Agitated financial markets, like the collapse of three US banks and uncertainty over a major European bank, didn’t stop some investors from buying this so-called stock market slump last week.
That’s according to a weekly report by Vanda Research released on Friday that showed retail investors bought up $1.43 billion in underperforming financials and energy stocks as well as some big-cap consumer staples on Wednesday after two weeks of sluggish performance.
Amid concerns about the health of smaller lenders, they bought “unprecedented amounts” of banks too big to fail, totaling nearly $1 billion in retail inflows into financials over the past five days. Vanda’s chart shows net purchases over the past five days, with financials standing out:
Marco Iachini, Senior Vice President, Giancomo Pierantoni, Head of Data and Lucas Mantle, Data Science Analyst at Vanda, said Charles Schwab SCHW,
has seen the second-highest inflows over the past week after Bank of America.
“Some Adventurers” bought First Republic Bank, FRC,
PacWest Bancorp PACW,
and Truist Financials TFC,
which they described as “riskier bets that could potentially offer massive upside potential” if systemic risk can be kept in check.
Shares rose Thursday after federal authorities organized big banks to invest $30 billion in First Republic Bank FRC.
and stave off a fourth bank failure after last week’s collapses of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and Silvergate Bank. Credit Suisse shares CSGN,
Meanwhile, it plunged 25% last week, at times shaking global markets amid concerns for the Swiss banking giant’s own survival.
Read: UBS and regulators rush to seal acquisition deal with Credit Suisse: reports
But the roller coaster ride was back on Friday, as financial stocks took a hit and First Republic shares fell again after the bank suspended its dividend and announced higher borrowing costs. Some of the big banks involved in this lender deposit plan also fell, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM,
Bank of America BAC,
and Goldman Sachs GS,
According to Dow Jones Market Data, the Dow fell 0.1% this week, the S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 4.4%.
Schwab shares lost 3.9% last week, while executives at one point reassured shareholders that the broker remained “well positioned.” CEO Walter Bettinger and other executives bought nearly $7 million worth of stock during last week’s market turmoil.
Vanda analysts said some of this equity sector rotation was likely driven by profit-taking on the side of bond-themed exchange-traded funds (ETFs), with inflows into some of the largest of them surging by $250 million over the past two weeks fell .
But it’s a delicate balance right now, as those investors are only likely to continue buying stocks if a “systemic crisis” can be avoided, Vanda analysts said.
Read: Credit Suisse shares fall to weather their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis
Read: Consumer sentiment plummets for the first time in four months — and that was before Americans knew about SVB
Uncertainty over the Fed’s rate path has fueled volatile bond yields over the past week, propelling the ICE BofAML MOVE Index to its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis on Wednesday.
Investors pulled $8.8 billion from top-tier money market funds at Schwab last week and put it into the broker’s sovereign and financial funds, while remaining nervous about whether the banking crisis will gain further traction. Bloomberg reportsciting company data.
Vanda said the energy sector also saw rising inflows after the market tumble on Tuesday, although analysts said these are not the stocks that tend to win traders’ loyalty. If an increase in dip buying doesn’t reverse this momentum, more traders could dump these stocks.
Haunted by the specters of late 2018 and the 2008 financial crisis, retail investors find themselves in a fragile situation, the Vanda analysts said.
They noted that investor capitulation in 2018 came in the fourth quarter, “as the stock market began to freefall after an extended range amid mixed Fed commentary.” The S&P 500 index slipped over 9% in December 2018 amid concerns over Fed tightening, an economic slowdown and US-China trade tensions.
Markets are gearing up for next week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting. Fed funds futures traders now see a 75.3% chance of a 25 basis point rate hike next Wednesday on inflation concerns. That as bank stress hovers in the background.
Read: What it will take to calm the nervousness of the banking sector: time and a Fed rate hike.
“We also believe fears of “systemic risk” related to the banking sector are more emotionally destabilizing for novice investors than minor sell-offs caused by Fed rate hikes or events outside the US,” Vanda analysts said.
“We remain vigilant as we could see increased volatility in flows in the coming weeks, particularly as retailers panic and start allocating more of their assets to money market funds.”
Such funds are perceived as safer because investments focus on lower-risk areas such as cash and securities that behave like cash, such as CDs and Treasury bills.
One stock not getting dip buying love is Tesla TSLA,
which has continued to underperform the broader market since a disappointing Investor Day earlier this month, the Vanda team said. Tesla shares are down 13% this month versus a 1.3% gain for the Nasdaq Composite COMP,
“We think TSLA could continue to lag in this environment as investors now have the ability to choose from other familiar areas of the stock market that have taken a hit recently, like energy or financials,” they said.
Read: Every wandering cycle of the last 70 years ends in a recession or a financial crisis. “This time will be no different,” says the Morgan Stanley strategist.
Source : www.marketwatch.com