Investing.com - Here’s a look at three things that were under the radar this past week.
1. Fed Can’t Afford a Little Patience?
A key portion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted further this week as worries about a prolonged U.S.-China trade battle rattled investors and sent money into safer bonds.
A yield-curve inversion is generally considered a sign of a potential recession. And the Federal Reserve may need to get off the bench and make a move if it wants longer-term rates to rise, according to BNY Mellon.
“Since November 2018, the fall in yields has been due to a both a more dovish outlook on policy, but also - and notable - falling real rates,” BNY Mellon said in a note. “Real 10-year yields are now just 1.6%.”
Lately, Fed members have been on the same page, stressing a message that is as neutral as you can get: the FOMC is as likely to raise rates as it is to cut them and can afford to be patient.
While this looked more dovish in late 2018, recent market activity “suggests that ‘patient’ is no longer sufficient," BNY said.
In Treasuries, as “long ends tumble (both in lower inflation expectations as well as real rates), the only prospect for re-steepening requires rate cuts to drive the short end lower and (perhaps) reignite inflation and real growth expectations,” BNY added.
And the market expects the Fed to heed that call in the second half of the year.
Fed funds futures are pricing in a more-than-50% chance that rates will be lower following the September FOMC meeting, according to Investing.com’s.
2. Defensive Stocks Shunned, Too
In the middle of global trade tensions, with escalation every day this week, investors are looking at whether they should take their cue from the aforementioned bond market or from stocks that are still pretty resilient.
For months, the wide gap between frothy stock prices and depressed Treasury yields has divided analysts.
Even with an inverted yield curve, stocks are just 5% below all-time highs. And equity bulls continue to suggest the recent downturn is more of a correction rather than a reversal.
But investors should take a look at the surprise malaise in defensive stocks, despite a weakening risk backdrop.
Usually defensive stocks, like bonds, benefit from a rotation. But the SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF (NYSE: XPH ) fell more than 7% in the past month and SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (NYSE: SDY ) lost about 5.5%. Both lost more than the S&P 500 .
Equities are finally catching up to what the bond market has been saying for months, specifically, that growth is weak and there is a limit to how bad defensive sectors can get in a negative growth environment, Morgan Stanely said.
Meanwhile, the credit markets are facing circumstances not unlike those just before the financial crisis, with a build-up in corporate leverage and a decline in credit quality and underwriting standards, Scott Mather, chief investment officer of U.S. core strategies at Pimco, told Bloomberg.
3. Pass the Popcorn
Faced with increasing competition from streaming services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) and others, there was some good news this week for movie theater operators hoping to still lure people out of their living rooms.
AMC Entertainment (NYSE: AMC ) said this week its loyalty and benefits program AMC Stubs now has more than 20 million household subscribers, up 700% from when it debuted in 2016.
The AMC Stubs program has three offerings: Insider, with perks like free large popcorn refills and discount Tuesday, the mid-level Premiere, which adds things like priority lanes and concession stand upgrades, and the top-tier A-List, which includes three movies per week.
There was a decline in average additions per day, but that should be viewed as representing “a healthy membership base that is not looking to exploit the program,” research firm B. Riley FBR wrote last week.
“AMC confirmed Stubs A-List is already profitable” with the potential for $35 million plus in incremental annual EBITDA per 1 million members, B. Riley said.
“With at least $340 million in annual recurring and add-on revenues from the membership base, we could see a valuation multiple lift,’ it added.
Shares of AMC have struggled to find momentum this year, down more than 3% so far.
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