Here's an interesting juxtaposition. There are currently just over 25 Million Currently Infected Patients of Covid-19, with 2.4 million deaths*. However,
The point is, main street continues to grapple with the Coronavirus. However, if you were looking at the financial markets, you would've thought we were in one of the largest economic expansions in history.
So much so, Warren Buffet's favourite indicator is flashing signs of mania. Currently, the U.S equity market cap is more than double the GDP of the United States. The last time this happened was during the bubble of the 2000s.
That is a long, convoluted, and somewhat poor segue to the main point of this article. A lot has happened in the past couple of days, with many asset classes at significant highs during one of the worst pandemics in history – here's an article to summarize them.
As vaccinations pick up in the United Kingdom, alongside lockdown restrictions starting to show results in lower cases and deaths, investors have been flocking the pound as optimism for the United Kingdom's economy. It is important to note that 1.45 was the bid before Brexit was announced in 2015, making it a ripe target for bulls to take.
Vaccines have played a considerable part in the strengthening in confidence in the United Kingdom, helped by the fact that they did not join the European Union's vaccine effort. This enabled them to approve and administer vaccines at a faster rate than their European counterparts.
Nearing the same time last year, we had an unprecedented event occur – traders saw the price of WTI Crude Oil on their terminals go negative. A year of supply cuts, recovering demand, and recently a rise in tensions in the middle east has pushed the black Gold back to pre-pandemic levels.
After an influx of institutional attention dawning upon the digital currency, including the likes from Mastercard, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and of course, Tesla, Bitcoin has reunited with bulls taking the price up to just under $50,000 per Bitcoin. To note, Around the end of November last year, we saw Bitcoin at around $20,000.
The S&P 500 has closed at an all-time high, touching 3,950 in futures trading. The index is up 7% year to date. If we lived in an ordinary world, all-time highs in the equity markets would be the headline of the day.
However, it seems like stocks are too boring nowadays, and everyone wants to know which altcoin is next to return 1000x. However, many companies in the index are producing blowout or at least better than expected earnings. Considering the macro-environment we are currently living in, is quite an achievement.
I had concerns about the notion that investors were considering Gold's valuation – not something you want to be talked about in a safe-haven asset. I believe a safe-haven asset should be there to ballast your portfolio in times of risk-off periods, meaning investors should be able to flock to it / rely on it to hold their portfolio in steady shape.
Gold's steady decline eases my concerns, with Gold trading at around $1,816 an ounce, way off its $2,000 highs. We can see a continuation of the trend should see prices around the $1,700 - $1,750 level.
Markets are frothy – stay safe, and trade safe.
*For you tinfoil hats-wearers out there, I will entertain you by including the fact that there are up to 650,000 deaths due to the flu each year. Take that what you will
The NASDAQ hit a legendary milestone, touching 14,000 as vaccines pump optimism in the markets.
Investors were looking for a defensive asset in a low-interest-rate environment that can appreciate risk-off environments amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic. Investors found that in tech stocks, they showed their ability to generate pure cashflow during the Pandemic's peak.
Stocks like Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Amazon were able to continue to beat estimates while the bulk of the world was in lockdown. This became an overcrowded and popular trade amongst institutions and many retail traders. However, many are questioning whether they still justify the hefty premiums they gained during the global lockdown. Facebook currently trades at 26 times earnings, Google at 35.5x, Netflix at an astonishing 91.5x earnings, and Amazon at 78x earnings.
With the Federal Reserve continuing their $120 Billion buyback scheme, investors are now looking at the progress of President Joe Biden's $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan, bolstering the growth in the U.S labour market and the U.S economy. Matthias Scheiber, global head of portfolio management at Wells Fargo, stated that equities were driven by accommodative monetary policies and optimism on fiscal stimulus. However, analysts warn that this stimulus bill will have to be paid somehow, which will likely come from a higher corporate tax rate.
Luca Paolini, Chief Strategist at Pictet Asset Management, stated that "With the additional risks of corporate taxation, not only in the U.S but also in Europe like the U.K – there is a debate about raising corporate tax. So, for the next year, I think the riise in earnings will be much more moderate".
With all this euphoria in Wall Street, Main Street continues to suffer. While down from its all-time highs, daily new and the seven-day average cases are still over 100,00 in the United States, crippled by the lack of infrastructure regarding the rollout in vaccines in the United States.
The headline says it all – market euphoria has reached an all-time high. However, given the events that have occurred in 2020, it feels like it is just another day at the office. For the most part, it is.
Bitcoin reached an all-time high earlier in the U.S Trading session, touching $43,000. This is primarily due to Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, revealing in an SEC filing that they had purchased over $1.5 Billion in Bitcoin in January.
They stated that they invested “To further diversify and maximize returns on our cash that is not required to maintain adequate operating liquidity” - or in other words, a bet on Bitcoin using cash not required to run the business. They also stated that they “expect to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future.”
This interest in cryptocurrencies does not just stick to Bitcoin. The meme currency Dogecoin has returned to all-time high levels at around 8 cents after many celebrities like Snoop Dog and, of course, Elon Musk, continue to talk about the currency.
Like I wrote in my previous article, it was relatively common for people to hold hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Dogecoins in 2014. Assuming those people held them till now, we would have miners and investors with life-changing wealth – all from a meme currency.
In the commodity markets, Oil has made a legendary comeback. Brent Crude topped $60 as vaccines, and unexpected Saudi cuts have made tailwinds for the Black Gold.
However, some analysts are concerned about the quick rise in price, stating that further tension between Russia and Saudi may ensue due to the higher prices. The last time Russia was not on board with OPEC, prices plummeted below $30 a barrel. Brent currently sits at around $60.60 a barrel.
Equity markets saw a breath of fresh air, with the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and the NASDAQ up over 0.4%. Stimulus positivity, alongside vaccination numbers, boost the possibility of a strong fiscal 2021.
John Stoltzfus, Chief Investment Strategist at Oppenheimer, stated, “as people feel safer, investors can expect the economy to experience a rebound that should contribute to revenue and earnings growth as the economy reflates.”
At such inflated valuations in many asset classes, investors and traders should be ready for a sudden pullback on any negative sentiment.
It has been 15 days into the new year, but it feels like a year’s worth of events has already occurred. Most notably:
Strip what happened in 2020 out of the question, and this would be run a racket on the equity markets. However, it seems like nothing can scare off investors in this day in age.
Equity Markets in the United States continues to edge higher, with the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 up 0.1%, with the NASDAQ saying as is. European equities too end slightly higher, with the DAX 30 edging up 0.4%. With turmoil continuing to disrupt the world, why are investors continuing to plow money into equities?
With the Federal Reserve stating that they “are not even thinking about thinking about raising rates,” alongside the introduction of their new tool of letting inflation run higher than their mandate portrays that low yields are here for the foreseeable future. The time to raise rates “is no time soon,” Powell states.
This has forced many managers to search for yield across equity markets. However, this can’t be the only reason, as real yield has been low for the past couple of years, even before the Coronavirus. Mario Draghi, former ECB President, was known for saying that “for rates to be higher in the future, they need to be low today.”
Many companies continue to thrive even amidst the Coronavirus, notably technology firms such as Salesforce, Facebook, and Slack, alongside retailers such as Walmart and Amazon. Their current price premium reflects their ability to generate free cash flow in recessionary periods. Today, value equities in the industrial, financial, and energy sectors led the edge higher today.
The word “reflation” has recently been the buzzword as of late, providing an extra boost to equities. Scott Knapp, chief market strategist of CUNA Mutual Group, stated that “everybody acknowledges the high valuations, but most people say yes – but the stimulus?”. He further continues stating that “Markets are anticipating that reflation is under way.” Reflation may help the backbone of the US Economy, the consumer, to thrive once again and pull the US economy out of the slumps.
Motley Fool, an advocate for long-term, stock-picking mantra, believes that “time in the market, is better than timing the market,” alongside the belief that profitable businesses with high valuations should still be invested in. With a massive influx of retail investors, it would not be surprising that many of them share the same mentality.
Are you plowing your money into stocks?
Margaret Keenan. At 90 years old, she was the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech. The CEO of England’s NHS, Simon Stevens, stated that “I think there’s every chance that we will look back on [Tuesday] as marking a decisive point in the battle against the Coronavirus” You would have thought we should have seen a massive spike in the markets.
However, the market was relatively calm today, even though the S&P 500 broke all-time highs. Interestingly enough, the second person to get the Vaccine in the UK was an 81-year-old man called William Shakespeare.
Depends. Considering the muted response from the FTSE 100, only up around 0.052% on a catalyst that was said to bring a boost to asset prices, there’s a chance that the effects of a vaccine have already been priced in, and the market is looking for more. Turning to the currency markets, we can see some wobbles in the GBP/EUR pair, with the needs waiting on further confirmation on the Brexit negotiations.
Given that it is almost a given that the United States will be granted the Vaccine, there is a high chance that the effects of the Vaccine on the United States population would be priced in, given that the S&P 500 has reached all-time highs before the United States has even received the Vaccine. The markets may be looking for the United States to go back to a relatively normal before pushing the S&P 500 further past 4,000.
Given the lockdowns worldwide, alongside easy access to trading environments such as Robinhood and Interactive Brokers, there has been a massive spike in the number of young retail traders on these platforms. Thomas Peterffy, the founder of Interactive Brokers, stated that the current environment is unlike anything he has ever seen before and that “Money is so easy, why not borrow what you can and put that it into stocks?” With this influx in retail, traders along may see the S&P 500 past 4,000.
Put the Vaccine catalyst, alongside American retail traders together, and we may see the S&P 500 breach 4,000 before 2021.
A combination of positive vaccine news, political certainty regarding the next President, and positive data coming from the United States edged equities to all-time highs.
The Dow Jones is sitting just above that coveted 30,000 level, which makes it up year to date by 4%. The S&P 500 is up around 11.6% for the year, with the NASDAQ up an impressive 36%.
Equity markets aren't the only markets benefiting from positive sentiment. Oil prices have reached an eight-month high, with Crude and Brent touching $46 and $48 a barrel, respectively.
One of the main factors that help push equities higher was the consistent positive vaccine news in the past couple of weeks. AstraZeneca yesterday stated that its Coronavirus vaccine's large stage trials were "highly effective" in preventing the Coronavirus. Professor Andrew Pollard, the Chief Investigator for the AstraZeneca trial, stated that "[the results] show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimes may be around 90% effective." This is after Pfizer and Moderna reporting vaccines that have 95% efficacy.
Furthermore, there are signs that Trump is starting to accept his defeat for a second term. Markets have interpreted this as a soothing in political volatility. President Donald Trump has stated that it is "in the best interest of the country" to begin the transition to Joe Biden's future government and instructed officials to "do what needs to be done." However, Trump has still not conceded. President-Elect Joe Biden has started to assemble his government, with his latest pick, Janet Yellen, for Treasury Secretary.
Lastly, Manufacturing and Services PMI's were better than expected at 56.7 and 57.7 with a market expectation of 53 and 55.3, respectively.
Investors and Traders will be looking forward to the FOMC minutes for guidance on the Federal Reserve's opinion for the future of the American economy.
Stocks are up on positive vaccine news from a collaborative effort from Pfizer and BioNTech SE, showing that it prevented 90% of symptomatic infections in the trial of thousands of volunteers. Pfizer shares rose as much as 15% on intraday trading.
S&P 500 in Blue, Dow Jones in Teal and NASDAQ in Blue
NASDAQ was up nearly 4% at its peak intraday; however, it retracted back slowly. However, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 were up 4.73% and 3.55%, respectively. Many tech stocks were generally muted. However, cyclical and value equities are up the most today, with JP Morgan Chase and Visa up 12% and 9.3%, respectively.
WTI and Brent Crude were the big winners today, with the black gold up nearly 10% today on the vaccine news, stoking positive sentiment in oil as a vaccine would allow the start of global and domestic travel.
Gold is down nearly 5% on strong risk-on sentiment, altogether breaking away from the correlation with equities it had earlier this year.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that the effectiveness of more than 90% “is just extraordinary.” Furthermore, Peter Jay Hotez, a vaccine researcher and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine stated that the vaccine “so far, it looks like it is promising” and that “it helps provide proof of concepts that it is possible to make a human Covid-19 vaccine.”
If the Phizer and BioNTech SE collaboration can generate efficacy and safety results in the next couple of weeks, we may see two vaccines in the U.S. by around year-end.
This is important, as this gives a hint for the future in risk-on markets. Alongside a Joe Biden victory, the markets have shown they want a vaccine to push further higher. Ajay Rajadhyashka, head of macro research at Barclays, said that the 90% efficiency rate prove correct. It “increases the odds of a quicker return to normalcy.”
Many countries have pre-ordered a significant number of doses to a successful and approved vaccine, including New Zealand, U.K., and Japan – with enough orders to make herd immunity a possibility in these countries.
With fiscal and monetary stimulus, alongside many consumers have saved money during the quarantine periods and working from home, pent up demand will likely be high. Furthermore, investors that have been on the sidelines may see this as an opportunity to exit bonds and cash and enter back into the equity markets.
Before today, the markets knew that a vaccine would instigate a risk-on rally. Today, however, they were teased with what a successful vaccine will do to the markets. They are currently pricing in a vaccine before the year-end. Anything less, and the market will be disappointed. Really disappointed.