Markets Hold Steady Ahead Of The Fed’s Verdict On Interest Rates

[Chart courtesy of]

  1. Moving the markets

It was a matter of treading water for most of the day, with the major indexes limping around their respective unchanged lines, until a last-minute pump pushed the indices up and into a green close.

Mid-day attempts to get a rally going fell short, as weakness in the energy sector, due to reports that Saudi Arabia may recover sooner than expected, pulled oil off its lofty level. According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia will restore 70% of the 5.7 million barrels a day production lost rather quickly and the balance within the next two to three weeks.

If so, yesterday’s crude oil spike will turn out to be an outlier with no consequences to equity markets. Traders seemed to share that view and quickly focused their attention on the Fed and expectations that they would reduce interest rates when they meet tomorrow.

It is a foregone conclusion that a -0.25% ease is priced in the market, although the whisper number of -0.5% is still making the rounds. One thing is for sure, if the Fed does not deliver a rate cut, equities will sell off sharply. Remember, these markets are like a drug addict that does not function very well without a regular dose of stimulus.

ZH summed it up this way:

Tomorrow’s rate cut will come with full employment, surging inflation, record high stock prices, and near record low interest rates.

Makes me want to go “Hmmm.”

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Saudi Oil Attack Pulls The Rug Out From Further Market Advances

[Chart courtesy of]

  1. Moving the markets

It came as no surprise that market sentiment took one on the chin, after Saturday’s drone attack on Saudi oil processing plants, which took about 5% of worldwide production offline.

While the major indexes retreated, it was a modest haircut considering the recent advances. Oil prices spiked about 13%, down from an earlier 20%, but if they keep rising and a dose of inflation sets in, we will see more of a negative effect on stocks, or specifically the broad S&P 500 index.

On one hand a hefty surge in oil prices will most likely weigh on the index due to the negative impact on consumer behavior. On the other hand, the positives, at least temporarily, could be higher profits in the energy sector, along with employment to that region. We simply need to have more time pass to see which of the possibilities will materialize.

One analyst opined that “we could start expecting a negative impact from oil on the S&P 500 in an $80-85 range for WTI,” which means we have a long way to go from the current $61 level.

Bond yields acted as a safety haven with the 10-year dropping over 5 basis points to settle at 1.845%, while the oil volatility index surged to its highest since late 2018.

So far, the effect on equities was minor, and we’ll have to wait and see how this movie plays out.

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ETFs On The Cutline – Updated Through 09/13/2019

Below, please find the latest High-Volume ETF Cutline report, which shows how far above or below their respective long-term trend lines (39-week SMA) my currently tracked ETFs are positioned.

This report covers the HV ETF Master List from Thursday’s StatSheet and includes 322 High Volume ETFs, defined as those with an average daily volume of more than $5 million, of which currently 270 (last week 240) are hovering in bullish territory. The yellow line separates those ETFs that are positioned above their trend line (%M/A) from those that have dropped below it.

Take a look:                                                                   

The HV ETF Master Cutline Report

In case you are not familiar with some of the terminology used in the reports, please read the Glossary of Terms. If you missed the original post about the Cutline approach, you can read it here.

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ETF Tracker Newsletter For September 13, 2019

ETF Tracker StatSheet          

You can view the latest version here.


[Chart courtesy of]

  1. Moving the markets

The markets got an early lift from retail sales, despite the August report showing a mixed picture. While purchases of new autos and building supplies contributed to the rise of 0.4% last month, most other stores reported weak or declining receipts, which appears to be a sign that consumers have trimmed their spending.

Equities slipped throughout the session with only the Dow closing in the green and scoring its 8th straight gain. The Dow and S&P 500 are now within striking distance of fresh all-time highs, which may very well happen next week in anticipation of the Fed not disappointing and lowering interest rates next Wednesday.

Trade tensions with China appeared to have softened a tad, at least for the time being, in that China exempted US agricultural products from tariffs. That overture came after reports that an interim trade deal has been struck.

Still, something odd is happening in the relationship between bond yields and equity prices. The 10-year yield surged again by almost 13 basis points, a huge move, which many traders consider a bond bloodbath. That should have been headline news but was barely mentioned in the press.

Despite all the rhetoric about lower rates, mortgage rates have shot up, and the 10-year bond yield, which a few weeks ago was at 1.47%, has spiked to 1.90% without as much as a hiccup in equities. Even the 30-year yield climbed an amazing 33 basis points this week, a surge that is the second biggest since 2009.

The rotation out of well-performing momentum stocks into the cyclical and value arena continued, as higher yields impacted low volatility ETFs, such as SPLV and USMV. While they lagged in performance, they are still holding on to their YTD lead over SPY.

We’re living in a such a distorted system where, as of today, Greek 10-year bond yields are now below US 10-year yields for the first time since 2007. For the uninitiated, that means, at least in theory, Greece is less of a default risk than the US.  

Go figure…

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Weekly StatSheet For The ETF Tracker Newsletter – Updated Through 09/12/2019

ETF Data updated through Thursday, September 12, 2019

Methodology/Use of this StatSheet:

1. From the universe of over 1,800 ETFs, I have selected only those with a trading volume of over $5 million per day (HV ETFs), so that liquidity and a small bid/ask spread are assured.

2. Trend Tracking Indexes (TTIs)

Buy or Sell decisions for Domestic and International ETFs (section 1 and 2), are made based on the respective TTI and its position either above or below its long-term M/A (Moving Average). A crossing of the trend line from below accompanied by some staying power above constitutes a “Buy” signal. Conversely, a clear break below the line constitutes a “Sell” signal. Additionally, I use a 7.5% trailing stop loss on all positions in these categories to control downside risk.

3. All other investment arenas do not have a TTI and should be traded based on  the position of the individual ETF relative to its own respective trend line (%M/A). That’s why those signals are referred to as a “Selective Buy.” In other words, if an ETF crosses its own trendline to the upside, a “Buy” signal is generated. Since these areas tend to be more volatile, I recommend a wider trailing sell stop of 7.5% -10% depending on your risk tolerance.

If you are unfamiliar with some of the terminology, please see Glossary of Terms and new subscriber information in section 9.     

1. DOMESTIC EQUITY ETFs: BUY — since 02/13/2019

Click on chart to enlarge

Our main directional indicator, the Domestic Trend Tracking Index (TTI-green line in the above chart) is now positioned above its long-term trend line (red) by +6.43% after having generated a new Domestic “Buy” signal effective 2/13/19 as posted.

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Rally Expands—Then Runs Out Of Steam

[Chart courtesy of]

  1. Moving the markets

An early rally ended up running out of steam and might have even produced a red close, but fortunately, we ran out of trading time.

The initial boost came from Europe, as the European Central Bank (ECB) followed through on hopes that they’d dig into their toolbox and cut the deposit rate further into negative territory. At the same time, they launched a new round of monthly bond purchases (for as long as needed), here in the US known as Quantitative Easing (QE), along with other steps to stimulate the sagging eurozone economies.

Outgoing ECB head Draghi justified this action by saying that “risks to the eurozone outlook had increased” due to the ongoing global trade disagreements along with concerns about the impending UK exit from the EU.  

Another round of trade jawboning with the Chinese played havoc with the indexes, as early news of an “interim deal” pushed equities higher, which then lost stream in the end, as the White House announced that such a deal was “absolutely not” on the table.

This session had the feel of no clear direction, as the latest headlines about assurances, leakages and skirmishes produced nothing but a roller coaster day. However, we did manage to close in the green. ZH produced this spot-on chart clearly depicting the chaos that went on behind the scenes.

Things may heat up even more, as we inch closer to next week’s Fed meeting and its verdict on interest rates.

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