Bond Market Flashes 'Warning' for Stocks
The debt market dwarfs that of equities. (Most people assume the stock market is larger.) So many times during intraday trading, I can "see" the tug of war between bonds/notes and the S&P 500. More often than not, I will side with the bond market because, in my experience, bonds tend to be "right" more often. Not only can monitoring these types of correlations help with intra-day trading, but they can also be useful for longer-term traders and buy-and-hold investors.
Current market conditions are a prime example. Although the S&P 500 has been holding around the 1,400 handle and bonds are off recent highs, the December 30-year bond futures have held an uptrend line when they bounced off the 150 handle on Friday's and Monday's sessions.
The market is also trading above all its key moving averages. Yields on 30-year bonds can't seem to break out above 3% and a move in yield back down near the 2.5% mark certainly is a distinct possibility should panic return to the markets over any one of a number of large issues (fiscal cliff, Greece, etc). Ten-year notes are stuck in a range from about a 1.6%-1.9 % yield, with yields threatening to break to the downside as well.
Now, what does this information tell us? Does the bond market indicate that all is well in the world? It certainly does not. Right now, Treasuries are flashing a warning sign that I feel should not be ignored. Does this mean you should start bailing on good equity positions? Of course not.
What it does mean, however, is that a very large market still feels there is a lot of danger right now when it comes to stocks and risk assets. This is certainly a piece of information that I feel investors ought to consider when looking at adding to positions at these levels or chasing the market higher.
I, for one, would certainly be a lot more comfortable with the prospects of higher equities if I was seeing any "real" weakness in bonds and notes. In addition, volatility in Treasury options is quite low right now, indicating to me that the market for the time being is "in balance" and a large reversal in the near future is unlikely.
This could potentially indicate the S&P 500 will run out of gas in the near future. After all, bonds have not broken with everyone chasing the S&P 500 higher, and eventually something will have to give.