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The past few weeks’ bear market bounce was based on the premise that maybe inflation has peaked or is close to doing so. The most recent CPI numbers from Europe and the US are showing that this line of thinking might be a bit premature.
Most stocks had their usual pre-FOMC selloff last week. Now it remains to be seen if they have their usual post-FOMC bounce. A lot will depend on how the Fed interprets the latest record inflation readings. If they panic and talk about an acceleration in interest rate increases and balance sheet reduction, we might see a further selloff. If everything remains on the current trajectory, there’s a good chance of a short-term bounce in the second part of the week. Overall the trend remains lower. Downtrends typically end in one of the following ways – either panic selling that scares you out or a prolonged sideways choppiness that wears you out.
The best-performing stocks during the latest bear market rally were the ones that held the best year-to-date (oil & gas) and the ones that were hit the worst year-to-date (mostly cloud, Internet, retailers with very high short interest). It seems that move has now ended and the market is working on new trends. One that stood out last week was the weakness in financials. The Treasuries Yield curve has become flat as a pancake and banks don’t make a lot of money in that environment. The market is clearly discounting a recession and inflation due to supply constraints in the energy space. This is also known as stagflation and it is one of the worst things that can happen to an economy.
I remain focused on short-term trades on both the long and short sides. Buying breakouts doesn’t work for more than one day in most cases in this environment. Buying pullbacks in strong stocks and shorting rips in weak stocks have a better probability of working.
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