Market correction could be about half over, says JPMorgan

Bloomberg Tokyo | Updated on October 07, 2019

Economists see recession as avoidable in the middle of limited imbalances.

A range of indicators including investor positioning before the most recent slump in markets suggests that the drawdown is about half-finished, and will prove to be less painful than the rout last December, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysis.

Since corrections tend to be most significant when markets are expensive and over-owned and when market depth is weak, these indicators give a sense of vulnerability even if they cannot anticipate the timing of a random shock, John Normand, head of cross-asset fundamental strategy at JPMorgan, wrote in an October 4 note. Entering October, vulnerabilities were moderate rather than high.

Read also: How long will this bear market last?

While the S&P 500 Index climbed Friday in the wake of jobs report that showed hiring continues though, at a softer pace, stocks Tuesday and Wednesday suffered the first back-to-back declines of more than 1 per cent this year thanks to a panoply of weakening data. Futures were again on the back foot Monday.

A recession is avoidable, but recurring drawdowns are not, Normand wrote. That’s thanks to President Donald Trumps impulsiveness and the scope for miscalculation when wielding untested policy tools like tariffs, export bans and capital flow restrictions, he said.

Though the S&P 500 has -- just barely -- escaped entering down-20 per cent, bear territory since the market ructions that began in early 2018, there’s been a cumulative toll from the episodes of pain since then, JPMorgan highlighted. The total return for the index in that period is less than 2 percentage points more than for cash.

Ahead of the current drawdown, JPMorgan analysis shows that positioning was reasonably neutral-to-defensive. As for valuations, a multi-asset portfolio showed that the overshoot relative to what global growth usually implies was only modest, Normand wrote. Meantime, market depth -- or the degree of reliance on just a small group to drive gains -- is below average for U.S. stocks, but with positioning not extreme poses less of a worry, he concluded.

The message across all indicators is that this correction is about half complete, and should prove much shallower than last years, Normand wrote.

He cautioned that the high rotations many hope for, such as out of bonds and into equities, or from developed markets to emerging ones and defensive shares to cyclical, would probably take a significant impetus. Think much more Federal Reserve easing, a rollback in tariffs or sizeable fiscal stimulus from the likes of Germany and China.

Published on October 07, 2019

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