10 Reasons the Equity Rally Is Over

by: Cullen Roche

David Rosenberg takes one more stab at explaining why the equity rally is on its last legs:

1. For the time being, the equity market is going to have to contend with more chatter of the Fed’s exit strategy.

2. The market also faces a new reality. While employment stabilizing (maybe) is a good thing, it means the era of declining unit labour costs and margin expansion is behind us.

3. Market leadership is beginning to fade as seen by the receding advance-decline line on the big board.

4. Market complacency is a worry with the VIX index back down to 21.25. The good news is that insurance against a correction is priced about as low as it can go. Protection is cheap.

5. The WSJ (page C1) reports that not only have individual investors been selling into this last leg of the rally (then again, the S&P 500 has really done nothing for over six weeks), but pension funds have been rebalancing too.

6. Volume has declined markedly and has surpassed 4.7 billion shares on the NYSE just once in the past three weeks.

7. With the correlation between a weak greenback and a positive stock market above 90% over the past eight months (versus zero over the past 30 years), a countertrend rally in the U.S. dollar would likely coincide with sputtering equity prices.

8. The Dow transports/utilities ratio has turned in a classic triple-top and this is a signpost to get defensive.

9. The latest Investors Intelligence poll shows the bull camp at 50%; the bear share at a mere 16.7%. In other words, there are three bulls for every bear. This is negative from a contrary perspective (another sign of complacency).

10. Corporate bond yields have stopped narrowing over the past three months and have actually recently shown modest signs of an upward bias.

While David notes ten very solid reasons for the market to be under pressure in the coming months, I think he fails to note the positive (note that I did not say "strong") underlying earnings picture that exists. This rally has not been on solid fundamentals and any signs of real strong economic growth, but rather an improvement in corporate margins that has been completely overlooked by the analyst community. In other words, we remain in a “beat and raise” world.

That is unchanged for now and will ultimately be the reason why David’s ten reasons are wrong and why the unwavering bear will be wrong again about this market top.

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