Equity fund flows continue to move international, specifically to the emerging markets (think BRIC's). We are starting to see some strength in the US industrial sector as well. Bond flows are to shorter maturities, and an outright short allocation in our quantitative fixed income index. We are also seeing flows into high yield corporate paper, both in US and International. (High yield corporates are closely correlated to equities.) Currency flow continues to the Euro and to the Euro correlated Swiss Franc.
In our last update, we noted that "following the money" resulted in allocations into the Euro and Euro denominated markets. This trend continues with an additional expansion into Australian and Asian equities. The current holding in the Euro continues doing well. The relative weakness in the US dollar and the addition of a short position in US Treasuries in our model indexes appears to be validated by the most recent 10 year treasury auction on 12/12/12.
According to zerohedge.com, "What truly set aside this reopening was that the Directs, continuing on yesterday's surge, took down a massive 42.7% of the auction: only the second highest since the July 45.4%. The flipside of course is that Indirects were left holding 24.2%, or the lowest Indirect takedown since April 2009." This was followed by a report on 12/17/12 that "today's 2 Year auction was remarkable for one more thing: the Indirect Takedown of 17.7% was the smallest such award on record, which in turn confirms that last week's trend of collapsing Indirect interest is persisting."
What does this mean? "Indirect takedown" refers to the treasury auction bids that are submitted by investors including foreign central banks. An indirect takedown above 40% would suggest "the debt support needed to keep funding the deficit is in place and that the buyers will see this as a sign to keep its focus on the long side," according to Kevin Giddis, managing director of fixed income for Morgan Keegan & Co.
Time will tell if this is a signal that foreign countries are becoming cautious about buying US debt.
Of further noteworthiness, as Michael Chapman pointed out at the annual client appreciation luncheons on December 11th and 13th, each time the Federal Reserve announces a new round of Quantitative Easing, the upward move in equities has been less and less. Alas, on December 12th, the equity and bond markets both closed down for the first time on a day that the Federal Reserve announced Quantitative Easing.
About "PCM Quant Coalescence"
Welcome to Provident's bi monthly "Quant Coalescence" communication. We suspect that many of you are no different than us. That is to say that when our quantitative models rebalance every 2 weeks for some indexes or once a month for other indexes, you sometimes find yourselves asking "What is behind a rotation into that ETF?" This communication is our opportunity to "unite for a common end" with our clients and partners; keeping you updated on our thoughts and perspectives.
As you know, our indexes are based on an absolute approach: we strive to make money in up markets or down markets, while trying to greatly minimize loss in any market environment.
Our indexes are also quantitative, reflective of our systematic, unbiased and technical approach. Since our indexes are unbiased, the quantitative models would obviously at times rotate into positions that cause us to scratch our heads. Nevertheless, being so close to the analysis as it unfolds, allows us to quickly begin to validate the fundamental reasons behind the quantitative "following of the money." At other times, the trades are not validated right away; the story unfolds as the days pass.
We have been very excited about many of these "validations" and "ah ha" moments. We had another "ah ha" moment when we decided that these insights would also be interesting to those who have entrusted us with their financial peace of mind. Our goal is to be short and to the point, specific to what is happening in our indexes rather than a lengthy macroeconomic perspective.
We hope this has been helpful and informative!