide2

March 30, 2015 - Slide3

March 30, 2015 - Slide4

March 30, 2015 - Slide5

March 30, 2015 - Slide6

 

BEARISH TRENDS

March 30, 2015 - Slide7

March 30, 2015 - Slide8

March 30, 2015 - Slide9

March 30, 2015 - Slide10

March 30, 2015 - Slide11
March 30, 2015 - Slide12

March 30, 2015 - Slide13


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