Equities Up, But Investors Queasy
The market may have recovered partially from its illness over the last two years, but investors are still queasy when it comes to equities. The market is up by more than +60% since the March 2009 lows despite the unemployment rate continuing to tick higher, reaching 10.2% in October. Even though equity markets have rebounded, recovering investors have flocked to the drug store with their prescriptions for bonds. Mark Dodson, CFA, from Hays Advisory published a telling chart that highlights the extreme aversion savers have shown towards stocks.
“Net new fund mutual fund flows favor bonds over stocks dramatically, so much so that flows are on the cusp of breaking into record territory, with the previous record occurring back in the doldrums of the 2002 bear market. Given nothing but the chart (above), we would never in a million years guess that the stock market has rallied 50-60% off the March lows. It looks more like what you would see right in the throes of a nasty stock market decline.”
Checking and savings data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis further corroborates the mood of the general public as the nausea of the last two years has yet to wear off. The mountains of cash on the sidelines have the potential of fueling further gains under the right conditions (see also Dry Powder Piled High story).
As Dodson notes in the Hays Advisory note, not everything is doom and gloom when it comes to stocks. For one, insider purchases according to the Emergent Financial Gambill Ratio is the highest since the recent bear market came to a halt. This trend is important, because as Peter Lynch emphasizes, “There are many reasons insiders sell shares but only one reason they buy, they feel the price is going up.”
What’s more, the yield curve is the steepest it has been in the last 25 years. This opposing signal should provide comfort to those blue investors that cried through inverted yield curves (T-Bill yields higher than 10-Year Notes) that preceded the recessions of 2000 and 2008.
Equity investors are still feeling ill, but time will tell if a dose of bond selling and a prescription for “cash-into-stocks” will make the queasy patient feel better?
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
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