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This is a second part of a series on China and trade. To read part one, click here.  CONQUEST update: Last week we raised gold to overweight and high yield to underweight in the core portion of portfolios on rising geopolitical and trade concerns. We’ve pointed out that China owes much of its growth to investment (not trade). As discussed last week, much investment is being subsidized by Chinese households. These subsidies have allowed China to grow well over 7% for many years. From the early 1980s, when China had very low levels of investment, to today, as investment rates…

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A Year of Churn In the past year, forecast earnings for S&P 500 companies are up just about 9%, slightly above the S&P 500’s 5% year-on-year advance. The S&P 500 earnings yield, or inverse of the price-earnings-ratio, now stands near 6.25%, up from 5.9% a year ago. By comparison, the S&P 500 earnings yield is 385 basis points (or 3.85%) higher than the 2.4% yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond. A year ago, the S&P 500 earnings yield spread over Treasuries was about 290 basis points (2.9%), so today’s 385 basis point spread points to somewhat better valuations for…

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The S&P 500 returned 13.7% in the first quarter, the best quarterly performance since 2009. This follows almost a 20% drop in the S&P 500 during the fourth quarter. The concerns about global growth and rising interest rates, which contributed to last fall’s market selloff, appear to be easing. The WCA Fundamental Conditions “Barometer” advanced sharply in the past few weeks as signs emerged that growth may be picking up in the United States. Accordingly, equity exposure was increased and bond portfolio duration reduced across tactical asset allocation models. Full Report Click Here

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A Turning Point?

Analysts have come to believe that S&P 500 companies failed to grow earnings during the just completed first quarter. Moreover, the forwards market for short-term interest rates sees no further U.S. rate increase on the horizon. Global bond markets are, once again, priced with negative yields in Germany, Japan, Spain, and France. The U.S. Treasury curve is flirting with inversion, where long-term rates fall below short-term rates, which can be a recessionary signal. Despite this backdrop, investors returned to equities in the first quarter of 2019. A Turning Point? Undoubtedly, the International Monetary Fund will weigh in on the state…

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As has been the case for the past year, worries over global growth continue to dog markets. Last Friday’s large miss on Germany’s purchasing managers index is more evidence that global growth has turned sour (Chart A, below). Some hoped that a better result would be seen from Germany given that order rates have held up. However, the 44.7 reading on the index is far below 50, creating cause for further concern about Europe. The miss follows earlier warnings on growth from the European Central bank, who recently issued a cut to their outlook. Bloomberg’s estimate of 2019 German growth…

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Expectation Setting

Investor expectations are usually anchored by central bank expectations which is why central bank statements deserve much attention. This Wednesday’s update on monetary policy from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is especially important given the FOMC’s recent pivot to “patience.” Market expectations are now set for an 85% probability of no further rate increases this year. The process of reducing short-term rate expectations, which began last fall, has now rippled through global financial markets, dampened volatility and helped buoy stocks so far in 2019. As the Federal Reserve gets ready to release an updated “dot plot” this Wednesday, the…

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Kevin Caron — CNBC

Faster economy which Fed can raise interest rates, will be ideal, says expert from CNBC.

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Global Trends Remain Negative The contrast in performance between the U.S. economy and the rest of the world is a major theme these days. Since the beginning of 2018, a marked worsening of foreign conditions is obvious, and we expect our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer to register weakness when it is updated next week.  Globally, we see energy and industrial metals trending lower. In Asia, we see financial conditions tightening as Chinese manufacturing fades. Brazilian industrial production has slid. European growth is slowing as financial conditions and the business sentiment turn down. The foreign piece of the global outlook is…

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Some Start of Year Housekeeping At the start of each year, we take some time to lay out the expectations that drive tactical decisions in the CONQUEST portfolios. We also engage in a few “housekeeping” activities to keep portfolios properly aligned with their respective benchmarks. The 2019 Viewpoint is now available and is a great resource to accompany the CONQUEST Tactical ETF portfolios. To order hard copies of the report, please drop us an email with the number of reports you want sent to you. CONQUEST 2019 Housekeeping Increasing Allocation to “Satellite”: As we discuss in our 2019 Viewpoint, we…

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Closing out short-duration tactical tilt as curve flattens. Ahead of the Curve   We increased duration in portfolios as the long-term Treasury yields fall below 3%. Throughout the year, we pointed out that foreign conditions were weighing on the outlook. Growth expectations are lower now than in the beginning of the year, and many stock markets around the world are negative for the year. Bulls appear to be pulling in their horns amid concerns over trade, Brexit, and higher short-term interest rates. While Treasury bond yields have been rising for most of the year, that trend now appears to have…

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An update on CONQUEST tactical portfolio strategy as we get set to close out the year. How About the Economy?   Why should an investor care about keeping track of the economy? Isn’t it enough to just create a “set it and forget it” portfolio? We think investors should care about the economy for two reasons. First, theups and downs of the economy creates risks to avoid and opportunities toexploit. Second, the size of the economy determines the value of the stockmarket and drives long-run return. This is why we, as active managers, devoteso much time evaluating economic data. Near-Term…

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November’s Data If all you did was focus on the United States’ economy, you would conclude that October was a very good month. Over the past two weeks we learned that in October: Workers hourly wages shot up 3.1% from a year earlier, the best performance in a decade; U.S. Manufacturing activity remains solid (the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Manager’s Survey is solidly in the 55-60 range); Core domestic retail sales are up a whopping 5%, year over year, continuing a very strong upward trend. These sorts of readings are unmistakable positives for the United States’ economy, and in…

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