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Citi’s chief U.S. equity strategist Tobias Levkovich is skeptical about stock market returns in the next few months - he believes a 10-per-cent correction is plausible – but this bearish view is tempered by his more bullish opinion that markets are not on the verge of a year 2000-style stock meltdown.

The strategist notes that even the most wildly optimistic forecasts for the S&P 500 in 2021 don’t leave a lot of upside from current levels. At the same time, his proprietary Panic/Euphoria gauge of investor sentiment is flashing red – extreme levels of investor bullishness imply 9-12 per cent downside for U.S. stocks in the next year.

The good news is that the 12-per-cent drop is likely close to the worst-case scenario. It’s true that expensive technology stocks dominate the benchmarks in a similar fashion to the late 1990s, just before the NASDAQ 100 dropped 81 per cent. Citi, however, emphasizes important differences between then and now that should prevent a market massacre of anywhere near that scale.

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Mr. Levkovich notes that the U.S. Federal Reserve was tightening monetary policy in 1999 while financial conditions now remain exceedingly loose. The U.S. economy was entering a recession in 2000 but is recovering from recessionary conditions now.

Most importantly, technology stocks are at a much more mature stage of development.

“The 2000 bubble environment encompassed “man-with-a-plan” dot-coms that were burning cash to get first-mover advantage”, Mr. Levkovich wrote, “while the current major tech names are free cash flow generators and dominant market leaders.”

In January 2000, technology stocks were being valued based on lofty future growth expectations whereas now they are priced based on current high levels of profitability.

None of this guarantees that technology stocks will continue to outperform the benchmark and indeed, many strategists believe they will lag more economically sensitive market sectors. And if investors are looking for sectors where massive inflows are chasing dreams of future growth, renewable power stocks are the first place I’d look.

-- Scott Barlow, Globe and Mail market strategist

This is the Globe Investor newsletter, published three times each week. If someone has forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you or you’re reading this on the web, you can sign up for the newsletter and others on our newsletter signup page.

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Stocks to ponder

Cameco Corp. (CCO-T) The Canadian uranium producer has enjoyed a good run with investors embracing nuclear energy as a key solution to climate change. But can nuclear power live up to growth expectations when wind and solar power are gaining traction and are unequivocally green? David Berman shares his thoughts.

The Rundown

How Big Six shares roared back to pre-pandemic levels

Unemployment is soaring and doctors are worried the country will face a third wave of COVID-19, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the share prices of Canada’s Big Six banks. Even though the lenders are deeply linked to the country’s wounded economy, their stocks have roared back to around pre-pandemic levels. How is that possible? There are many reasons, including unprecedented government stimulus and remarkable scientific breakthroughs on vaccines. But one structural variable often gets overlooked: Canada’s banks were built for this. Tim Kiladze tells us more.

Crash or no crash, stock markets are too exuberant for comfort

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A weird exuberance has swept across the investing landscape, especially over the past couple of months. The public’s willingness to pile into one warmed-over speculation after another suggests the end of this frenzy could be drawing nigh. But attempting to time the stock market is just about always a mug’s game. So what should a saver do? Ian McGugan has some thoughts.

Also see: Overheated stock market at risk of bubble in a disconnect from economy, experts say

The failure of online brokers in serving retirees goes beyond clogged phone lines

Jammed phone lines are a big problem if you’re a retiree calling your online broker to manage your registered retirement income fund. But there’s an underlying problem here that also needs some attention. In the age of so-called digital investing, not enough has been done to allow seniors to manage RRIFs and registered retirement savings plans online so they don’t have to call in. Rob Carrick reports.

Investment bubble in hydrogen power stocks building rapidly

Talk about a bubble that’s quickly inflating. The Solactive World Hydrogen Index of companies related to hydrogen-related stocks is higher by 118 per cent since inception less than six months ago. The long-term outlook for the hydrogen molecule as a near-bottomless source of green energy is indeed promising, but as Scott Barlow reports, cost competitive hydrogen energy is at least five years away.

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Big data gives investors a big edge in fast markets

In recent years, data providers have expanded well beyond the bounds of traditional market information and into the realm of alternative data. Satellite imagery can count vehicles in major retailers’ parking lots, for example; credit-card transaction data can portend emerging consumer trends; and information mined from investor forums on social-media platforms can precede big swings in sentiment toward an individual stock. Prior to 2020, this kind of non-traditional market data was steadily gaining a foothold in mainstream investing. But the global public-health crisis has supercharged demand for alternative data, by investors trying to get a real-time read on quickly changing economies and markets. Tim Shufelt reports.

Bitcoin hits highs even as analysts warn on ‘mainstream moment’

Bitcoin charged to a record high on Wednesday, a day after the cryptocurrency vaulted the US$50,000 hurdle, even as analysts warned about the sustainability of such prices amid elevated volatility. Tom Wilson of Reuters reports.

Traders chase sky-high returns in leveraged exchange traded products

Leveraged and inverse exchange traded products (ETPs) - which aim to magnify the moves of an underlying index or stock several times over - account for only around 1 per cent of the US$5.9-trillion universe of U.S.-listed exchange traded products, according to CFRA. Yet some of these ETPs are drawing heavy interest from both professional traders and retail investors. It is another sign of the voracious appetite for risk that has gripped markets, Reuters reports.

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Commodity prices: Supercycle or regular upturn?

Commodity markets may be about to embark on another supercycle – a multi-year, broad-based, and usually large increase in prices – according to research published by some of the top investment banks involved in the sector. But while many prices are likely to increase over the next couple of years, after slumping during the coronavirus pandemic, it is less clear this will mark the start of a supercycle rather than an ordinary cyclical upturn. John Kemp of Reuters has this analysis.

Others (for subscribers)

Number Cruncher: These 20 TSX stocks missed the market rebound but could see a strong 2021

Wednesday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

Tuesday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

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Tuesday’s Insider Report: Company leaders are buying this energy stock with a 2% dividend yield

Gordon Pape: My RRSP portfolio has bounced back, gaining almost 14% over the last 6 months

Buffett’s Berkshire reveals major stakes in Verizon and Chevron

Why India will be the next emerging-market darling for investors

Globe Advisor

A favourable time to invest in energy?

Are you a financial advisor? Register for Globe Advisor (www.globeadvisor.com) for free daily and weekly newsletters, in-depth industry coverage and analysis, and access to ProStation - a powerful tool to help you manage your clients’ portfolios.

What’s up in the days ahead

Worried about frothy stock markets but wondering where to put a last-minute RRSP contribution? Rob Carrick will have some advice.

Click here to see the Globe Investor earnings and economic news calendar.

More Globe Investor coverage

For more Globe Investor stories, follow us on Twitter @globeinvestor

You may also be interested in our Market Update or Carrick on Money newsletters. Explore them on our newsletter signup page.

Compiled by Globe Investor Staff

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