News

Once offering the worst return on Wall Street, cash is now looking like the best asset to own, says Morgan Stanley

Stock sellers are picking up where they left off on Friday, as the market appears to be waking up from its August slumber with a vengeance.

Caution continues to ooze from Wall Street ahead of the Jackson Hole meeting, on worries summer gains were just due to a bear market rally cloaked in false dovish hopes.

As Goldman Sach’s chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin told clients after the S&P 500
SPX,
-2.14%

took just 17 weeks to reach his year end target of 4,300, “upside seems limited while downside risks loom.” His concern is that we could be walking into a 2000 trap, where the market declines even after hiking stops if the U.S. enters recession.

That brings us to our call of the day from Morgan Stanley strategist Andrew Sheets who says investors should consider cash as a viable investment strategy, even if that hasn’t seemed like such a winning proposal in the past.

“Holding cash…was an explicitly defensive decision for much of the last 12 years. Of course it offered a worse return than anything else in the market,” Sheets told clients in the bank’s Sunday note. That strategy also proved expensive, with the dollar underperforming both the S&P 500
SPX,
-2.14%

and U.S. 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.002%

between 2010 and 2020 (barring 2013 and 2018), he added.

Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley Research

“But the idea that holding cash means paying for insurance is no longer accurate,” said Sheets, who notes that U.S. 6-month Treasury bills
TMUBMUSD06M,
3.164%

yields (3.1%) are the highest since late 2007, offering 157 basis points more than S&P 500 dividends, 21 basis points more than 10-year Treasurys
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.002%
,
and just 60 basis points under the U.S. aggregate bond index
AGG,
-0.43%
.

“For USD investors, cash has ceased to be a material drag on a portfolio’s current yield,” he said. Even holding cash in Europe, which used to be extremely costly, is no longer, as German 6-month bill
TMBMBDE-06M,
0.313%

yields are positive for the first time since 2014.

Streets said that on a cross-asset basis, U.S. dollar cash offers a high current yield, liquidity, and a better 12-month total return than Morgan Stanley’s own implied forecasts for U.S. equity, U.S. Treasurys, investment grade and high yield credit — “with considerably less volatility.”

This is why Morgan Stanley’s core optimized fixed-income portfolios are overweight short-dated fixed income, he said. Against other currencies the dollar also holds up, and the bank’s foreign exchange experts see more of that strength ahead, especially against the euro
EURUSD,
-0.08%
,
which was once again tapping parity on Monday as worries over Europe winter fuel shortages build.

The market

Stocks
DJIA,
-1.91%

SPX,
-2.14%

COMP,
-2.55%

are under pressure, with bond yields
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.002%

TMUBMUSD02Y,
3.305%

rising and reflecting a cautious mood and oil prices
CL.1,
+1.39%

BRN00,
+0.92%

dropping. Investors continue to push the dollar
DXY,
-0.09%

higher. Elsewhere, it was a choppy day in Asia and Europe stocks
SXXP,
+0.03%

are under pressure.

The euro
EURUSD,
-0.08%

has touched parity against the dollar, as Europe natural gas prices soar on news of a three-day shutdown at the end of the month for a vital Russian pipeline.

The buzz

Among data and events this week, we’ll get PMI numbers, second quarter GDP, the Fed’s favorite inflation indicator and the central bank’s Jackson Hole meeting, with Chairman Jerome Powell due to speak Friday morning.

On the meme-stock beat, AMC Entertainment
AMC,
-5.51%

is tumbling ahead of the start of trading for preferred equity units, or ApesL, and London-based Cineworld
CINE,
-12.97%

confirmed it was considering a U.S. bankruptcy filing. Stock in fellow meme, Bed Bath & Beyond
BBBY,
-16.23%
,
is also dropping.

CEO Elon Musk said the Tesla
TSLA,
-2.28%

will raise the price of its ‘Full Self-Driving’ feature to $15,000.

Joining CVS
CVS,
-1.64%
,
Amazon
AMZN,
-3.62%

is reportedly among the bidders for healthcare company Signify Health 
SGFY,
+32.08%
.

China’s central bank cut its loan prime rate, a move aimed at pumping up its shaky real-estate market. Meanwhile, power rationing in the drought stricken southwest affecting industrial companies and Tesla in Shanghai, has been extended.

Retail and tech names will be reporting this week, with Zoom Video
ZM,
-2.07%

and Palo Alto Networks
PANW,
-1.06%

due after Monday’s close. Macy’s
M,
-4.07%
,
Dick’s Sporting Goods
DKS,
-0.61%
,
Dollar Tree
DLTR,
-0.16%

and Dollar General
DG,
-2.02%
,
Peloton
PTON,
-1.11%
,
Nvidia
NVDA,
-4.57%
,
Salesforce
CRM,
-3.69%

and Marvell
MRVL,
-4.16%

among other highlights.

A group of Apple
AAPL,
-2.30%

workers are reportedly pushing back against a return-to-office order for next month.

Fans rushing to watch HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon,” which has a $100 million market campaign behind it, sent the app crashing.

Best of the web

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The crypto geniuses who vaporized a trillion dollars.

The chart

RBC Capital’s head of U.S. equity strategy, Lori Calvasina, argues stocks can and have put in major bottoms even amid falling earnings forecasts, with her chart below showing those moments in history. While Calvasina remains concerned that likely further moves down for 2022 and 2023 EPS forecasts could make for a more volatile stock market, she doesn’t think that will lead to carving out a new low for equities.

RBC US Equity Strategy, S&P Capital IQ/ClariFI, CIQ estimates

Top tickers

These were the top searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m. Eastern Time:

Ticker

Security name

AMC,
-5.51%

AMC Entertainment

BBBY,
-16.23%

Bed Bath & Beyond

GME,
-5.45%

GameStop

TSLA,
-2.28%

Tesla

GCT,
-13.75%

GigaCloud Technology

AAPL,
-2.30%

Apple

NIO,
-0.52%

NIO

ENDP,
-17.50%

Endo International

AMZN,
-3.62%

Amazon

BBY,
-2.65%

Best Buy

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