The extreme volatility this year has been marked by may be leaving some investors wondering about we’re in a bear or bull market and how to play it. Technically, we’re still in a bull market and have been for years because what must happen in order for a bear market to occur hasn’t happened yet. Nonetheless, the U.S. stock market and the S&P 500 remain tepid—neither hot nor cold.
Deutsche Bank strategists argue that what we’re seeing right now isn’t a distinctly bear or bull market but rather a balanced market. They suggest selecting industries rather than individual stocks right now.
A range-bound S&P 500
The S&P 500 has been range-bound for some time and could stay between 1,925 and 2,100 until after the election in November, believe David Bianco and team. This range is interesting in light of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s warning that a close of below 2,028 for the S&P 500 would be a bearish signal. Some investors have been worrying about another correction, but they don’t expect this because we’ve already seen a double-dip correction.
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They think it will take something major to send the S&P 500 back into correction territory, such as clearer signs that the U.S. is slipping into a recession or some sort of “new global shock.” They note that April to May are usually strong months for the index but add that they see a ceiling for performance because of the earnings decline.
Other reasons they cite for a cap being on the S&P 500’s performance include more hawkish comments from the Fed, risks from the Brexit vote, and “the usual summer softness, especially given Presidential campaign headline and geopolitical risks.”
The Deutsche Bank team has become more “comfortable” that the U.S. dollar won’t rise sharply anytime soon because the Fed cut its interest rate forecasts for this year. Further, the European Central Bank and others have noted that negative interest rates and currency devaluation aren’t really helping the economies they’ve been enacted in. They add that “nothing like the Plaza Accord of 1985” has happened, which is why they aren’t looking for the dollar to decline. They also don’t expect commodity prices to rebound sharply.
Bianco and team suggest that investors play the balanced bear/ bull market by picking industries, and they favor Healthcare the most, although Tech is a close second because both “offer healthy EPS growth and sizeable PE upside,” they said. They’re Overweight on 16 industries, of which many of them are in the Healthcare sector: Biotech, HC Equipment & Supplies, HC Tech, Life Science Tools & Services, Pharmaceuticals, Tech Hardware, Internet Software & Services, IT Services, Software, Communications Equipment, Banks, Capital Markets, Auto Components, Autos, Media, and Airlines.