As the nine-year bull market saw an end to its high-flying returns, a wave of volatility has shaken investors in the new year. Fears over protectionist trade policies, heightened regulation, increasing interest rates and inflation have added to a broader uncertainty that has dragged in big players across industries such as technology. (See also: Goldman Computer Model Warns Bear Market Is Near.)
In an interview with CNBC, Paul Ciana, the global chief FICC technical strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, indicated that investors shouldn't hold their breath for a near-term recovery. Pointing to two charts that signal worse times ahead, he suggested that the market looks like it's "headed right in the eye of the storm."
“Our thesis here suggests that U.S. financial conditions continue to deteriorate,” said Ciana, noting that the "long term index looks very similar to early 2015, of which more risk-off trends did follow." He referred specifically to the high-volume gold and bond market rallies as key indicators signaling that the second quarter of 2018 could be as dreary as the first.
A Q2 a Lot Like Q1
“Enjoy the little bit of calm in the middle of the storm, and get ready to hunker down as Q2 is probably going to be a bit more similar to Q1,” said the BofA analyst.
As for gold, which is known as a safe haven amid greater market turmoil, Ciana noted that the asset was on track for its longest quarterly winning streak in seven years. "Six of the last seven big rallies in gold did have substantially high volume compared to the declines that happened before that," he said, referring to weekly chart of gold and indicating that he views the trend as signaling an accumulation in the gold market as it builds up larger and larger longs. Ciana sees gold starting Q2 off strong, and expects prices to hit somewhere in the mid-$1,400's if a "bull flag scenario" forms.
Bullish trends for the Japanese yen in the recent period also coincide with a negative, risk-off tone for Q2, added the BofA strategist. (See also: 4 Bank Stocks to Outperform in 2018: Oppenheimer.)