The peak of this market rally is almost here, says JPMorgan. Time to ditch U.S. stocks, and buy these instead, says Wall Street giant.

Roses are red, violets are blue, will CPI turn into the stock market’s Waterloo? We’ll know soon enough.

Investor memories of getting singed last September are still fairly fresh, so caution abounds. All this has some pining for days gone by:

@simon_ree

Playing a sizable role in new year gains has been tech, though last week wasn’t great. Filings from hedge fund and other big money manager’s 13-F filings showed Soros Fund Management buying beaten-down shares of Tesla
TSLA,
-1.14%
,
while manager Seth Klarman increased stakes in Amazon
AMZN,
+1.98%
,
Alphabet
GOOGL,
+0.04%

and Meta
META,
+3.03%
.

Read: Should investors love affair with Tesla fade, here’s where they’ll shop next

That is backward looking, but one wonders if they have kept that momentum up. Caution is the rule for our call of the day, from a team led by JPMorgan’s top strategist Marko Kolanovic, who say it’s time to stop buying U.S. stocks as investors overprice recent good news on inflation and remain “complacent of risks.”

“We believe that the equity rally is unlikely to get the fundamental confirmation for the next leg higher. Once positioning recovers, Q1 is in our view likely to mark the high point of the market. We think that one should be using the ytd gains to cut equity allocations, and to reduce portfolio beta,” said Kolanovic and the team.

They say international equities — China/EM, Japan and Europe — “offer better risk-reward than U.S. equities.” This latest warning adds emphasis to Kolanovic’s assessment last month that the rally’s days were numbered.

Now hold on you say? Wasn’t this the guy who was bullish all of last year, to no great end? In JPMorgan’s defense, they say an underweight position on government bonds and overweight on commodities compensated for 9-month equity overweight last year, helping them edge past the benchmark.

Still, Kolanovic might have a lot riding on this bet, as others on Wall Street chime in. Chris Montagu and the team at Citigroup, for example, told clients they see fading bullish momentum for stocks, apart from European banks.

What JPM sees hurting this rally is recent weaker economic data and the anticipated weak earnings and guidance from the latest reporting season. “Recent equity inflows are likely running out of steam, while pensions’ overfunded status could drive an increase in their reallocation from equities to bonds this year,” they said.

Markets are neither pricing in a recession, and trading as if the energy crisis, Ukraine war and sharp monetary tightening never happened, says Kolanovic. So they are shifting more defensively, moving slightly overweight on government bonds.

They are also tilting investments to benefit from China reopening tailwinds — overweights in commodities, mostly energy and EM equities. Note, Bank of America’s latest fund manager survey revealed that bullish China equity positions linked to that reopening are considered to be the most crowded trade out there right now. Tread carefully.

The markets

MarketWatch

Stock futures
ES00,
+0.32%

YM00,
+0.20%

NQ00,
+0.38%

are understandably fence-sitting ahead of CPI data, as bond yields
TMUBMUSD02Y,
4.498%

TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.681%

ease, and the dollar
DXY,
-0.46%

falls, along with oil prices
CL.1,
-1.29%
.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily.

The buzz

Economists expect CPI to rise 0.4%, and drop to 6.2% from 6.5% on a year-over-year basis, and at the core, to fall to 5.4% from 5.7%. Elsewhere, a survey showed small-business sentiment ticked up in January.

Ford
F,
+2.83%

is cutting 3,800 European jobs amid a shift to electric-vehicle production.

Coca-Cola
KO,
+1.64%

stock is up after beating revenue forecasts, while Marriott
MAR,
+1.75%

shares are up after the hotel chain’s forecast beating results and upbeat outlook. Akamai Technologies
AKAM,
+2.89%

and Agilent
A,
+1.34%

are reporting after the close.

Palantir Technologies stock
PLTR,
+1.33%

is up 16% after the software company reported its first profitable quarter. Avis Budget shares
CAR,
+2.64%

are up 5% after the rental car group posted higher revenue. IAC/InterActiveCorp. stock
IAC,
-1.39%

is up after the brand holding company topped earnings expectations.

T2 Biosystems shares
TTOO,
-0.71%

are down 7% after the diagnostics company announced a public offering of common stock and warrants. It also reported positive data from T2Biothreat Panel that quickly detects biothreat pathogens.

President Joe Biden is set to name Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard as his economic-policy coordinator. 

Best of the web

“Keep going until you’re killed.” Russian soldiers increasingly being treated as cannon fodder in Ukraine as war drags on.

Rescuers continue to find survivors of last week’s deadly earthquakes, some are working to save trapped pets.

Swimming for their lives. Cyclone battered New Zealand declares a state of emergency.

The chart

As JPM pointed out, the market is behaving as if a war is not happening. Of course, it is over there, and really in the bull’s-eye more for Europe than the U.S., which has China and balloons to worry about. But here’s a chart from that Bank of America survey of fund managers that offers some food for thought.

It shows that sticky, high inflation remains the biggest tail risk for investors, that is an event with a low probability of happening, but if it does, the damages could be outsize for markets. The second-biggest is geopolitics, and that’s as doubts grow of a peace accord between Ukraine and Russia in 2023 (expectations now down to 50% from 63% in January).

The tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.:

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-1.14%

Tesla

BBBY,
-13.19%

Bed Bath & Beyond

PLTR,
+1.33%

Palantir

GME,
+2.18%

GameStop

AMC,
-4.49%

AMC Entertainment Holdings

AAPL,
+1.88%

Apple

APE,
+5.22%

AMC Entertainment Holdings preferred shares

NIO,

NIO

MULN,
+3.82%

Mullen Automotive

AMZN,
+1.98%

Amazon.com

Random reads

Historians crack 450-year old coded messages from a doomed queen.

The Hobbit house this man accidentally built.

Lovesick Americans spending $200 each this Valentine’s Day.

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