A roundup of what The Globe and Mail's market strategist Scott Barlow is reading this morning on the World Wide Web.
Bank of Montreal Chief Investment Strategist Brain Belski has frequently noted the stubborn optimism of oil patch investors and their refusal to throw in the towel on the sector no matter how bad things look. At numerous points – Dec. 16, 2014 is the best example, but it happened last week too – energy investors have touted the "buying opportunity of the century" in the belief that the worst was over and outperformance over the next three to five years was virtually assured.
Mr. Belski has reported that the only question he gets regarding oil stocks is "should I buy now?" and the question of whether energy stocks are a good idea at all for the next few years never comes up. In his mind, commodity-related, and emerging markets-dependent investments are set to underperform for a number of years. This belief was supported by a Financial Times report this morning arguing that it will take five years for the energy sector to recover,
"The [oil] cycle will only turn when the postponement of new projects begins to have an impact on total supply. Many new projects have been postponed already, and many more will suffer the same fate over the next few months. The impact, however, will be gradual. Existing producing fields, once they are past their plateau production levels, decline only slowly. New projects capable of replacing those supplies typically take four to six years to come on stream. In other words it will be about five years before the cancellation of a project today will impact on the physical supply-and-demand balance."
China's economic leaders continue to make things interesting for global markets. Leadership has reportedly decided to end direct support for equity markets – estimates indicate that losses in the attempt to bolster equities have already cost upwards of $200-billion – but at the same time, have started arresting people who advocate selling.
"Traders and officials said the latest intervention was aimed at providing a "positive market environment" in preparation for a big military parade this week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the "victory of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japanese aggression"… Senior financial regulatory officials insist that this was an anomaly, and that the government will refrain from further large-scale buying of equities. Instead, authorities are planning to sharpen their focus on investigating and punishing individuals and institutions they believe have taken advantage of the state bailout to make profits or have obstructed the government's attempts to shore up the market."
For the record, my view on China is very similar to George Mason economic professor Tyler Cowen's outlook here: "The Chinese fiscal stimulus memory hole" – Cowen, Marginal Revolution
National Bank analyst Peter Routledge believes the strong profit data for the domestic banks is "phony,"
"Analysts including National Bank Financial's Peter Routledge say trouble is lurking as cost cuts and low loan-loss provisions compensated for slowing revenue growth..
"It's a phony quarter," Routledge said in a telephone interview. "It shows really well, but there's other things happening under the surface that are really risky... the banks are adjusting their operating cost structure to deal with revenue headwinds; that's part of the explanation for the resiliency… Credit losses are at historically low levels and that might persist for one more quarter, but at some point it's going to rise."
"Canada Banks' 'Phony' Profitable Quarter Belies Future Trouble" – Bloomberg
The Marketwatch investing site provided some optimism for Blackberry Inc. shareholders by suggesting the company is a better takeover target than Twitter,
"The BlackBerry rumor mill has names attached to plans instead of just vague speculation like we see with Twitter... BlackBerry has $3.3 billion in cash and investments on the books, or roughly 87% of its market cap. That's a massive hedge, even if it does come over some $1.5 billion in debt. Furthermore, at the end of fiscal 2015 in February, BlackBerry had more than $800 million in operating cash flow… Plus, BlackBerry has some attractive elements including software expertise via its BB10 and QNX operating systems, some 44,000 patents relating to wireless technology, and its much-hyped BlackBerry Messenger service that has been the most buzzworthy in light of messaging apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat getting so much press lately."
"Why BlackBerry is a more attractive buyout target than Twitter" – Marketwatch
Tweet of the Day: There was never any doubt that famed neuroscientist and author Oliver Sacks' last tweet – Mr. Sacks died at age 82 on the weekend – was going to be the selection today. A deeply humane individual leaves a profound, and for me deeply affecting, final message,
"@OliverSacks A beautiful way to perform one of the world's great musical treasures.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbJcQYVtZMo&feature=youtu.be " – Twitter
Diversion: "Has Ground-Penetrating Radar Discovered The Nazi Gold Train?" – io9