Strong ISM Services reading is a party killer
Head of Equity Strategy
Summary: The rally in equities since mid-October has put the equity market in a bad risk-reward situation with equities pricing a rosy scenario with no recession and inflation coming back to normal levels with the Fed cutting rates in 2023. This milk and honey scenario will be severely tested in the coming months as the ISM Services Index for November showed yesterday. The services sector is still strong and inflationary pressures are still high with all roads still leading to high inflation.
Has the rally in S&P 500 ended for now?
In a recent string of equity notes (see bullets below) we have laid out our thinking about equities, earnings, operating margins, inflation and the economy as 2023 is approaching. These views have been in contrast to the equity rally that has unfolded since mid-October when the market began betting hard on “peak inflation” leading to a Fed pivot in 2023. However, yesterday’s ISM Services Index fir November came out at 56.5 vs est. 53.5 and up from 54.4 in October suggesting the US services sector remains impressively resilient. Prices paid in the survey remained high at 70 (the level since July) fitting well with the 7.5% annualised in the US services sector excluding energy as we described in our equity note following the US October inflation print back in mid-November.
S&P 500 futures traded 1.8% lower on the figures as interest rates got repriced and investors scaled back. The important question is not whether we have peak inflation rate, as that is most likely the case, but rather what is the floor in the inflation rate related to the structural dynamics in the economy. Years of low inflation and below needed investments in mining and energy will continue to haunt investors with higher inflation coupled with a war economy dynamic around global supply chains reshoring manufacturing to more expensive places than China. As we say in the Saxo Strats team all roads lead to inflation from now on and the market is now prepared for that. We maintain our defensive view on equities and maintain our S&P 500 target of 3,200 as the earnings recession that is likely to occur in 2023 has not been priced into equities.
Recent Saxo equity notes:
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