The markets are betting a stimulus deal will finally get done—and soon

December 16, 2020, 10:03 AM UTC

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Good morning, Bull Sheeters.

U.S. futures are on the rise again on Wednesday as investors bet Congress could strike a long awaited stimulus deal at some point this week. If it feels as if we’ve been saying this for months, it’s because we have. And yet you bulls have never once lost faith.

That optimism is lifting global stocks.

Let’s check in on what’s moving markets ahead of a big update today from the Fed that could impact the bond market.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes are awash in green in afternoon trading with the Nikkei up 0.3%.
  • In Washington they can’t seem to agree on budgets and stimulus, and yet Japan is about to pass its third “extra” budget this year—this one involving an extra $210 billion to help the COVID-battered economy. Call it “Suga-nomics.”
  • If you think America’s IPO market is frothy, take a gander at China’s. Startups in China have raised a record amount so far in 2020, Bloomberg calculates.


  • The European bourses are higher out of the gates, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.9%. That’s despite worsening COVID data from around the continent, and new lockdown measures going into force.
  • Shares in Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google nudged higher on Tuesday (but underperformed the wider Nasdaq) after Brussels and Britain proposed tough new antitrust and content measures for tech giants. Big fines and even break-up are the big sticks they’ve pulled out.
  • The Euro Stoxx Banks index was up 0.3% in early trading this morning after the ECB lifted its ban on dividends and share-buybacks for Europe’s lenders.


  • U.S. futures have been gaining all morning. That’s after the S&P 500 snapped a four-day losing streak on Tuesday, and as all three major indexes closed higher on the session.
  • Stocks climbed on Tuesday, and the Nasdaq notched a new ATH, on hopes of a stimulus deal. An actual deal. If I got a fractional share in some bland, all-market ETF for every time I heard that one… I’d be writing this newsletter from Portofino. (I’d still need to borrow a Bull Sheeter’s yacht. Ahem.)
  • Shares in Moderna fell 5% yesterday after the FDA disclosed the drugmaker gets high marks for its COVID vaccine, paving the way for emergency authorization. Don’t feel bad for Moderna. Shares are up 652% in 2020.


  • Gold is up, trading near $1,870/ounce.
  • The dollar is down.
  • Crude is up, with Brent futures trading near $51/barrel.
  • Bitcoin is up nearly 2% on Tuesday, trading around $19,500.


The most crowded trade

Yesterday, we talked about the loneliest trade. Today, let’s go in the opposite direction, and talk about the you-too? trade of the moment.

I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with “wreck.”

Yes, being long tech is seen as the most crowded trade out there. Again.

That’s according to BankofAmerica’s latest global fund manager survey.

But, as the chart above shows, the tech-bull crowd is thinning. As the great growth-to-value rotation picks up steam, a tech-heavy portfolio is becoming less de rigueur. Meanwhile, the trades that are gaining favor are shorting the poor dollar (grumble, grumble), jumping on the Bitcoin wagon, and going long corporate bonds.

What else caught my eye? Gold too is losing favor, no doubt as Bitcoin appreciates. Gold bulls must be losing patience. The shiny yellow stuff has been trading in a tight range for months, and is down 10% since its August high.

Long gold, however, isn’t the most contrarian of trades. Investors are also rotating out of healthcare and U.S. stocks, and, most of all, they’re getting out of cash.

According to BofA, the flight from cash is at a seven-and-a-half-year high, and that’s triggering a “sell signal.”

What does that entail? “We say sell the vaccine 1Q21,” BofA advises.

Note: this BofA advice is for the contrarian investor, the ones who wants to get into a new position ahead of the crowd.


Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow… But first, there’s more news below.

Bernhard Warner

As always, you can write to or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.

Today's reads

The great give-away. MacKenzie Scott is giving her money away at a record clip. Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, is ranked as the world's 18th-richest person with a net worth of $60.7 billion. That was before she announced she decided to donate more than $4 billion to hundreds of organizations. Here are some of those recipients.

Because every billionth of a second matters. High-frequency traders are eyeing a new technology to get an extra jump on the competition. It's called hollow-core fiber. The Wall Street Journal has a great (and geeky) explanation for why this tech is so much faster—in purely relative terms—than its fiber optic predecessor, and what it could mean for traders.

Some of these stories require a subscription to access. There is a discount offer for our loyal readers if you use this link to sign up. Thank you for supporting our journalism.

Market candy

Quote of the day

Policy makers shouldn’t worry that raising taxes on the rich to fund the financial costs of the pandemic will harm their economies.

That's David Hope of the London School of Economics who co-authored new research that takes a big swipe at the dogma of trickle-down economics. Tax cuts for the rich enacted over the past 50 years have largely benefited only the rich, and have further bred inequality, his research finds. Now, before you send me an angry email, telling me I'm being an agent of the Scrooge-the-rich Left, at least cc Hope. Here's his webpage.

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