US stocks fell Monday morning as investors remained cautious that a large federal stimulus, coupled with surging commodity prices and rising government bond yields could lead to a rise in inflation, just as the world economy is starting to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note is around 1.37%, its highest in a year, having doubled in the space of six months.
“Near-term Treasury bond prices are likely to remain under pressure as yields rise in anticipation of the economic re-openings that lie ahead. That said, in our experience the bond market has been known to project its expectations for inflation well beyond levels that are justified by the trends in the actual inflation rate,” said John Stoltzfus Oppenheimer Asset Management chief investment strategist.
US lawmakers will debate on President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan act this week. Also, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell will deliver testimony to the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees.
Here’s where US indexes stood after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Monday:
“Speculative stock #bubbles ultimately see the gamblers take on too much debt,” the investor tweeted, along with a chart showing the S&P 500 index and levels of margin debt both soaring in recent months. “The market is dancing on a knife’s edge,” Burry said.
M&T will fund the entire deal with stock, issuing 0.118 shares for each People’s United share. The deal represents a 13% premium to Friday’s closing price of People’s United Financial.
The combined regional bank will have locations in 12 states throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and have approximately $200 billion in assets.
Upon the completion of the merger, People’s United shareholders will collectively own 28% of the combined company.
“Combining our common legacies and our complementary footprints will strengthen our ability to serve our communities and customers, and provide solutions that make a difference in people’s lives,” M&T CEO René Jones said.
M&T expects the merger to be immediately accretive to its tangible book value per share, and 10%-12% accretive to its earnings per share in 2023. The combined bank expects to realize $330 million in annual cost synergies.
The proposed merger has been approved by the board of directors of both companies and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Investors should reduce their allocation to bonds and use those proceeds to buy stocks, Ned Davis Research said in a note on Thursday.
The research firm said a bullish uptick in the global breadth of earnings growth favors stocks more than bonds, and technical momentum indicators are also exhibiting signs of strength for equities.
And excess liquidity, which will likely continue as Congress considers passing another $1.9 trillion stimulus package, supports “the prospects for more double-digit returns,” NDR said, adding that the market expects economic growth to be revived by the easy financial conditions.
Consistent with secular bull markets, the S&P 500 has now advanced for 72 days without a 5% correction, and 227 days without a 10% decline, NDR highlighted.
And the current rally in stocks could go on for a lot longer.
“With the secular bull resuming, the rally could be expected to continue for another 878 days before it would reach the mean number of days without a 20% decline in a secular bull,” NDR said.
Despite the bullish outlook, NDR warned that valuations are stretched, based on recent records in the market cap to GDP ratio.
“While the valuations and ratios are consistent with a secular bull, their stretched levels warn that the bull has been getting mature,” NDR said. Inflation is another indicator investors need to keep a watchful eye on as stocks move higher, the note said.
“While it now appears likely that another secular bull upleg is underway, warranting maximum exposure to equities, the secular potential may again be in question if reflation leads to overheating, moving the central bankers and bond vigilantes to lower the temperature,” NDR said.
But between now and then, “there should be substantial time and upside potential for equities to continue trending higher,” NDR concluded.
Stocks leaped to record highs several times throughout the week. JPMorgan sees a handful of reasons even higher levels are in store.
Investors faced a fork in the road earlier this month. New stimulus backed by President Joe Biden and Democrats stands to supercharge the US economic recovery, but more conservative experts raised concerns the package could dangerously lift inflation. Traders largely ignored such fears, but stocks elevated valuations now pose a risk of their own.
Strategists led by Dubravko Lakos-Bujas maintain economic reopening and fresh fiscal support trump all. The team reiterated its S&P 500 target of 4,400 on Friday, implying a roughly 12% jump from current levels. The outlook already hinged on a strong consumer recovery, but several new factors bolstered the bank’s call.
Here are the seven reasons JPMorgan sees spending bouncing back and aiding the stock market’s rally.
(1) Swift reopening
Tumbling COVID-19 case counts and continued vaccine rollouts place the US economy mere months away from reopening much of its economy, JPMorgan said. The strategists expect the pandemic to “effectively” end over the next 40 to 70 days.
(2) New stimulus
Roughly $30 trillion in stimulus has aided the global economy through the pandemic, and Democrats are charging on with efforts to approve another $1.9 trillion package. That deal can further accelerate the rebound, particularly by prioritizing employment, JPMorgan said.
(3) Pent-up savings
US households are sitting on record cash reserves with savings totaling about $11 trillion, according to the bank. The unwinding of such funds can revive small businesses and spur new hiring.
(4) Ballooning wealth
Markets’ health through the pandemic can further boost Americans’ wealth. JPMorgan estimates rising values across home equity, pensions, and 401k plans will add up to $48 trillion in total net worth.
(5) Healthy household debt levels
Americans will also be coming out of the pandemic with robust balance sheets. The debt service ratio sits at a four-decade low, and delinquency rates for consumer loans are at historically low levels, JPMorgan said.
(6) Improved job market
A falling unemployment rate, growing average work week, and possibly higher minimum wage will all contribute to a healthier labor market, the strategists said.
(7) Millennial bump
A record 5 million millennials will reach the inflection point of seeking homeownership, according to the team. Increased spending from this group will shift more savings into the economy.
The ruling was a blow to Uber, which has been fighting the lawsuit since 2016, when two ex-Uber drivers filed the lawsuit against the company.
The decision from the UK’s highest court entitles Uber drivers to basic worker right like holiday pay and a minimum wage. The UK represents Uber’s largest European market, with more than 40,000 drivers.
The dispute will now go to a tribunal, which will determine how much the 25 drivers who led the case against Uber will be awarded.
The ruling could have wide ramifications for workers and companies within the gig economy across Europe. Uber recently won a similar battle in California last year with the Prop 22 ballot initiative.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives believes the UK ruling “revives a nightmare for Uber,” according to a Friday note.
“This case could set a precedent for other workers and companies in the gig economy throughout the UK and Europe which would be a body blow to the overall ecosystem,” Ives said.
Uber could be more prepared to handle the UK ruling after it implemented different strategies during the Prop 22 fight in California, like allowing drivers to choose which riders to accept and set their own rates, Ives said.
The negative development isn’t shaking Ives bullish Outperform rating on Uber. Ives reiterated his $76 price target on the stock, representing potential upside of 29%.
Uber has “cleared many challenges and hurdles over the past 18 months and now is in a position of strength heading into a ‘reopening dynamic’ over the next 6 to 9 months,” Ives said, adding that the UK ruling is a “contained risk.”
Shares of GameStop slipped as much as 11% on Thursday to their lowest level since January 21 amidst a Congressional hearing on the Reddit-fueled drama.
On Thursday, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on January’s short-squeeze drama, calling on the main players at the center of the saga to testify. The virtual hearing, titled “Game Stopped? Who Wins and Loses When Short Sellers, Social Media, and Retail Investors Collide,” was led by the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, Maxine Waters.
Chief executives from Robinhood, Citadel, Melvin Capital Management, and Reddit testified, as well as famed Wall Street Bets member Keith Gill, also known as Roaring Kitty.
Apple’s ambitions in the electric-vehicle space are heating up, as recent reports have suggested that the iPhone-maker has held talks with Hyundai and Nissan on a partnership to develop an Apple car.
The Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives expects Apple to strike a formal partnership with an auto manufacturer sometime in 2021, which could lead to a bull-case scenario in which shares of Apple surge 66%, to $225.
Ives said there was an 85% chance that Apple would announce an EV partnership over the next three to six months; pressure for Apple to finalize its plans is likely rising as recent announcements from Ford and General Motors revealed aggressive EV ambitions.
“With a Biden-driven green tidal wave on the horizon, we believe now is the time for Apple to dive into the deep end of the pool on the EV front,” Ives said.
The electric-vehicle sector is “entering a golden age” as factors like battery technology, regulatory incentives and tax credits, and more affordable models create “a perfect storm for demand,” Ives said in a note on Monday.
“With a market that could be $5 trillion+ over the next decade, if Apple gets just 5% – 10% of share this could represent another major growth pillar within Cupertino,” Ives said.
To capitalize on the opportunity, a “golden partnership” could set Apple up well for the next decade, Ives said. Ives speculated that Apple could strike a strategic partnership with Hyundai, Tesla, Ford, Nio, or Volkswagen.
The top two choices, according to Ives, are Hyundai and Volkswagen. Hyundai has “huge” production capabilities thanks to its proprietary Electric Global Modular Platform, and its robotic assembly design could fit well with Apple’s software and autonomous integration capabilities, Ives said.
Volkswagen’s so-called modular electric drive matrix “is a next generation design framework that would allow easy integration of new models from the likes of Apple,” Ives said. Volkswagen is also invested in QuantumScape, which could develop a differentiated battery pack for electric vehicles with its solid-state battery technology, the note said.
“In a nutshell, Apple with the right partner would be a major force in the EV industry and could disrupt market share from the likes of Tesla, GM, Ford if the company is able to get the Apple Car on the road by 2024,” Ives said.
Wedbush reiterated its “outperform” rating and 12-month price target of $175 on shares of Apple, representing potential upside of 29% from Friday’s close.
US stocks traded at record highs on Tuesday as optimism around an accelerated reopening of the economy increased among investors.
The optimism is mostly predicated on a continued plunge in daily COVID-19 cases since the peak of the third wave in early January. On Sunday, there were about 55,000 recorded cases of COVID-19, compared to 93,000 a week ago.
The plunge in cases comes as the administration of COVID-19 vaccines accelerates, with the US recently seeing some days with more than 2 million doses given, though a snowstorm and plunging temperatures for about half the country slowed down the vaccine rollout over the holiday weekend.
Here’s where US indexes stood after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Tuesday:
NYSE president Stacey Cunningham told Axios in a recent interview that investing in the stock market does not resemble gambling.
“The markets are not a casino,” she told Axios’ Dan Primack. “They are highly regulated and they’re highly overseen. We are running a market that provides opportunities for investors to come in, invest in the companies they believe in, they believe that are gonna grow, and then share in that wealth creation.”
Cunningham disagreed with the sentiment, and said that what makes America so great is that “dreamers and entrepreneurs” with an idea can grow their business by getting others to invest via the stock market and share in the success.
Cunningham said NYSE officials have not been summoned to testify at the hearing, even though GameStop, AMC and other so-called “meme-stocks” trade on the exchange. “This is not really so much a New York Stock Exchange issue,” she said.
However, she believes regulators should review transparency requirements around short positions held by hedge funds.
Keith Gill, the day trader and member of Reddit group WallStreetBets who is widely credited with igniting the recent GameStop trading frenzy, claimed in late January that he had turned his $54,000 investment into a $48 million dollar fortune.
Days later, it had been sliced by more than half to $22 million, and regulators had set their sights on Gill, investigating him over potential disclosure violations.
While the dust has far from settled, and some Wall Street firms did lose big, a David versus Goliath victory now hardly seems like the most likely outcome.
It had made for a compelling narrative, too: an army of retail investors – without deep pockets, sophisticated trading algorithms, proprietary market data, or other tools of the trade – banding together to beat powerful, corrupt financial institutions at their own game.
Ultimately though, Wall Street and other big-money investors still appear to have ended up on top, and experts, at least those outside the industry, say it’s that outcome that further proves how the system is rigged.
Insider spoke with three experts on financial markets – none of whom work at traditional financial services firms. They said there’s a lot of work to be done to make the markets work for small investors again, and, just as importantly, to restore the public’s faith that the markets can do just that.
“Geared to favor the big”
“The whole business is basically a power dynamic… it’s geared to favor the big over the small,” Garphil Julien, a research associate with the anti-monopoly think tank Open Markets Institute, told Insider. “Those with enormous amounts of capital, enormous amounts of money, will use their power to basically get what they want, and when they get what they want, someone else is going to lose,” he said.
He’s not alone in that assessment.
According to a recent CNBC poll, a record-breaking 57% of Americans view the stock market as a reflection only of how corporations and the wealthy are doing, not the rest of the country. That’s true among financial elites and Republicans as well, both historic defenders of the free markets.
“Is the market really fair for individual investors? Is it really competitive? What we’re seeing is that it’s not,” Julien said.
As former Wall Street analyst Alexis Goldstein recently put it in an op-ed for The New York Times: “Wall Street’s edge over retail traders remains, as always, structural,” and even if a bunch of Redditors band together, “the house still wins.” But, she argued, “rather than gambling on the dubious promise of more Americans gaining access to the casino, it’s time to rewrite the rules to ensure that the house doesn’t always win.”
Another problem underlying the GameStop saga is that too many Wall Street firms have gotten into businesses that are inherently designed to extract as much money as possible from the financial system for their own gain, rather than helping allocate it toward uses that would help the economy overall.
Amid last month’s trading frenzy, the markets ultimately proved fairly resilient, but that doesn’t mean they’re working in ways that protect smaller investors who have more to lose.
“There will be a temptation to say… the market isn’t broken, everything’s fine,” Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, told Insider. “While it’s true that the market isn’t broken – yet – I don’t think it follows that everything is fine.”
Roper said it’s good to focus on improving transparency and accountability around practices that may involve conflicts of interest, such as payment for order flow, over which Robinhood and Citadel are both facing scrutiny, but that the issue is also far more fundamental and widespread.
“The financial services industry itself has sort of divorced itself from the more boring and less profitable job of helping to steer capital toward its best uses in support of the productive economy, and has for some time now, made most of its money making money,” Roper said.
“Financial firms make all of their money off of securitizing everything under the sun,” she said. “They found a way that it’s really profitable, and so they’re pursuing the profits even though the niche is overfilled.”
But that problem “was at the heart of the last financial crisis, and we didn’t solve it there,” Roper said, referring to the 2008 financial crisis.
Robinhood itself has been criticized – and fined $65 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission – over high-frequency trading, a controversial practice that uses powerful software to execute large trades in fractions of a second, allowing firms to make money off momentary changes in the price of stocks. Wall Street banks are even evading regulations around derivatives trading – the same risky behavior that precipitated the 2008 crisis – according to financial blog Wall Street On Parade.
Roper said she doesn’t see dangerous Wall Street business models being addressed anytime soon, either.
“If we didn’t do it when Wall Street literally brought the global economy to the brink of collapse, I don’t think we’re going to do it now because some people on Reddit put on a short squeeze and caused some chaos in the markets for a few weeks,” she said. “I guess I’m as cynical as the people on WallStreetBets.”
“Broader public outrage”
Part of Americans’ frustration with the current financial system is that it has become so complex that only Wall Street insiders really seem to know how everything works, something the industry uses to its advantage to dodge blame in situations like GameStop.
“It’s another episode similar to those past ones of the public feeling like there are multiple things wrong here – not really know what is exactly wrong, but just feeling like something is not working,” Graham Steele, senior fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project, told Insider.
“It’s just a general popular sense that a system wherein this kind of scenario can come to pass, just fundamentally doesn’t work for the public and it is ‘rigged,’ or something else, but they know something is wrong.”
Steele also said widening inequality, pandemic response failures, and polarization around the election amplified the GameStop fury: “It feels like you’re layering a new financial episode on top of other, broader public outrage.”
But that’s where their agreement ends, with Democrats typically favoring government intervention, and Republicans typically pushing for more transparency and then letting the markets figure out the rest.
“In terms of the Silicon Valley folks,” Steele said, they’re “painting themselves as kind of populists, but a lot of them have their own sort of financial interests at stake here. A lot of their solutions are like, don’t use that app, use the app that I invested in.”
“I just don’t see Elizabeth Warren going out there pumping someone else’s trading app because a venture capitalist has said, ‘that’s the right thing to do,'” he added.
Ultimately, all three experts agreed that making the markets more equitable and aligned with the health of the broader economy will require reforms stretching far beyond the financial services industry.
“Fixing that system requires a whole host of policy solutions that run the gamut from financial regulation to tax policy to how we structure the retirement system to how we deliver healthcare to people,” Steele said.