For the broader market, we’ve long followed a concept we call the “volatility smile.” Simply put, broader stock market volatility is high early in the stages of a bull market, falls to low levels in the middle of a major rally and then rises again in the latter stages of a bull market. And, of course, volatility usually rises sharply during a bear market.
The recent upsurge in commodity prices and early signs of a pick-up in inflationary pressure could indicate that the bull market has entered its latter stages. However, until market leadership narrows or our favorite forward-looking economic indicators exhibit signs of deterioration, we’re inclined to regard dips as opportunities on the long side.
Access to relatively inexpensive sensor content, data storage, processing power and high-capacity telecom networks has enabled a new era of machine-to-machine communication that can unlock significant efficiencies for industries rooted in the physical world. The rollout of 5G communications networks over the next few years will enhance remote monitoring and other long-distance IOT functionalities.
We understand investors’ pessimism toward MLPs. Including distributions, the Alerian MLP Index has performed poorly this year. Although sentiment toward midstream MLPs remains weak, the doom and gloom gives savvy investors an opportunity to lock in above-average yields on high-quality names that stand to benefit as US onshore oil and gas production takes market share over time.
On only five occasions over this period has the S&P 500 given up more than 2 percent of its value in the final month and a half of the year. We’re not inclined to fight that seasonal record. Looking ahead to 2018, 65 weeks have passed since the S&P 500 last endured a correction of 2 percent or more. We’d be surprised if stocks don’t break this historic winning streak at some point in the first quarter of 2018.
Utilities and regulators in many states have reached a consensus that coal is yesterday’s fuel. Operators will keep these power plants running as long as they remain economic, but NextEra Energy’s decision to close the St. John’s River facility suggests that their time may be short.
Global growth trades will prove to be the winners in this last phase of the bull market. But success with them will require accuracy and agility. Outperformance will favor strong stock pickers, as investment correlations that favored passive investment strategies break down while the bull market nears its end. Emerging markets should continue to outperform for the rest of the year.
An in-depth rundown of our outlook for oil prices appears in Value Play Earns Higher Buy Target from the most recent issue of Capitalist Times Premium. For those who don't subscribe, here is a breakdown from the summer that appeared in our sister publication Energy & Income Advisor.
The Trump administration has clearly gone all-in on turning the supposed war on coal into a war for coal, but the outcome will depend on electric utilities and power companies. We'll focus on the risks and opportunities associated with government intervention when we attend the Edison Electric Institute's financial conference in November.
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