More strategists say a storm Is brewing in the US stock market

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Photo: Getty
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Strategists from almost all the top Wall Street banks have come out this week with a nervous message about the U.S. stock market.

The latest views hail from Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and echo earlier pronouncements from Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp.  

While investment banks tend to be measured in their outlooks, there are common threads that underpin their predictions that the market is vulnerable. Valuations are at historical extremes, stocks have rallied non-stop for seven months, the economy looks soft and the Federal Reserve is preparing to taper stimulus. 

“The risk that the correction is hard is growing,” wrote Deutsche Bank equity strategists including Binky Chadha. “Valuation corrections don’t always require market pullbacks, but they do constrain returns.”

Some of the market strain is already showing up. The S&P 500 has fallen about 1% in the past three sessions, though U.S. futures were indicated higher on Friday morning. The index has soared 100% since the March 2020 lows.  

Here’s a rundown of commentary this week:

Binky Chadha, equity strategist at Deutsche Bank

“Equity valuations at the market level are historically extreme on almost any metric.” Trailing and forward price-earnings ratios, as well as valuation metrics based on enterprise value and cash flow, are all in the 90th percentiles, he said.  

James Congdon, co-head of Canaccord Genuity’s research division Quest

“Global stock markets may be entering a period of turmoil.” He added that investors should favor stronger businesses with robust cash flows over weaker and more speculative companies. 

Dominic Wilson, strategist in economics research at Goldman Sachs

“While the broad U.S. market outlook is solid in our central case, we think peak cyclical optimism in the U.S. may be behind us.” The strategists said hedges look attractive, especially on a shorter time horizon. 

Andrew Sheets, cross-asset strategist at Morgan Stanley 

“We are going to have a period where data is going to be weak in September at the time when you have a heightened risk of delta variant and school reopening.” The bank cut U.S. equities to underweight and global stocks to equal-weight on Tuesday. 

Savita Subramanian, head of U.S. equity and quantitative strategy at Bank of America 

“The S&P 500 has essentially turned into a 36-year, zero-coupon bond,” she said. “If you look at the duration of the market today, it’s basically longer duration than it’s ever been. This is what scares me.”

The threat is that “any move higher in the cost of capital via interest rates, credit spreads, equity risk premia, that’s basically going to be a huge knock on the market relative to the sensitivity we’ve seen in the past,” she said.

- With assistance from Thyagaraju Adinarayan, Jan-Patrick Barnert, Abhishek Vishnoi and Anchalee Worrachate.

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