Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or the Scary Thing About the Markets

There’s one big scary thing about the markets right now. As I mentioned last week, the major indexes are sitting on a precipice of a right shoulder of a ‘Head and Shoulders” top.

Traders are expecting a trade war settlement and a Fed interest rate cut in July. While the economy in no way needs a rate cut, stock markets desperately do. In fact, they need another dose of steroids just to remain level. It reminds me of a certain recent California governor (I’ll be back).

If we get them, markets will grind up a few percentage points to a new all-time high. If we don’t, the top is in, possibly for this entire economic cycle, and a 25% swan dive is in the cards.

It’s what traders call “Asymmetric risk.” If we get the bull case, you make sofa change. If we don’t, you lose dollars. It’s what I call picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. But in the 11th year of a bull market, that’s all you get. The truly disturbing part of this is that this setup is happening with valuation close to a historic high at a 17.5X price earnings multiple.

We’ll get a better read on Wednesday at 2:00 PM EST when the Fed announces its decision on interest rates. The post meeting statement will be more crucial than usual. What’s in a word, Shakespeare might have asked? If the Fed drops the word “Patient”, then a July interest rate cut is a sure thing. The algos reading the release at the speed of light will be the first to know.

It was initially off to the races last Monday when the one-week trade war with Mexico came to an end and some immigration issues were settled.

The tariffs are off, even though the Mexicans say the terms were already agreed to months ago.

There is no big ag buy either. The economy is still sliding into a recession, and the bond market has already discounted three of the next five quarter point rate cuts.

US exports are in free fall, with Long Beach, America’s busiest port, seeing seven straight months of declines in shipping volumes. They were off 19.5% in May alone. Recession indicator no. 199.

Buy bonds (TLT), gold (GLD), and short the US dollar (UUP), says my old friend, hedge fund legend Paul Tudor Jones. He is certainly reading the writing on the wall. The legendary trading billionaire believes that plunging interest rate cuts are going to dominate the scenery for the rest of 2019.

Tanker attacks sent oil soaring. After 50 years of waiting, it finally happened, torpedo attacks against two tankers in the Straits of Hormuz bound for China. Oil rocketed 4%, then gave up the rally, and stocks are amazingly up on the day.

Go figure. A decade ago, this would have been a down 1,000-point day for stocks and Texas tea would have soared to $100. Clearly, tensions in the Middle East are ratcheting up, but with the US now the swing oil producer, why bother?

With US oil production climbing to 17 million barrels a day by 2024, up from 5 million b/d in 2005, the Middle East can blow itself up and nobody cares. The US by then will have created an entire Saudi Arabia’s worth of new oil production over a 20-year period. US troops there are defending China’s oil supply, not ours.

The US budget deficit soared by 38.7% YOY, to $739 billion. It’s the fastest growth in government borrowing since WWII. Much of today’s economic growth in on credit and this can only end in tears. Enjoy the good times while they last.

Major semiconductor maker Broadcom (AVGO) disappointed hugely on earnings, tanking the market, and the stock plunged a heartbreaking 12%. The trade war gets the entire blame.  It turns out that Broadcom’s biggest customer is the ill-fated Huawei whose CFO is now sitting in a Canadian jail awaiting extradition to the US. Other semiconductor stocks especially got slammed. The canary in the coal mine just died.

China’s industrial production hit a 17 year low, and yes, it’s because of the trade war, trade war, trade war. When your biggest customers come down with the Asian flu, you at the very least catch a severe cold. Start shopping for Robitussin.

Global Trading Dispatch closed the week up 15.38% year-to-date and is down by -0.34% so far in June. That’s show business. You work your guts out trying to understand this market and it turns out to be for free. Or worse yet, you get a bill without an amount due. This is something that regular salary earners don’t understand.

My nine and a half year profit appreciated to +315.52%, pennies short of a new all-time high. I think I’ll be flatlining at a high for a while to create a base from which I can jump to new highs. The average annualized return ticked up to +33.21%. With the trade war with China raging, I am now 100% in cash with Global Trading Dispatch and 100% cash in the Mad Hedge Tech Letter.

My twin bets on Tesla (TSLA) worked out very nicely and I took profits on both. It was an option play whereby I expected that (TSLA) shares would not fall below $150 or rise above $240 by the June 21 option expiration.

Several followers have seen good success using every Tesla dip below $200 to go naked short August $100 or $125 Tesla puts in small quantities for a decent amount of change.

The long view here is to wait for some kind of summer meltdown and then go long into a year-end rally as 2020 election-related turbochargers start to hit the market.

The coming week will be all about waiting for the Fed to jump. We also get some important updates on housing data.

On Monday, June 17 at 8:30 AM EST the Empire State Manufacturing Index is out.

On Tuesday, June 18, 8:30 AM EST, the May Housing Starts are released.

On Wednesday, June 19 at 2:00 PM EST, the Federal Reserve decision on interest rates is announced. Vital is whether the word “Patient” remains in their statement.

On Thursday, June 20 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. We also get the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index.

On Friday, June 21 at 10:00 AM, we learn May Existing Home Sales. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, by the time you read this, I will be winging my way somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. It’s a 14-hour flight from California to New Zealand, and the plane carries two crews.

It’s a genuine four movie flight. I’ll take off on Sunday and don’t arrive until Tuesday because I’ll be crossing the International Dateline. When I arrive, I’ll feel like death warmed over. It’s all in the name of research and finding that next great trading idea.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader