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The TINA trade takes off as stocks enter ‘fastest bull market’ recovery in modern times

August 17, 2021, 9:38 AM UTC

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Good morning, Bull Sheeters.

U.S. futures are under pressure this morning. I wrote something similar yesterday, only for stocks to rebound yesterday afternoon and finish at yet another all-time high.

Monday’s rally was significant. It pushed the S&P 500 to a level that’s 100% above the March 2020 pandemic-slammed lows… 100%!

That’s the “fastest bull-market doubling off a bottom since World War II,” CNBC calculates… Oh, and yesterday’s all-time high was the 49th of 2021… the 49th!

And to think we started the day with frantic images of Afghanis flooding the airport in Kabul urging the Western powers to airlift them out of the country.

Let’s see what’s moving the markets today.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are again awash in red with the Hang Seng down nearly 1.8% in afternoon trading.
  • Is the slowdown in China a blip, or a sign of things to come? Oil traders are starting to get concerned. Brent and WTI futures are down for a fourth straight day as demand slumps, in both China and the U.S.
  • New Zealand reported its first “community case” of COVID in six months, and that’s enough to push the country into a three-day nationwide lockdown. The NZ dollar fell on the news.

Europe

  • The European bourses are down out of the gates with the Stoxx Europe 600 off 0.1% mid-morning. At the start, basic resources was the lone sector in the green. And that’s mainly because of one stock…
  • …It’s official. Mining giant BHP is selling off a majority stake in its oil and gas business, and investors love the news, sending shares up 9.3% in London this morning.
  • Danish jeweler Pandora‘s lab-designed sparkly stuff is killing it—in America. Its shares are up 0.6% in mid-morning trading in Copenhagen.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are under pressure again this morning. Yesterday, the Dow and S&P 500 rallied in the afternoon, enough to cinch new all-time highs.
  • Tesla was one of the biggest losers on the S&P yesterday, falling 4.3% (it’s down again in pre-market) after the U.S. opened up an investigation into its Autopilot feature, found in nearly every car it’s ever sold in the U.S.
  • Meanwhile, Pfizer shares jumped 0.9% yesterday on news the drugmaker and its partner BioNTech had submitted to U.S. regulators promising early-stage data on the effectiveness of a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is up, creeping up near $1,800/ounce.
  • The dollar is gaining. Again.
  • Crude is off again with Brent trading below $70/barrel.
  • Bitcoin is down, trading around $46,000.

***

On Kabul, TINA and tech

A lot of us yesterday watched the scenes from Kabul yesterday with our hearts in our throat. The markets though shrugged it all off. Bull markets do that kind of thing.

After a rough open yesterday, the markets rebounded, and the S&P cinched its 49th all-time high this year—the ultimate “nothing to see here” trade.

To explain the giant shoulder-shrug we saw in the markets yesterday, I’m going to pull a few take-aways from David Bahnsen, chief investment officer of the wealth management firm that bears his name, The Bahnsen Group.

For starters, Bahnsen wasn’t all that surprised by the muted market reaction. Here’s why:

Short-term calm. Long-term? who knows

From a markets point of view, I am not worried about rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East over the short-term. The immediacy of this particular development in Afghanistan is not particularly relevant to oil markets, but that could change if there exists a multi-month expansion of jihadist influence in the broader Middle East region out of this…All of this geopolitical vulnerability speaks to the strategic priority for continued U.S. energy independence, and in the broader geopolitical context, we would be wise to remember that a safer world is better for markets, and a less safe world is worse for markets.

The TINA trade is alive and well

The ‘there is no alternative’ trade is very resilient right now, which is benefitting U.S. stocks, as there simply aren’t attractive alternatives for stock investors outside of the U.S. 

Pay close attention to the small print

Selectivity in this current market environment is vitally important. During times of elevated valuations, passive index investors may not realize just how much exposure they have to certain corners of the market, as a few mega-cap companies account for a considerable portion of the overall indexes. Selectivity allows investors to focus on quality and risk mitigation in a way index investors cannot. 

Ninth-inning trade in tech stocks

While there are companies that are changing the world in the tech sector, we find ourselves in a classic late-cycle dilemma of seeing great performance in a company’s results and less and less of a market response to these strong results. The risk-reward trade-off is skewed in the technology sector, and substantially so in many of the truly new tech and cool tech names. We gather our technology exposure from older companies with more seasoned business models and believe much of the hot tech growth stocks are in the ninth inning of a ferocious few years.

***

Postscript

The breeze this morning is blowing from the north again, crushing that infernal heatwave that scorched much of the country. Lucifer, I can happily report, is history. It’s blessedly cooler today.

Before checking in on the markets, my wife, my dog and me took an early morning stroll, down past Graziella’s farm, past the sheep clanging in the fields, past the uninhabited, quake-ravaged homes and past the apple orchards, on the way to the next hamlet. Along the way, I stopped to check in on a neighbor’s vineyard.

I’m no oenologist, but the sangiovese grapes look ahead of schedule. Again.

Original photo: Bernhard Warner

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.co

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