US equities markets have continued to perform well, fueled by upbeat earnings and vaccination news. However, that’s often when surprises arise. A correction would be welcome at this point, as sentiment and positioning have reached extreme levels, as Mike Wilson, Chief Investment Officer and Chief US Equity Strategist for Morgan Stanley notes.
“Fourth quarter earnings proved to be terrific for most companies. With 419 companies in the S&P 500 reporting so far, earnings per share have come in 18% higher than the consensus estimate. Sales have been just 3% higher on average, suggesting our operating leverage theme is really playing out. Fourth quarter sales actually grew 1% year over year. When combined with a lower unemployment cost and other operating expenses, profit margins have moved to near all-time highs. In short, the recession is over for corporate profits.”
“After a slow start, the vaccination process has picked up nicely. In addition, there is some evidence that the first shot of the vaccine could provide 75% effectiveness against symptoms of any kind. Meanwhile, new cases are falling more rapidly than expected, and several leading health experts are even saying we may achieve herd immunity as early as April.”
“At this point, it seems like nothing can slow this bull market. However, that's exactly when surprises usually arise. We see two potential risks to be thinking about as we exit February. First, is the risk associated with interest rates rising sharply as bond markets simply catch up to what other asset prices are already reflecting. Second is the risk that some of the positive operating leverage that we've been witnessing in company earnings reports starts to go in reverse.”
“With this macro backdrop, we continue to favor areas in the market that are reasonably priced or can benefit from rising rates and inflation. Areas like banks, materials and energy. We also favor reopening beneficiaries in the consumer and business services sectors, as markets begin to digest a faster return to normal activities.”
Information on these pages contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Markets and instruments profiled on this page are for informational purposes only and should not in any way come across as a recommendation to buy or sell in these assets. You should do your own thorough research before making any investment decisions. FXStreet does not in any way guarantee that this information is free from mistakes, errors, or material misstatements. It also does not guarantee that this information is of a timely nature. Investing in Open Markets involves a great deal of risk, including the loss of all or a portion of your investment, as well as emotional distress. All risks, losses and costs associated with investing, including total loss of principal, are your responsibility. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of FXStreet nor its advertisers.