Friday, 11 October 2013

Banks Breaking Higher In Spite of US Political Roadblocks

Given the drag to US economic activity from the ongoing US government shutdown, and the looming need to raise the US debt ceiling (before the US government runs out of money!), I am surprised to see that US investment banks and broker-dealers continue to do very well, with hardly a pullback in sight. 

US Broker-Dealers Bounce off 3m Moving Average

Boosted by Retail Investors Buying Stock Funds

This particular index comprises investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, stock and commodity exchanges such as the CME, ICE and NYSE Euronext, and electronic trading platforms with as TD Ameritrade and E*Trade. They are all clearly benefiting from the current bull market in stocks, and the swtch by retail investors away from bond funds back towards equity funds, e.g. in the form of buying equity ETFs. 

Money Still Flowing Into Equity ETFs

European Financials Lead the Stock Market

In Europe, the same trends can be seen, with both the European Banks and Insurance sectors at or breaking new highs:

European Banks break a new year high

European Insurers also hitting a new high
You might argue that financial markets are perhaps being a little too sanguine over the risk of a US government debt default; the accepted consensus seems to be that a US default would wreak complete havoc on the US and global economies (not to mention global financial markets), and thus will be avoided by a combination of the US Treasury and Federal Reserve at all costs. 

Nevertheless, the fact remains that volatility remains historically low in spite of the political deadlock, and investors are still stuck looking for somewhere to invest their savings where they can garner a half-decent return, which is still leading them back to stocks and shares. 

Implied Volatility Still Close to Multi-Year Lows

Personal caution

I personally would rather be a seller into this rally than a buyer, as I believe that any eventual debt ceiling deal in the US could result in the stock market cooling off, as it is often better to "buy on the rumour, but sell on the news"

That said, the US and European Banks and Insurance sectors still contain many companies that look attractively valued when looking at P/E, dividend yield or price/book valuation metrics, at a time when the US stock market overall could be argued to be already fully valued (as was argued recently by the famed investor Julian Robertson in a recent CNBC TV interview: Julian Robertson interview).

So what to do? I am still heavily invested in the UK, European, US and Japanese stock markets for now, but I must admit, I am looking to sell down positions sooner rather than later. After all, we are still not even halfway through the month of October, which has proven a pretty volatile month for stock markets in the past (see previous post for details)...

So invest in banks and insurers if you are confident of a successful resolution to the US debt ceiling issue, and if you believe that upcoming quarterly earnings releases from giant US banks such as JP Morgan and Wells Fargo will not disappoint expectations. 

Good luck,

No comments:

Post a Comment