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Cam Hui

Cam Hui

Cam Hui has been professionally involved in the financial markets since 1985 in a variety of roles, both as an equity portfolio manager and as a sell-side analyst. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia in 1980 and obtained his CFA Charter in 1989. He is left & right brained modeler of quantitative investment systems. Blogs at Humble Student of the Markets.

Articles by Cam Hui

Time to de-risk

September 27, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

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How to spot the next market bottom

September 26, 2020

RealMoney columnist Helene Meisler asked rhetorically in an article where her readers thought we are in the equity sentiment cycle. She concluded that the market is in the “subtle warning” phase, though she would allow that the “overt warning” phase was also possible. 

I agree. This retreat is acting like the start of a major pullback. The S&P 500 recently violated its 50 day moving average (dma). Past major pullbacks that began with 50 dma breaks were marked by the percent of S&P 500 bullish on point and figure charts plunging below 50%. To be sure, this does not assure us of a significant downturn, though it represents a sufficient though not necessary condition for one. 

Two weeks ago, I discussed the magnitude of market weakness (see How far can the market fall?), with the

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The tone is still risk-off

September 23, 2020

Mid-week market update: I have some good news and bad news. The good news is the performance of the NASDAQ 100,  the market leadership, has stabilized. The relative performance of the NASDAQ 100 against the S&P 500 successfully tested a rising relative trend line, and the relative uptrend is still intact. 

The bad news is the NDX rally failed at the 50 day moving average, and the rest of the market is maintaining a risk-off tone. 

Sentiment not washed-out
There are numerous signs that sentiment is nowhere near a capitulation wash-out. Macro Charts highlighted analysis from Deutsche Bank indicating that equity flows are still strong for technology. These are not signs of fear, but greed. 

Despite the market decline, there are few signs of anxiety in the put/call ratio, which

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Election jitters are rising

September 20, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

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A healthy rotation into cyclical stocks?

September 19, 2020

There is growing evidence that the stock market is undergoing a rotation from large cap technology to cyclical and reflation stocks. Exhibit A is the market action of the tech heavy NASDAQ 100, which violated a key rising channel and also violated its 50 day moving average (dma). By contrast, the broader S&P 500 is testing its 50 dma and only exhibited a minor break. 

Even as the S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 struggled, Material stocks have been making new all-time highs, and its performance against the S&P 500 has decisively turned up. 

A well-telegraphed rotation
The rotation into the reflation and cyclical theme has been in evidence for a few months. The August BoA Global Fund Manager Survey showed that global managers were positioning for global reflation. 

The September

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Time to sound the all-clear?

September 16, 2020

Mid-week market update: Is time to sound the all-clear? The market staged a relief rally after last week’s weakness. Is the stock market ready to resume its uptrend?
A rally to new highs from these levels is unlikely. Last week’s pullback inflicted significant technical damage that, at a minimum, a period of sideways consolidation and base building will be necessary before the bulls can take control of the tape again. The S&P 500 violated a rising trend line that stretched back to April. As well, the 8 day moving average (dma) fell through the 21 dma, which is a bearish crossover. Repairing the damage will take time. 

A similar pattern can also be seen in the NASDAQ 100. The NDX exhibited a similar breach of a rising trend line and a bearish crossover of the 8 dma and 21 dma. In

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Some key questions for the Fed

September 15, 2020

As the FOMC conducts its two-day meeting after its big reveal of its shift in monetary policy, Fed watcher Tim Duy thinks that we won’t get much more in the way of details from the Fed after this meeting:
The odds favor the Fed maintains the status quo at this week’s meeting. It does not appear to have a consensus on enhancing forward guidance nor do I suspect FOMC participants feel pressure to force a consensus on that topic just yet. The general improvement in the data likely removes that pressure. The Fed will likely remain content to use the new strategy as justification for maintaining the current near zero rate path. Powell will continue to lean heavily on downside risks to the economy to entrench expectations that the Fed will stick to that path. The dovish risk this week is that

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The bears take control, but for how long?

September 13, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

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How far can the market fall?

September 12, 2020

Macro Charts recently observed that S&P 500 DSI is turning down from an overbought extreme. Historically, that has led to either sharp corrections or a prolonged period of choppiness.

In light of these conditions, I have been asked about downside equity risk. Is this the start of a significant downdraft? How far can stocks fall from current levels?
I answer these question in the context of secular leadership change. The Big Three market leadership themes in the latest bull cycle has been US over global stocks, large cap growth over value, and large caps over small caps. Transitions from bull to bear phase act to cleanse the excesses of the previous cycle. Until we see definitive signs of leadership changes, it may be too early to call a market top just yet.
From that

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The story of two trend breaks

September 9, 2020

Mid-week market update: While it may seem like the Apocalypse for people trading the momentum FANG+ stocks, this is not the Apocalypse. Sure, the market has violated its rising trend line, but this trend break is nothing like the COVID Crash experienced earlier this year. 

Before the bears get all excited, there are several key differences between the current trend break and the February trend break. While the NYSE McClellan Summation Index (NYSI) warned of deteriorating breadth in both cases, net NYSE highs have not broken down in the manner of February 2020.
The latest trend break was led to the downside by Big Tech stocks. The analysis of the NASDAQ 100 show similar violations of rising trend lines, and similar warnings by the NASDAQ McClellan Summation Index (NASI), but the

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The 5 key macro indicators of Trump’s political fortunes (revisited)

September 8, 2020

Labor Day is the traditional kickoff of presidential election campaigns. Before that, only die-hard political pundits and devotees pay attention to the election. It is with that in mind we revisit the economic criteria for Trump’s political fortunes that I outlined just after his inauguration (see Forget politics! Here are the 5 key macro indicators […]

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Brace for the volatility storm

September 6, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

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How the Fed’s Policy Review received an incomplete grade

September 5, 2020

It has been over a week since Jerome Powell’s virtual Jackson Hole speech in which he laid out the Fed’s revised its updates to its Statement on Longer-Run Goals and Monetary Policy Strategy after a long and extensive internal review. There were two changes. one was a shift towards an “average inflation targeting” regime, where the Fed “seeks to achieve inflation that averages 2 percent over time”. The other was an emphasis on to target low unemployment. Instead of minimizing “deviations from the maximum” employment, it will minimize “shortfalls of employment from its maximum level.”
The results of the review were much like a student handing in a term paper after much effort, but the assignment is incomplete, and leaves many questions unanswered.
How will the Fed calculate the average

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Growth stock wobbles

September 2, 2020

Mid-week market update: One of the defining characteristics of the current bull run is the dominance of US large cap growth stocks. Joe Wiesenthal wrote about the problem of the effect of the “superstar companies” on the economy in a Twitter thread and in a Bloomberg commentary. The “superstar companies” have few employees, and therefore high labor productivity. 

But if labor productivity is all that matters, and you don’t need any workers, where is the demand going to come from?

If you think that the key thing is demand, and that demand drives investment, driving productivity, then it’s not about declaring some tech companies winners and declaring everyone else as zombies that should die, it’s about fostering income equality to drive spending.
Something nobody ever seems to point

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Volmageddon, or market melt-up?

August 30, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

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Winning the Pandemic Peace

August 29, 2020

This is war! A global war against the pandemic. Analysis from the IMF showed that government debt levels have spiked to levels not seen since World War II. 

How will the world win the peace in a post pandemic era, and what does that mean for investors? 

A hopeful view
Morgan Housel at Collaborative Funds recently offered a hopeful and uplifting message. He believes that crises spurs panic driven innovations, and the pandemic provides an environment that sparks new discoveries and breakthroughs.

A broader point that applies to everyone is that the biggest innovations rarely occur when everyone’s happy and safe, or when the future looks bright. They happen when people are a little panicked, worried, and when the consequences of not acting quickly are too painful to bear.
That’s

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Tech is eating the market

August 26, 2020

Mid-week market update: I have written about how Big Tech is dominating the market. Here is another perspective of how tech stocks are eating the market. The combined market cap of FANGMAN (Facebook, Apple, Nvidia, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix) is reached all-time highs and nearing a total of $8 trillion. 

The angst over Big Tech is growing, and until the parabolic rise reverses, major stock market averages are likely to continue to grind higher. 

The manager’s dilemma
The dominance of Big Tech in the top five stocks is presenting portfolio construction and risk control problems for portfolio managers. The top five stocks comprise 22.1% of index weight. Since they tend to move together, even holding a market weight in these stocks creates a high degree of concentration risk

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Here’s a way to energize your portfolio

August 24, 2020

Ho hum, another record in the major market indices. If you want to play catch-up, here is a lower risk idea to energize your portfolio. The most recent BoA Global Fund Manager Survey showed that managers are dramatically underweight energy stocks. The sector is hated, unloved, and beaten up. 

Whether you are bullish or bearish on the stock market, energy stocks might be a contrarian way of making a commitment to equities with a favorable asymmetric risk/reward profile. 

Constructive pattern
Energy stocks are performing well on a relative basis. The Energy SPDR ETF (XLE) is tracing out a constructive double bottom pattern relative to the market. This pattern is confirmed by the relative performance of European energy stocks (green line, top panel), and the relative performance of

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Thermopylae bulls

August 23, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

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Fresh market highs! What now?

August 22, 2020

Now that stock prices have recovered from their March lows to all-time highs, it’s time to admit that I was wrong about my excess cautiousness. I present a new framework for analyzing the stock market. While the new framework is useful for explaining why the major US market indices have reached fresh highs, it does not necessarily have bullish implications. 

My previous excessive cautiousness was based on two factors, valuation and a weak economic outlook. The market is trading at a forward P/E ratio of 22, which is extremely high by historical standards. Moreover, it was difficult to believe that the economy and stock prices could recover that strongly in the face of the second worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. 

While there has been much discussion over the

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Should you hop on the reflation train?

August 19, 2020

Mid-week market update: About two weeks ago, I identified an emerging theme of a rotation out of large cap growth stocks into cyclicals (see Sector and factor review: Not your father’s cycle). The latest BoA Global Fund Manager Survey (FMS) confirms my analysis. The rotation is attributable to managers buying into the reflation trade. 

Does that mean you should hop on the reflation train? Is there sufficient momentum behind this shift? 

Growth expectations revival
Actually, the shift into the reflation trade is mis-named. It’s not that inflationary expectations that are rising that much, but growth expectations. 

The growth to cyclical rotation can be seen in regional weightings. For several months, managers had been piling into US equities as the last source of growth in a

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Risk and reward: No guts, no glory?

August 18, 2020

Risk takers are fond of the line, “No guts, no glory”. With that in mind, I present three cases of risks, and possible opportunities. 

The Turkey in the FX coalmine
In late June, I highlighted analysis from Research Affiliates of country values by CAPE relative to their own history. At the top of the most attractive list was Turkey, followed by Malaysia, Poland, South Korea, and Thailand (see A bleak decade for US equities). Turkish equities represents a classic Rorschach inkblot test of risk and opportunity for investors. 

While Turkish stocks are cheap on a statistical basis, they are not without risk. The Turkish lira (TRY) is under severe pressure because of a falling current account. Bloomberg summarized TRY’s challenges:
Official reserves fell $7.7 billion as

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What really matters in this market

August 16, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

Read More »

A Potemkin Village market?

August 15, 2020

While the adage that the stock market isn’t the economy and vice versa is true. one of the puzzles facing investors is why the US equity market testing its all-time highs even as the economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression. This market seems like a Potemkin Village, which shows an external façade of calm while hiding the real trouble behind the scenes.
The Fed isn’t entirely responsible for the market’s strength. The Fed has taken steps to stabilize markets so they can function in an orderly way. A Fed Put can put a floor on prices, but it cannot make asset prices skyrocket the way they did.
A more reasonable explanation is the unprecedented level of fiscal support to support growth. This recession is completely unlike past slowdowns. The government’s safety net

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Greedy enough?

August 12, 2020

Mid-week market update: As the market tests resistance at the old highs, is sentiment greedy enough? The Fear and Greed Index stands at 73, and recently peaked at 75. While readings at these levels can indicate high risk environments, they have also been inexact market timing signals. 

Andrew Thrasher pointed out that VIX sentiment has fallen below 10%, which is bullish for volatility and bearish for equities. 

Hedge fund positioning is another matter. A recent survey of JPM and GS prime brokers that act as HF custodians reveals that the fast money crowd has gone all-in on risk. 

Speculative retail positioning, as measured by leveraged ETFs, is bullish. However, readings may not be extreme enough to be described as a crowded long (via Callum Thomas). 

Does that mean

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Earnings Monitor: Slower growth ahead

August 10, 2020

Q2 earnings season is nearly done. So far 89% of the market has reported. FactSet reported the EPS beat rate fell to 83% from 84% the previous week. The sales beat rate was fell to 64% from 69% the previous week. Both the EPS and sales beat rates are ahead of their 5-year averages.
The bottom-up consensus forward 12-month estimate continued to rise strongly at 1.62% last week after 1.03% the previous week The market is trading at a forward P/E of 22.3, which is well ahead of historical norms. 

As 89% of the index has reported, this will be the final Earnings Monitor of Q2 earnings season. 

Strong positive revisions
The Street continues to be upbeat on the outlook of individual companies. Though the weekly changes in quarterly EPS estimates can be noisy, analysts have upgraded

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A global and cross-asset market review

August 9, 2020

Preface: Explaining our market timing modelsWe maintain several market timing models, each with differing time horizons. The “Ultimate Market Timing Model” is a long-term market timing model based on the research outlined in our post, Building the ultimate market timing model. This model tends to generate only a handful of signals each decade.
The Trend Asset Allocation Model is an asset allocation model which applies trend following principles based on the inputs of global stock and commodity price. This model has a shorter time horizon and tends to turn over about 4-6 times a year. In essence, it seeks to answer the question, “Is the trend in the global economy expansion (bullish) or contraction (bearish)?”
My inner trader uses a trading model, which is a blend of price momentum (is

Read More »

Sector and factor review: Not your father’s cycle

August 8, 2020

It’s time for one of my periodic reviews of the market from a factor and sector perspective. These reviews are useful inasmuch as they can reveal insights about the character of a market.
Let’s begin with how different regions are performing relative to the MSCI All-Country World Index (ACWI). The top panel shows the S&P 500 rolling over relative to global stocks. Even the NASDAQ 100, which had been the market leaders, may be losing relative momentum and starting to trade sideways. The middle panel shows the relative performance of two major developed market regions. Japan is underperforming, and Europe is not showing signs of market leadership as it is trading sideways on a relative return basis. The bottom panel shows the relative performance of emerging market equities. Both EM and

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Waiting for the July Jobs Report

August 5, 2020

Mid-week market update: The July Employment Report has the potential to be a game changer in how the market perceives the recovery. Estimates of job gains are all over the place, and the median stands at 1.5 million. 

High frequency economic data has been weakening, and I am inclined to taken the “under” consensus on the print. This could be a big negative surprise for the market and spark a risk-off episode.
Soft high frequency data
There is a flood of high frequency data that suggests a soft Nonfarm Payroll (NFP) report. Much of the gains in employment in recent reports are attributable to the return from furlough of low-wage service workers. A new study and poll of over 6,400 US respondents shows that workers previously laid off and re-hired are being laid off again.

Add

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Earnings Monitor: Big Tech surprises

August 3, 2020

Q2 earnings season is now past the halfway mark. So far 63% of the market has reported. FactSet reported the EPS beat rate rose to 84% from 81% the previous week. The sales beat rate was fell to 69% from 71% the previous week. Both the EPS and sales beat rates are ahead of their 5-year averages.
The bottom-up consensus forward 12-month estimate rose 1.03% last week after a strong 1.05% the previous week The market is trading at a forward P/E of 22.0, which is well ahead of historical norms. 

Strong positive revisions
Wall Street analysts have been increasing upbeat on the outlook of individual companies. Though the weekly changes in quarterly EPS estimates can be noisy, analysts have upgraded quarterly earnings estimates across the board, except for Q4 2020 earnings. Q2 2020

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