Yesterday, the stock market was up with the Standard & Poor’s 500 gaining 1.46% on the day and the NASDAQ Composite up 2.49%. Listening to the Federal Reserve’s policy statement after the June 15 meeting of its Open Market Committee, Wall Street chose to hear a promise of interest rate cuts as early as the end of 2023 and certainly in 2024. Aggressive interest rate increases in 2022, from this perspective, are just a necessary precondition to those interest rate cuts.
Today, the stock market is down with the Standard & Poor’s 500 falling 3.25% and the NASDAQ Composite off 4.08% at the close. The narrative on investors’ and traders’ minds today is the rising odds of a recession–75% odds in favor by 2024 a Bloomberg survey of economists says with 25% odds of a recession in 2023. For a day that trumps the hopes for 2024 interest rate cuts (which would, after all, only materialize if the economy has, indeed, tumbled into recession.)
I expect this “War of the Two Narratives” to continue for a while until it either resolves into a Bear Market rally (on the evidence of July and September interest rate increases of 75 basis points each and the resulting argument that the Fed is moving close to an end of its interest rate increases) or into a continued downward trend that deepens this bear market without a pause.
I’m in the pause and bear market rally camp myself. But I wouldn’t says this is a high confidence call. The risks to the downside remain considerable.
At the same time the strong possibility, in my opinion, of a bear market rally from here makes me reluctant to put on more short plays. (If I were to put on a short here my choice would be the ProShares Short Russell2000 ETF (RWM), but I note that this short ETF closed up 5.08% today. If I were to buy, I’d like to get in on a down day for the ETF (which would mean an up day for the market) that took the share price lower to somewhere near the $24.26 50-day moving average. The close today saw the ETF trade at $27.08.)
So what am I doing while I wait for a resolution that gives me enough confidence to buy into one market direction or the other?
To the degree that I’m buying anything, and I’m try to build some cash for those (eventual) directional buys, I’m looking at stocks and ETFs that seem uncorrelated with the market direction and likely to move on their own individual news. In my most recent Quick Pick video today I recommended buying more of the U.S. Natural Gas Fund (UNG). The shares of the fund are down on disruptions to U.S. liquified natural gas exports caused by a fire at the Freeport LNG facility that’s responsible for about 17% of U.S. LNG exports. That fire has led to a back up in the U.S. natural gas supply and lower domestic prices. But I think that’s a short term slump and I see a recovery in prices for natural gas and for the fund through the end of the year.
I also note that other commodity ETFs were up today with Teucrium Wheat Fund (WEAT) up 2.55% on this down day at the close and Teucrium Corn Fund (CORN) up 1.55%.
I already own U.S. Natural Gas and Teucrium Wheat in my Volatility and Jubak Picks portfolios, respectively.
Tomorrow I will be adding U.S. Natural Gas to my Jubak Picks Portfolio and Teucrium Corn to my Volatility Portfolio. (You’ll find the Volatility Portfolio on my subscription site JubakAM.com)
Full disclosure: I own shares of U.S. Natural Gas Fund in my personal portfolio.