Wall Street Weekahead: After monster rally, investors cautious as U.S. recovery wobbles


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By April Joyner

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Financiers are preparing their portfolios for a potentially rocky patch in U.S. stocks, stressed that a remarkable rebound in equities may stall in the middle of dimming economic data and rising political uncertainty.

Most cash supervisors watch out for cutting equity direct exposure too dramatically in a market that has actually rallied more than 40% given that late March and stands near all-time highs in spite of widespread economic devastation and a worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Still, the ongoing divergence between stocks and the real economy has stressed some investors. U.S. development took its worst hit on record in the 2nd quarter, while more recent data points to fading consumer self-confidence and jobless claims back on the rise. The S&P 500, meanwhile, stands some 4% listed below all-time highs, though its weekly advances have actually grown gradually smaller in July.

That disconnect is pressing some investors to beef up cash positions or tilt their portfolios towards Europe, where financial prospects seem brighter than in the United States.

The performance of choices strategies developed to profit in sideways markets – such as the “iron condor,” which involves long and short positions on both calls and puts – has also enhanced. The iron condor strategy has drawn controversy and triggered investigation by some legal firms following its bad performance throughout sharp sell-offs, such as in December 2018.

” The longer (financial weakness) continues, the more permanent the structural damage becomes,” said Michael Hans, chief financial investment officer at Clarfield People Private Wealth in Tarrytown, New York City. “For the minute, a range-bound situation makes sense.”

Issues over the U.S. governmental election are likewise mounting. On Thursday, President Donald Trump recommended on Twitter that the Nov. 3 vote be postponed, though he has no direct authority to do so.

Net outflows from equity funds were $1.8 billion in the 4th week of July, while bond funds took in $172 billion and money market funds got $5.5 billion, according to EPFR.

Market individuals hope the Labor Department’s July payrolls report, due next Friday, will shed more light on the state of the recovery.

Some financiers who have actually racked up big gains throughout the equity rally of the last few months are now turning careful.

Eric Marshall, portfolio supervisor at Hodges Capital in Dallas, has actually sold some of the stocks he acquired previously in the year and contributed to cash positions, convinced that benefits have diminished for buying even the most beaten-down shares.

” We have actually taken revenues, and we’ve been really slow to redeploy that cash back,” he said.

Uncertainty over the near-term outlook for equities and Treasury yields near record lows have triggered Charles Day, a personal wealth manager at UBS in New York City, to raise cash holdings to in between 5% to 10% in the portfolios he manages.

” Normally the safe-haven money would be on the fixed-income side, however having some money for a while seems to be prudent to me,” he stated.

Others see higher chances in European stocks than in U.S. equities, in part due to the fact that of the region’s lighter COVID-19 caseload.

Ben Kirby, co-head of investments at Thornburg Investment Management, just recently added Deutsche Telekom AG to his portfolio, wagering the business will benefit from a continual shift to remote work.

” As the S&P has been rallying, we’ve been lowering our direct exposure to domestic stocks,” Kirby stated. “Europe is looking significantly durable.”

Range-bound U.S. stocks could still be rewarding for some investors, nevertheless.

Choppy trading in U.S. stocks has assisted keep the Cboe Volatility Index above its long-term average even though shares in general have moved minimally, strategists say.

That is a beneficial environment for short-volatility strategies, said Stacey Gilbert, portfolio supervisor for derivatives at Glenmede Financial investment Management in Philadelphia. Option sellers anticipate to gather income when expectations for market revolutions stay high however real moves are more soft.

Likewise, an index that tracks the S&P 500 “iron condor” options technique – which profits in range-bound markets and had actually been terribly struck this year – is set to publish its very first month-to-month gain because last October.

” Lots of people think that the recovery has actually mostly done what it’s going to do” for now, stated Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research study at Harvest Volatility Management, which concentrates on iron-condor strategies. “There’s very little upside, however there’s not much drawback left, either.”

( Reporting by April Joyner in New York City; Editing by Dan Grebler and Matthew Lewis)

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