Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Long Four Weeks Ahead

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - Our belated wishes for Memorial Day and deepest gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen heroes. We are forever grateful for their service to our country and our people.

Like previous weeks, the latest round of tweets from the White House have heated up the trade war. The consensus view that a deal was around the corner has now given way to a consensus view that one might be harder to complete than previously thought.

Stocks seesawed and ended the week down with the large cap weighted S&P 500 closing at 2,826.06 and the broader NASDAQ Composite closing at 7,637.01 for a weekly loss of 1.17% and 2.29% - the indexes are up YTD at a respectful 12.73% and 15.10% respectively.

The three headlines driving markets this week and probably thru month-end when the FOMC meets on June 18-19 and the G20 Meeting in Japan on June 28-29 are the US – China Trade War, Brexit and slowing US economic growth.

As the trade war ramps up with Huawei as the primary media focus, investors both in China and the US hope that the highly anticipated meeting between Trump and Xi will strike a deal. As we have previously written, the thorny issues of forced technology transfers and alleged theft of IP are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. In fact, we hear Chinese media has started broadcasting nationalistic songs of the Long March to prime the population into a nationalistic fever to see this as another attempt to keep China from reaching superpower status. This has the effect of further limiting Xi’s ability to make significant concessions to the US during these trade negotiations.

The resignation of May and the subsequent government shakeup increases the risk considerably of a hard landing scenario for UK assets. Look for more investors to accept negative yielding Eurobonds in a flight to quality. According to James Grant in an interesting observation in Barron’s this week, he cites how many of these negative yielding bonds are finding their way into ETFs via the global aggregate bond benchmarks. Ironically, Indexing and ETFs may in this case contribute to economic distortions in interest rates.

Lastly, the release of a lower than expected IHS Markit Purchasing Managers Index (just above 50 which is the dividing line between expansion and contraction) combined with the Federal Reserve Bank GDPNow Model showing economic activity at an annualized rate of 1.3%, down significantly from Q1, have led investors to buy Treasuries which pushed down yields.

If these headlines are not enough for investors to anticipate, we wish to remind you of the upcoming Russell Reconstitution at the end of June. Expect volatility in thematic ETFs holding small caps and thinly traded stocks.

We expect market volatility to continue this week. Of note this past week, was news coming from the space industry. First Trump and Abe announced a new cooperative effort between Japan and the US to jointly expand human exploration of space and to return to the moon by 2024. This demonstrates the relatively silent but high priority race to dominate space by various nations including China. Data communications is a major driver of this race as demonstrated by Space X’s deployment of 60 communication satellites to be part of a Star Link internet constellation to provide internet service to hard to reach communities. Investors seeking their fortunes in the stars should check out the new UFO ETF.

ETFG Weekly Select List - To best support the ETF selection process, the ETFG Weekly Select List highlights the 5 most highly rated ETFs per Sector, Geographic Region and Strategy as ranked by the ETFG Quant model.  We highlight a couple of ETFs that attracted our attention for investors given our views.  In the Utility Sector: JHMM, FUTY, UTES are our top 3 rankings. Value investors should look overseas to EWY in Asia, EMIF in Emerging Markets, TUR in Europe, ILF in Latin America, and EFA in Developed Markets.

We suggest keeping a mindful eye on tools like our Select List and Risk and Reward Ratings that can be used to evaluate the vast set of opportunities in the ETF marketplace. Today’s market realities require a new approach to macro investing, one in which individual investors now have access to tools via ETPs to customize risk and return profiles in their portfolios. Use our Scanner to find those funds.

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