David Santschi, CEO TrimTabs, reflects on how he sees March unfolding:
- We wrote a month ago that fund flow data suggested that the stock market rally had legs, and we are maintaining this view. The market still has a wall of worry left to climb. Retail investors overwhelmingly preferred bonds over stocks in February, day traders boosted their short bets on U.S. equities throughout the month, and sector fund flows continued to reflect risk aversion.
- Stock buybacks are raising the ire of more politicians, but they have been lower early this year than they were in the same period a year ago. The volume of buyback announcements dropped 39% year-over-year in January and February, perhaps reflecting caution after the fourth quarter market swoon and trade tensions. We will be watching carefully to see if buybacks pick up this spring.
- New equity offerings had been muted early this year, but they spiked to a five-month high in the final week of February. We will be watching to see if U.S. companies keep dumping more new shares into the market in the wake of the rally. All else being equal, if new offerings start topping $10 billion per week consistently, stock prices will have a tougher time moving higher.
- Our key macroeconomic indicators continue to suggest that the U.S. economy is slowing. Our proprietary macroeconomic index drifted lower in recent months. Also, real growth in U.S. Treasury income and employment taxes was modest in January and February combined, and unemployment claims data deteriorated significantly in February.