Topic: U.S. economy
Clarksville, TN – The economic data calendar was thin and reports were of little consequence for the markets. As expected, the European Central Bank left short-term interest rates unchanged and did not alter its asset purchase plans.
ECB President Draghi indicated that policymakers were encouraged by the financial stability following the initial reaction to the Brexit vote. He also said that more information will become available over time and the ECB would act using all possible tools “if needed.”
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were generally on the strong side of expectations. Retail sales rose 0.6% in June (median forecast: +0.2%), but figures for April and May were revised down (still a strong quarter).
Industrial production rose 0.6%, but that largely reflected a rebound in auto output (which had fallen in May). Ex-autos, manufacturing output was flat (-0.2% y/y, consistent with a soft patch, not a recession).
Clarksville, TN – The economic data were mostly on the strong side of expectations. Nonfarm payrolls surprised sharply to the upside in June (+287,000), but that followed a very soft payroll figure for May (revised to +11,000).
The disappointing May number is now seen as an anomaly, but then so was the June figure. Large month-to-month swings in payrolls are unusual, but they do happen occasionally.
The three-month average payroll gain was +147,000, slower than in 1Q16 (+196,000) and 2015 (+221,000).
Clarksville, TN – Financial market headwinds for the next six to twelve months include political uncertainty in the U.S., a strengthening U.S. dollar, significant uncertainty surrounding Britain’s recent referendum on leaving the European Union (“Brexit”), and earnings growth.
Tailwinds include low oil prices, an improving labor market, and a low interest-rate environment.
Clarksville, TN – Despite there being no plan for Brexit and expectations of a lengthy and uncertain process of disentanglement from the European Union, stock market fear subsided.
The impact on the U.S. economy of a weaker U.K. is expected to be small, and in some ways may even be positive (lower mortgage rates and greater capital flows to the U.S.). Long-term interest rates remain low.
Bank of England Governor Carney helped things along by suggesting that a rate cut would likely be warranted this summer (the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on July 14th).
Tampa FL – The low price of oil has given way to declines in prices at the pump. The average price of gasoline fell for the tenth consecutive day Sunday, in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. State averages are 2-3 cents lower than a week ago.
“Motorists filling their gas tanks got a brief reprieve from rising prices, thanks to a dip in oil prices early last week,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “But oil finished the week $4.00 higher than it started, which could cause pump prices to climb again in the near future.”
Clarksville, TN – The first three trading weeks of the year have been marked by volatility in the domestic and global equity markets, garnering the attention of investors and the financial media.
There’s a lot going on with stocks stumbling, bond yields falling and oil prices declining. So, it may be helpful to separate the noise from the underlying fundamentals.
Despite slowdowns in China and Europe, domestic economic growth has held up fairly well, supported by job growth and stronger consumer spending power.
Clarksville, TN – After a tumultuous summer, the markets seemed to downplay worries in October about China’s economic slowdown and uncertainty over the Federal Reserve timing for raising short-term interest rates.
In fact, it was a banner month for the major equity indices – the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ – whose positive performance made up for last quarter’s losses, giving the S&P 500 its biggest monthly gain in four years. The global MSCI EAFE index rallied, too, ending the month up 7.7%.
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.
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