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NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks just wrapped up their best quarter in nearly a decade, coming within a stone’s throw of a record high. Junk bonds did them one better, regaining record levels and then some. Given the long-running correlation between the two asset classes, that could mean stocks will soon be back in record territory as well, keeping alive a bull market run now stretching into its second decade. “We think this cycle has a lot more time than (others) think,” said Krishna Memani, chief investment officer at Oppenheimer Funds. “It’s not ending in 2019 and it’s not ending in 2020. It has a few more years to go.” designer cufflinks on sale.
Both stocks and their closest associates in the bond market – the high-yield debt issued by companies with less-than-stellar credit ratings called junk bonds – have come charging back in the first months of 2019 after taking a drubbing at the end of last year. The S&P 500 has gained 15% this year, and the ICE Merrill Lynch U.S designer cufflinks on sale. high-yield index has returned 7.6%. The clearest catalyst for the turnaround is the change in posture from the Federal Reserve, which has taken an open-ended hiatus from interest-rate hikes and will soon stop letting bonds roll off its balance sheet. The ensuing drop in yields on safe-havens like Treasuries has been a tailwind for riskier assets..
While the two frequently move in lockstep, junk bonds have often taken the lead in demarking major turning points or signaling that both sectors may be heading into uncharted territory designer cufflinks on sale. A decade ago, for instance, high-yield bonds began their rise from the financial crisis more than two months before the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average found their bottoms. More recently, in the big corrections suffered by both markets in 2015-2016 and in early 2018, junk bonds regained record levels weeks before stocks did..
In the current case, the high-yield index has been striking new tops since early February. Meanwhile, the S&P, up 22% from its December low, is about 2% short of last fall’s record and the Russell 2000, the benchmark for small-cap stocks, is around 10% below its high-water mark designer cufflinks on sale. Graphic: Junk bond recovery signals more gains for stocks, click tmsnrt.rs/2I9iMCJ. The drive higher in both markets is occurring against the most uncertain economic backdrop in several years, a suddenly clouded horizon that drove the Fed to cut short a three-year tightening cycle. Last month the spread between 3-month Treasury bill yields and 10-year note yields briefly inverted, commonly seen as a signal of an oncoming recession..
Of even greater importance for stocks and high-yield bonds, the outlook for corporate profits – the fundamental driver in both markets – is weakening. S&P companies’ earnings may have fallen in the first quarter for the first time since 2016, according to Refinitiv data, and full-year 2019 profit growth is seen as less than half the pace of 2018’s tax-cut fueled pace designer cufflinks on sale. In that context, some investors are skeptical that financial and economic conditions will provide sustained support for a run-up in stocks..