- Stocks lower as busy week begins. Markets are lower this morning as investors evaluate mixed durable goods orders data and await several Fed speakers and President Trump’s address to Congress this week. Domestic stocks rallied at the end of the day on Friday, helping the Dow notch its eleventh consecutive gain; the S&P 500 was up 0.2%. Rate-sensitive utilities (+1.5%) and telecom (+0.7%) outperformed while energy (-0.9%) and financials (-0.7%) were the only sectors to lose ground. Overnight in Asia, the Nikkei (-0.9%) and Shanghai Composite (-0.8%) led broad declines in the region, while most European exchanges are modestly lower in afternoon trading, although Italy’s MIB (+1.5%) is bucking the trend. Elsewhere, WTI crude oil ($54.38/barrel) is up 0.7%, COMEX gold ($1259/oz.) is near flat, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note is up three basis points (0.03%) to 2.34%.
- Earnings season winds down this week. With 32 S&P 500 companies slated to report this week and 460 having reported already, this week effectively marks the end of fourth quarter earnings season. S&P 500 earnings growth for the quarter is tracking to solid 7.7% growth according to Thomson Reuters data, less than 2% above prior estimates, while revenue growth is tracking to a very respectable 4.3% increase. While fourth quarter upside is below average, the growth rate is a meaningful improvement from the 4% growth rate in the third quarter of 2016 and flat or negative growth for several quarters before that. Looking forward, the modest 1% drop in 2017 S&P 500 earnings estimates, which remain 10-11% above 2016 earnings, is an encouraging sign. We believe our mid- to high-single-digit S&P 500 earnings growth forecast for 2017 is achievable given our expectation for better economic growth and potential for a policy boost.
- Busy start to a very busy month. This is an incredibly busy week for economic data and events around the globe. In the U.S., President Trump will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, and Fed Chair Yellen and Vice Chair Fischer will deliver speeches on Friday. In addition, there are half a dozen other FOMC members on the docket this week, and the Fed will also release its Beige Book Wednesday March 1 ahead of the March 14-15, 2017 meeting. In addition to that, data for January and February on ISM (manufacturing and non manufacturing), vehicle sales, and pending home sales are due out. Overseas, the U.K.’s House of Lords will begin debate on Article 50 (aka Brexit), China will release key data in manufacturing and service sector activity, and in Europe, February data on CPI and bank lending for January will be closely watched.
- Durable goods order and shipments. Sizable upward revisions to prior months’ data offsets weaker than expected January reading. New orders for “core” durable goods fell 0.4% between December and January, but the December reading, initially reported as a 0.7% gain, was revised up to show a 1.1% increase instead. The durable goods data are notoriously volatile month-to-month and subject to large revisions. Looking at changes over three months can help to smooth out some of the inherent volatility, and in the three months ending January 2017, core durable goods orders rose 9%, a clear acceleration from the 4% gain posted in the three months ending October 2016. The acceleration in orders in the past three months suggests that business capital spending is likely to be a plus for GDP in the first half of 2017.
- Up five weeks in a row. The S&P 500 had a late-day surge on Friday to close higher for the fifth consecutive week for the first time since coming off of the February 2016 lows. Momentum seems to stay in play after long weekly win streaks, as the past 10 times the S&P 500 was up five consecutive weeks, it was higher two weeks later nine times. Under the surface though there was a unique development, as the Dow Jones Utility Average had its best week since early July – up 4.1%. In fact, since the bull market started nearly eight years ago, that type of weekly move happens only 2.9% of the time. Three of the four days last week saw utilities gain at least 1%, which hasn’t happened since October 2015. Historically, utilities taking the lead has been a warning sign, as defensive names find a bid.
- Dow does it again. It took a nice-sized rally the last 20 minutes of the day, but the Dow eked out a gain of 0.05% on Friday. This was the eleventh consecutive record high, with only one streak longer since 1900 (12 in a row in 1987). In terms of any winning streaks, not just record highs, the current streak of 11 in a row is the most since early 1992.
- Durable Goods Orders and Shipments (Jan)
- Dallas Fed Mfg. Report (Feb)
- Kaplan (Hawk)
- Eurozone: Money Supply and Bank Lending (Jan)
- Germany: Retail Sales
- UK House of Lords Begins Debate on Article 50
- Chicago Area Purchasing Managers Report (Feb)
- Richmond Fed Mfg. Report (Feb)
- Williams (Dove)
- Bullard (Dove)
- Eurozone: CPI (Feb)
- President Trump Addresses a Joint Session of Congress
- China: Official Mfg. PMI (Feb)
- China: Official Non-Mfg. PMI (Feb)
- China: Caixin Mfg. PMI (Feb)
- ISM Mfg. (Feb)
- Vehicle Sales (Feb)
- Beige Book
- Kaplan (Hawk)
- UK: Bank Lending and Money Supply (Jan)
- Germany: CPI (Feb)
- Canada: Bank of Canada Meeting (No Change Expected)
- Challenger Job Cut Announcements (Feb)
- Mester (Hawk)
- China: Caixin PMI Services (Feb)
- Japan: Jobless Rate (Jan)
- ISM Non Mfg. (Feb)
- Yellen (Dove)
- Fischer (Dove)
- China: National People’s Congress Meeting Begins in Beijing.
 We expect mid-single-digit returns for the S&P 500 in 2017 consistent with historical mid-to-late economic cycle performance. We expect S&P 500 gains to be driven by: 1) a pickup in U.S. economic growth partially due to fiscal stimulus; 2) mid- to high-single-digit earnings gains as corporate America emerges from its year-long earnings recession; 3) an expansion in bank lending; and 4) a stable price-to-earnings ratio (PE) of 18 – 19.
Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.