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[Chart] Speculative Trading on U.S. Markets Is at a Dangerous High

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Money Morning - We Make Investing Profitable. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.

Speculative trading on so-called long contracts, or long-term bets that the markets will rise, has reached a startling high this year.

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On Wednesday, analyst David Rosenberg at Gluskin Sheff found that speculative long contracts on the Dow reached a record high of 38,382. Long contracts for the S&P 500 also hit their highest level since June 2013 at 38,083, according toYahoo Finance.

Speculative trading

For investors looking for any reason to worry about this strangely calm stock market – this is a good one…

The overwhelming number of speculative long contracts right now signals some major underlying market issues.

Why Speculative Trading Right Now Is at a Dangerous Level

Many investors are bullish right now. After all, the Dow’s up roughly 750 points (4.3%) this year and nearly 2,000 points (12%) in the last 12 months. As a result, many investors have become too complacent about current market conditions.

The high volume of current speculative long contracts suggests too much market exposure. That’s because there simply aren’t many bull market indicators right now…

“None of the headlines you see today cast doubt on the fact that the world is a dangerous, complicated, and nasty place,” Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald – a seasoned analyst and professional trader with over 30 years of global investing experience – noted to readers on July 21.

Central Banks Are Backing Away from Easy-Money Policies

One of the biggest bullish indicators – central banks’ easy-money policies – are showing signs of waning.

On Friday, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said that “a reasonable case can be made” for raising interest rates sooner rather than later. Rosengren’s statement is noteworthy because he has consistently advocated in the past for lower rates. His statement also echoes sentiments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech on Aug. 29, which she delivered with a hawkish tone.

What’s more, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi announced this week there would be no additional quantitative easing measures. That means no additional stimulus for the Eurozone economy.

Valuations Are Artificially Elevated

Another trend these speculative investors are ignoring: elevated valuations. The S&P 500’s current forward 12-month price-to-earnings ratio of 18.51 is significantly higher than its five- and 10-year averages at 14.7 and 14.3, respectively.

That means stocks are trading at a significant premium – even with subpar earnings results this year. There was a -8.6% blended S&P 500 earnings decline for Q1 2016, and a -3.2% decline in the second quarter. The second quarter marked the sixth-straight quarter of declining earnings.

Dangerous Catalysts Are Being Overlooked

Speculators also aren’t pricing in large catalysts, like the U.S. presidential election outcome, the next Fed rate hike, or the continuing Brexit narrative, according toYahoo Finance. Any one of these three developments could trigger a big sell-off.

For example, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech on Aug. 29 was full of hawkish indicators. And we all remember S&P 500’s 10% drop the last time the Fed raised rates in December 2015…

Don’t be surprised about another similar drop after the next rate hike.

 

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The post [Chart] Speculative Trading on U.S. Markets Is at a Dangerous High appeared first on Money Morning – We Make Investing Profitable.

Wall Street Examiner Disclosure:Lee Adler, The Wall Street Examiner reposts third party content with the permission of the publisher. I curate posts here on the basis of whether they represent an interesting and logical point of view, that may or may not agree with my own views. Some of the content includes the original publisher's promotional messages. I may receive promotional consideration on a contingent basis, when paid subscriptions result. The opinions expressed in these reposts are not those of the Wall Street Examiner or Lee Adler, unless authored by me, under my byline. No endorsement of third party content is either expressed or implied by posting the content. Do your own due diligence when considering the offerings of information providers.

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