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Morning Commentary

Too Good?

By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst
5/16/2018 9:42 AM
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Tuesday was a tough session for the market after the Dow rallied for eight consecutive sessions. There was never a sense of desperation, but it was clear the market grappled for leadership in the wake of better-than-expected news.

The market stumbled on a combination of higher Treasury yields and a stronger dollar. For all those folks that are always shocked and outraged whenever there is the talk of a competitive dollar, get ready to have a lot of pride, but expect less return from your blue-chip holdings.

Multinational companies get almost all their earnings growth from sales outside the United States, which is why we want more open markets. It’s also why we shouldn’t be rooting for a currency that’s too strong against the currencies of our trading rivals.

I don’t think the level is high enough to warrant changes to portfolios, but it’s clear that dollar-sensitive stocks such as Caterpillar (CAT) took it on the chin yesterday.

Ten-Year Yield Drama to 3%  

Bond yields were surging yesterday; and yet, the reaction was subdued compared to the run-up to 3% on the ten-year yield. While the move to this point has been like a three-act play, some folks think there is a ghost in the machine element.


On February 2nd, the ten-year yield soared 7.9 basis points to 2.852, sending the Dow off 666 points. The yield reached its highest level since January 2014, up 19.1 basis points for the week.

Moment of Truth

On April 24th, the ten-year Treasury yield hit 3.0%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average responded with a 424-point decline.

New Reality

Yesterday, the ten-year yield rallied to a high of 3.095, its highest level since July 2011; the Dow stumbled, but finished off the lows, down 193 points by the closing bell. 

Using the peak going back to 1985, the ten-year yield has finally broken the uptrend line - a move that conventional wisdom held over the last couple of months would have been the death-knell for stocks. 

The biggest losers in the session were utilities and real estate, which lost its luster to high-dividend payers to more stable bonds with competing yields.

The big question is which sectors or industries continue to look attractive in a higher-bond yield environment.

I love the action in semiconductors, building materials, chemical, and retail names.


S&P 500 Index


Consumer Discretionary (XLY)


Consumer Staples (XLP)


Energy (XLE)


Financials (XLF)


Health Care (XLV)


Industrials (XLI)


Materials (XLB)


Real Estate (XLRE)


Technology (XLK)


Utilities (XLU)



As for the bond yields being higher, there are additional benefits as our Senior Research Analyst Willie Walker pointed out to me last night: “This move will bring a lot of hidden money into the economy. All that cash stashed under mattresses can now seek a return.”

Today’s Session

Equities have been under slight pressure for much of the morning.  There’s a sense the market is simply seeking a catalyst.  I still think the bias is to the upside, even after yesterday’s pullback.  Major indices, however, may have to retest key support levels that were once resistance points. 

The big news this morning comes from Macy’s (M), which beat on revenue and earnings, with comp stores sales in above consensus as well. 

Management says it was the right combination:

Inventory levels are lower year to year and guidance is better than expected as well.  A lot of this news is company-specific but corroborates trends seen in the retail sales report from yesterday.

Petroleum Inventories

All eyes are on the crude inventory report later today just as the International Energy Agency trimmed its demand by 40,000 to growth of just 1.4 million barrels a day to 99.2 million.  Earlier this week, there were lots of reports of drilling in areas beyond the Permian, but rig count data suggest it’s all about the Permian, which has gone from 35% of total rigs to 55% since January 2015.

Considering the growing pains in the region, the implication is any pickup in demand would spur prices higher. 



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