With Japan’s stock market having slipped away from strategists’ targets set at the start of the year, investors seeking alternative analysis could consider studying eyebrows.
Thick eyebrows became popular during the nation’s so-called bubble economy of the late 1980s, according to Shiseido Co., Japan’s largest cosmetic company. Thin eyebrows were the trend during slowdowns coinciding with the oil shocks of the 1970s and the period of economic stagnation that started in the late 1990s. Japan’s equity benchmarks reached record highs in December 1989. Since late 1991, they have stayed near or below 50 percent of their peaks.
So what are Japan’s eyebrows telling investors now?
Setsuko Suzuki, a top hair and makeup artist at Shiseido’s Beauty Creation Center involved in researching trends, said thick eyebrows that had been popular since 2013 are losing favor.
Eyebrow analysis isn’t a joke, according to Kyouko Amemiya, a senior market adviser at SBI Securities Co. in Tokyo who’s been watching the stock market for about 30 years.
“The trend cycle on eyebrows and the ups and downs of hemlines are similar to an economic cycle,” Amemiya said. “You shouldn’t underestimate those things. History repeats itself.”
For financial markets, the latest trend is higher U.S. yields and volatility, said Fumio Matsumoto, a fund manager at Dalton Capital Japan Inc. in Tokyo.
“Due to the rise in U.S. yields, the equity markets, which had been supported by low volatility with low interest rates, have reached a critical turning point,” he said. “An end of the thick eyebrows boom could suggest that investors’ stock-picking preferences will change.”
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