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Gold Back Above 2100... & Bitcoin Above 40'000

BentinPartner Weekly



Stocks ended last week, higher for the fifth consecutive week, and posting the best month of November since 1980, while volatility dropped to the lowest level so far this year.


On the economic front last week, evidence piled up that US consumers started pulling back their horns with recent retail sales data, warnings from top retailers such as Walmart and the Beige Book all pointing in the direction of a weakening US consumer in Q4.

Personal spending rose 0.2% in November (from a downwardly adjusted +0.3% the previous month) while a separate report on Thursday showed recurring applications for unemployment benefits rose to their highest level in two years. Earlier last week, Black Friday sales also showed consumers’ restraint and those consumers becoming now “very price sensitive”. Part of the explanation is that personal savings are dwindling from pandemic highs and while the rate of inflation may be moderating, many items remain way more expensive than they were a couple of years ago. So much for the feel-good “inflation is going down” mantra, I suppose…


The US ISM Manufacturing report came out at 46.7 unch. on the month (lower than the 47.8 expected) while US factory orders are expected to have shrunk for the 13th month in November, by -3%, according to the Bloomberg survey, for a report due today.


The oil gloom continued, posting a sixth weekly decline despite OPEC+ announcing output cuts. In contrast, the copper rally continued on fears of mine shutdown in Panama and technical buying as trend and momentum broke out on the upside, also supported by a strong rally silver.


At the same time, and as is often the case, Fed officials seemed to be led by, rather than spearheading market expectations.


On Friday, stocks, bonds and precious metals’ gains accelerated after Fed Chair Powell comments at the Spelman College were read as meaning he is done tightening because he said… “We are prepared to tighten policy further” …“if it becomes appropriate to do do”, suggesting it is not appropriate to do so now. He also said that the current stance was “well into restrictive policy”.

The only way for the Fed to convey a hawkish sign now, it seems, is to hike in December and they won’t go there -most likely- only reinforcing, given the dynamics at play, the perception that the Fed is not only “done” but preparing to cut…as early as Q1, even as J. Powell also pushed back against these very same expectations on Friday, calling them “premature”.


2-year yields witnessed their biggest declines since the Banking crisis episode of March this year.


The total absence of volatility while being unnerving for some is actually a bullish sign that equity markets could be heading for further headways going into year end.


Gold reached a fresh record on Friday following dovish Fed remarks (reaching USD2081 in overnight trading today before gapping higher to USD2130 …before triggering some panic selling from whoever, wherever that had no bitcoin to sell). Bitcoin also hit $40,000, extending this year’s rebound on expectations of interest-rate reductions, a Bloomberg (pro bitcoin) analyst saying that the SEC is about to accept all bitcoins ETF’s in January (which likely won’t be the case…) and an undeterred rally in so called risk assets with which bitcoin is (also) positively correlated.


On the week where COP28 is being held, it is worth mentioning there are two types of carbon credits;

  • the compliance credits (that have been in existence for 20 years; those for example now sold by Tesla (which the company receives for free to produce carbon free (or pretended to be) vehicles, and sells to other (still) carbon producing car makers.

  • and voluntary credits. It is the latter that will grow in importance as we progress towards the “net 0” emissions objective by 2050. Normally, fewer and fewer compliance credits i.e. “rights” to pollute, will be issued as we move towards a decarbonated(ing) economy which, if all goes according plans, should mean a reduction of global emissions by -45% by 2030. To get to these ambitious objectives, the “voluntary carbon credits” market will need to grow massively with lots of implications and …new ways for investors to reap rewards as the value of these voluntary carbon credits (which are currently worth near “0” due to a lack of credible “delivery” standards and players), is expected to gain in value (starting from “zero”, they can only explode higher over time) as we approach 2030. By then and possibly earlier, “voluntary” carbon credits will be made available through new investment funds (this year has been a bad year for green investing in general) and newly created “futures” where these projects will be deliverable into.


It will be one of COP28 objectives to listen to/review proposals for certification and verification of voluntary carbon credits and help separate the wheat from the chaff among the different “voluntary” carbon credits projects. And it will be interesting to see what COP28 is able to deliver in that respect.


 

Over the past week, the S&P500 gained 1,1% (19,1% YTD) while the Nasdaq100 gained 0,9% (46,3% YTD). The US small cap index gained 2,0% (2,9% YTD). AAPL gained 0,1% (46,2%).

The Equally Weighed SP500 gained 1,5% (4,0% YTD), outperforming the S&P500 by 0,3%. The median SP500 YTD return closed the week at 2,3%.

CBOE Volatility Index dropped sharply by -13,0% (-42,5% YTD) to 12,46.

The Eurostoxx50 gained 0,9% (19,0%), underperforming the S&P500 by-0,3%.

Diversified EM equities (VWO) gained 0,9% (4,2%), underperforming the S&P500 by-0,2%.


The Dollar DXY Index (UUP) measuring the USD performance vs. other G7 currencies dropped -0,8% (5,0%) while the MSCI EM currency index (measuring the performance of EM currencies vs. the USD) dropped -0,1% (3,0%).


10Y US Treasuries saw yields rise 8bps (62bps) to 4,50%. 10Y Bunds climbed 6bps (7bps) to 2,64%. 10Y Italian BTPs climbed 4bps (-32bps) to 4,40%, outperforming Bunds by -2bps.

US High Yield (HY) Average Spread over Treasuries dropped -14bps (-94bps) to 3,75%. US Investment Grade Average OAS dropped -6bps (-29bps) to 1,14%.

In European credit markets, EUR 5Y Senior Financial Spread dropped -1bps (-21bps) to 0,79%.


Gold gained 1,6% (10,1%) while Silver rallied 4,9% (2,6%, Z-score 2,2). Major Gold Mines (GDX) rallied 2,5% (2,3%).


Goldman Sachs Commodity Index gained 1,7% (-2,6%). WTI Crude dropped -0,8% (-6,2%).



Overnight in Asia…


  • S&P500 -8 points; Nikkei -0.7%; CSI300 -0.3%

  • Bill Gates said the world probably won’t meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping temperature rise below 2C. But he praised COP28 for making progress on tackling climate change despite geopolitical tensions. If you stay below 3C, a lot of the ill effects that people have heard about don't happen unless you really are irresponsible and let it get up to the higher range.” In the Paris pact, nearly 200 countries agreed to limit global temperatures to well below 2 degrees, ideally to 1.5C, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But a recent report by the UN’s environment program shows the world is instead on track to warm up to 2.9C with current country-level emissions reduction plans, Bloomberg wrote.

  • German Economy Minister R. Habeck, also in charge of climate affairs, cancelled a participation to the Cop28 climate conference, after Chancellor O. Scholz requested that Habeck stay “in order to make further progress in the talks on the 2024 budget following the ruling of the Constitutional Court,” the Economy Ministry said. Germany has been in a budget crisis since mid-November, when the country’s top court ruled that the allocation of €60 billion in unused Covid-19 pandemic aid for climate protection to special funds outside the regular budget was unconstitutional.

  • A US Navy ship responded to a flurry of drone and missile attacks against commercial ships operating in the Red Sea. Israel’s military is expanding its operations across the Gaza Strip, with the expectation of a ground invasion of southern Gaza looming, Bloomberg reported.



 

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Marc Bentin serves as Economic Advisor to Blue Lotus Management,

a specialist multi-manager investment firm, which seeks to provide investors a compelling alternative to the traditional 60/40 equity and bond portfolio by targeting higher returns without amplifying equity risks.


BentinPartner GmbH is Advisor to the Phi Funds AIF, an umbrella Alternative Investment Fund registered and regulated in Lichtenstein, specializing in the management of Funds focused on physical precious metals.

 

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