Moderating Valuations - Deploying Capital

Recent Turbulence

Inflation, interest rate hikes, employment, Federal Reserve taper, new omicron pandemic backdrop, Washington wrangling, supply chain disruptions, and travel restrictions are culminating and resulting in the current market swoon. September saw a 4.8% market drawdown for the S&P 500, breaking a seven-month winning streak. November saw negative returns, and thus far, December is off to a bad start. Prior to the September meltdown, stocks were very overbought and at extreme valuations as measured by any historical metric. Heading into September, valuations were stretched across the board, with the major averages at all-time highs and far away above pre-pandemic highs.

The recent two-week stretch over the November/December transition was met with heavy and vicious selling. Valuations have moderated overall and cooled investor enthusiasm, especially in the more speculative momentum stocks in cloud software, SPACs, and recent IPOs. The technical conditions (RSI and Bollinger Bands) are shaping up for a strong relief bounce that may coincide with the infamous Santa Claus rally. The tremendous volume of selling has inflicted damage across the board, indicating that valuations do, in fact, matter after all. Many opportunities are presenting themselves, and being too bearish may prove ill-advised over the long term.

Vicious Selling

As of the beginning of December, a third of the S&P 500 is off at least 15% from its high, and nearly one in eight Nasdaq stocks logged a new 52-week low. Furthermore, the CNN Money Fear & Greed Index, a composite of market-based indicators that gauge risk appetite across stocks, bonds, and options, dropped to its 2021 lows, seen during previously equity pullbacks. It has only tended to plunge below this when the market is in near-crash mode, such as December 2018 and March 2020. Continue reading "Moderating Valuations - Deploying Capital"

Should The Omicron Variant Be A Concern For Investors?

While Americans were celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday, the rest of the world dealt with the newest Covid-19 variant. The Omicron variant of coronavirus, first identified in South Africa, has been reportedly spreading in parts of Europe for days before it was identified in southern Africa.

On December 1st, the first confirmed US case of Omicron coronavirus variant was detected in California. In a White House news briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the case was in an individual who traveled from South Africa on November 22 and tested positive for Covid-19 on November 29.

As of the end of November, the variant was already found in 20 countries, and governments around the world were already implementing lockdowns and travel restrictions.

These decisions where being driven by the fact that the Omicron variant was substantially different. With about 50 mutations from the original coronavirus, which started the pandemic, and about 30 mutations compared to even the highly contagious delta variant that has swept around the world. However, scientists don't know if the variant is actually more contagious or more deadly than any previous variants.

Many have been calling this an overaction, while others say the lockdowns and travel restrictions are adequate steps to protect others. Regardless these are difficult decisions for the politicians, and there will inevitably be those talking heads on the T.V. bashing the leaders regardless of their decisions. Part of this circus helps build fear and anxiety in most people, leading to fear and anxiety within the stock market.

The worst single day for the U.S. stock market in 2021 was Friday, November 25, the day following Thanksgiving, a shortened trading day, and of course, the day after the world found out about the new Omicron variant. The following few trading days were similarly volatile, with the market bouncing higher and then lower, despite any new real tangible information about the true nature and danger of the Omicron variant being known.

So, should this new variant be a real concern to investors? Continue reading "Should The Omicron Variant Be A Concern For Investors?"