Retail and housing.
Those two consumer-driven sectors could be key to determining the market’s next move, Miller Tabak chief market strategist Matt Maley told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Thursday.
The retail ETF has been making constructive moves since its late March lows, hitting a higher low followed by a higher high, Maley said.
“The fact that it’s followed it with a nice higher high is positive. However, the thing is the group had obviously got hit much harder than the rest of the market in the downturn,” he said. “So, it’s going to need to play catch-up. We’re going to need to see more upside follow-through in that group.”
He said the same goes for the ITB, which also recently made a higher low and higher high.
“That one went down 50% when the group got hit and when the rest of the market got hit. So, again, it’s got to play catch-up,” Maley said. “And the thing is if these two key areas roll back over in a meaningful way and start to look at taking out their March lows, that’s going to be a big, big problem. So, they’re two very highly economically sensitive groups and the ones we’re going to have to keep a very close eye on in the coming weeks.”
In the same interview on Thursday, Mark Tepper, president and CEO of Strategic Wealth Partners, grappled with one important question: How long is this hit to consumer health and confidence going to last?
“The consumer makes up 70% of our economy. So, obviously, you want to see some strength coming from those two areas,” Tepper said. “My personal take is we’re going to see elevated unemployment for a while. It’s not going to be a quick rebound. So, will the consumers get back to spending like they used to? I don’t know.”
Tepper sees winners and losers in retail and homebuilders.
“Within retail, I’d be avoiding the mall-based retailers like Gap, L Brands, Kohl’s, Macy’s. Traffic was already falling off a cliff,” he said. “We own Dollar General. We own Walmart. We own Amazon. Those are actually positive on the year, and those are companies that are going to get you your basic necessities.”
Stocks in the ITB were also a tricky bet given the market’s many unknowns, Tepper said.
“Look, I love D.R. Horton. They appeal to the mass. They offer entry-level homes and move-up homes where there’s a shortage of quality options. But I prefer Home Depot and Sherwin-Williams here,” he said. “If you were on the fence about building a home, I don’t think you’re going to be pulling the trigger with all of these unknowns. Is your job safe? Are your finances solid?”
“With Home Depot and Sherwin-Williams, I think it’s much more likely that you’ll see people commit to a small project rather than building a whole house,” Tepper said. “Maybe you do your kitchen or bathroom. So, with Home Depot, they’re obviously an essential retailer. A lot of people are still going there. Sherwin-Williams, most cost-effective way to make over your house is to paint it, right? So, I think those would be my two plays there.”
The XRT and ITB closed more than 3.5% higher Thursday, respectively at $33.55 and $33.49.
Disclosure: Tepper and Strategic Wealth Partners own shares of Dollar General, Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot and Sherwin Williams.