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The selloff accelerates, with the Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) and Russell 2000 (IWM) each now lower by 2.3%. Little-changed earlier, selling comes to the S&P 500 (SPY -0.7%) and DJIA (DIA -0.4%).
What's working? Emerging markets for one. Another area of green is the utility sector (XLU +0.9%). Healthcare (XLV -0.8%) would usually get a bid on these days, but it's being dragged down by the continuing liquidation of the biotechs. There are also some pockets of green in basic materials (XLB -0.7%).
"Warehouses over townhouses" is one of BAML's ten themes for 2014 - highlighting a potential shift away from consumer-driven stocks to industrial and commercial names.
"If revenue growth continues to accelerate as we expect, corporations are likely to invest in their businesses by spending some of the cash accumulated on their balance sheets. This capex cycle, combined with improving global economic growth, is likely to benefit stocks in more industrial and cyclical parts of the economy over those that are more dependent on the consumer. In our view, this has already started, but probably is in its early stages."
An attached chart shows this outperformance beginning to creep in in Q3.
If the thesis is correct, investors may want to be sellers of Consumer Discretionary (XLY), Health Care (XLV), and Financials (XLF), and buyers of Tech (XLK), Energy (XLE), Industrials (XLI), and Materials (XLB).
Miller Tabak's Jonathan Krinsky saw technical signs last week of a rotation into the very-much unloved materials sector. Of the 10 S&P 500 sectors YTD, only telecom has done worse than materials (XLB).
Unlike the broad market and many other S&P 500 sectors, materials hasn't taken out its pre-crisis highs, but a chart of its ratio to the S&P 500 - a clear downtrend - looks like it may soon resolve itself with an upside breakout.
Homebuilder stocks aren't taking much encouragement off the bigger number in Housing Starts today, as the underlying data doesn't appear to be strong enough to offset yesterday's drubbing: BZH -0.7%, TMHC -0.2%, HOV -0.2%, DHI +0.9%, KBH +0.5%, PHM +1.6%, LEN +0.9%, TOL +1%. Building materials suppliers on the other hand don't care what kind of homes are being built, and are having a much better day on the news: LII +2.3%, WSO +2%, SHW +3.3%, LPX +3.6%).
The slides from the BHP presentation that's got markets spooked this morning. Slide 7 highlights the company's expectation that Chinese iron ore consumption - after more than quintupling between 2000 and 2012 - is not expected to be much higher in 2020 than it is today.
Miners are leading declines in Europe following a BHP executive's comments that Chinese demand for iron ore is flattening out. Competitor Rio Tinto (RIO) quickly trotted out one of its execs to say solid growth continues in China, but the damage was done. BHP -2.9%, RIO -3.3% premarket. Aussie dollar -1.1%.
Taking its signal from rising bond yields, HSBC suggests cyclicals will outperform as higher rates are a sign nominal demand is rising. The main casualties: healthcare and consumer staples. As for being a threat to the entire market, HSBC believes this is only true at real yields above 4% (they're negative now), but "a sharp rise in bond yields is a threat from whatever level."
"Last year you only had to get 2 things right," says Jeff Saut, "You had to raise cash in March/April and put it back to work during the bottoming sequence of August-October." He believes a similar strategy will work this year, with his preferred sector being the cyclicals, as either the economy moves forward of the Fed unleashes QE3 if it slows.
Ugly chart of the day, from Doug Kass: Copper is not confirming the recent rally in stocks to the upper end of the Aug.-Sept. trading range. Unless Dec. copper can recover and hold 3.50, Kass says, then industrial metals will point much lower as the global slowdown spreads. ETFs: JJC -6.6%, IYM -3.5%. Stocks: CLF -7%, FCX -5.9%.
Deutsche calls a floor in steel prices, upgrading AK Steel (AKS) and U.S. Steel (X) to buy on valuation. "We now view steel dynamics and investor sentiment as nearly the inverse of early 2011 when we downgraded the sector." AKS +2.3%, X +2.7% premarket.