The Lead-Lag Report: A Warning for New Year Bears
New Year bears may be in trouble given that various intermarket trends favor bullish behavior in risk assets. For the bulls, the trend remains your friend.
Now the difficulty with those warnings is that they were not specific.
--Lee H. Hamilton
Below is an assessment of the performance of some of the most important sectors and asset classes relative to each other, with an interpretation of what underlying market dynamics may be signaling about the future direction of risk-taking by investors. The below charts are all price ratios which show the underlying trend of the numerator relative to the denominator. A rising price ratio means the numerator is outperforming (up more/down less) the denominator.
For a full version of the Lead-Lag Report, click here.
LEADERS: FINANCIALS RALLY ON
Financials (NYSEARCA:XLF) – Breakout Coming?
Comments: After stalling in November, Financials are beginning to meaningfully outperform again. A near-term breakout of ratio resistance would be bullish and consistent with the move out of low beta into high beta areas of the market. All year financials have been key to the macro reflation theme, and that very much continues.
Europe, Australasia, and the Far East (NYSEARCA:EFA) – Wowzers on Outperformance
Comments: Developed markets continue to outperform the US. And the trend remains intact. The ratio has now nearly reversed all of the weakness that occurred in the first half of the year, and strength remains a bullish sign for risk sentiment.
Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (NYSEARCA:IPE) – Reflation?
Comments: The IPE/TENZ (NYSEARCA:TENZ) price ratio is one way of seeing if inflation expectations are rising or falling within the bond market. When the ratio is trending higher, it means bets are occurring on rising prices ahead. Note that a very real trend higher appears to now be asserting itself, which is bullish for risk assets.
LAGGARDS: TECH WRECK CONTINUES, BUT...
Technology (XLK) – Support
Comments: Technology has resumed its weakness on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) but is now hitting against support. The extent of the underperformance has been incredible, but it now appears the some of the bleeding may soon end.
Consumer Discretionary (XLY) – End of the Trend?
Comments: Strength in discretionary stocks may now be over. The group has outperformed for over three years straight, and money appears to be favoring international markets again, which signals a rotation away from domestic and more to overseas markets.
Consumer Staples (XLP) – Meaningful Turn Coming?
Comments: Consumer staples appear to finally be breaking its uptrend, and like health care, is likely due for a period of underperformance as money favors beta and higher risk-taking at the start of 2013. This remains a bullish sign for overall market direction.
Intermarket trends remain bullish, and suggest that independent of continued fiscal cliff fears, the environment continues to favor risk assets. New Year bears who ignore these trends may be in for a rude awakening if continued bullish sentiment and price action gets more accentuated in the weeks ahead.
Editor's note: This update is published every week exclusively for Minyanville, and is compiled by Michael A. Gayed, CFA, Chief Investment Strategist of Pension Partners, LLC.
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