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Global stocks plunged and the S&P posted its worst open in 30 years after British voters approved a U.K. exit from the EU. Just how low will markets go, and for how long?
According to NorthmanTrader.com founder Sven Henrich, 1,950 could be the number to watch on the S&P 500. Looking at a chart of the S&P 500's key levels, Henrich had predicted that the index could have climbed to as high as 2,150 had the U.K. had chosen to remain in the European Union. But now with the Brexit referendum settled in favor of the leave camp, those levels are unlikely, especially given that the S&P 500 looks to be staying in its months-long trading range.
"We've been in a range, nothing has changed in that regard," Henrich said Thursday on CNBC's "Futures Now." "But every time the S&P 500 gets above 2,100, volume kind of dies and the marginal buyers are disappearing. So we need some sort of trigger to get buying in."
Henrich emphasized that regardless of the Brexit vote, global markets are still unpredictable.
"What happens then? That's the big question because I see a lot of divergences outside of the S&P 500, because a lot of industries are not following the S&P 500 here," he said. "If you look at the Dow, or the ICE, the financials or the DAX, they're all far below their 52-week highs."
But what has Henrich even more on his toes is the Federal Reserve. The trader points out that Janet Yellen's testimony brought up some issues that are actually "more important than Brexit."
"They admitted that the forward price-to-earnings ratio of equities is actually increasing to a level well above their median price for the past three decades," said Henrich. "At the same time, they're talking about productivity lagging. In fact, productivity the last five years, the growth grade has been lower than any time period since World War II. They're talking about fixed business investment declining and industrial production falling."
"At the same time, they're saying that equity prices are vulnerable to rises in term premiums at more normal levels, meaning that if we suddenly see some sort of move, equity prices could correct," he added.
U.S. markets plunged Friday morning following the vote, with the S&P 500 seeing its worst open since 1986. The Nasdaq and the Dow were also down more than 2 and 3 percent respectively following the opening bell.
"Sell in May and go away."
It's a familiar phrase that was coined to describe a trader's decision to put money on the sidelines before heading to the Hamptons or Nantucket.
However, JPMorgan says that taking a vacation from stocks this summer will ultimately be a mistake for investors.
"We've had a couple of tough summers that are fresh in people's memory," said Stephen Parker on CNBC's "Futures Now" on Tuesday. "But, if you look back over the long term, history is not in your favor to sell in May and go away."
The head of thematic equity solutions for JPMorgan Private Bank believes that, even as the S&P 500 has risen 2 percent in the past month, more gains are to be expected. He noted that, since 1970, markets have actually rallied over the summer nearly 67 percent of the time.
However, while Parker warned that the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day tends to see more volatility, that can be in favor of bullish investors, since "we've had more 10 percent rallies over the summer than we have had declines."
Furthermore, Parker remains undeterred from the volatility that could stem from a Brexit. Regardless of how the U.K. votes on Thursday, he says that the market is ready because "de-risking" is already baked into investor's strategies.
"We're set up for a potential positive surprise heading into the rest of the summer," said Parker in his coverage. "History shows that market moves leading up to or immediately after some of these binary events often correct rather quickly."
Britain's upcoming referendum on whether to quit the European Union has created considerable market volatility. According to one Wall Street firm, however, investors who panic and sell if the Brexit wins will do so at their own peril.
"If there is an exit vote, you know we want our clients in here stepping in to buy U.S. large-cap stocks," Scott Wren, Wells Fargo Investment Institute's senior global equity strategist, said recently on CNBC's "Futures Now." "After we get finished with the noise and the volatility, after a few weeks of that, you know people will have wished they bought stocks."
Britain will hold a referendum June 23 on whether to leave or remain in the 28-member European Union. British advocates of leaving believe the country is being held back by the political and economic union.
Wells Fargo hasn't issued any official odds on the likelihood of a Brexit. But other firms, such as Morgan Stanley, put the probability just below 50 percent.
"I think that whatever outcome this vote is, it is in no way, shape or form going to change the trajectory of the domestic economy in particular or the international economy over the next 12 to 18 months," he said.
That assessment comes from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch Global Research's head of high yield and relative value strategy, who saidFederal Reservechair Janet Yellen and her global central banking counterparts have been reduced to little more than high ranking babysitters.
"A Peter Pan economy is an economy that just doesn't want to grow up," Michael Contopoulos recently told "Fast Money."The central bankers of the U.S., Japan and Europe "are like three nannies managing the economies. And, that's what they're supposed to be doing.
Speaking about the central banks' mandate for price stability, Contopoulos added: "If you think about it, their job is to spur inflation and growth. It's to baby the economies forward. It's just not happening though."
The analysis coming as the ten-year Treasury note yield fell to multi-year lows this week, breaking the 1.60 percent mark. Meanwhile, the Fed decided leave interest rates unchanged.
"I think rates could go lower. You have ten trillion of negative yielding assets globally. Treasuries, U.S. investment grade and U.S. high-yield are virtually some of the only assets available right now with a positive yield," said Contopoulos, who drives the firm's view on cross assets and the high yield and loan markets. "Fundamentals are weak."
As gold hit the highest level in nearly two years, one technical analyst is certain that major gains are in store for the precious metal.
"Gold is going to $1,450," Zev Spiro said on "Futures Now" on Thursday, a day on which gold rose as high as $1,318 before retreating back below $1,300. Gold was around $1,296 on Friday afternoon, up about 1.5 percent this week and on pace for its third positive week in a row.
"Once we get to $1,306 to $1,308 and hold, I suspect we can push higher within two to three months."
Spiro looked back to March, when prices moved above what he described as a two-year long descending channel. At that time, "the breakout signaled higher prices with a minimum price objective in the $1,450 area," he said.
He also explained that prices could extend beyond this minimum objective to test the $1,525 to $1,550 area, "which was a level of support from 2011 to 2013, that is now overhead resistance."
Ultimately, Spiro believes the landscape for gold remains positive because of the sell-off in May, when prices tested and held above a key range of $1,190 to $1,205.
"The hold of that support reinforced significance of the $1,190 to $1,205 level and it led to the sharp rally we've seen over the past two weeks," he said, noting that gold prices have rallied nearly 7 percent in June.
Spiro also said gold moved above a key level of resistance that's formed by connecting the highs from January and May, when gold prices surpassed $1,308 and $1,306, respectively.
"If we get a hold above $1,306 to $1,308, that would confirm a breakout above this level, which would be positive and signal a continuation of the larger uptrend," he said.
Spiro also said that in the coming weeks, "digestion" of a rally is healthy, and that there may a brief short-term consolidation before a breakout.
For investors anxiously awaiting Wednesday's Fed announcement, Peter Boockvar has a clear message: Your fears are misplaced.
The managing director and chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group explained that a rate hike in June or in July is unlikely. Furthermore, he reasoned that traders should look across the pond to the U.K. if they're in need of reasons to worry.
"The market has tossed the Fed aside," said Boockvar. "They've been mugged by the reality of the global economy continuing to shrink."
The Brexit vote is just eight days away and favorable sentiment toward leaving the European Union continues to grow within the U.K. As it stands, Boockvar described a British departure from the EU as an occurrence that would create a dangerous ripple effect across global markets in the near term.
"If the Brits vote to leave, it can take two years for it to physically happen and so much can happen within that time frame," said Boockvar, who predicted that Italy, Spain and Portugal could also follow the U.K.'s example. From here, he fears that a mass exodus from the EU could trigger a global recession. This belief stems from the notion that the bloc has established rules that do not entice member countries to want to stay.
"Think about the euro. It actually was a great idea. If I'm Italy and you're Spain we can do business," noted Boockvar, who says that ease of conducting commerce in Europe no longer exists because of bureaucracy. "They need to decentralize power out of Brussels and give it more to the individual countries."
He also blamed the European Central Bank for "mucking things up" and racking up serious debt in efforts to establish a one-size-fits-all monetary policy in Europe.
"To me, the ECB is the biggest threat to this whole experiment," said Boockvar, who added that it's near impossible to find a common financial platform for countries like Germany, France, Italy and Greece to operate across.
Additionally, Boockvar remains skeptical of Europe's ability to ease the potential panic on a "leave" vote as he feels that the general public has become repulsed with today's leadership.
"What we're seeing with central banks, our own presidential election, in the U.K., potential in the vote in Spain is disgust with the establishment," said Boockvar, referring to the general election in Spain. Now, with people losing their faith in central banks, he sees monetary policies losing a grip on their ability to maintain calm in the marketplace.
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