To Frexit or Not to Frexit

April 30, 2017

Weekly Market Outlook

By Keith Schneider


blankGlobal Equities partied on this week.  Mr. Market took a deep breath and exhaled a sigh of relief, convinced that France will remain in the Euro. After the weekend election, French stocks had its biggest one-day rally since 2012, up over +5%. Marine Le Pen, the right wing, anti-Euro/ Euro-zone, populist leader of the National Front is likely to be the loser in the final run-off vote scheduled on May 7.

Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions continue to mount in the Korean peninsula with old cold war alliances doing a line dance arranged like the 1960’s. North Korea launched yet another failed missile test, but the markets hardly noticed.

April historically is a good month for equities and this week’s rally erased losses, allowing the

S &P 500 to close positive +.76 % for the month; shy from historical norms, yet still spoiling an April fools surprise.

Growth stocks are on a tear, with NASDQ 100 posting gains of 2.86% for the month. Meanwhile, the head wind of “sell in May and go away” is upon us, May historically being a month with negative returns -.2% on average.

The tells for the big rally this week were the strong closing prices of both the Euro and the French Bourse (Paris stock exchange) just before the previously-mentioned election. These two lead indicators held their high ground this week, a positive note for global equities and especially European equities.

Assuming centrist Macron prevails in the run-off, global reflation is alive and the party is still on. It’s possible that Trump, one of the great human tape readers of all time, is taking the French election as a cue that global populism just had a blow off top.  If he considers his own terrible approval numbers as the confirming indicator, expect more about faces on campaign promises.

After the big gap up post-election, all our key risk on/off market indicators (including Gold versus Stocks, High Yield Debt versus US Bonds, and Stocks versus Utilities) flipped positive on Monday.

The disconnect is that key sectors, such as transports, regional banks, and retail all moved back into warning phases by Friday’s close. The Russell 2000 could not retain the upper end of its long-term channel and sold off - 1.39% on Friday.

For the first time in recent memory, Eurozone Equities out-performed US equities, with Greece and French markets leading. In fact, for the first time in almost two years, Eurozone equities (VGK) is breaking out on a relative basis to US equities and has breached its 200-week moving average.

Assuming there is not an upset with Le Pen penning a victory, open a good Bordeaux, raise your glass, and make a toast to thank the founders of modern democracy. The big takeaway is that if the French decide not to Frexit,  it just might be the time to pass the baton to European Equities and the Euro, a first since the financial meltdown.

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