Eq: Total Market
There are just under 100 days left until the election and there is a lot on the line for markets. The economic approaches of the Trump administration and the potential incoming Democrats could not be more different, which means there are huge implications for stocks. Here is the good news—over the last 40 years, markets have historically risen leading up to the election, and volatility has usually decreased. Now the big possible twist is the COVID pandemic, a major factor that has not occurred during an election cycle. The most comparable election cycle seems to be 1968, when the US was going through similar levels of social unrest. The S&P 500 gained more than 3% in the run up to that election.
FINSUM: As we see it, the two big risks are COVID (and its economic consequences), and a leftward move by Biden. The Fed will certainly soften the blow of the former, while the latter remains.
Republicans are supposed to debut their new stimulus package today—after a long wait that neither side was happy about—but the details are still unclear. Some prominent party members hinted at details of the proposal on CNN yesterday. So far, it looks like enhanced unemployment benefits will be continued, but at a lower amount, an eviction moratorium would be extended, and direct $1,200 payments may continue for a subset of Americans. Republicans say they want to negotiate a stop-gap deal while a larger package is hashed out. House speaker Pelosi wants the full package negotiated now.
FINSUM: Given the length of time it may take to hash out a complete new deal, millions of Americans would probably be happy if a basic short-term package was agreed ASAP.
Bank of America’s head of global research, in conjunction with the head of their private bank, has just given a major midyear update to clients. The message: we are at the start of a bull market. While they think the recovery might be a little bumpy, in the longer term, they believe there is a great economy on the other side and long-term investors would do well to get into the market on down days in the immediate future.”
FINSUM: Inside these broader predictions was another interesting one- so if stocks are going to rise, which sectors gain the most? BOA’s answer was that despite being overbought, tech still seems likely to see the most gains because the pandemic has accelerated areas that benefit them the most, including automation, cloud-computing, and live streaming.
JP Morgan’s head of research, famed analyst Joyce Chang, published some very interesting views this week. She argues that the pandemic has forever changed financial markets, and highlights what she says are four “paradigm shifts” that COVID has caused. The biggest of those from a market direction perspective is about the Fed. She contends that the huge and extraordinary measures central banks have undertaken in the last few months have fundamentally changed the role of central banks towards financial stability (something they were arguably already focusing on).
FINSUM: In our mind it has become very obvious over the last few years, and especially during the pandemic, that the Fed’s most important mandate is financial stability.
On Friday we ran an article covering which sectors and stocks would do well if the Republicans swept the election. Today we are doing the opposite side of that coin—the stocks that will win big if the Democrats sweep. Democrats are currently leading in the presidential poll and seem likely to keep ahold of the House, while the Senate looks like much more of a stretch. That said, if a sweep happens, infrastructure may be a key sector to surge as a large infrastructure bill would seem likely. Other sectors likely to gain are renewable energy, semiconductors, consumer staples, and oddly, gun stocks (since sales will likely surge on fears of regulation).
FINSUM: The infrastructure play seems like a good one, semiconductors also (like Western Digital). We still think a more likely scenario is a split Congress.
Some bad news on the jobs market emerged this week. In the weekly data, another 1.3m Americans applied for unemployment assistance. That number has stayed steady for weeks and shows no signs of abating. But it is other contextual info that makes that number worse. For instance, job openings are now declining, with total numbers in July down versus June. Growth in worker hours is also waning after growing for several weeks. Finally, google searches for “file for unemployment” are growing.
FINSUM: When you take all this together, a comprehensive picture is starting to show. It appears that the rising COVID cases may now be seriously putting a halt on the recovery.