These are turbulent times

02/26/2021 | 08:44am

Expectations of rising inflation led investors to sell safe-haven debt. As tensions gradually spread to all markets, the Australian central bank launched a bond buyback operation in a bid to limit the rise in yields.

The end of February is not at all restful on the markets. One of the questions now is whether this spark will turn into a big fire. No one has the answer, it would be too easy.

US markets were severely shaken yesterday by a new wave of exits on technology stocks, which spread to the entire stock market, as we also saw cyclical stocks take a nosedive. However, Amazon.com and Tesla, which are part of the cyclical consumption segment in the United States, fell heavily yesterday, which contributed to the sector rout. In any case, there weren't many hiding places: 90.4% of S&P500 companies lost ground. And 94% of those of the Nasdaq 100.

The ongoing correction of technological values creates considerable emotion because it is exacerbated by two factors. First, it is the star compartment of the stock market, the one that offers the most remunerative stock market returns of the last decade. Secondly, and finally as a consequence of the first factor, its weight in the indices is enormous. In the S&P500 for example, technology represents 27.3% of the index at present. And nearly 40% if we add Amazon.com (cyclical consumption), Facebook and Alphabet (communication) and why not Tesla. In the Nasdaq 100, the same "harness" weighs 70% of the index. How do you want the reactions not to be exacerbated?

In recent months, the unknowns in the equation were more or less under control. Central banks have been pouring cash into the economy to allow governments to spend lavishly to hold on to vaccines and herd immunity, which is synonymous with a strong economic recovery. Any dissenting voices were asked to wait until the scenario was completed. Now that the epilogue is coming to an end, several theories are clashing and there is renewed concern about traditional macroeconomic mechanisms and their consequences, particularly the classic rate/inflation duo.

In Europe, several French indicators are published today. (CPI, consumer spending, producer price index), and in the United States we have wholesale inventories, household consumption and income, the Chicago PMI index and the University of Michigan's consumer confidence index.

 

Romain Fournier
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