After opening the day in the red, markets reversed midday and hit fresh record highs as the UK began its vaccine rollout with doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s offering.
- The Dow Jones gained 104.09 points, or 0.4%, to close at 30,173.88 and hit an intraday record of 30,246.22. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% to 3,702.25 and closed over 3,700 for the first time ever. The Nasdaq also closed at a record and climbed 0.5% to 12,582.77. The Russell once again outperformed all the indices and closed 1.40% higher.
- Pfizer began to roll out its COVID-19 vaccine in the U.K. and boosted optimism of an economic reopening in 2021. The U.K. ordered enough vaccines for 20 million of its residents to start getting.
- The U.S. FDA said Pfizer’s vaccine provides some protection after the first dose, also adding that it found no safety concerns. It could be approved by the weekend.
- Pfizer (PFE) shares rose 3.3% on this news and reached their highest level in about two years. BioNTech (BNTX), which partnered with Pfizer on the vaccine, also rose 1.8%.
- Investors sharply monitored stimulus negotiations on Tuesday as well. At this point, legal immunity for businesses and aid for state and local governments are holding up the deal. However, Democrats and Republicans apparently have found consensus in some areas such as PPP loans.
- Republican and Democrat leaders said Monday that Congress is trying to extend government funding for an additional week to try and strike a deal on the new stimulus before the end of the year.
- More than 14.8 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S.’s seven-day-average daily infection rate is also at an all-time high.
- Several states and cities have reimposed stricter measures as a result of the spike in cases. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York City could lose indoor dining next week among other more severe restrictions if hospitals become overwhelmed.
- Dow Inc. (DOW), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and 3M (MMM) were among the Dow leaders, rising more than 1% each. Energy led the S&P 500 higher, popping more than 1.5%.
In the short-term, there will be optimistic days where investors rotate into cyclicals and value stocks, and pessimistic days where there will be a broad sell-off or rotation into “stay-at-home” names. During other days like Tuesday’s session, there will be a broad rally due to optimistic catalysts.
In the mid-term and long-term, there is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel. Once this pandemic is finally brought under control and vaccines are mass deployed, volatility will likely stabilize, while optimism and relief will permeate the markets. In fact, CNBC personality Jim Cramer said that beating COVID-19 would feel like “the end of prohibition.” Stocks especially dependent on a rapid recovery and reopening such as small-caps should thrive.
Markets will continue to wrestle with the negative reality on the ground and optimism for a future economic reopening. More positive vaccine news seemingly trickles in by the day despite discouraging COVID-19 news, economic news, and political news. While short-term downside pressure could certainly persist based on days where bad news outweighs good news, due to this “tug of war” between sentiments, any subsequent move downwards would likely be modest in comparison to the gains since the bottom in March and since the U.S. election at the start of November. It is truly hard to say with conviction that another crash or bear market will come. If anything, the mixed sentiment could keep markets trading relatively sideways.
Therefore, to sum it up:
While there is long-term optimism, there is short-term pessimism. A short-term correction is very possible. But it is hard to say with conviction that a big correction will happen.
The analysis of this morning will showcase a “Drivers and Divers” section that will break down some sectors that are in and out of favor. Dear readers, do me a favor and let me know what you think of this segment! It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
The materials sector, as represented by the XLB ETF , has been one of the largest beneficiaries of the vaccine rally. Investors have been so bullish on materials and any resulting vaccine prospect, that the XLB ETF briefly touched its 2020 high in November. However, since then, it has traded relatively sideways. Some things in this chart are concerning for me.
Cyclical sectors such as materials are set to be the biggest winners from an economic reopening in 2021. However, ever since peaking at $72.41 a share, the ETF’s volume has plummeted and has stayed very low. There are simply not enough strong fundamentals to justify calling this a BUY. I question the formidability of a short-term rally in materials. If anything, the sector could pull back somewhat, or stay in a sideways pattern. For the materials ETF to come back, exceed its 52-week high, and pierce that $72 resistance level, a COVID-19 vaccine must be proven to be safe and especially scalable. The 2021 economic outlook must also be positive. If this happens and a near-term economic slowdown can be somewhat averted, then materials could benefit.
But for the time being, there is too much uncertainty to make a conviction call. Therefore, this is a HOLD for the short-term. However, I am considerably more bullish on materials in the long-term.
US Dollar ($USD)
The world’s reserve currency, the US dollar, is still hovering around its two-year low, and has plunged in excess of 12% since March. Since the election alone, the dollar index has also declined approximately 4%. I have been calling this dollar weakness for weeks despite the low level and expect the decline to continue.
Further illustrating the dollar’s decline has been its performance relative to emerging markets. Just compare the performance of the iShares MSCI Emerging Market ETF (EEM) relative to the Invesco DB USD IDX Bullish ETF (UUP) since January.
Many believe that the dollar could fall further as well due to a multitude of headwinds.
If the world returns to relative normalcy within the next year, investors may be more “risk-on” and less “risk-off.” Which means that the dollar’s value will decline further.
Additionally, because of all of the economic stimulus combined with record low-interest rates, the dollar’s value has declined and could have more room to fall. Do not forget that the Fed plans on holding interest rates this low for at least another two years. For the dollar’s value, rates remaining this low for two years is an eternity.
As the world’s reserve currency, this plunge in value is concerning both in the short-term and mid-term for the US economy. A declining dollar means the strengthening of other foreign currencies- and this has already been happening. Since Nov. 2, the New Zealand dollar has surged 7%, the Australian dollar has climbed 5.5%, the Korean won has advanced 4%, and the Chinese yuan has risen 2.5% – and this may not be the end either.
The plunge of the dollar has been so severe that it is currently trading below both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. Furthermore, its 200-day moving average is considerably higher than its 50-day, further illustrating the sharp decline.
While the dollar may have more room to fall, according to its RSI, it is comfortably in oversold territory. This MAY be a good opportunity to buy the world’s reserve currency at a discount. But I just have too many doubts on the effect of interest rates this low, government stimulus, strengthening of emerging markets, and inflation to be remotely bullish on the dollar’s prospects over the next 1-3 years.
For now, where possible, HEDGE OR SELL USD exposure.
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Matthew Levy, CFA
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investment through Diligence & Care
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