Short-Term Iffy But Long-Term Remains Strong

Following up from Friday’s post, stocks remain overbought and certainly stretched to the upside although the same can certainly be said all month. They are much in need of a break or at least a quick pause to refresh. However, sometimes strong momentum overpowers everything as we have seen from time to time. I closed last week by saying that the bull market is absolutely not over in my opinion. That prevented the usual emails.

Look no further than two of my favorite long-term indicators, the NYSE Advance/Decline Line and high yield bonds. The NYSE A/D Line just scored a fresh all-time high last week. I can’t tell you how many times people have questioned me on its value, yet it’s been one of the strongest advocates for the bull market since 2009. The rally from the pre-election low has been historic and the rising tide has lifted all ships. The bull market ain’t over.

Junk bonds are below and as you know, they are among my favorite canaries in the coal mine. Bull markets typically don’t end with high yield bonds making new highs as they have been and are right now.

I have said this for years and years, and I will say it again. While this is no longer the most hated and disavowed bull market of all-time, buying weakness remains the strategy until proven otherwise. Those waiting for the perfect pullback to buy will either freeze when it comes or it won’t be the pullback to buy.

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Trump Top Ticking Stock Market?

As I write the next issue of Street$marts, there is a lot of Donald Trump included. Not so much from a political standpoint, but more how he is impacting the stock market and economy. It’s really been amazing that every single meeting I have with clients and prospects, the Trump question is the first one asked.

As you know, when it comes to investing, I have a strong contrarian side to me. As the late Joe Granville once said, “if it’s obvious, it’s obviously wrong”. No one can argue that stocks have been on an historic run. For almost a month, study after study has pointed to a pullback, but one has simply not materialized. That’s called strong momentum or a “creeper” market, one that just keeps creeping higher day after day.

Until today, our models remained green with all systems go. That has changed.

The higher stocks have climbed, the more people have seemed to hop on board, something I have discussed for years on CNBC and Fox Business. I often joked at Dow 12,000, 14,000, 16,000 and 18,000 that we should watch Dow 20,000 for signs of investors finally buying. That turned out not to be such a joke.

Anyway, presidents typically do not comment or answer questions about the stock market. That’s an unwritten rule. However, President Trump seems to be blazing a new trail. Yesterday, he sent the Tweet below.

That Tweet by itself is shocking, but remember, this comes from a man who sold all of his stocks last June and then beat up the stock market during the campaign. Assuming he sold his stocks at roughly Dow 17,700, he is now touting the stock market at Dow 20,600. The contrarian in me says to be a little worried. Couple that with our sentiment model which was coupled with our market model and you  have the ingredients for some weakness.

I absolutely do not believe the bull market is over.

That will stop the usual emails. I am somewhat concerned about the next 4-7% move. It may be time to play some defense and take some very nice profits.

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BONUS Surprise: Inner Circle Shakeup

Bonus #2 – Inner circle shakeup

Given how Donald Trump’s campaign went and how much turnover there was at the top, that theme continues straight to the 2018 mid-term election. At least 3 cabinet members will be replaced by then and another one or two from the rest of the inner circle. Some will be asked to leave while others will become frustrated with either the president or acrimony in Congress. Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuchin, James Mattis, John Kelly, Reince Priebus are a few to keep an eye on.

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BONUS Surprise. Janet Yellen Reappointed Fed Chair

#9 – Janet Yellen reappointed Fed Chair

Donald Trump attacked and criticized the Fed and Chair Janet Yellen during the campaign. He blamed her and them for many of our economic woes along with the stock market being on the edge of a cliff about to plummet. Once 20,000 was hit, Trump changed his tune dramatically, exclaiming how great it was to achieve that milestone with more upside ahead.

As Yellen’s term as chair expires at the end of 2018, Donald Trump does an about face and reappoints her for a second four year term. At that time, the Fed successfully raised interest rates to 2.5% without adversely slowing down the economy. At the same time, the stock market’s bull market kept on going with the Dow exceeding 23,000.

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Donald Trump is a One Term President But…

1Donald Trump is not on the ticket against the Democrats’ candidate in 2020

I find it very hard to believe that Donald Trump will want to run again in 2020. While 74 is by no means old, he will have literally done it all by that time. I think there is a binary path to his party’s nomination in 2020. First, things go so well that Trump opts to leave on top, securing his legacy with the country in great shape. On the flip side, after an amazing honeymoon, his policies get bogged down first in committee and then on the floors of Congress. For the first time in his life, he is unable to make a deal.

At the same time, Angela Merkel already lost the 2017 election in Germany and the euro currency and euro zone are breaking apart in 2018 and 2019. This causes major recessions in Europe and Asia that spillover into the U.S. Along with the bear market in stocks, Trump’s popularity and approval rating plummet so much that he is primaried by several in the GOP. Seeing no path to reelection, Trump withdraws from the race to retake control of his empire.

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Trump and Putin Have a Falling Out

2 – Trump and Putin have a falling out

This is probably the least surprising of all on the list. One of my theories is that Trump has been so pro-Putin because Obama and Hillary Clinton were such adversaries of Russia. It was yet another good way to differentiate during the campaign. The U.S. and Russia’s interests are so inversely aligned that it would be almost impossible for the two countries not to have a falling out by 2020. I will venture a guess that the impetus for a disagreement comes from Russia’s dealings with Iran or Syria, or Russia’s military taking aggressive positions along a bordering nation.

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Moderate Justice Chosen for the Supreme Court

3 – Moderate Justice chosen for the Supreme Court

Whether Donald Trump has a fight with the GOP or not or if the President finds common ground with the Democrats, a moderate Justice for the Supreme Court will be nominated from one of the judges whom the GOP already approved of at a lower court. All indications are that Trump’s first nomination to the bench, due in early February, will have similar views to that of Antonin Scalia whom he or she will be replacing. That will please and appease the party base. From there, it is likely that one of the liberal Justices will retire by 2020 and Trump, the consummate dealmaker, will nominate a moderate to sail through the Senate.

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Trump and the GOP Fall Out of love

5 – Trump and the GOP fall out of love

It was a vicious campaign that saw allegiances move all over the place. In the end, after attacking a good number of his fellow candidates, Donald Trump reconciled in one way, shape or form with every single one of them. Given Trump’s personality and populist and nationalistic tone, there is a good chance that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the GOP end up at odds with President Trump over the details of legislation or executive orders which don’t sit well with the GOP and their constituents.

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Strong Fed Trend Active Today

It doesn’t feel like it’s been six weeks since the December meeting when the FOMC raised interest rates 1/4%, but it really has. Can we get time to stand still for a month or so in order for us all to catch up? With President Trump occupying the headlines on a daily basis, Janet Yellen & Co. must be ecstatic that they out of the limelight and crosshairs for that matter.

Today concludes the Fed’s two day meeting and expectations are for no rate hike, especially after that weaker than expected GDP report last week. While the market is pricing in at least two rate hikes this year, I think they are on the low side. I would not be surprised to see a minimum of four increases in 2017 with the risk to the upside.

However, as you know, I still don’t think the Fed should hike at all. They are fighting a battle that doesn’t yet exist and risking another leg higher in the dollar’s bull market which will have grave long-term consequences. For now, I have been discussing, the dollar’s is seeing a mean reverting move to the downside as it gears up for a bigger rally later in the year.

The model for today’s stock market is plus or minus 0.50% until 2pm and then a rally into the close. One of our Fed models is active today and that suggests at least a 75% chance of a higher close.

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Bear Market in Stocks by 2020

7 – Bear market in stocks by 2020.

The U.S. stock market has been driving ahead since March 2009. From a low of 6500 in the Dow to 18,300 on Election Day, Barack Obama has seen one of the best stock markets of any president in history. It’s a bit ironic that the president who most railed against wealth inequality enjoyed one of the greatest booms ever and couldn’t really celebrate that.

Bear markets come in two forms: with and without recession. Recessionary bear markets typically last longer and experience a larger decline. If I believe that recession is possible under Trump then so should a bear market. The next bear market will likely see a loss greater than the largest decline of the current bull market but not nearly as great as the financial crisis bear market. In that case, the next bear market should see a drop between 25% and 40% and last 6-15 months.

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