Time to Watch Risk Appetite Through Junk Bonds

With bank earnings the big buzz this week, here are some highlights to keep in mind.

Bank earnings are set to tank 69% year-over-year for the second quarter. But what’s important here is not the expectations, but whether or not those expectations are exceeded.

Analysts are worried about the huge value of loan-loss provisions being set aside for bad loans/delinquencies -currently at nearly $53 billion. Several analysts expect it to climb even higher in Q2.

Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup (C) are favored to ride out the storm “given they have the least rate sensitivity” Also, big banks continue to see a boost to fee income from elevated investment-banking and trading activity. This uncertainty, in the face of crazy high valuations in tech and NASDAQ, has me focusing on not only the banks, but also junk bonds.

Back in February, before the news that the Banks might (and did) buy high-grade yield and junk debt, I began to focus on the junk bonds. As one of the first instruments to crash, JNK fell from 110 down to 83.18. Then, bank buying began and, with a quick bottom reversal pattern, JNK climbed all the way back to 103.48 in April.

Since then, with NASDAQ, TECH and TSLA roaring, JNK has not done too much. In fact, it has underperformed. So today, if risk appetite, which has already waned, continues to wane, watch JNK carefully.

100-101 is support to hold. If it breaks those levels, then a move near 95.00 and then 90.00 could happen swiftly. And that would take money out of equities and send it back to bonds and volatility.

  • S&P 500 (SPY): 318.22 gap was filled. After trading to 322, it closed on the 10-DMA support at 313
  • Russell 2000 (IWM): 137 support, 146.00 resistance
  • Dow (DIA): Tried to clear 262.45 and then failed it. Was this the top? A lot will depend on the bank earnings
  • Nasdaq (QQQ): Sharp reversal that has yet to confirm – now the true test begins in the sectors we need to hold
  • KRE (Regional Banks): An actual ray of hope in one of those key sectors I mentioned. 34.00 key support
  • SMH (Semiconductors): 160 was my target and why we have them. Reversal top possible, but needs to confirm
  • IYT (Transportation): 161.50 pivotal support, 170 resistance
  • IBB (Biotechnology): Interesting reversal here. Lets see if 136 holds
  • XRT (Retail): 43.40 pivotal
  • Volatility Index (VXX): Unconfirmed bullish phase – has to confirm
  • Junk Bonds (JNK): 104.50 resistance, 101.50 support, then 100
  • LQD (iShs iBoxx High-Yield Bonds): 134.90 support key

Mish Schneider


Director of Trading Research and Education