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The Retired Investor: The Catch-Up Trade

By Bill SchmickiBerkshires columnist
The NASDAQ 100 index has carried the market for the first half of the year. Over the last few weeks, however, other areas of the markets have been coming back to life. Nimble traders might look at some of those sectors in the weeks ahead.
August into September is a fairly volatile period for markets historically. We could see markets suffer bouts of profit-taking, which could give investors a chance to buy stocks in certain sectors that have lagged the markets but have the potential to outperform in the months to come.
One area that is risky, but may promise higher rewards, could be the China trade. Most readers are aware of the many negative developments that have plagued the Chinese market over the last two years. Political issues between the U.S. and China including trade tariffs, microchip sanctions, national security blacklisting of certain companies, and limitations on U.S. investments in certain targeted areas have soured investor attitudes toward the Chinese stock market.
On the Chinese side, regulatory crackdowns on mega-cap companies by their central government devastated their stock market. The stock prices of many companies that had represented the best that China had to offer were decimated. All of this is well known.
At the same time, thanks to the Peoples' Republic of China's zero COVID-19 tolerance policies, the mainland economy was severely damaged and has still not recovered.
Chinese retail investors, who represent 60 percent of trading volume on China's stock market, are cautious if not downright bearish on their market. Domestic and foreign Investors have been waiting for months watching for signs that the government will begin to announce plans to jump-start this faltering economy.
Only recently has there been any indication that economic policy is beginning to change. And while officials promise to change, they are taking their sweet time in providing any concrete stimulus measures that could do the job. Nonetheless, anticipation that change is just around the corner has ignited what I call a catch-up trade in China and its beneficiaries.
Globally, commodities, material stocks, mines and metals, oil stocks, and agricultural equities are all beginning to show some life. Why? On the margin, a growing Chinese economy will create increased demand for all these raw materials. These products have traditionally fueled China's factories and their exports. In addition, a recovering Chinese economy becomes the locomotive for dozens of emerging and frontier markets throughout the world.  
All the above areas have been left in the dust this year as everyone's focus was squarely on the Magnificent Seven and lately AI stocks. As a contrarian, I am attracted to unloved areas like this. That is not to say that the technology sectors of the market will not participate. They will, just not at the same rate as those in a catch-up trade, in my opinion.
There is also a second player in the metals markets with billions in cash to spend. Saudi Arabia has decided to become a hub for the processing and trade of minerals which are vital for the energy transition. In an ongoing effort to diversify the country's oil-dependent economy, they plan to develop more than $1 trillion in copper, phosphates, zinc, uranium, and gold.
Progress in this effort thus far has been slow so to jump-start their processing facilities, a new entity controlled by its huge sovereign wealth fund and its national mining company has begun to buy up mineral resources around the world and ship them home for processing.
I believe the prospects are attractive in the second half of the year for further gains in China, emerging markets, mines, metals, materials, energy, and other commodities.

Bill Schmick is the founding partner of Onota Partners, Inc., in the Berkshires. His forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of Onota Partners Inc. (OPI). None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-413-347-2401 or email him at bill@schmicksretiredinvestor.com.

Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of OPI, Inc. or a solicitation to become a client of OPI. The reader should not assume that any strategies or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold, or held by OPI. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct. Investments in securities are not insured, protected, or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal. This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements, and we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.



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