Topic: F&M Investment Services
Clarksville, TN – The economic data calendar was relatively thin, leaving stock market investors to fret about a likely December rate hike from the Fed. A 25-basis-point increase in short-term interest rates should not have much of an impact on the economy, especially if the Fed follows up very gradually (as anticipated).
However, the financial markets see the initial tightening move as a big deal, so it is. Weak earnings results haven’t helped, but most of the weakness is tied to the strong dollar and slower growth abroad.
Clarksville, TN – The October employment report was much stronger than anticipated. However, figures should be considered in their proper context. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 271,000, with a net upward revision to the two previous months of +12,000.
Due to the start of the school year, seasonal adjustment can be tricky in October (we added 1.152 million jobs before seasonal adjustment, versus 1.081 million in October 2014).
Clarksville, TN – The Federal Open Market Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged, but the tone of the policy statement was unexpectedly hawkish. The FOMC removed the phrase about downside risks from the global economy, but said that it would monitor global economic and financial developments.
It also specifically talked about the decision framework for “the next meeting,” clearly putting a December 16th rate hike back in play.
Clarksville, TN – The economic calendar was light. Residential construction figures were mixed, largely reflecting the usual noise in the multi-family sector data (single-family starts and permits were little changed and still up strongly from a year ago). Existing home sales rebounded from a surprise drop in August. The four-week average for jobless claims fell to the lowest level since 1973.
Earnings reports were mixed, but investors appeared to be encouraged by the view that economic growth will continue, but not so fast that the Federal Reserve rushes to take away the punch bowl.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were consistent with a lackluster to moderate pace of growth in the near term. Retail sales disappointed, reflecting strength in autos and lower gasoline prices (but a modest trend otherwise). Industrial production was a little soft.
The Producer Price Index showed downward pipeline pressures, and the Consumer Price Index was mixed (reflecting lower energy prices, but some pressure in shelter costs). Excluding food and energy, the CPI rose 0.2% (+1.9%), but if you also exclude shelter, core inflation would have been 0.1% (+1.0% y/y).
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but consistent with the theme of global softness and domestic strength. Unit auto sales improved further in September – and, combined with the August data on personal income and spending, suggest that inflation-adjusted consumer spending (70% of GDP) is on track to have expanded at an annual pace of 3.5% to 4.0% in 3Q15.
The trade deficit in goods widened sharply in August, with that split evenly between stronger imports (despite lower oil prices) and weaker exports. Net exports and an inventory correction are expected to subtract significantly from 3Q15 GDP growth, but underlying domestic demand appears to have remained strong.
Clarksville, TN – In Janet Yellen’s first public speech after the recent FOMC meeting, the Fed chair downplayed concerns about the rest of the world and placed herself among the majority of Fed officials expecting to raise short-term interest rates by the end of the year. In a scary moment for investors, Yellen struggled to finish her speech.
She repeatedly lost her place, paused for long periods, and looked generally unwell. She received medical treatment. A Fed spokesperson said that she was dehydrated and that she felt fine later. While stock market participants have been worried about Fed tightening, they seemed to have been more encouraged by Yellen’s expressed confidence in the U.S. economy.
Clarksville, TN – The Federal Open Market Committee delayed the start of policy normalization, citing concerns about global economic and financial developments.
The FOMC is not reacting to overseas developments per se, but rather to the implications for the U.S. economy (some restraint on growth, further downward pressure on inflation). In the revised dot plot, there was little agreement about where the federal funds rate would be at the end of 2016 and 2017.
Clarksville, TN – The economic calendar was thin, leaving investors free to worry about slower global growth and Federal Reserve policy. The stock market was volatile, but not as much as in recent weeks.
The Bank of Canada and the Bank of England each left short-term interest rates unchanged. The BOC lowered rates in January and July, but showed no bias to cut rates further in the next few months. The BOE has been debating whether to start raising rates, but appears to have put such notions aside in the near term, reflecting concerns about the global economy.
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mixed, but generally consistent with moderately strong growth. Unit auto sales improved in August. The ISM Manufacturing Index slowed. The Non-Manufacturing Index pulled back a bit after surging in July (still strong). The Fed’s Beige Book described growth as evenly split between “modest” and “moderate” across the 12 Fed districts.
The August employment report was mixed, but generally strong. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 173,000 (median forecast: +220,000), but with a net revision of +44,000 to June and July.
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