Market Update for 4 May 2020: Stocks, Gold, and Bitcoin

This article provides an overview of news that may be relevant to three different markets: equities (mainly U.S. stocks), commodities (mainly gold), and crypto (mainly Bitcoin).

The price information you’ll see in this article was taken around 08:00 UTC on 4 May 2020. The data providers used for pre-market trading data are as follows:

Two pieces of news seem to be on the minds of many investors today.

First, on Saturday (May 2), legendary American investor Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, as well as the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, made some worrisome comments at his company’s 2020 Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, which was broadcast on Yahoo Finance.

According to a report by CNBC, during the meeting, Buffett explained why Berkshire Hathaway had not made any major investments recently despite the drop in U.S. stock prices as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the fact that his company is sitting on a mountain of cash (to be more precise, $137 billion in cash and equivalent instruments, according to Berkshire Hathaway’s latest 10-Q filing):

“We have not done anything, because we don’t see anything that attractive to do… Now that could change very quickly or it may not change…”

“We are willing to do something very big. I mean you could come to me on Monday morning with something that involved $30, or $40 billion or $50 billion. And if we really like what we are seeing, we would do it.”

As Anthony Pompliano (aka “Pomp”), Co-founder and Partner at Morgan Creek Digital, pointed out yesterday in a Q&A session (on the economy and financial markets) broadcast live on YouTube yesterday, Buffett’s hesitancy to pull the trigger could mean that he expects further falls in the prices of U.S. stocks.

Second, on Sunday (May 3), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” program that the Trump administration believed that the Chinese government “did all it could to make the sure the world didn’t learn in a timely fashion about what was taking place” in China in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Furthermore, according to ABC, there are U.S. intelligence reports that say the coronavirus may have come from a lab in Wuhan and that China quietly stockpiled medical supplies (such as masks) in the early January.

Pompeo then went on to say that China’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis had resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives around the world and that President Trump intends to “hold those responsible accountable.”

CNN says that “multiple sources inside the administration say that there is an appetite to use various tools, including sanctions, canceling US debt obligations and drawing up new trade policies, to make clear to China, and to everyone else, where they feel the responsibility lies.”

Equities

Here is how various stock markets around the world are doing on Monday morning (London time):

  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng: -4.18%
  • Japan’s Nikkei 225: -2.84%
  • France’s CAC 40: -3.70%
  • Germany’s DAX: -32.%
  • UK’s FTSE 100: -0.14%

Commodities

Spot gold is trading at $1,705.49, up $16.75 (or +1%).

In the year-to-date period, gold is up 17.50%.

Source: Market Update for 4 May 2020: Stocks, Gold, and Bitcoin | CryptoGlobe

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These 4 Low P/E Stocks Trade Below Book And Pay Dividends

US dollar rolled up in macro shot

Despite the highest stock market prices in history and Presidential tweets proclaiming the wonder of the economy, it’s still possible to identify equities coming in at under book value and with price/earnings ratios actually somewhat close to earth.

Right now, the p/e of the S&P 500 stands at 24.13 and the Schiller p/e sits at 30.88. The price of the index is 3.6 times book value.

The price/earnings ratio of the NASDAQ Composite index is 34.16. The NASDAQ is trading at 3.3 times its book value.

What if — under these conditions of over valuation — you could find stocks trading with price/earnings ratios of below 15 and at less than their book value? You know, like Warren Buffett used to do it.

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Instead of falling in love with Tesla, now trading with a forward p/e of 75, at 12 times book and with more debt then equity, what if you could consider old-school valuation techniques and identify what they used to call “cheap.”

Are there still such things as actual value stocks?

Here are 4 possible candidates:

WestRock is a New York Stock Exchange-listed stock in the “packaging solutions” business with headquarters in Atlanta.

The stock trades with a price/earnings ratio of 12.65 and at a 7% discount to its book value. The record of earnings is quite good for this year and looks in the green over the past 5 years. Investors receive a fat 4.68% dividend. That long-term debt exceeds shareholder equity is a concern — however, the current ratio is positive.

Metlife is the brand name life insurance firm that’s been around for 145 years. Based in New York, the stock trades on the NYSE.

The price/earnings ratio of Metlife is an amazingly low 6.85. You can buy shares at the current price for 70% of the company’s book value. Shareholder equity is greater than long-term debt. The dividend payment comes to 3.43%. With an average daily volume of 5.3 million shares, no need to worry much about liquidity.

AXA Equitable Holdings is an NYSE-listed insurance brokerage founded in 1859 and headquartered in New York.

The p/e is 14.73 and it trades at an 18% discount to its book value. Long-term debt is less than total shareholder equity. Investors receive a dividend of 2.41%. Earnings this year are excellent and the 5-year track record of earnings is very good.

Amplify Energy is an independent oil and gas company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

This one requires closer inspection than those listed above. With a price/earnings ratio of 6.46 and trading at just half its book value, the stock is definitely “cheap.” One concern is that long-term debt exceeds shareholder equity. Also, it’s odd that the dividend yield is 11% — how likely can that high of a payout be sustained? Meantime, Amplify’s earnings this year are excellent and the 5-year record is good. Average daily volume is relatively low at just 248,000 shares.

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Stats courtesy of FinViz.com.

I do not hold positions in these investments. No recommendations are made one way or the other.  If you’re an investor, you’d want to look much deeper into each of these situations. You can lose money trading or investing in stocks and other instruments. Always do your own independent research, due diligence and seek professional advice from a licensed investment advisor.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

My Marketocracy work is profiled in The Warren Buffetts Next Door: The World’s Greatest Investors You’ve Never Heard Of by Forbes Investments Editor Matt Schifrin. I’m a 1972 graduate of the University of North Carolina

Source: These 4 Low P/E Stocks Trade Below Book And Pay Dividends

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Late-Inning Heroics? Stocks Hint At Friday Rally As Trade Talk Optimism On the Rise

  • Stocks down for the week so far but trade optimism gives positive tone early
  • Micron shares fall on disappointing forecast
  • Wells Fargo gets a new CEO, helping lift shares

Friday dawns after a week that didn’t provide much direction for investors. Stocks have generally chopped around in reaction to the latest geopolitical or domestic political news, and stayed in a tight range.

The question Friday might be whether the major indices can propel themselves to a victory for the week, because they start the session slightly down from a week ago thanks to positive trade vibes and solid durable goods data. That data looked really nice, up from the previous month and rising for the third month in a row. We’ll have to see if that’s sustainable because a lot of it was from the defense sector in the form of planes and parts. Either way, the trend can sometimes be your friend, as the old market saying goes.

Today In: Money

Also, the Personal Consumption Index (PCE)—the Fed’s preferred inflation metric—rose 0.1%, roughly in line with expectations. The core index, which strips out the often-volatile food and energy prices, also rose 0.1% to an annualized rate of 1.8%. It’s an uptick for sure, but still below the Fed’s stated target of 2% inflation. Might this be enough to shift the Fed’s thinking from dovish to neutral?

Whether or not stocks make a last-minute run here, it’s been hard to find much of a theme in the last few days. Hopes for progress in trade negotiations got reinforcement yesterday with an October 10 date set for new talks, but the noise out of China since then has mostly been about how willing they are to buy more U.S. products.

That’s all good, but it doesn’t get at the intellectual property and other issues that U.S. negotiators say are at the heart of the matter and apparently were a sticking point when the last round of talks broke down. It’s hard to see these talks getting much further without movement on these issues.

Another focus is the impeachment drama in Washington. Two big bombshells came out this week, but stocks didn’t show much reaction. As we’ve said, it’s important to keep your emotions out of trading, and impeachment is an emotional issue. It’s likely to be a long process and a constant background noise over the next weeks and months, but investors might serve themselves better by watching earnings and data.

It’s interesting to hear some analysts saying that the impeachment situation might actually be bullish because it could put pressure on the administration to get a trade deal done on the sooner side. This school of thought suggests President Trump might be keen to get some positive headlines to counter the negative ones. That remains to be seen and is just speculation for now.

On the earnings front, bad news came at the end of the week from Micron (MU), as the semiconductor firm issued guidance that Wall Street didn’t seem to like too much. Shares were down 5% in premarket trading. Revenue and earnings beat third-party consensus views, but were way down from a year ago as the company continues to struggle with demand for its memory products. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see the weakness in MU shares work their way into the entire chip sector, maybe putting pressure on Technology stocks today.

And Wells Fargo (WFC) is back in the news today after the financial company hired a new CEO. This ended a six-month search and means investors won’t have to approach WFC’s earnings call next month with more questions about who would head the company. Shares rose in premarket trading.

Quarterly Market Gains Not Much To See

The old quarter is just about over, and it’s been a wild one that basically didn’t go much of anywhere if you look at the major indices. Sure, they surged to new peaks at times, but also retreated. It ended up being almost a wash, with the benchmark S&P 500 (SPX) closing Thursday up just 1% from where it finished at the end of June.

The choppy trade that marked most of the quarter continued on Thursday, with the market giving up early gains, clawing back to flat and then losing more ground by the closing bell. Some of the “risk-on” trading we saw on Wednesday didn’t really carry into Thursday, with small-caps in the Russell 2000 (RUT) drifting lower and Financials having a rough day.

Instead, some caution appears to be coming back into play late this week, with Utilities and Real Estate near the top of the leaderboard Thursday. Those aren’t places people tend to go when they’re feeling gung-ho about the economy. Bonds—another defensive area—also rallied, but gold didn’t share in the fun.

Though every day seems to have a different theme, there’s a lot of concern out there about the fundamental picture. It’s good to hear that new trade talks begin October 10, as we found out Thursday, but a resolution doesn’t seem all that close.

One concern is that new tariffs announced last month on Chinese goods could start having an impact on consumer spending, which would possibly cause companies to get even more cautious. If companies stay in a holding pattern, it’s hard to see any significant rally on the horizon. Earnings growth is already expected to fall year-over-year in Q3 after sinking in Q1 and Q2.

When you get right down to it, earnings drive the market. If investors continue to see earnings grow at slower rates, at some point the market could start to reflect that. FactSet, a research firm, predicts a nearly 4% earnings loss for S&P 500 companies in Q3. Earnings fell 0.4% in Q2 and also fell in Q1, making this potentially the first three-quarter stretch of falling year-over-year earnings since late 2015/early 2016.

No Fun for FAANGS

Some of the FAANG stocks, including Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and Facebook (FB), also are having tough weeks. Again, it’s regulatory issues dogging FB, but the others could be under pressure from changing money flows as the FAANG sector seems to be losing some of its mojo, according to an article this week on MarketWatch.

Next week will be October, after Monday at least, so let’s look at what the market’s going to be grappling with beyond the China trade and impeachment stories. We’re still a few weeks out from earnings, meaning volatility could be a factor and the market could move up or down quickly based on the latest headlines or tweets. It could still do that after earnings start in mid-October, too, but earnings give people something solid to point at in times of turmoil.

One thing we’ll be pointing to next week is a monthly payrolls report for September. A lot of eyes are likely to be on the numbers a week from today, wondering if those relatively modest job gains back in August were a one-time deal or maybe a sign of something more serious. Even before August, job growth had been slowing this year, but it’s still above the level economists think we need to keep unemployment low.

Other data aren’t so exciting next week, but Chicago PMI on Monday might be interesting when you consider recent data where manufacturing activity appears to be slowing down. Chicago PMI surprised to the upside last time and came in above 50. Anything below that would indicate economic contraction, according to how the report is structured. It was 50.4 in August.

Volatility can sometimes tick up the last days of the quarter, but the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) has dropped below 16 this morning after topping 17 earlier this week.

Company Caution Crimps Quarter: Normally, the government’s report on gross domestic product (GDP) gets lots of attention. That wasn’t the case yesterday because a few other things were going on (there’ve been some political headlines, if you haven’t noticed). A check of the data showed 2% growth in Q2, which means the slowdown that began early this year continued. As a reminder, gross domestic product was nearly 3% in 2018. To some extent, this downturn probably reflects the trade war with China. Many companies appear to be in a holding state because they’re putting off decisions on business plans. You can’t continue to have companies putting decisions off, because it could start affecting the longer curve of growth. It may already be doing that.

Crude Concerns: The fundamental concerns mentioned above aren’t any easier to dismiss when you consider how crude’s behaved recently. Remember when U.S. crude rose above $60 less than two weeks ago in a 15% one-day rally? Seems like a long time ago, with crude back down in the mid-$50s by Thursday. Rising U.S. inventories apparently caught some market participants by surprise and raised questions about demand. It’s just a week or two of data, so you don’t want to make any broad conclusions, but falling crude demand would possibly be a sign of a slowing economy if it continues. That remains to be seen, but for the moment it’s hurting the Energy sector, which suffered more than a 1% loss yesterday.

Batting 3000: The first time the S&P 500 (SPX) crossed the 2000 level was on Aug. 26, 2014. But it traded below 2000 on an intraday basis 22 months later, on June 27, 2016. The lesson here? Just because an index crosses a big round-number benchmark doesn’t mean you can put that magic number in the rearview mirror and forget about it. We’re getting a reminder of that now, with the SPX struggling to get its head above 3000 after first hitting that mark back in July. At this point, the late July intraday high of 3027 remains the peak, and the SPX has fluttered back and forth above and below 3000 ever since.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll still be wrestling with 3000 in mid-2021, though that can’t be ruled out. And while we’re talking scenarios, one can’t rule out a major test to the downside either. In the near term, it’s very hard to see any move above 3000 lasting long without a China deal. Anticipated weak earnings are another major barrier, because without earnings growth, it gets harder and harder to justify rallies.

TD Ameritrade® commentary for educational purposes only. Member SIPC.

I am Chief Market Strategist for TD Ameritrade and began my career as a Chicago Board Options Exchange market maker, trading primarily in the S&P 100 and S&P 500 pits. I’ve also worked for ING Bank, Blue Capital and was Managing Director of Option Trading for Van Der Moolen, USA. In 2006, I joined the thinkorswim Group, which was eventually acquired by TD Ameritrade. I am a 30-year trading veteran and a regular CNBC guest, as well as a member of the Board of Directors at NYSE ARCA and a member of the Arbitration Committee at the CBOE. My licenses include the 3, 4, 7, 24 and 66

Source: Late-Inning Heroics? Stocks Hint At Friday Rally As Trade Talk Optimism On the Rise.

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