Market Pulse: The bull market is near all-time high
The market is at or near an all-time high, driven by a small number of issues — big-cap tech and on any given day individual companies for reasons that apply only to them. Recently, announcements of stock splits from Apple and Tesla brought in a wave of buyers.
If you didn’t own some of the front runners, the market has been a bit of a yawner. Yes, the S&P soared 54% from the March low after falling 35% in a month. But year-to-date the S&P is up only 4.5% and the Dow Industrial is off 2.5%. Not much movement.
The catalysts for the 54% rally since March 23 and higher prices to come must sound familiar by now. Among them: there are trillions of dollars on the sidelines, relative to bonds stocks are cheap and yield more, the economy is rebounding and the outlook is improving, the money supply has risen 35% since March and more stimulus is coming, and there is progress from several companies on a vaccine. That all bodes well for stock prices.
There is more to life than the stock market, or so I’m told. Investors have been buying bonds, preferreds and income vehicles which have attractive yields in this low-rate environment.
I follow the bond market closely for signals about future inflation and credit demands. What I see is a complete disregard for the price we’ll pay someday for the many trillions of dollars we will borrow to cover deficits and maturing debt. In this year’s second half alone the Treasury will borrow $4.5 trillion.
There is a saving grace to this otherwise dreadful situation. The Treasury is borrowing at rates that are close to zero. The Treasury should back up the truck and nail down these low rates for decades. Follow the lead of companies and countries that have sold 50- and even 100-year bonds. That would be smart. An opportunity to borrow at such low rates may never return.
Someday valuations will determine stock prices, as they always do, but for now numbers mean little with the virus, the election, rock-bottom rates, and the massive amount of cash on the sidelines. The market is being driven by momentum (a body in motion stays in motion) and the factors I mentioned above. There are also those who are buying in fear that they’ll be left behind. Professionals, hedge fund managers in particular, think like that. Individual investors don’t.
David Vomund is an Incline Village-based Independent Investment Advisor. Information is found at http://www.VomundInvestments.com or by calling 775-832-8555. Consult your financial advisor before purchasing any security.
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