Should You Chase The Rally?

Professional money managers are once again having to look hard into their crystal balls, tea leaves, mirrors on the wall or whatever place it is that gives them insight on the markets.

What started out as a modest retreat in oil, softness in gold and a gentle rotation of metals into banks and financials has become something more compelling. In fact rather annoyingly for the momentum investors who follow the trend - the certainty of ever higher commodity prices is starting to be challenged.

Perversely the anti-growth retreat in oil prices is being welcomed with higher equity markets rather than distress over the outlook for global GDP. It shows how embedded the markets fear is about the damaging effect of input-cost inflation on profits and official interest rates. It is this rather than energy demand destruction as business activity slows that is apparently seen as the biggest bogeyman.

Which might suggest the collective psychology of the equity market has still not come to terms with the idea that corporate earnings growth expectations appear to be too high. Reported Q2 figures have confirmed the disaster in the banking sector, but the rest has been a mixed bag.

Our guest host for Wednesday was definitely not interested in chasing 'bear market rallies'. Colin Mclean from SVM has raised cash positions in the global opps and UK active funds he runs. He is staying light on financials, consumer exposed stocks and small caps - while he is holding on to pharma, utilities, oil explorers and miners. Colin is not going to head off hedge-fund-like in some gamboling pursuit of banks and property stocks. He is especially allergic to companies with opaque banking covenants, high debt and a cavalier attitude to using cash for buy backs or acquisitions. So far this year his caution has paid off - his funds are outperforming most of his peers on a relative basis.

As for our regular crop of ruler wielding tech analysts - there is a broad consensus we have a serious counter trend move unfolding here. Robin Griffiths calls it a 'summer rally' - unfortunately his timeframe suggests it will fade just as the retail punter becomes convinced it is here to stay.

So if you're going to chase, do it with eyes wide open and a finger on the trigger.

A final thought on gold - Chris Locke says he is still a strategic buyer, but thinks believers in the precious metal are going to have their faith tested.

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