Market Update: June 26, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

Last Week’s Market Activity

  • After closing once again at record levels last Monday, the Dow and the S&P 500 Index battled a wave of sector rotation for the balance of the week, finishing higher by the slightest of margins.
  • It was the 2nd consecutive weekly gain for the S&P 500, as increases in healthcare (+3.7%) and technology (+2.3%) offset weakness in the energy (-2.9%), financials (-1.8%), and utilities (-1.8%) sectors.  Positive news on drug development and potential changes to the Affordable Care Act drove healthcare higher, while continued weakness in WTI crude oil ($43.00; -4.0% for the week) pressured the energy sector.
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.14%, its second lowest close of 2017, pressuring the U.S. dollar, which edged down -0.2% on Friday.

Overnight & This Morning

  • Asian stocks rose for a third day, led by technology companies.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose +2.0% and equity markets in China and Hong Kong had gains approaching 1.0%. In Japan, The Nikkei managed to climb despite a report from the Bank of International Settlements warning of dollar denominated risk on bank balance sheets.
  • European stocks rebounded from three weeks of losses. German business confidence hit a record in June, but Italy had to bail out two banks totaling $19 billion.
  • Commodities – WTI crude oil rose, trimming its biggest monthly decline in one year. Gold extended its decline to the lowest level in almost six weeks.
  • U.S. stock futures are up slightly as the dollar climbed and Treasury yields jumped after several Federal Reserve officials suggested further rate increases.

MacroView_header

Key Insights

  • Mixed signals. The financial markets are sending mixed signals, trading within a tight range in an extended expansion. The debate now centers on if the U.S. economy can continue to exhibit growth in output and profits (signal from stocks) or it may slip into a recession (signal from Treasuries). Our view is that though the growth rate in manufacturing may have peaked, we expect Purchasing Manager Indexes (PMI) to remain in expansion territory. While auto sales may be down ~5.0% from last year, the rise in household formation suggests pent up demand remains in the housing market. Finally, with solid employment levels and improving wages, consumption is well-positioned to support growth and any clarity on regulation, infrastructure, and tax plans could provide an additional boost.
  • Brexit. Friday marked the 1st anniversary of the controversial Brexit vote, which called for the U.K. to leave the European Union (EU).  To mark the occasion, the pound sterling rose +0.2% to $1.27, paring its weekly decline, and the FTSE 100 Index fell -0.2% on Friday. While the U.K. is the largest importer of the EU countries, the FTSE 100 is largely comprised of exporters, with 2/3rds of its revenue generated overseas.  This helps explain why the approximately 15.0% drop in the pound sterling was accompanied by a rise of a similar magnitude (+17.0%) in the FTSE 100 over the past year.

Macro Notes

  • Technicals continue to look strong. One of the strongest aspects of this equity bull market has been that the technicals have and continue to support higher prices. This week we take a closer look at the global bull market and why broad participation suggests it still has legs.
  • 41 weeks and counting. The S&P 500 has now gone 41 straight weeks without closing lower by 2% or more, but that’s not even the most surprising point.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Durable Goods Orders (May)
  • Chicago Fed National Activity Report (May)
  • Cap Goods Shipments and Orders (May)
  • Dallas Fed Mfg. Report (Jun)
  • ECB: Draghi
  • BOE: Carney
  • BOJ: Kuroda

Tuesday

  • Conference Board Consumer Confidence (Jun)
  • Richmond Fed Mfg. Report (Jun)
  • Italy: Mfg. & Consumer Confidence

Wednesday

  • Advance Report on Goods Trade Balance (May)
  • Wholesale Inventories (May)
  • Pending Home Sales (May)
  • France: Consumer Confidence (Jun)
  • Eurozone: Money Supply (May)
  • Itally: PPI & CPI (Jun)
  • Bank of Canada: Poloz
  • Japan: Retail Sales (May)

Thursday

  • GDP (Q1)
  • Germany: CPI (Jun)
  • Eurozone: Consumer Confidence (Jun)
  • BOJ: Harada
  • Japan: National CPI (May)
  • Japan: Industrial Production (May)
  • China: Mfg. & Non-Mfg. PMI (Jun)

Friday

  • Personal Income (May)
  • Consumer Spending (May)
  • Chicago PMI (May)
  • Core Inflation (May)
  • UK: GDP (Q1)
  • France: CPI (Jun)
  • Germany: Unemployment Change (Jun)
  • Eurozone: CPI (Jun)
  • Canada: GDP (Apr)
  • Japan: Vehicle Production (May)
  • Japan: Housing Starts (May)
  • Japan: Construction Orders (May)

 

 

 

 

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.

Market Update: June 12, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

Last Week’s Market Activity

  • Nasdaq tumbled 1.8% Friday, its biggest one-day drop since June 2016. Tech weakness, attributed to crowded investor positioning, outsized 2017 gains, and cautious sell side commentary, powered substantial value outperformance relative to growth. Dow, Russell 2000 gained (0.4%), while S&P 500 ended flat.
  • Energy (+2.5%) led Friday’s market action, followed by financials (+1.9%);both benefited from tech outflows.
  • Treasuries fell modestly, helping banks (10-year Treasury yield ended at 2.20%).
  • Dollar and WTI crude oil up, COMEX gold down.Dollar rise dragged gold down 0.6% to >$1270. Oil gained 0.4% to ~$46/bbl, boosting the energy sector attempted recovery from inventory-driven losses earlier in the week. Copper rose for the third straight session.
  • Muted reaction to U.K. election as pound sold off (which eroded U.K. returns for U.S. investors) but U.K. stocks in local currency generally shrugged off surprise election result.
  • Mixed week. Friday’s rotation was evident in weekly performance with Dow (+0.3%), Russell 2000 (+1.2%) faring well, S&P 500 down slightly (-0.3%), Nasdaq down sharply (-1.6%). Despite the week’s big political stories, broadest equity market averages didn’t move much.

Overnight & This Morning

  • S&P 500 down as Friday’s technology sell-off carries over into morning trading.
  • Technology weakness weighed on Asian markets:Nikkei slipped 0.5%, Shanghai Composite lost 0.6%, Hang Sang fell 1.24%. Spillover into Europe as well. Core European markets down nearly 1% in midday trading.
  • Treasuries unchanged, dollar is lower vs. euro and yen; Gold is little changed.
  • Oil rebound (+1.6%) follows Friday’s gains as the commodity struggles to maintain support in the mid $40s.
  • More European election results. French President Macron’s party set for a big parliamentary majority following Sunday’s first-round vote. Regional Italian elections saw anti-euro 5-Star Movement underperform. In the U.K. we’re watching the formation of political alliances to determine potential Brexit/trade impact.
  • Trump administration’s focus this week to be on apprenticeships, jobs following last week’s infrastructure push.
  • Financial regulation also making headlines as Dodd-Frank revamp accelerates and parts of the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule go into effect. Look for easing of regulatory burden on smaller financial institutions, positive for regional banks.

MacroView_header

Key Insights

  • Reflation rotation? Friday’s sharp moves (technology down and financials, energy and small caps up) appeared to be rotation from areas that have been working to those that haven’t given the broad averages did not move much. Technology was a source of funds for energy, financials, and small cap purchases, areas that tend to benefit from stronger economic growth, higher interest rates and inflation. We still favor the technology sector and, for those currently underweight the sector, we would view further weakness as a potential opportunity to add exposure.
  • We expect a rate hike on Wednesday and will be watching closely for clues about the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) rate path for the rest of 2017. Market participants will scrutinize the Fed statement and press conference for any changes to economic growth or inflation outlooks, and any additional details regarding balance sheet normalization. We remain on the fence about whether we get another hike in 2017 after the presumed move this week but, regardless, we see modest additional return potential for both stocks and bonds over the balance of the year.
  • Market warning to Fed? The fact that markets are pricing in a flatter trajectory of rate hikes moving forward, and that even relatively short-term two-year Treasury yields are flat compared to levels seen in the aftermath of the Fed’s March meeting, may be the market’s way of warning the Fed that, with inflation expectations broadly contained, being too aggressive with rate hikes in the near term may harm growth.

Macro Notes

  • Big drop for tech. Technology dragged the Nasdaq down 1.8% for its third worst day of the year and its worst week year to date (-1.5%). What made this big drop unique was it came the day after setting a new all-time high. Other than a 2.6% drop in May, you have to go back to March 2000 the last time there was a larger drop from an all-time high for the Nasdaq.
  • When does the June swoon happen? We noted at the start of the month that June has historically been a weak month for equities and over the past 10 years only January has been worse for the S&P 500 Index. Taking a closer look at the monthly performance though shows it is usually the second half of June that tends to see most of the weakness. With the Fed and Bank of Japan on tap for meetings this week, could it be time for some volatility?

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Monthly Budget Statement (May)
  • Japan: Machine Orders (Apr)

Tuesday

  • PPI (May)
  • UK: CPI & PPI (May)
  • UK: Retail Price Index (May)
  • Germany: ZEW Survey (June)
  • China: Industrial Production

Wednesday

  • CPI (May)
  • Retail Sales (May)
  • FOMC Rate Decision (June 14)
  • Yellen Press Conference
  • Germany: CPI (May)
  • Eurozone: Industrial Production (Apr)
  • UK: Jobless Claims (May)
  • UK: Unemployment Rate (Apr)
  • New Zealand: GDP (Q1)
  • Japan: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization (Apr)

Thursday

  • Empire State Mfg. Report (June)
  • Philadelphia Fed Mfg. Report (June)
  • Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization (May)
  • US Treasury International and Capacity Utilization (May)
  • US Foreign Net Transactions (Apr)
  • BOJ: Policy Balance Rate and 10-Yr Yield Target
  • Bank of England: Bank Rate Decision

Friday

  • Housing Starts (May)
  • Building Permits (May)
  • Eurozone: New Car Registration (May)
  • Eurozone: CPI (May)
  • Russia: GDP (Q1)
  • Bank of Russia: Key Rate Decision
  • China: New Loan Growth and Money Supply (May)

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Market Update: June 5, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

Last Week’s Market Activity

  • Solid Friday and holiday-shortened week for stocks… and more record highs. S&P 500 gained +0.36% on Friday, +0.96% for the week to end at a record high (2439.07). Nasdaq led major averages Friday (+0.94%) and for the week (+1.54%). Small caps beat mid and large (Russell indexes).
  • Tech drove Friday’s gains, led by semis and software. Financials hit by lower rates and yield curve flattening post jobs miss. Energy was the biggest decliner on falling oil prices.
  • Weaker dollar helped COMEX gold Friday (+0.8%) but not WTI crude oil (-1.4%)
  • 10-year yield dipped 0.06% to 2.15%, lowest closing level of 2017 and lowest since just after the election
  • Friday miss on U.S. nonfarm payrolls unlikely to sway Fed next week (details below)
  • Defensive tilt to weekly performance. Telecom topped weekly sector rankings, followed by healthcare. Oil fell > 4%; 10-year Treasury yield dropped 0.10%.

Overnight & This Morning

  • Stocks in Asia mostly lower amid relatively light news
  • In Europe, shares down (Euro Stoxx 600 -0.2%), continuing Friday slide
  • Weak sentiment after more terrorist attacks in London over the weekend
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.12
  • Commodities – Mostly lower, led by weakness in industrial metals and energy, with WTI oil near $47/bbl. COMEX gold (0.3%) adding to Friday’s gains at $1283, copper (-0.7%)
  • U.S. stock, Treasury yields up slightly.
  • U.S. dollar mixed vs major currencies

MacroView_header

Key Insights

  • Goldilocks environment. Steady but not booming job gains and inflation leveling off suggests economy is not too hot, not too cold. Wage gains are benign-average hourly earnings +2.5% YoY in Friday’s May jobs report. We’ve seen a mixed set of data recently: soft Q1 GDP, Q2 tracking near +3%, and earnings looking good. The Fed Beige Book cited most Fed districts continue to expand at a modest or moderate pace. Sounds like Goldilocks.
  • Any concern that the Fed may be behind the curve are misplaced, at least for now. The market is only pricing in a 44% chance of another rate hike in 2017 (after one in June), and just one hike in 2018.
  • An expensive stock market can stay expensive. The 17.7 times forward price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple, where it stood in early 2015, is more reasonable than the trailing PE (20.7) for the S&P 500 but is still at the high end of the historical range. We reiterate valuations are not good predictors of near-term stock market moves, an important message for clients.

Macro Notes

  • Jobs miss doesn’t mean Fed pause. The economy added 138K new jobs in May, well below consensus expectations of 185K, with additional downward revisions for March and April; unemployment rate edged lower to 4.3% from 4.4% on lower labor participation rate. The report may give the Fed some pause, but given the overall backdrop a June hike remains far more likely than not.
  • The China Caixin Manufacturing PMI index was below 50 when reported last week, but overnight the services PMI was 52.8, much better than last month’s 51.5. The overall composite number of 51.5 suggests a continued, but slowing, expansion in the Chinese economy. We expect the government to continue to try to reduce leverage in the economy, but not to engage in any major reforms until after the Communist Party meeting this fall.

MonitoringWeek_header

  • Politics and central banks highlight the week ahead. Politics and central banks highlight the coming week, with Thursday, June 8 of particular importance as it brings the U.K. general election, the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting, and testimony of former FBI Director James Comey. Data of note in the U.S. includes durable goods and Services Institute for Supply Management (ISM). Overseas, Eurozone and Japan Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Chinese inflation and money supply data are due out.

Monday

  • Nonfarm Productivty (Q1)
  • Unit Labor Costs (Q1)
  • ISM Non-Mfg. Composite (May)
  • Factory Orders (Apr)
  • Durable Goods Orders (Apr)
  • Cap Goods Shipments & Orders (Apr)
  • UK: Markit/CIPS UK Services PMI

Tuesday

  • Eurozone: Markit Eurozone Services PMI (May)

Wednesday

  • Eurozone: GDP (Q1)
  • Japan: GDP (Q1)
  • Japan: Current Account Balance (Apr)
  • Japan: Trade Balance (Apr)

Thursday

  • Germany: Industrial Production (Apr)
  • UK: General Election, 2017
  • ECB: Draghi
  • Japan: Machine Tool Orders (May)
  • China: CPI & PPI (May)

Friday

  • Wholesale Sales & Inventories (Apr)
  • France: Industrial Production (Apr)
  • UK: Industrial Production (Apr)
  • UK: Trade Balance (Apr)
  • China: Money Supply and New Yuan Loans (May)

 

 

 

 

 

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

Market Update: May 30, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

Last Week’s Market Activity

  • S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq closed at new record highs last Friday; seventh consecutive gain for S&P 500 and 20th record close year to date.
  • The combination of positive sentiment and low volatility suggests stocks may continue to absorb challenging headlines.  Investors weathered potential risks from last week’s news, including: fallout from Comey firing, growing investigation into Administration/Russia ties, White House’s 2018 budget proposal, terrorist bombing in Manchester, Moody’s China debt downgrade, CBO’s score for AHCA, and minutes from last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting suggesting higher interest rates ahead.
  • Markets also handled disappointing economic reports, specifically weakness in new home sales, durable goods orders; instead focusing on longer-term trends such as positive global data (Germany, Japan), upward revision to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the 1st quarter.
  • Orders for durable goods fell in April, but good news in the details. Drop (-0.7%) in orders bested expectations (-1.0%) and March revision was strong (details below).
  • Orders ex-transportation showed a similar pattern. Nondefense capital goods shipments ex-air, a proxy for business spending, fell slightly (-0.1%) but better than forecast, following four consecutive monthly gains.
  • For the week, stocks rose +1.5% to +2.0%, powered higher by the unusual combination of utilities and technology sectors, each up >2.0%.  Investors likely hedging their bets, counting on growth prospects of technology, but not necessarily buying into Fed’s rate outlook as “bond proxy” utilities sector rose.
  • Weakness in energy (-2.0%) as markets appeared to have already priced in extension to OPEC production cuts, but investors wanted deeper cuts and pushed WTI crude oil down by >1.5% last week (after rising for three weeks) to ~$49.00/bbl.
  • Action in U.S. Treasury market also points toward less Fed activity after expected June hike, with 10-Year Treasury yield hovering in the 2.25% range, on track for fourth straight monthly gain.
  • U.S. dollar firmed slightly (+0.1%) on the heels of solid GDP revision.
  • Stocks in Europe basically flat Friday; euro & pound sterling weakened as Conservatives’ lead over Labour has narrowed considerably in recent weeks.
    Emerging markets stocks +2.0% on the week, maintaining year to date leadership globally.

Overnight & This Morning

  • Stocks in Asia little changed amid shortage of overseas leads.
  • Yen strengthened for a third day against the U.S. dollar (USD/JPY -0.3% to 110.9)
  • In Europe, shares down fractionally (Euro Stoxx 600 -0.1%); bank stocks, weakness in business & consumer confidence weighing
  • European Central Bank (ECB) Head Draghi was critical of U.S. trade proposals in speech to European Parliament yesterday.  He also reaffirmed commitment to maintaining ECB stimulus, placing pressure on the euro.
  • Euro down -0.1% to $1.11
  • Commodities – Mostly lower, led by weakness in precious metals and agriculture, with WTI oil holding below $50.00/bbl. COMEX gold (-0.2%) to $1265 and copper (-0.6%).
  • U.S. stock, Treasury yields down slightly in muted, post-holiday trading.
  • U.S. dollar weak vs. yen but stronger vs. euro and other major currencies
  • U.S. Personal Income and Spending for April met expectations after two consecutive shortfalls. Inflation metrics in this report are. Its preferred measure of price growth, the Core PCE deflator, key inflation metric for the Federal Reserve, at 1.7% from 1.6%.

MacroView_header

Key Insights

  • The trend for business spending/capital investment is improving.  After years of hoarding cash, paying yield, and buying back shares, the business cycle has returned with upward shifts in pricing and U.S. monetary policy.  Businesses can no longer simply attempt to maintain market share, but rather, they must grow market share as the recovery/expansion enters its ninth year.
  • While personal consumption is still the primary driver of U.S. economic growth, we believe the rate of growth in the coming quarters/years will be driven by capital investment, which is taking up a larger portion of GDP contribution (details below).
  • 1Q earnings per share (EPS) (+15% year over year) faced the easiest comparisons and we look for remainder of 2017 quarterly EPS gains to hover in the mid-high single digit range. These are smaller percentage gains than what we’ve become accustomed to these past couple of quarters, but still indicative of sustained, late cycle growth accompanied by still low interest rates and inflation (details below).
  • We recognize current trading range is of concern. Despite the flattening yield curve, which could partly be the result of global sovereign credit valuations, there appears to be little stress evident in the credit markets (details below).

Fixed Income Notes

  • Despite equity markets at/near record levels, bond market continues to hang in there.  Constant maturity 10-year Treasury note up four consecutive months, Barclays Aggregate (+2.0%) and Barclays High Yield (+4.0%) providing positive returns year to date.
  • After 1.35% low last June, 10-year Treasury yield surged to 2.65% in late February/early March of this year. Since then, several factors have conspired to push yields lower, despite Fed’s plans to raise interest rates (see below). First, failure of the first vote on ACA repeal placed a great deal of uncertainty on likelihood of President Trump’s pro-growth policy agenda being fully enacted. Second, weak Q1 GDP enabled flattening of the yield curve. Third, some are projecting higher short-term borrowing costs will curb lending and growth, making it tougher for Fed to sustain 2.0% inflation target. Fourth (less sinister) reason has to do with relative valuation.  With Fed moving in a different direction from ECB and BOJ, those sovereign bonds trading at very expensive valuations, increasing attractiveness of U.S. government bonds.
  • This can be a blessing and a curse: curse is that a bid for U.S. Treasuries from global investors helps mask our spending profligacy. The blessing is global investors appear confident slow growth with low inflation likely to be sustained in U.S., without signs of excessive upside, or downside risks.
  • As a result, we continue to look for the U.S. benchmark Treasury yield to trade within the 2.25% to 2.75% range in the second half of 2017.
  • Corporate credit spreads (high yield & investment grade) remain narrow, credit default swaps (CDS) also held steady. If these critical market signposts (10-year Treasury yield, credit spreads, CDS) hold steady, financial markets likely to continue narrow trading range
  • Geopolitics may periodically cause near term uncertainty, but like equity markets, next catalyst likely move the bond market will be clarity on U.S. fiscal policy

Macro Notes

  • S&P 500 currently at another record level, 2415, but technicals suggest move to 2450-2475 within reach in coming months.
  • Bullish catalyst is necessary, could come in the form of: sustainable EPS growth, > expected GDP in Q2/Q3, less aggressive Fed in 2H17, corporate tax cuts, tax reform, global GDP etc.
  • Unfortunately, move of this magnitude highly dependent on fiscal policy changes, where uncertainty narrows trading ranges until clarity emerges.
  • Fundamentally, move toward this level can be justified, but anything above it would need more clarity on 2018 EPS increases, largely due to combination of repatriation tax holiday/reduction in corporate tax rate.
  • Assuming $130.00 in S&P 500 operating EPS this year, stocks currently trading ~18.5x calendar 2017; a move >2450 would take market price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) >19x.
  • Tax reform may be too big to achieve in current political environment, but corporate tax cuts still possible; if implemented, 2018 EPS could be >$140.00, which would bring target ranges for index 2500 to 2550 in 12 to 18 months
  • U.S. Q1 Real GDP revised higher from +0.7% to +1.2%, helped by a more positive picture of business investment, which had already posted a strong quarter, and a slightly better picture of consumer spending. The improvement alleviates some concerns of Q1 weakness and increases the likelihood of a Fed rate hike in June. Looking at Q2 GDP, prospects are for much stronger growth, and could be in the +3.0%, as pent up demand in cap-ex, housing, and an inventory rebuild from Q1 weakness propels GDP higher.
  • Though components of the durable goods report (airlines, transportation) can be volatile, the trend over the past year for orders (business investment) is still up approximately +5.0% year over year, despite last month’s weakness
  • A host of European economic data was released overnight, generally showing that the economic recovery continues, but at a somewhat slower pace than expected. The highlighted number was German inflation, running at 1.4%, below forecast and previous readings of 2%, which is also the ECB target rate. This data reduces some pressure on the ECB to alter its current monetary policy.
  • Politics continue to foil plans for European certainty. Just three weeks ago, the election of a Conservative government in the U.K. was seen as both a certainty and a boost for Prime Minister Theresa May. In the past few weeks, a Conservative victory, while still likely according to the polls, is now less certain. The British pound has also weakened, not coincidentally. In addition, there have been renewed calls for an early election, as soon as September 2017, as opposed to the 2018 election now expected. An early election would likely focus directly on the EU and the euro.
  • Corporate Beige Book supports strong earnings outlook. Much like first quarter earnings results and management guidance, our measure of corporate sentiment based on our analysis of earnings conference call transcripts was better than we expected. We saw a sharp increase in strong and positive words over the prior quarter, with no change in weak and negative words. Wwe believe the positive tone from management teams supports a favorable earnings outlook in the quarters ahead.
  • New highs and no volatility, more of the same. The S&P 500 Index closed at another new high on Friday, making it seven consecutive higher closes. It hasn’t been up eight days in a row since July 2013 and the previous two seven day win streaks ended at seven days. It also gained 1.4% for the week, avoiding its first three week losing streak since before Brexit. Last, the incredible lack of volatility continued, as the S&P 500 Index traded in a range of only 0.19% on Friday, the smallest daily range since March 1996 and the smallest daily range while also closing at a new all-time high since August 1991.
  • June is a busy month for central banks. Summer is nearly here and historically that has meant lower volume, but potential market volatility. As we turn the calendar to June, the three big events this month are all from central banks: as the Fed, the ECB, and the BOJ all have meetings to decide interest rate policy. These events, along with a few others, could make for an eventful month in June.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Memorial Day Holiday
  • Eurozone: Money Supply (Apr)
  • Japan: Jobless Rate (Apr)

Tuesday

  • PCE (Apr)
  • Conference Board Consumer Confidence (May)
  • France: GDP (Q1)
  • Germany: CPI (May)
  • Eurozone: Consumer Confidence (May)
  • Japan: Industrial Production (Apr)
  • China: Mfg. & Non-Mfg. PMI (May)

Wednesday

  • Chicago Area PMI (May)
  • Beige Book
  • France: CPI (May)
  • Germany: Unemployment Change (May)
  • Eurozone: Unemployment Rate (Apr)
  • Italy: CPI (May)
  • Eurozone: CPI (May)
  • India: GDP (Q1)
  • Canada: GDP (Mar)
  • Japan: Nikkei Japan Mfg. PMI (May)
  • China: Caixin China Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Japan: Capital Spending (Q1)

Thursday

  • ADP Employment (May)
  • Non-Farm Productivity (Q1)
  • Initial Jobless Claims (May 27)
  • Markit Mfg. PMI (May)
  • ISM (May)
  • Eurozone: Markit Eurozone Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Italy: GDP (Q1)
  • Brazil: GDP (Q1)
  • South Korea: GDP (Q1)
  • Canada: Markit Canada Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Japan: Vehicle Sales (May)

Friday

  • Change in Nonfarm, Private & Mfg. Payrolls (May)
  • Unemployment Rate (May)
  • Trade Balance (Apr)
  • Eurozone: PPI (Apr)

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Market Update: March 27, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

  • Equities slip after healthcare reform shelved. U.S. indexes are tracking global stocks lower this morning after Congress was unable to push through the American Health Care Act, casting some uncertainty over prospects for tax reform as well. On Friday, the S&P 500 (-0.1%) closed modestly lower, dragged down by materials (-0.9%) and energy (-0.5%); utilities (+0.4%) was the best performing sector. Overnight, Asian markets were led lower by Japan’s Nikkei (-1.4%) on yen strength; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (-0.7%) and China’s Shanghai Composite (-0.1%) fared better. Stocks are also lower across the board in Europe, notably in Germany’s DAX (-0.9%) and Italy’s MIB (-0.9%). Elsewhere, the recent weakness in WTI crude oil ($47.21/barrel) continues, while the risk-off sentiment is boosting COMEX gold ($1262/oz.) and Treasuries, lowering the yield on the 10-year Note by five basis points (0.05%) to 2.35%.

MacroView_header

  • Our Final Four factors in today’s Weekly Market Commentary. With college basketball’s Final Four set, this week we share our “Final Four factors” for the stock market in 2017. We expect a hard-fought battle between these factors and market risks. But when the “tournament” is over on December 31, depending on the path of policy out of Washington, D.C., we expect the S&P 500 to be at or above current levels.
    1. Economic Growth – We continue to expect a modest pickup in economic growth in 2017 to near 2.5%, based on gross domestic product (GDP), supported by increasing business investment, steady consumer spending gains, and, later in the year, pro-growth fiscal policy to be enacted.
    2. Earnings – We expect high-single-digit S&P 500 earnings growth in 2017[1], supported by better U.S. economic growth, rebounding energy sector profits, a stable U.S. dollar, and resilient profit margins.
    3. Corporate Tax Reform – Corporate tax reform, which remains the centerpiece of the Trump economic agenda, is still likely to get done in the next year despite the failure to get the healthcare bill through the House last week. The Trump administration will immediately pivot to tax reform, though a comprehensive overhaul will be difficult to achieve.
    4. The Fed – We expect the Federal Reserve (Fed) to hike interest rates twice more in 2017 following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) rate hike on March 15. We are encouraged by the Fed’s acknowledgement of the improved economic outlook and its stated plan to hike rates gradually.
  • Down seven in a row. The Dow closed lower on Friday for the seventh consecutive session. The last seven-day losing streak was ahead of the U.S. election, and it hasn’t been down eight in a row since August 2011. The S&P 500 meanwhile has closed lower six of the past seven days. Taking a closer look at the Dow’s seven-day losing streak, it has been green at some point each day. Also, the total loss during the streak is only 1.7%. To put this in perspective, since 1980, there have now been 20 seven-day losing streaks. The average drop during the previous 19 was 7.3% and the current drop of 1.74% ranks as the second smallest loss.

MonitoringWeek_header

 Monday

  • Evans (Dove)
  • Eurozone: M3 Money Supply (Feb)
  • China: PBOC’s Zhou Speech

Wednesday

  • Evans (Dove)

 Thursday

  • GDP (Revision) (Q4)
  • Eurozone: Industrial, Services & Consumer Confidence (Mar)
  • China: Mfg. & Non-Mfg. PMI (Mar)

 Friday

  • Personal Income (Feb)
  • Kashkari (Dove)

 

 

 

 

[1] 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.

Market Impact of a Trump Presidency

Donald Trump emerged as the winner last night of a hotly contested presidential campaign and will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, January 20, 2017. The transition to a Republican presidency and Trump’s rejection of politics as usual, which drew so many voters, naturally lead to questions about his impact on the economy and markets. Today on our blog we provide a high level overview of our thoughts of the significance of a Trump presidency.

ECONOMY

Does Trump’s win change LPL’s view on the economy over the remainder of 2016 and into 2017?

The election results have not changed our long-term outlook for the U.S. economy. We will continue to monitor many important economic indicators, including the Five Forecasters, the Current Conditions Index, and the Recession Watch Dashboard, and will keep you updated in the event of any changes to our views.

Will the election results cause a recession?

Elections do not in and of themselves cause recessions. Policies can, however, and we need to wait to see which policies Trump moves forward with and the details of those policies.

Our Recession Watch Dashboard continues to point to an overall low risk of recession within the next year.

What impact might the election have on overseas economies and markets?

Trade has been a major theme in this election, yet a president’s ability to impact trade directly and immediately is somewhat limited. Trump has been outspoken in favor renegotiating NAFTA terms and has been opposed to the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), which has little chance of passing. The Trump victory raises some concern across foreign markets about U.S. trade.

FED

Will the election results impact Fed monetary policy later this year and in 2017?

We do not believe the election results have changed the Fed’s outlook. Furthermore, we believe the Fed is much less sensitive to financial markets than most people think. As it stands, we believe the Fed is on course to increase rates at its December meeting, with another 2-3 increases in 2017. It would take a major market disruption or a change in the economic fundamentals for the Fed to alter this course.

EQUITIES & FIXED INCOME

Will the election result cause a bear market in equities?

Just as an election does not cause a recession, it does not cause a bear (or bull) market. Government policies alone do not change the market’s long-term trend, although they are a factor.

Shorter term, elections are rarely a harbinger for a sell-off, and when they have been, the election has not been the primary cause. In election years since 1952, the S&P 500 has returned an average of 2.5% in November and December and has been higher 75% of the time. From Election Day until Inauguration Day, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 1.0% and has been higher 69% of the time. The median return jumps to 3.0% because of a nearly 20% drop in 2008 that skews the average return, but 2008 returns were fundamentally driven by the recession, not Obama’s election. The bottom line is some near-term volatility is likely, but a massive sell-off absent an economic recession has never happened in the period between the election and inauguration.

Are the near-term results impacted by the party of the President?

There doesn’t appear to be much of a difference in equity performance over the short term. Since the election in 1952, the final two months of the year have returned 2.6% when a Republican wins and 2.4% when a Democrat wins. Looking at the largest drops the final two months of an election year in 2000 (Republican victory) and 2008 (Democrat victory) stand out, as the S&P 500 dropped 7.6% and 6.8%, respectively. Both times the economy was either in a recession (2008) or about to fall into a recession (2000) – which greatly contributed to the equity weakness. With the end of the earnings recession, improving consumer confidence, and the best quarterly GDP print in two years – we presently have an improving economic backdrop, which should help contain any large downside moves in equities the rest of 2016.

Which sectors would likely benefit under Trump?

Biotech and Pharmaceuticals: Although Trump has stated his desire to repeal the ACA and has favored drug re-importation from other countries, controlling drug prices is unlikely to be as high of a priority for him as it would have been for Clinton. As a result, biotech and pharmaceutical companies may get a bump. We believe the market may have overreacted to perceived policy risk and we continue to favor the healthcare sector, which has historically performed well after elections.

Energy: Trump is likely to be positive for fossil fuels. He has promised less regulation on drilling, along with expansion of drilling areas. The segment of the industrials sector that services the energy sector may also benefit.

Financials: The Trump administration is likely to be easier on financial regulation than Clinton would have been. Trump has indicated he would like to roll back financial regulations, including the Dodd-Frank legislation enacted as a result of the financial crisis. Trump has also suggested bringing back Glass-Steagall, which would separate traditional banking from investment banking, a move we see as very unlikely.

How will the election impact the dollar and bonds?

Dollar: Trump’s policies are likely to be relatively negative for the U.S. dollar. His comments on renegotiating U.S. debt held by foreigners may limit the attractiveness of bonds to foreign investors.

Bonds: We saw an initial Treasury rally as stocks sold off overnight, but yields have since moved higher. We expect there may continue to be additional volatility as markets digest the news, but we broadly believe markets may be pricing in a rise in deficit spending, which is pushing yields higher; though continuation of low rates overseas is an offsetting factor, potentially keeping rates somewhat range bound over the near-term.

Will Trump’s policies lead to a debt downgrade?

Trump had mentioned last spring the possibility of renegotiating our debt and paying back less than the full amount if the economy were to falter. This idea, if implemented, would almost certainly lead to a debt downgrade. However, he backed away from this idea a few days after he floated it.

More realistically, Trump has signaled higher deficit spending. While deficit spending was a contributing factor to the U.S. debt downgrade by S&P in August of 2011, it wasn’t the only reason. The main driver of the downgrade was the debt ceiling crisis, as Republicans demanded a deficit reduction package before they were willing to join Democrats in raising the debt ceiling. Divided government and partisan politics led to months of debate and an eleventh hour deal that avoided a default. With Republicans keeping control of the Senate and the House, a fight over the debt ceiling fight that could threaten the U.S. credit rating is unlikely.

COMMODITIES

What is the election impact on gold?

Gold can thrive in chaotic environments and the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s policies could offer some support to the commodity.

What is election impact on oil?

When discussing oil, it is important to remember that oil stocks and crude oil can have very different performance, even though investors often expect similar returns.

Trump’s victory is likely a positive for oil stocks, especially in the short run. He has promised reduced regulations on oil and gas production, which would improve profitability of existing projects and may result in a very marginal increase in U.S. production. Note, this may be a negative for energy prices.

VOLATILITY

Will volatility increase due to the election outcome?

We expect that market volatility will likely increase. Equity markets have experienced abnormally low volatility recently, in part because of central bank intervention. As those interventions decrease, volatility should increase. However, we view that increase as a healthy aspect of equity markets. The degree to which the election results impact volatility will depend a great deal on which policies are actually enacted as a result of the changes in Washington.

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

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. Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. 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. 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, geopolitical events, and regulatory developments. Because of its narrow focus, investing in a single sector, such as energy or manufacturing, will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Chart of the Week: April 6, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.58.36 PM

The dust of a volatile quarter has cleared. The equity market exhibited a higher correlation to oil prices over the quarter than it has historically: oil price movements drove large cap stocks lower early in the year, to -10.3% YTD at the lowest point, and subsequently helped them rebound and finish the quarter up 1.3%. Price appreciation in oil and metals pushed the commodities index up 0.4%, and emerging market equities also moved higher, helped by stronger commodity prices, lower expectations for U.S. rate increases and a fall in the U.S. dollar. Further rate cuts in Europe and Japan did not boost developed market equities, which fell 2.9%. However, very low global interest rates, in combination with an extremely dovish Federal Reserve, caused spread compression and lower base rates over the quarter, leading to positive returns from U.S. fixed income. Finally, some investors dialed down equity risk in response to the U.S. recession scare, leading small cap stocks to fall 1.5%. While in our view the chance of recession over the next year is low, we continue to recommend a diversified portfolio of assets as the best way of weathering market volatility while achieving long-term investment goals.

For more information please visit the Source below.

(Source: JPMorgan)

If You Could Live Anywhere, Where Would You Live?

© Provided by CNBC
© Provided by CNBC

If cities are your cup of tea, then here is some good news. The 2016 Worldwide Cost of Living Report compares the prices of 160 products and services – from food and drink to domestic care and private schools – in cities around the world. It found the cost-of-living in many cities fell during 2015 thanks to lower commodity prices, weakening currencies, and geopolitical unrest.

Be warned: a lower cost-of-living doesn’t mean a city offers good value. Take Zurich, for instance. Remember the uproar when the Swiss unpegged their currency early in 2015? The Swiss franc realized double-digit gains, the Swiss stock market swooned, and the Swiss people went shopping in neighboring countries. Well, the cost of living in Zurich fell from September 2014 to September 2015, but the decline wasn’t proportionate to declines elsewhere in Europe, and Zurich currently reigns as Europe’s most expensive city.

In September 2015, the most and least expensive cities in the world were:

Most expensive:

  • Republic of Singapore
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Paris, France

Least expensive:

  • Chennai, India
  • Karachi, Pakistan
  • Mumbai, India
  • Bangalore, India
  • Lusaka, Gambia

Cities in the United States didn’t fare well, either. A strong U.S. dollar helped push all 16 of the U.S. cities that were in the survey up at least 15 places. New York and Los Angeles both rank among the 10 most expensive cities in the world.

The Fed is Crushing the Dollar, and That’s Great for Stocks

dollar.jpg
Provided by MarketWatch

The brutal U.S. stock-market selloff that dominated the first six weeks of the year has been erased—and investors might have the dollar to thank for that.

Slowing global growth, worries about a sharp devaluation in the Chinese yuan, stubbornly low oil prices, and the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates in December are all factors that investors have blamed for the turmoil in global markets this year.

But the market’s reaction to the outcome of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve meeting perhaps revealed the true culprit: the strong dollar.

“A lot of the market convulsions looked like they were coming from independent things. But they all had a common denominator and that’s the dollar,” said Binky Chadha, chief global strategist at Deutsche Bank, in a phone interview.

The Fed on Wednesday surprised investors by striking a more cautious tone—projecting just two rate increases in 2016 compared with its December forecast for four increases. The dollar fell sharply versus major rivals, with the ICE U.S. dollar index , a measure of the currency against six major rivals, falling to its lowest level of 2016 on Thursday.

The less aggressive tone has many currency strategists—including Vasileios Gkionakis, the global head of currency strategy at UniCredit—optimistic that the dollar will continue to weaken this year.

This bodes well for U.S. equities. Indeed, the Dow industrials and S&P 500   both turned positive for the year on Thursday. And investors are optimistic that the recent bout of volatility is over—at least, for now.

There are several ways by which the dollar exchange rate feeds through to other markets.

When the dollar is weak, crude oil—which is priced in dollars—becomes more affordable to buyers who use other currencies. This can boost demand, driving prices higher. Indeed, the dollar and prices for oil and other commodities have historically maintained an inverse relationship. Oil futures rallied sharply Thursday, pushing the U.S. benchmark  above $40 a barrel for the first time in 2016.

Stronger prices for oil and metals could offer some relief for beaten-down energy and mining firms.

Also, a weak dollar makes its easier for U.S. companies to turn a profit.

Since the second quarter of 2015, companies based in the U.S. have regularly blamed the strong dollar for weaker than expected earnings. This could well change when companies report second quarter earnings, with the ICE dollar index down nearly 5% from its level a year ago.

“A higher dollar had a negative impact on overseas earnings of U.S. companies over the past several quarters. As the dollar stabilizes and the economy continues to improve, we will start seeing better earnings,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

To be sure, potential headwinds remain. After the second Fed rate increase, which many investors expect will happen in June, the dollar could resume its march higher.

But for now at least, the Fed has given investors one less reason to complain.

Written by Joseph Adinolfi of MarketWatch

(Source: MarketWatch)

Capital Has Been Leaving China…

Copyright Creative Commons
Copyright Creative Commons

When Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week, she made no bones about the fact the Fed is keeping an eye on economic developments in China and evaluating the ways in which changing circumstances in the country, including currency devaluation, could affect global growth and the U.S. economy.

Yellen is not the only one worried about currency devaluation in China. The New York Times reported Chinese companies and wealthy citizens have been pulling money out of the country because they’re worried the purchasing power of their savings will decline significantly if the government further devalues the renminbi. Some have been using renminbi to invest in real estate abroad, buy overseas businesses, or pay off dollar-denominated debt.

Others have been avoiding China’s capital controls, which are measures designed to regulate flows from capital markets, by engaging in ‘smurfing.’ The New York Times described the practice of smurfing this way, “…Individuals are asking friends or family members to carry or transfer out $50,000 apiece, the annual legal limit in China. A group of 100 people can move $5 million overseas.”

According to the Institute of International Finance, cited by CNBC:

“The 2015 outflows largely reflected efforts by Chinese corporates to reduce dollar exposure after years of heavy dollar borrowing as expectations of persistent renminbi appreciation were replaced by rising concerns about a weakening currency.”

During the final six months of 2015, capital flowed out of China at a rate of about one trillion U.S. dollars annualized, according to The Economist.