Six reasons the ASX could rise

As markets focus on a volatile oil price and worry about China's slowing growth, some pieces of good news slide under the radar.

The Australian economy is undergoing a seismic shift and there are some indicators giving some insight into the new normal of today's marketplace.

Year-on-year falls have occurred six times within the last thirty years, to no great detriment of the market.
Year-on-year falls have occurred six times within the last thirty years, to no great detriment of the market. 

1. Banks trump rocks

Where once we were enamoured with minerals and rocks, in the last four years, investors are more likely to hold stocks exposed to the domestic cycle, particularly the banks, and defensive plays rather than mining stocks.

The resources sector once accounted for 30 per cent of the Australian market cap, but as the commodity boom unwound, that portion has dwindled to 12 per cent.

Mining crash taking its toll: WA hits second last spot in state ranking.
Mining crash taking its toll: WA hits second last spot in state ranking. Photo: Bloomberg

According to Deutsche Bank, the last time resources were this low was during the tech bubble.

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That's not to say mining stocks don't make up a fair portion of people's portfolio, on a global basis Australia is still overweight resources, with 13 per cent of MSCI Australia compared to 8 per cent MSCI AC World, but the size of the overweight has declined by two-thirds.

As investors move out of resources, there is less earnings drag on the rest of the market as shown in the moderate growth of the ASX over the last four years.

2. Backyard tourists

As the Aussie dollar has fallen, tourism has picked up. But rather than skipping town to gape at the sunsets in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Australians are twice as likely to be exploring their own country, particularly Queensland.

And while they're at it, they are spending twice as much as foreign tourists visiting our shores.

Domestic tourism has outpaced outbound tourism in 2015 for the first time in ten years. This comes after Australian tourist departures rose 175 per cent over the ten years to 2014, helped by a strong local currency.

3. Relax about house prices

House prices constantly grab headlines, not least the idea of them falling in the last few months.

But as Deutsche Bank points out, year-on-year falls have occurred six times within the last thirty years, to no great detriment of the market.

"We maintain our view that a peak in the price cycle need not mean the peak in the construction cycle," writes the bank.

Indeed, construction activity was mostly flat over the decade to 2014, and industry is part of broader uptrend that still has a way to go.

4. Pricier bricks mean more houses

Construction materials are the most expensive they've been in six years, suggesting housing construction will continue to grow in the coming years.

Brick prices are rising at a 6 per cent pace and timber prices are rising at 4 per cent.

5. Businesses borrowing

Businesses are steadily increasing their borrowing practices, signalling the banks will have a continued solid revenue stream going forward.

Business credit growth is holding steady around 6 per cent, with Deutsche Bank suggesting continued upside.

However it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where this growth is coming from, given sometimes this data is overshadowed by housing credit growth.

The biggest driver is pegged as "other", which isn't particularly helpful, though notably business credit growth is not lead by construction which is linked to housing activity rather than 'true' business activity.

Deutsche Bank sees retail, accommodations and food services as the primary driver of growth, thanks to an uptick in tourism. Professional services is also seeing credit growth.

6. Cheap banks

Banks' relative valuations have slid to decade-low levels, says Deutsche Bank. Compared with the market PE, banks are 20 per cent lower and 30 per cent lower when resources and banks are excluded.

The last time banks were this discounted was in 2002. Banks are grouped in with sectors with challenged earnings.

For example, resource-exposed stocks remain in a downgrade cycle, financial market plays and insurers are being affected by weak equity markets, while the energy sector faces low oil prices.