“Markets are constantly in a state of uncertainty and flux and money is made by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.”
Before I went to bed last night, China reported another sequential deceleration in its manufacturing PMI Index for the month of July. I thought to myself – wow, that explains absolutely nothing in terms of how both oil and copper have been trading for the last 3 weeks (UP). However, it explains everything in terms of why Chinese stocks have underperformed global equities for the last 7 months (DOWN). China has slowed.
In Q1 we called this the Chinese Ox In A Box. In our Q1 slide presentation we even had a fancy looking Hedgeye Macro Theme chart that outlined the forecast that PMI readings in the high 50’s were unsustainable given that the Chinese were going to tighten.
So China tightened… and now the PMI reading has dropped -12% over the course of 6 months into the low 50’s (July’s reading was 51.2% versus 52.1% in June)… and next to Slovakia and Greece, the Chinese stock market is the worst performing in the world for the year-to-date.
That, however, doesn’t mean that in the face of a monster 2-month rally in European equities (i.e. the other worst performing stock markets for the YTD – Greece, Spain, etc.) that Chinese stocks don’t have every opportunity to A) mean-revert to the upside alongside global equities or B) show you that they have already Discounted The Obvious.
On the heels of this “bearish” economic data last night, China closed up another +1.3% to 2672 on the Shanghai Composite Exchange, taking its rally from its YTD low established on July 5, 2010 to +13.5%. Chinese equities are up basically in a straight line – closing up on 9 out of its last 11 trading days.
So what do you do with that? Inclusive of this rally, the Shanghai Composite Index is still -18.5% YTD. Economic growth is still slowing, but everything that slows finds a time and a price where it gets baked into the Mr. Macro’s cake. Should you chase it here? Should you short it? Should you do nothing?
Whenever I miss a big move like this, I tend to try my best to do nothing. Particularly if the math in my TRADE versus TREND model isn’t yet clarifying the risk management decision for me. Here are our TRADE, TREND, and TAIL lines for the Shanghai Composite Exchange:
- TRADE = bullish, with 2491 support
- TREND = bearish, with 2693, resistance
- TAIL = bearish, with 2988, resistance
Since the Shanghai Composite closed at 2672 last night, you’ll notice that it’s game time now for the intermediate term TREND in Chinese equities. We’re either at an inflection point where price momentum is making the turn from bearish to bullish, or we’re right where the long term bearish case for Chinese stocks fortifies itself.
Since I don’t have a long or short position in China right now other than long the Chinese Yuan (CYB), I don’t feel compelled to make a “call” on which way this is going to go. I’m much more comfortable letting the macro math tell me what to do. Chinese growth has every opportunity to re-accelerate from here, but it could just as easily continue to slow. The big money on the short side has already been made.
Looking at a multi-factor global macro model for the answer is also going to be critical here. Let’s consider some critical signals relative to the summer of 2008:
- Dr. Copper
- US Dollar
Both the prices of copper and gold are all of a sudden doing what they did at the end of July and early August of 2008. Much like it is doing now, the US Dollar was getting creamed (down for the 8th consecutive week last week, taking the USD down -8% since early June) and all of a sudden the “reflation” trade in gold decoupled from that in copper (DOLLAR DOWN equaled copper up, but gold down and a lot of people couldn’t figure out why).
Chinese equities also based and rallied in July of 2008, but that was a sucker’s rally in as much as it was in Copper. Gold and the US Dollar were actually leading indicators for almost everything else going down back then. I don’t see that same setup right here and now, but “betting on the unexpected” can pay the bills. Food for thought on a Monday while we’re all Discounting The Obvious of the China slowdown that’s in our rear-view.
My immediate term support and resistance levels for the SP500 are now 1076 and 1118, respectively. The SP500 hasn’t had an up day in the last 4, so we took midday weakness in US equity trading on Friday as a buying opportunity, moving our allocation to US Equities from zero up to 3%.
Best of luck out there today,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer