Credit Suisse, the Swiss investment banking and asset management giant, told clients on August 6 that emerging stock markets had hit a top after rallying 72% in five months.
The note said that six indicators had turned negative on these markets: the 200-day moving average for the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) Emerging Markets Index (EEM), the advance/decline ratio, risk appetite, cash levels, fund flows, and seasonality of emerging market stocks.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index, for example, has climbed to the highest level above its 200-day moving average since January, Credit Suisse explained. (That’s negative since it says that current stock prices are very far above their long term support at the 200-day moving average. That makes these stocks risky.)
In addition optimism about economic growth in emerging economies has produced massive flows of cash into emerging stock markets. The rolling four-month average of flows into these markets as a percentage of total assets invested has hit 10%, Credit Suisse told clients. That’s one of the highest levels in 14 years. Why’s that a negative? Because money managers are reluctant to let their portfolios get too overweight one sector or another and with the huge gains in these markets, they’re likely to re-balance by taking some profits in these markets or at least reducing the new cash that they’re putting in. The cash position of the average emerging-market stock fund fell to just 2.3% in July. That’s less than the 3% average for the last 10 years.
Indicators can, of course, turn negative and stay negative for a long time without stocks taking a tumble.
But at the least all these indicators pointing in a single direction suggest that this isn’t the time to be putting new money to work in these emerging markets yourself.