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Volatility pick up, downward movement in the market?


By Michael Preiss

Monday, August 10, 2009 23:38:02 PM

[b]For information only:[/b]

· Options traders are increasing bets that the steepest rally in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since the 1930s won’t survive September, historically the worst month for U.S. equities

· “It’s a danger sign,” said Ronald Egalka, a 36-year options trader who oversees $8 billion as chief executive officer of Rampart Investment Management in Boston.

“People expect volatility to pick up in the future, and that implies that there’s going to be a downward movement in the market.”

[b]History shows that U.S. investors lose the most in September.[/b]

VIX Signals S&P 500 Swoon as September Approaches (Update1)
2009-08-10 07:30:16.493 GMT

[b]By Jeff Kearns and Michael Tsang[/b]

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Options traders are increasing bets that the steepest rally in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index since the 1930s won’t survive September, historically the worst month for U.S. equities.

Traders are betting the VIX, a gauge of expected stock swings, will increase 13 percent in the next five weeks, according to futures prices compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the biggest spread since August 2008, right before the S&P 500 suffered the steepest two-month plunge in 21 years. The indexes have moved in the opposite direction 81 percent of the time over the past five years, Bloomberg data show.

VIX futures above the level of the index show investors expect fluctuations to widen and stocks to retreat. The S&P 500
has rallied 49 percent in five months, pushing valuations to the highest levels since December 2004. The S&P 500 gained 2.3 percent last week as reports showed home sales rose and the unemployment rate fell.

“It’s a danger sign,” said Ronald Egalka, a 36-year options trader who oversees $8 billion as chief executive officer of Rampart Investment Management in Boston. “People expect volatility to pick up in the future, and that implies that there’s going to be a downward movement in the market.”

History shows that U.S. investors lose the most in September. The benchmark index for American equities fell 1.3 percent on average since 1928 that month, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

[b]9.1% Retreat[/b]
 
Futures on the S&P 500 lost 0.1 percent to 1,005.30 as of 3:09 a.m. New York time. The index closed at 1,010.48 on Aug. 7. The gauge plunged 9.1 percent last September after New York-based Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed. The biggest drop occurred in September 1931 during the Great Depression, when the S&P 500 tumbled 30 percent. February is the only other month when stocks fell on average since 1928, losing 0.3 percent, Bloomberg data show.

The VIX, as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index is known, usually moves in the opposite direction of the S&P 500 because demand for insurance rises as stocks fall. VIX futures expiring in September are 3.29 points higher than the index, and last month were as much as 5.91 points higher, a record gap for so-called second-month contracts. The current spread is comparable to the one in August 2008.

The index has averaged 20.22 over its 19-year history and surpassed 50 for the first time in October after Lehman filed
for the biggest U.S. bankruptcy. Frozen credit markets and bank losses approaching $1 trillion tied to subprime loans pushed the measure to a record 89.53 on Oct. 24. Losses at the world’s biggest financial companies now exceed $1.5 trillion, according to Bloomberg data.

[b] ‘Break in the Market’[/b]
 
The current reading indicates a 68 percent likelihood the S&P 500 will fluctuate as much as 7.2 percent in the next 30
days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“VIX futures are telling you that investors are willing to pay a premium for protection,” said David Palmer, who helps
oversee $300 million as volatility portfolio manager at Hudson Bay Capital Management LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that returned 11 percent last year, according to Absolute Return magazine. “People expect some sort of a break in the market.”

Hedge funds lost an average 18.3 percent in 2008, according to Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research Inc. The S&P 500 declined 38 percent, the worst performance since 1937. Options strategists saw the same upward-sloping curve last
August, before the S&P 500 tumbled 9.1 percent in September and 17 percent in October. VIX futures two months from expiration were 4.11 points higher than the VIX on Aug. 22, when the index slumped to an 11-week low of 18.81.

[b]Closing Bearish Bets[/b]
 
Volatility may be increasing for reasons unrelated to stock prices, according to Macro Risk Advisors LLC, a New York-based options brokerage. Traders who sold bullish options when the rally began on expectations the advance would fizzle may be buying them back now, Dean Curnutt, the firm’s president, wrote in a note to clients. That demand could be artificially boosting the VIX.

U.S. companies are also beating analysts’ earnings estimates at an almost record rate, making investors more bullish, according to Rob Morgan, who helps oversee $6 billion as market strategist at Clermont Wealth Strategies in Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. For the second quarter, 72.2 percent of S&P 500 companies surpassed consensus estimates for profit, just below the 72.3 percent ratio five years ago that was the highest since at least 1993, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

[b] $3.6 Trillion in Cash[/b]
 
Investors still hold more than $3.6 trillion of their assets in money-market funds, equal to about 30 percent of the total market capitalization of U.S. companies, according to data compiled by the Washington-based Investment Company Institute and Bloomberg. That’s double the percentage when the S&P 500 reached its all-time high in October 2007, the data show.

The number of contracts to buy previously owned homes in the U.S. rose 3.6 percent in June, the fifth straight monthly
increase and more than economists estimated, as lower prices and mortgage rates lured buyers, the National Association of Realtors said Aug. 4. The unemployment rate fell for the first time in more than a year, dipping to 9.4 percent from a 26-year high of 9.5 percent, the Labor Department said Aug. 7.

“There’s a good underpinning to the market here, and the VIX is just one tool in the toolbox,” Morgan said. “Stocks
follow earnings and revisions are going up and you also have a boatload of cash still sitting on the sidelines as the economy is turning.”

[b]Expecting a ‘Pause’[/b]
 
Paul Tudor Jones, the hedge fund manager whose $8.9 billion Tudor BVI fund gained 10 percent this year through July, said he expects that global stocks may “pause in September” on slower Chinese economic growth. The advance since March is a “bear-market rally,” Jones wrote in a report to clients last week.

“We are not inclined to aggressively chase the market here.” The S&P 500 is trading for 18.6 times its companies’ average earnings this year, the highest since December 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The first global recession since World War II may worsen as more Americans get thrown out of work and the benefits of
government spending wear off, according to Martin Feldstein of Harvard University.

“There is a real danger this is going to be a double dip and that after six months or so we’ll have some more bad news,”
Feldstein, the former head of the National Bureau of Economic Research, said on Bloomberg Television last month. “We could slide down again in the fourth quarter.”

[b]Consumer Spending Falls[/b]
 
The U.S. economy contracted at a 1 percent annual pace in the second quarter, less than economists forecast, as government spending increased the most since 2003. The outlays, part of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package approved in February, masked a 1.2 percent drop in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy.

Almost half of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage are likely to owe more than their properties are worth before the housing recession ends, Karen Weaver and Ying Shen, New York-based analysts at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote in a report dated Aug. 5.

The percentage of “underwater” loans may rise to 48 percent, or 25 million homes, as prices drop through the first
quarter of 2011, according to Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank. As of March 31, the share of homes mortgaged for more than their value was 26 percent, or about 14 million properties.

[b] ‘Very Reasonable’[/b]
 
Profit for companies in the S&P 500 will fall 22 percent this quarter before an earnings rebound by financial institutions spurs a 61 percent increase in the last three months of the year, according to analysts’ estimates. Excluding
banks, brokerages and insurance companies, profits are projected to drop 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

U.S. stock trading has also slowed by the most in at least two decades. An average of 1.34 billion shares changed hands
daily on the New York Stock Exchange between May 1 and Aug. 7, about 16 percent less than the average from Jan. 1 to April 30.

That’s the biggest drop since at least 1989, according to data compiled by Harrison, New York-based research firm Bespoke Investment Group LLC.

“There’s always a real risk that a rally is going to be tested,” said Stephen Wood, New York-based chief market
strategist for North America at Russell Investments, which had $151.8 billion in assets under management as of June 30. “Investors are thinking that giving up some upside to hedge the
downside is a very reasonable investment profile.”


[b]For Related News and Information:[/b]
To graph S&P 500 volatility: SPX <Index> GV <GO>
To graph S&P 500 term structure: SPX <Index> TRMS <GO>
S&P 500 options trading: SPX <Index> OMON <GO>
Global volatility indexes: WVI <GO>
Stories on U.S. stock options: NI USO BN <GO>
Feature stories on stocks: TNI GREET STK <GO>
 
--With assistance from Kayla Carrick, Betty Liu and Saijel
Kishan in New York, Bob Willis in Washington and Rodney Yap in
Los Angeles. Editors: Chris Nagi, Nick Baker
 
[b]To contact the reporters on this story:[/b]
Jeff Kearns in New York at +1-212-617-8138 or
jkearns3@bloomberg.net;
Michael Tsang in New York at +1-212-617-3277 or
mtsang1@bloomberg.net.
 
[b]To contact the editors responsible for this story:[/b]
Nick Baker at +1-212-617-5919 or nbaker7@bloomberg.net;
Daniel Hauck at +44-20-7673-2569 or dhauck1@bloomberg.net.
 

Global Stocks Fully Priced, China in a 'Bubble'?


By Michael Preiss

Thursday, August 6, 2009 04:01:17 AM

[b]For information only:[/b]
 
Please find enclosed one view on the market:
 
·         Global stocks are fully priced following a rally this year, with Chinese shares having entered a “bubble,”
·         In China, recent initial share offerings signal a “classic market top,” 
     “It’s a sharp liquidity-fueled rally”   “The easy money is over. Investors should be darned cautious of what is going on because it is out
of sync with the underlying reality and more a reflection of government stimulation.”
 -          Aberdeen Asset Management Plc’s Hugh Young
 
 Could this gentleman be right and perhaps more telling, would he be SHORT with his own money ?

[b]Global Stocks Fully Priced, China in a ‘Bubble,’ Aberdeen Says
2009-08-06 05:22:37.296 GMT
 
By Shiyin Chen[/b]

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Global stocks are fully priced following a rally this year, with Chinese shares having entered a “bubble,” Aberdeen Asset Management Plc’s Hugh Young said.
Gains in equities from this year’s lows don’t reflect the outlook for a slow recovery from the global recession, said Young, who helps oversee the equivalent of $220 billion as Aberdeen’s Asian managing director. In China, recent initial share offerings signal a “classic market top,” he added.

“It’s a sharp liquidity-fueled rally,” Young said in an interview in Singapore. “The easy money is over. Investors should be darned cautious of what is going on because it is out of sync with the underlying reality and more a reflection of
government stimulation.”

The MSCI World Index has climbed 55 percent from its low reached on March 9. The measure has gained 16 percent this year, compared with an 84 percent rally in China’s Shanghai Composite Index, the world’s second-best performer. Signs that central banks will stop easing monetary policy may prompt a slump in share prices, Young said. The Federal
Reserve is set to halt its purchases of up to $300 billion in U.S. Treasuries in mid-September, two former central bank
governors said, while the Bank of England may end a five-month program of bond purchases as Europe’s second-largest economy shows signs of emerging from a recession, dealers said.

[b]‘Fragile Underneath’[/b]
 “If I had to bet, I would say that markets are still quite fragile underneath because plenty of people are aware that reality is out of sync with financial markets,” Young said.

“So maybe a strong steer from central banks would cause markets to pull back.”
In China, the Shanghai gauge fell as much as 3.5 percent today after the People’s Bank of China said it will fine-tune
monetary policy where necessary and guide “appropriate” lending growth. The measure is valued at 36 times reported
earnings, near an 18-month high and twice the average for emerging markets.

Everbright Securities Co. said today it raised 11 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in an initial public offering. The five
companies that have gone public in China in the past two months, following a moratorium on initial stock sales in September, jumped an average 112 percent on their first trading day on the stock exchange. All sold shares at the top end of their price ranges to investors.

“There are some that you might risk losing quite a lot of money, and again principally those are the slightly lower-
quality Chinese IPOs that have come, that nobody knows really that much about except that they’re hot and they’re on 50 times earnings,” Young said. These signal a “classic market top,” he added.

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