Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Market update: key market catalysts (19 March 2019)

SPY daily and monthly

$SPX last 5 sessions

1.  Bank of America/Merrill Lynch fund manager survey
  • Latest survey showed allocation to equities is at its lowest since September 2016.  Implies many fund managers have missed/trailed the 2019 rally effort and will need to play catch up, providing more fuel to keep the rally going.
2.  Green shoots of economic optimism
  • Economic sentiment in Germany was better than expected in March and employment trends in the UK were also better than expected, highlighted by the lowest unemployment rate (3.9%) since 1975, according to Reuters.
  • The reassuring data helped stoke the narrative that the global economy may be bottoming (or has bottomed), which has driven buying interest in cyclical sectors.
3.  Ongoing leadership from the semiconductor stocks
  • This industry group is regarded as having leading indicator status, so it resonates as a positive marker that the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is up 21.9% year-to-date, including today's 1.4% gain.
  • Strength in the semis has been a key source of support for the information technology sector (+0.3%), which is the market's most heavily-weighted sector.
4.  Frontrunning the Fed
  • The stock market knows the Fed is on its side at the moment.  On Wednesday, it expects the FOMC to reinforce that position by holding the fed funds rate steady and reiterating a patient mindset. 
  • This expectation, and the speculation that the dot plot will show a reduced rate-hike projection for 2019 (the median estimate in December called for two rate hikes), and that the Fed could announce a plan regarding the timing for ending its balance sheet runoff, have helped keep selling interest in check.

President Trump hosts Brazil’s new leader

Today, President Trump welcomed the recently elected President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, to the White House.

President Bolsonaro’s election marked a historic opportunity for the United States and Brazil—the two largest democracies in the Western Hemisphere—to build a new partnership focused on increased prosperity, strong security, and national sovereignty.

Perhaps most important, Brazil is a crucial ally in President Trump’s stand against the corrupt, socialist Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela. President Bolsonaro reiterated that Brazil stands with Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaido, as well as with the democratically elected National Assembly and the Venezuelan people in their fight against tyranny.

“The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere,” President Trump said from the Rose Garden this afternoon. “And hopefully, by the way, it’s also arrived—that twilight hour—in our great country.”

“I have always admired the United States of America,” President Bolsonaro added. “And this sense of admiration has just increased after you took office.”

President Trump said he will designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally during the visit of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro to the White House. Argentina is the only other South American country with that designation.

President Jair Bolsonaro, left, presents Donald Trump with a Brazil national football jersey after the US leader gave him a US soccer team shirt

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