Oh dear! Just when you start getting comfortable about how to trade on news in a market, the rules get changed on you. Good economic news should lead to optimism, which should lead to stronger stock markets, a stronger currency and lower bond yields or higher interest rates as companies grow and borrow more with certainty due to booming businesses.
That is the logical way to assess fundamentals and trade accordingly. Frequently, markets have traded inverse of what is considered logical thinking. There have been times when good U.S. economic news has been cheered with the U.S. dollar falling as "risk-on" trades are undertaken, which means buying foreign currency and selling the U.S. dollar. The United States and Japan publishing really weak economic data and currency soaring is another example of inverse trading patterns.
With what the Federal Reserve has done in the past and recently to muddy the bond markets and the economic data being released this week, we may very well see trading patterns reversing again. We have seen that the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Purchasing Manufacturers' Index (PMI) came in at 50.9 for June versus 49.0 in May. So that is a good number.
Now all eyes are on the jobs number on Friday. If that is also a good number, we may see the stock markets fall. What??
You see, we are all waiting with bated breath as to when the Fed will start withdrawing the stimulus of $85 billion per month. Good jobs growth and good industrial output growth will indicate that stimulus reduction will be here sooner rather than later. And that will depress stock market traders and markets may sell off. That perverse trading will trigger illogical thinking and trading in the currency and bond markets too. Just when we learned how to assess economic data, we will see markets trade in reverse.
Essentially, good news is bad news now!
Reminds me of the politically incorrect question: "Have you stopped beating your husband yet?" No matter how you answer the question, you will be in trouble.
What the United States needs is a series of sustained economic data trends. Three months of solid ISM growth and two months of solid jobs growth is needed to allow us to believe in a trend. One swallow does not make a summer. One good ISM number does make a recovery. And lately the pattern has been to publish a strong number, only to revise it downward next month when no one is looking.
The world markets are confused today. We have no clear signal as to what is happening globally. Fiscal policies (on a global basis) reflect this confusion. Let's look at the leading nations: The U.S. Federal Reserve is flat to possibly contracting its balance sheet; the European Central Bank has been shrinking its balance sheet for the past two months; the Japanese central bank is inflating its balance sheet as if there is no tomorrow; China seems to be in contraction mode; India seems to be stuck in a rut at a low (by Indian standards) growth environment; and Brazil is stranded at near-zero growth, as is Russia.
Staying with China for a minute, the West is almost wishing for a banking collapse in China. The recent spike of internal funding rates seems to drive us to believe China is on the verge of collapse. The difference to the U.S. collapse is that the Chinese government owns 50 percent of the banks and they have been introducing more regulations to control their property boom — opposite of what we had in the United States. My conclusion: No hard landing or collapse of China — just more muddled 7 to 7.5 percent growth for a few years.
Yet, we here in the United States see a booming recovery? We see a sustained growth pattern and are fearful that the Fed will take away our punch bowl of stimulus money?
So what does it mean for traders and investors in the United States? It means utter confusion and illogical trading for the rest of this summer. If there ever was credence to the old adage "Sell in May and go away," it is now.
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