While the stock market focused on the speech Friday by Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell (and was duly disappointed by his tamping down expectations for future rate cuts) and the US-China trade war, investors should also focus on other financial assets. In particular, a good question to ask is what does high yield bond market action, for example, mean for stocks? (For more on the Fed see page 6.)

What the Fed does or doesn’t do is a key input—and I’ll get to that in a moment—but I try to look at signals the market is ignoring, often at its own risk. This week the HY market is telling you something and investors should pay heed.

Stocks have not gained much ground in the past week, as lingering macroeconomic fears, interest rate mayhem and ongoing trade tensions, which exploded Friday, have kept the S&P 500 index below the 2,940 (the 50-day moving average). In the U.S. Treasury market, the inversion of the yield spread between the 10 year and two-year notes plus the relentless drop in interest rates have created high economic anxiety, not a formula known to instill confidence.

But here’s the challenge to bears. High-yield OaS (options-adjusted spreads) rallied a substantial ~40 basis points in the past week while the S&P 500 index finished jus...

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