The tech-stock bulls are back

September 16, 2020, 9:32 AM UTC

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Good morning. The rally in global equities continues on Wednesday as investors await the Fed’s big policy briefing later today.

Let’s check where investors are putting their money.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes are mixed in afternoon trading, with Japan’s Nikkei up 0.1%.
  • The Shinzo Abe era is official over, but don’t expect much of a policy change in Japan. The country has a new prime minister this morning in Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s close former aide, who pledges to keep the spending taps open.
  • Blackstone’s Tony James spoke at CNBC’s Singapore Summit this morning and gave an incredibly bearish call on stocks, saying investors should brace themselves for “a lost decade in terms of equities appreciation.” He’s worried about the prospect of a bounce-back to higher interest rates and big headwinds for businesses should the COVID recovery drag on.


  • The European bourses were gaining mid-morning. London’s FTSE was the worst performer of the bunch, down 0.4% out of the gates, before climbing.
  • Economists have found something more damaging to the economy than coronavirus. It’s called Brexit. According to Goldman Sachs, a no-deal outcome would inflict damage to the UK economy that’s “two to three times larger” than that of “the worst pandemic witnessed in post-war history.”
  • AstraZeneca‘s share price edged 0.3% lower this morning after news broke that the trial for its COVID-19 vaccine is still on hold in the U.S. (it got the green-light in the U.K. this weekend, and also resumed testing in South Africa yesterday).


  • U.S. futures have been climbing all morning. That’s after the Nasdaq gained 1.2% yesterday as merger- and IPO mania reinvigorate tech investors.
  • Apple‘s share price closed a mere 0.16% higher yesterday, suggesting investors were hardly impressed with all the bells and whistles of Tuesday’s product intros and upgrades at its “Time Flies” event.
  • Add hedge fund king Ray Dalio to the dollar bear club. He warns the greenback is heading for prolonged pain as the U.S. embarks on a record borrowing spree to stabilize the economy. 2020 has been a tough year for Dalio as the losses keep piling up at Bridgewater Associates.
  • The Fed is expected to stick with its dovish script today, which could be more good news for the markets. As Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, tells Bloomberg, “central banks are far from out of ammunition.”


  • Gold is up, trading above $1,970/ounce.
  • The dollar is down.
  • Crude has been gaining in line with equities futures this morning, nudging Brent above $41/barrel.


A very peculiar bull market

Fund managers have given up on a V-shaped recovery. They’re anxious for progress on a vaccine breakthrough. Dry powder levels—i.e, the cash sitting on the sidelines—are climbing ever nearer to so-called “fear” levels. And concerns of a tech bubble are mounting.

And yet… fund managers are increasingly assured that we’re in the middle of a bull market. That’s the paradoxical set of conclusions to draw from the BofA Securities’ latest fund manager survey.

Fund managers were more on the fence just a month ago. That was before we scored fabulous gains in the August equities rally, convincing the money-minding pros that, yep, this is a legit bull market run (and not a mere bear market rally).

Elsewhere in the report, you can see some anxious signs.

Take tech stocks. The percentage of fund managers (80%) who are long U.S. tech is at an all time-high. Not only that, it’s the most “crowded trade” of all-time. We saw something similar last month, and yet that crowded trade has gotten even more crowded in the past 30 days.

The antithesis to tech stocks would be U.K. equities. It’s hard to find a more toxic asset class these days.

As the chart below shows, the U.K. is looking like a lonely, unloved island, sitting way out there in the Sea of Max Despair (lower left).

As the odds of a no-deal breakup with the European Union rise, you can see that investors are abandoning British assets at a furious clip. The percent of fund managers who say they’re “overweight U.K.” is now at a 30-month low.

Where is the safe money heading? Investors are padding their portfolios with U.S. equities, health care and Eurozone stocks. Nothing new there.

Banks, energy and, yes, the U.K. are on the opposite end of the investment play. Nothing new there either.


Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow. 

Bernhard Warner

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Today's reads

Snowflake IPO. Data warehousing specialist Snowflake is being billed as this year's buzziest tech IPO. Fortune's Aaron Pressman spoke to CEO Frank Slootman on the eve of a monumental listing that could net the firm a $30 billion valuation.

A one-boat armada. Carnival Corp's share price sunk 10% yesterday after the cruise ship operator reported a $2.9 billion quarterly loss. The problem: it's had just one ship in operation this month. 

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Market candy

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That's Jaime Rogozinski, the founder of the r/wallstreetbets thread on Reddit where day traders flock to discuss their, erm, bets—"trades" to you and me. Mining such online forums has become a fascination among Wall Street pros looking for an edge on the booming volume of retail options trading. To better understand this phenomenon, check out Fortune's Jeff John Roberts fabulous article on the retail army's worrisome push into options trading

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