Early 2023 winning markets
After the first several weeks of trading in 2023, some early winners include Chinese stocks, short natural gas, short Treasury yields and long gold—as well as a slew of single-stocks that are already up by more than 20% this year.
The new trading year has only just begun, but there have already been some big movers right out of the gates.
The Nasdaq 100 is up a modest 5%, while the S&P 500 is up about 2% in 2023. However, when filtering for single stocks with more than $2 billion in total revenues last year, at least 50 stocks are up at least 20% to start the year.
Within that group of single-stock winners, the early themes appear to include a rally in Chinese stocks, a rebound in beaten-up symbols from 2022, and continued strength in the energy sector.
Citing a couple of examples, the Chinese tech giant Alibaba (BABA) is already up more than 25% in 2023, while Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY)—which dropped by more than 80% in 2022—has rallied by roughly 40%. From the energy sector, Cleveland Cliffs (CLF), Canadian Solar (CSIQ) and JinkoSolar (JKS) have been the early standouts.
In addition to the above, short natural gas, short Treasury yields and long gold are several other trades that have been working well in early 2023.
Epic rebound in Chinese stocks
At the end of 2022, authorities in China made the difficult decision to scrap the country’s strict zero COVID approach. That decision has had far-reaching consequences for not only the citizens of China, but also for the Chinese economy and stock market.
Prospects for the Chinese economy—which had been operating at limited efficiency for nearly three years—were immediately revised in an upward fashion. While it may take some time to get the economy running at full capacity, China’s growth potential in 2023 and 2024 is much higher today than it was a couple of months ago.
For example, back in November of 2022, most forecasts suggested that China’s economy would grow by roughly 4% in 2023. However, after the scrapping of zero COVID, many projections for Chinese GDP growth this year have been boosted to at least 5%.
Due to China’s outsized influence on the broader global economy, the forecast for overall global growth in 2023 has also risen. On Jan. 13, Barclays—a British universal bank—raised its growth forecast for the world economy by a half-percentage point for all of 2023, going up to 2.2% from 1.7%.
Newfound economic optimism has also spilled over into the Chinese stock market. So far in 2023, the Shanghai Composite is up roughly 4%. But Chinese stocks have also benefited from another important positive catalyst, just beyond the end of zero COVID.
As most will recall, Chinese shares listed on U.S. exchanges were facing the threat of a mass delisting as soon as 2024 due to the passage of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (HFCAA) back in 2020. Under that new law, foreign companies failing to turn over audit results to U.S. regulators for three consecutive years could be forcibly delisted from American trading exchanges.
Due to limited access to Chinese audit records in recent years, things weren’t looking good for Chinese stocks listed on U.S. exchanges. However, this past fall, American regulators traveled to Hong Kong and ultimately deemed that access to Chinese audit records were now sufficient.
As a result, the timetable to delist Chinese shares was effectively reset for another three years. A critical development that has undoubtedly contributed to the recent rebound in this sector of the stock market.
Shares in some of the most visible Chinese companies listed in the U.S. are up well over 20%, year-to-date. But when stretching the time horizon back to November of last year, those returns increase substantially.
For example, from Nov. 1 through mid-January, shares in Baidu (BIDU) are up 65%, while shares in Alibaba (BABA), JD.com (JD) and Pinduoduo (PDD) are all up 78%, 58% and 67%, respectively. The highly visible KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB) is also up nearly 70% since Nov. 1.
Honorable mentions: Short natural gas, short Treasury yields and long gold
Beyond the Chinese niche of the stock market, there’s been a lot of other winners so far in 2023, including the short natural gas, short Treasury yields, long gold and a slew of single-stock outperformers.
During the course of the last month, natural gas prices have corrected by 50%, despite the ongoing war in Eastern Europe. With natural gas prices now trading back where they were in early 2022, there may be a chance to play a rebound in the coming weeks and months.
The short Treasury yield trade has also been working in the new year. Since the end of December, the 10-year Treasury yield is down roughly 13%. Most pundits attribute that decline to deteriorating expectations for the U.S. economy.
Today, the yield on the 10-year Treasury—the most visible government bond on Earth—is sitting at roughly 3.4%. That’s down from a high of about 4.2% in late October.
For reference, the 10-year yield was trading around 1.5% at the start of 2022, as illustrated below.
Where Treasury yields go from here will hinge heavily on the underlying economy. If the U.S. economy is able to buck negative expectations and produce positive growth in 2023, that could be bullish for Treasury yields.
Upward momentum from 2022 has also carried over into the precious metals sector, with gold prices now up roughly 19% since early November. Notably, gold’s rally appears to have been ignited by a slowdown in the U.S. dollar, suggesting that further weakness in the dollar might be needed for gold to maintain its current trajectory.
Early single-stock winners in 2023
Within the single-stock universe, there have been a slew of early winners in 2023.
So far this year, there are roughly 50 stocks that have rallied by at least 20% (when filtering for companies with at least $2 billion in total revenue last year). That list gets a lot longer when including smaller companies with less than $2 billion in total revenue last year.
From the list of beaten-up stocks in 2022, several early 2023 outperformers also stand out, including AMC Entertainment (AMC, +33%), Carvana (CVNA, +32%), Coinbase (COIN, +35%), Newegg (NEGG, +31%), Offerpad Solutions (OPAD, +34%), Opendoor Tech (OPEN, +26%), and Peloton (PTON, +27%).
Other notable outperformers to start the new year include:
- Diebold (DBD), +43%
- Cooper-Standard Holdings (CPS), +34%
- Compass (COMP), +32%
- JinkoSolar (JKS), +32%
- LoanDepot (LDI), +31%
- Venator Materials (VNTR), +31%
- Canadian Solar (CSIQ), +30%
- Stitch Fix (SFIX), +30%
- New Oriental Education (EDU), +29%
- Warner Brothers (WBD), +29%
- NGL Energy (NGL), +29%
- Lufax Holdings (LU), +29%
- Adams Resources (AE), +28%
- JetBlue Airways (JBLU), +28%
- Zillow Group (Z), +27%
To follow everything moving the markets in 2023—including the biggest winners and losers—check out tastylive, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT.
Sage Anderson is a pseudonym. He’s an experienced trader of equity derivatives and has managed volatility-based portfolios as a former prop trading firm employee. He’s not an employee of Luckbox, tastylive or any affiliated companies. Readers can direct questions about this blog or other trading-related subjects, to firstname.lastname@example.org.