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 Update: March 13, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

  • Traders cautious ahead of Fed decision. The S&P 500 is modestly lower this morning after advancing Friday, led by utilities (+0.8%) and telecom (+0.7), but snapping a six-week winning streak. Energy (-0.1%) lagged, but held up well given the 1.6% drop in the price of oil. Investors are trading cautiously ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which begins tomorrow; the market has priced in a 25 basis point (0.25%) rate hike. Overnight, Asian markets were led higher by the Hang Seng (+1.1%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.8%); Korea’s KOSPI (+1.0%) continued to climb after the country’s president was removed from office on Friday. European exchanges are mostly higher in afternoon trading, with the STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4%. Meanwhile, WTI crude oil ($48.30/barrel) is higher after last week’s slide, COMEX gold ($1203/oz.) is up modestly, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note is up 0.01% to 2.59%.

MacroView_header

  • Busy week ahead in a very busy month. March is an unusually busy month for global markets. This week, the FOMC meeting, along with Bank of Japan and Bank of England meetings, are accompanied by an election in the Netherlands, a press conference by Chinese Premier Li, and a ton of key U.S. economic data (retail sales, CPI, housing starts, leading indicators). President Trump will release his fiscal year 2018 budget document, the G-20 finance ministers meet in Germany, and the U.S. will hit its debt ceiling.
  • FOMC preview. This week, we ask and answer key questions that investors may have about the Fed and monetary policy ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. With a 0.25% rate hike fully priced in, markets will want to gauge the pace and timing of rate hikes over the rest of 2017 and into 2018, as well as Fed Chair Yellen’s thoughts on fiscal policy and the impact on monetary policy.
  • How much does the current bull market have left in the tank? The bull market celebrated its eighth birthday last Thursday, March 9. During that eight-year period, the S&P 500 rose 250% in price and more than tripled in value (including dividends), leaving many to ask the question: How much does this bull run have left? We try to help answer that question by looking at some of our favorite leading indicators. Although valuations are rich and policy risks are high, none of our favorite leading indicators are sending signals suggesting the bull market is nearing its end.
  • The weekly win streak is over. The S&P 500 ended with a slight gain on Friday to close the week down 0.4% – just missing out on the first seven-week win streak since late 2014 and ending a six-week win streak in the process. The big move last week came in crude oil, as it sank more than 9% for the week – the largest weekly loss since right before the election. Small caps, as measured by the Russell 2000, fell 2.1% and high yield also saw a big drop. Many have noted that weakness in energy, small caps, and high yield could be a warning sign for large caps. We will continue to monitor these developments.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • ECB’s Mario Draghi Speaks in Frankfut
  • China: Retail Sales (Feb)
  • China: Fixed Asset Investment (Feb)
  • China: Industrial Production (Feb)

 Tuesday

  • Small Business Optimism Index (Feb)
  • Germany: ZEW (Mar)

 Wednesday

  • Empire State Mfg. Report (Mar)
  • CPI (Mar)
  • Retail Sales (Mar)
  • FOMC Decision (Rate Hike Expected)
  • FOMC Economic Forecasts and “Dot Plots”
  • Yellen Press Conference
  • General Election in the Netherlands
  • China’s Premier Li Holds Annual Press Conference

 Thursday

  • Philadelphia Fed Mfg. Report (Mar)
  • US Debt Ceiling Reinstated
  • President Trump to Release His FY 2018 Budget
  • UK: Bank of England Meeting (No Change Expected)
  • Japan: Bank of Japan Meeting (No Change Expected)

 Friday

  • Index of Leading Indicators (Feb)
  • G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Germany

 

 

 

 

 

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 6, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

  • Equities move lower to begin week. U.S. stocks are moving lower in early trading, following their European counterparts on little news. The major averages all managed to squeak out slight gains on Friday; the S&P 500’s 0.1% gain was led by financials and healthcare, which both closed up 0.4%. Overnight in Asia, stocks finished mostly higher with the exception of Japan’s Nikkei (-0.5%) as the yen strengthened; the STOXX Europe 600 is lower by 0.5% in afternoon trading. Meanwhile, the yield on the 10-year Treasury is near flat at 2.48% as market-implied expectations of a Fed rate hike in March are near 86%, WTI crude oil ($53.25/barrel) is slightly lower, and COMEX gold ($1231/oz.) is climbing 0.4%.

MacroView_header

  • Brexit, EU summit, China forecasts, Fed “quiet period”, and February jobs report highlight week ahead. Other than the February employment report (due out this Friday, March 10)  it’s a relatively quiet week for U.S. economic data. It’s also the unofficial quiet period for the Federal Reserve ahead of the March 14-15 FOMC meeting. The overseas calendar is chock full of potentially market-moving events, including the EU leaders summit, a potential House of Lords vote on Brexit, the European Central Bank meeting, and a few key reports on China’s economy in February.
  • Beige Book. This week, we’ll examine the Fed’s latest Beige Book, looking for signs of any impact from the new Trump administration, an overheating labor market, rising wages, and inflation ahead of next week’s FOMC meeting.
  • Corporate sentiment improved again in our latest Corporate Beige Book. Sentiment improved among corporate executives based on our analysis of fourth quarter earnings conference call transcripts. Not surprisingly, policy was a popular topic, as corporate tax reform, infrastructure and regulation saw big jumps in the number of mentions. Currency and China also continued to garner a lot of attention, while energy and Brexit faded. The solid fourth quarter results coupled with improved sentiment from corporate executives support our expectation of mid-to-high single digit earnings growth for the S&P 500 in 2017.
  • The Chinese National People’s Congress began its annual meeting on Sunday. Nothing shocking has come out of the meeting so far, though little was expected. Official economic growth forecasts have been cut to 6.5%. The focus of the meeting has been on economic stability, including a reduction in monetary growth targets and efforts to reduce China’s bad debt problem. The most notable change in language related to calls for further currency liberalization. A more market-oriented currency policy suggests potential weakening of the yuan, which would run counter to China’s long-term political goals, as well as increase the likelihood of China being labeled a “currency manipulator” by the Trump administration.
  • Make that six in a row. The S&P 500 was up 0.7% for the second consecutive week, and managed to close at a new weekly all-time high. In the process, it closed higher for the sixth consecutive week for the first time since a six-week win streak off of the February 2016 lows. The last time it was up seven weeks in a row was late 2014. Here’s the catch, the S&P 500 was up only 4.9% the past six weeks – making this one of the weakest six-week win streaks ever. Given the historically small daily trading ranges recently, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. You have to go back to late 2013 for the last time there was a smaller return during a six-week win streak.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Kashkari (Dove)

 Tuesday

  • China: Imports and Exports (Feb)
  • Japan: Economy Watchers Survey

 Wednesday

  • ADP Employment (Feb)
  • China: CPI (Feb)

Thursday

  • Initial Claims (3/5)
  • Challenger Job Cut Announcements (Feb)
  • Household Net Worth and Flow of Funds (Q4)
  • European Union leaders Summit in Brussels Begins
  • Eurozone: European Central Bank Meeting (No Change Expected)

Friday

  • Employment Report (Feb)
  • European Union leaders Summit in Brussels Continues

 

 

 

 

 

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: December 19, 2016

MarketUpdate_header

  • Stocks edge up to begin quiet week. U.S. markets are slightly higher in early trading, kicking off what is likely to be a low-volume week on scattered data releases ahead of the holidays; though a speech by Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) Chair Janet Yellen this afternoon will garner attention. Friday’s session saw the S&P 500 (-0.2%) slip into negative territory for the week, as the heavily weighted technology (-0.8%) and financials (-0.9%) sectors lagged; rate-sensitive utilities and real estate both moved up more than 1%, despite only a 1 basis point (.01%) drop in the yield on the 10-year Treasury. Overnight, Asian markets were modestly lower, led down by the Hang Seng (-0.9%) after China stated it would take measures to control asset bubbles in 2017; major European indexes are near flat in afternoon trading, with the STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1%. Finally, WTI crude oil ($52.70/barrel) is slightly lower, COMEX gold ($1,141/oz.) is rising by 0.3%, and the yield on the 10-year note is down to 2.55%.

MacroView_header

  • 2016 calendar winding down. Although there are a few key events on tap this week (i.e., a speech by U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May on Brexit, the Bank of Japan’s final policy meeting of the year, and Vladimir Putin’s only press conference of 2016), the calendar is fairly quiet. Data on new and existing home sales, the service sector Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and durable goods orders and shipments are the key U.S. data releases. Overseas, China’s property price indices (released over the weekend) and the German IFO reading for December (released overnight) were the only key events.
  • A look back. As the year comes to an end, we take a look back at some of our hits and misses of 2016. We certainly had some of both in a difficult year to forecast equity markets. First, the year got off to one of the worst starts ever as oil prices collapsed. Then it was the unexpected outcome to the Brexit vote, which stocks largely shrugged off, followed by Trump’s upset, which was followed by one of the strongest post-election stock market rallies in history-outcomes few predicted. Among the hits, our stock market forecast and our decision to largely stay on the sidelines with regard to international equity markets. Misses included favoring large caps and growth.
  • Can we count on Santa in 2016? Since 1950, the S&P 500 historically has been flat from December 1 through 15, then rallies nicely into year end. Last week, we took a look at this bullish time of year and the well-known Santa Claus Rally. But what happens during rare years like 2016, when the S&P 500 has already seen nice gains (2.9%) as of the mid-way point of the month? Going back to 1950¹, we found there were only seven other months that were up on December 15 at least 2.75%. The good news? The rest of the month the S&P 500 gained another 1.8% on average and was higher all seven times.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • Markit Services PMI (Dec)
  • Yellen (Dove)
  • Germany: Ifo (Dec)
  • UK: PM Teresa May Makes a Statement on Brexit

Tuesday

  • Japan: Bank of Japan Meeting (No Change Expected)

Wednesday

  • Existing Home Sales (Nov)

Thursday

  • Leading Indicators (Nov)
  • Durable Goods Orders and Shipments (Nov)
  • Russia: President Putin Holds His Annual Press Conference in Moscow

Friday

  • New Home Sales (Nov)

 

 

 

 

 

 

¹ The modern design of the S&P 500 stock index was first launched in 1957. Performance back to 1950 incorporates the performance of predecessor index, the S&P 90.

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. A money market investment is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money markets have traditionally sought to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund. 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. Technical Analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical Analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental Analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

FOMC Raises Rates By 25 BPS As Expected, But Now Sees 3 Hikes Instead of 2 in 2017

As was expected, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) policymaking arm, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), decided to raise rates by 0.25% (25 basis points) at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. The move had been fully priced into financial markets for the past month or so. This is the second rate hike in this cycle. The first was a year ago in December 2015. Here is a side by side comparison of the statement released today versus the statement released at the last FOMC meeting on November 2, 2016. The big story in today’s meeting is that the FOMC now expects to raise rates three times next year; at the September 2016 FOMC meeting, the Fed expected just two hikes in 2017, and the market and the Fed were aligned on that assessment before today.

In its statement, the FOMC made few changes to its assessment of the labor market, the overall economy, household spending, and business capital spending relative to November, but meaningfully upgraded its view of the labor market. For the second straight meeting, the FOMC sounded a bit more concerned about inflation, noting that “Inflation has increased since earlier this year.” In addition, the FOMC said that “Market-based measures of inflation compensation have moved up considerably.” As it did in November, the FOMC highlighted that the “near-term risks to the economy are roughly balanced,” and the statement again mentioned the committee would “monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments,” a phrase that has been in every FOMC statement this year.

As it has for a year, the FOMC noted that it expects the pace of rate hikes to be gradual and that any future hikes are data dependent and not on a preset course.

The Fed also released a new set of economic forecasts and dot plots at today’s meeting, as it does four times a year. The key takeaways here are that FOMC members now think the Fed will hike rates three times in 2017, down from two hikes embedded in the September 2016 dot plots. The FOMC still expects three 25 basis point hikes in 2018 and 2019, as it did in September. The long run fed funds rate—what the Fed would consider neutral—rose from 2.875% in the September 2016 dot plots to 3.125% today. This is the first time in nearly five years that the Fed has moved up its assessment of the long-run fed funds rate. Fed Chair Janet Yellen was conducting her fourth and final press conference of the year as this blog was being prepared.

As of now, Fed speakers are not scheduled between now and year-end. The minutes of today’s FOMC meeting will be released on Wednesday, January 4, 2017, and the Beige Book for the next (January 31-February 1, 2017) FOMC meeting is due out on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. President-elect Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address in late January/early February will be of keen interest to the Fed and Fed watchers. In addition, the mid-February 2017 appearance by Yellen before Congress for her semiannual monetary policy testimony will provide the market with insight into the Fed’s views on any specifics on fiscal policy provided by the incoming Trump Administration and Congress in early 2017. The interaction between fiscal and monetary policy in 2017 is a key concern for markets.

Click here to view the FOMC schedule for 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES: 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. Basis Points are a unit relating to interest rates that is equal to 1/100th of a percentage point. It is frequently but not exclusively used to express differences in interest rates of less than 1%. The Beige Book is a commonly used name for the Fed report called the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District. It is published just before the FOMC meeting on interest rates and is used to inform the members on changes in the economy since the last meeting. Monetary policy is the process through which the monetary authority (central bank, currency board, or other regulatory committee) of a country controls the size and rate of growth of the money supply, which in turn affects interest rates. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the branch of the Federal Reserve Board that determines the direction of monetary policy. The eleven-person FOMC is composed of the seven-member board of governors, and the five Federal Reserve Bank presidents. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York serves continuously, while the presidents of the other regional Federal Reserve Banks rotate their service in one-year terms. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Market Update: December 12, 2016

MarketUpdate_header

  • Stocks search for direction as oil spikes. Global markets are mixed in Monday sessions, failing to get a lift from a 4.5% rise in WTI crude oil ($53.83/barrel). Oil’s surge comes after non-OPEC producers agreed to cut output by 585,000 barrels per day. Domestic indexes are mixed after the S&P 500 rose over 3% last week on strength in the heavily weighted technology and financials sectors. Looking ahead, investors will be watching the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) this week; the market is expecting a rate hike of 25 basis points (0.25%). Overseas, Chinese markets sold off as the Shanghai Composite lost 2.5% and the Hang Seng shed 1.4%; Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.8%. Weakness in China came on the heels of a ban on leveraged stock purchases by the country’s insurers. European markets are near flat with the exception of Italy’s MIB (+0.9%), continuing its rally after the failed constitutional referendum. Meanwhile, COMEX gold ($1161/oz.) is modestly lower, extending a five-week slide, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note is up to 2.50%.

MacroView_header

  • Oil rallies on OPEC and non-OPEC news. Consistent with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on November 30, eleven non-OPEC producers announced plans to cut OPEC production, though possibly below the 600,000 barrel per day production cut promised. In addition, Saudi Arabia suggested that it might cut production even more than it had announced on November 30. The market views compliance with new production quotas as key to maintaining prices at current levels, if not higher.
  • FOMC and much, much more. The Federal Reserve Banks’s (Fed) FOMC will hold its eighth and final meeting of 2016 on Wednesday, and it will likely raise rates by 25 basis points (0.25%), a move that is fully priced in by the fed funds futures market. In addition, the FOMC will release a new set of dot plots and economic forecasts for 2017 and beyond. But that’s not all. This week is chock full of key economic data for November and December, including reports on housing, inflation, consumer spending, and manufacturing. Overseas, the key ZEW report in Germany and the Tankan survey in Japan are due out, and China will continue releasing its data set for November. The Bank of England meets this week as well and is expected to stand pat on rates. Mexico’s central bank is likely to raise rates, as inflation is heating up south of the border.
  • FOMC FAQ. This week we’ll cover several key questions ahead of this week’s eighth and final FOMC meeting of 2016. While a rate hike later this week is fully priced in by markets, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Fed as 2016 turns into 2017.
  • Growth starting to look cheap versus value. Based on the Russell indexes, following value’s outperformance this year, growth is now as cheap relative to value as it has been at any point since the financial crisis. We still think style balance, or a slight growth overweight, are prudent at this point in the business cycle, but note that relative valuations (growth is at a 13% premium to value, about half its 15-year average) and the magnitude of the financials-driven value rally may make it difficult for value to continue its momentum.
  • Small caps starting to get expensive. Following recent strength, small caps are starting to look expensive versus their large cap counterparts. The Russell 2000 is now trading at a 42% premium to large caps on a forward price-to-earnings basis, about ten percentage points above the 15-year average premium. We have a slight positive bias toward small caps in the first half of 2017 on prospects for corporate tax reform and less foreign trade risk, but valuations and the magnitude of the small cap rally may make it difficult for small caps to continue their momentum and we would not be surprised if cap leadership reversed later in 2017.
  • Surging bond yields have not spooked stock market investors. This week, we look at when rising interest rates might begin to hurt stock prices. It is logical to think higher rates will eventually slow the economy as borrowing costs rise and inflation erodes purchasing power. But given the still low rate environment, the market is interpreting higher interest rates as a signal of improving growth expectations, not worrisome inflation, and we do not think rising interest rates put the bull market at risk.
  • The rally continues. The S&P 500 gained 3.1% last week and closed higher every single day. You have to go back to June 2014 the last time all five days of the week were higher. It didn’t end there though, as both the Nasdaq and Dow also were green each day, and closed Friday at new all-time highs. The Dow even made a new all-time high all five days, something it hasn’t done for 17 years. The S&P 500 is up six straight days for the first time since June 2014, and it hasn’t been up seven in a row since September 2013. Lastly, momentum has been very powerful the past few years as the previous 10 times the S&P 500 was up more than 3% for the week (like it was last week), it was green the following week.
  • How long can the bull market go? With new highs being made across the board for U.S. equities, and European markets finally starting to potentially turn the corner as we noted in last week’s blog post, the big question is how long can this current bull market last? As we will lay out in our 2017 Outlook, we feel that stocks should produce mid-single-digit returns[1] and the bull market could continue through at least 2017.

MonitoringWeek_header

Monday

  • China: Retail Sales (Nov.)

Tuesday

  • NFIB Small Business Optimism (Nov)
  • Germany: ZEW (Dec)
  • Japan: Tankan (Q4)

Wednesday

  • Retail Sales (Nov)
  • FOMC Statement
  • FOMC Economic Forecasts and Dot Plots
  • Yellen Press Conference
  • Japan: Nikkei Mfg. PMI (Dec)

Thursday

  • Empire State Mfg. Report (Dec)
  • Markit Mfg. PMI (Dec)
  • CPI (Nov)
  • Philadelphia Fed Mfg. Report (Dec)
  • Eurozone: Markit Mfg. PMI (Dec)
  • European Union: Leader Summit in Brussels
  • UK: Bank of England Meeting (No Change Expected)
  • Mexico: Central Bank Meeting (Rate Hike Expected)

Friday

  • Housing Starts and Building Permits (Nov)
  • Lacker (Hawk)

 

 

 

 

 

[1] 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. A money market investment is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although money markets have traditionally sought to preserve the value of your investment at $1 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in such a fund. 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. Technical Analysis is a methodology for evaluating securities based on statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices, volume and momentum, and is not intended to be used as the sole mechanism for trading decisions. Technical analysts do not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead use charts and other tools to identify patterns and trends. Technical analysis carries inherent risk, chief amongst which is that past performance is not indicative of future results. Technical Analysis should be used in conjunction with Fundamental Analysis within the decision making process and shall include but not be limited to the following considerations: investment thesis, suitability, expected time horizon, and operational factors, such as trading costs are examples. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Fourth Quarter, a Look Back…

ECB Announces Monthly Rate Decision
Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve pulled the trigger. At the December Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the Fed finally acted, tightening monetary policy by raising the funds rate from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. It’s important to remember the Fed doesn’t actually set interest rates. It takes actions designed to influence financial behaviors. The Fed has given rates a push, it remains to be seen whether its efforts will bear fruit.

The European Central Bank (ECB) acted, too. Although, its monetary policy moved in a different direction, offering additional stimulus measures to support European economies. Investors were enthusiastic when the ECB announced its intentions; however, markets were underwhelmed when the economic measures delivered were less stimulative than many had expected.

China’s currency gained status. The International Monetary Fund decided to add the Chinese yuan (a.k.a. the renminbi) to its Special Drawing Rights basket, effective October 1, 2016. After the renminbi is added, the U.S. dollar will comprise 42 percent of the basket, the euro will be 31 percent, the renminbi will be 11 percent, the Japanese yen will be 8 percent, and the British pound will also be 8 percent.

Congress tweaked Social Security. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) averted a U.S. default and deferred further discussion of U.S. debt and spending levels until after 2016’s presidential and congressional elections. It also did away with two popular social security claiming strategies. The restricted application strategy was discontinued at the end of 2015, and file and suspend strategies will be unavailable after May 1, 2016.

Medicare premiums go up, but not for everyone. The BBA also limited increases in Medicare premiums. About 14 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will pay higher premiums in 2016. The new premium will be $121.80, up from $104.90 in 2015. Original proposals suggested the premium amount increase to $159.30.

Weekly Advisor Analysis: December 7, 2015

Equity markets finished a roller coaster week essentially flat. By midweek the markets were up nearly 70 basis points before collapsing 3 percent on disappointments from the European Central Bank who decided not to expand bond purchases. This also caused a plunge in the U.S. dollar as investors who were short the Euro in anticipation of this move. Then, Friday saved the week when the encouraging November jobs report pushed markets 2 percent higher and investors viewed this as confirmation a rate hike by the Federal Reserve next week is now a certainty. When all was said and done, the S&P 500 ended the week up just 0.1 percent, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite both gained 0.3 percent.

The Nail in the Coffin

The November jobs report from last Friday should put to rest the debate over whether or not the Federal Reserve is going to raise rates after its Open Market Committee meeting December 15-16. During the month of November, U.S. employers added 211,000 jobs which was above consensus expectations. Additionally, the two prior months were revised higher by 35,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained at 5 percent and, importantly, wage expansion remained above 2 percent year-over-year growth. Another promising data point out of the release was the continued rise of the quit rate, or measure of those who voluntarily quit their jobs. This reached 10 percent, the highest level in four months. All of the boxes appear to be checked for Chair Yellen to begin hiking rates next week. And, while it seems like a foregone conclusion, we think investors should be mindful the Fed has moved the goalposts before and, just last week, almost every financial prognosticator was proven wrong when the European Central Bank did not expand its bond buying program.

Emerging Market Defaults on the Rise

According to Standard & Poor’s, corporate defaults in emerging markets are up 40 percent year-over-year and have hit their highest level since 2009. The default rate over the past 12 months is close to 4 percent compared to just 0.7 percent four years ago. The 4 percent also outpaces default rates for U.S. companies, which hovers around 2.5 percent. The increasing pace of defaults should be no surprise. The amount of emerging market corporate debt has quintupled over the past 10 years to nearly $24 trillion as investors have stretched for yield in a low rate world and companies were eager to borrow as their commodity-driven economies expanded. However, this has come to an abrupt end and the worst may be yet to come. According to the Institute of International Finance, more than $600 billion of debt matures in 2016. Even worse, some $85 billion of this is denominated in dollars. A rate hike by the Federal Reserve could continue pushing the dollar higher, making it more expensive to repay debt when slowing economic growth is crimping profit.

WAA
Provided by The Wall Street Journal

Renminbi Becomes a Reserve Currency

Early last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) added the Chinese renminbi to its basket of reserve currencies. It joins the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the British pound, and the Japanese yen in the basket known as Special Drawing Rights. The Managing Director of the IMF stated the renminbi’s inclusion is an important step but more financial reform is needed. Shortly after the decision, a deputy governor from the People’s Bank of China said the country would maintain a managed-floating system before gradually moving a free-floating currency. This allayed fears that China would move immediately to devalue the renminbi. The addition of China’s currency to the reserve basket is a testament to that country’s growth over the past decade. It now accounts for more than 15 percent of global economic output, up from just 5 percent nearly a decade ago.

WAA1
Provided by The Wall Street Journal

Fun Story of the Week

A classic schoolyard insult is to bellow, “You’re slower than my grandma!” For Elvira Montes’ three grandkids, this is probably true. The 81-year old recently became the oldest finisher of the 2015 Beer Mile World Championship. The beer mile requires runners to chug a 12-ounce beer before each of the four quarter-mile laps around a track. She finished in just over 20 minutes, even beating her 47-year old daughter by 50 seconds. Mrs. Montes began running more than two decades ago, and this was her second beer mile. She plans to return to the world championships next year; her goal is to break 20 minutes.

Weekly Market Commentary: November 9, 2015

Provided by geralt/Pixabay
Provided by geralt/Pixabay

And, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said…

U.S. job growth surpassed expectations in October. About 271,000 jobs were created across diverse industries: professional and business services, health care, retail, construction, and others. That was a significantly higher number than predicted by economists who participated in a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal. They expected to see 183,000 new jobs for October.

The BLS revised August and September jobs numbers higher overall and reported improvement on the wage front, too. Average hourly earnings increased by nine cents during October. For the year, hourly earnings are up 2.5 percent. Rising wages and a 5 percent unemployment rate “appear to indicate the labor market has reached full employment,” reported Barron’s.

Strong employment data supports the idea the Fed will begin to lift the Fed funds rate this year. On Friday, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke wrote in his blog:

“Wednesday was something of a trifecta for Fed watchers: Chair Yellen, Board Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York president Bill Dudley (who is also the vice chair of the Federal Open Market Committee) all made public appearances. Moreover, the comments by all three members of the Fed’s leadership explicitly or implicitly supported the idea that a December rate increase by the FOMC is a distinct possibility. (The possibility of a rate increase is even more distinct with this morning’s strong job market report.)”

Markets responded swiftly, according to The Wall Street Journal, as investors repositioned their portfolios in anticipation of a rate hike. While stock market indices remained relatively steady, there was considerable volatility within certain sectors. An expert cited by the publication commented:

“…one of the big rotation trades on Friday was investors taking money out of companies such as utilities and real-estate-investment trusts, and putting it into those that are expected to benefit from higher rates, such as financial companies.”

Data as of 11/6/15 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) 1.0% 2.0% 3.4% 13.7% 11.4% 5.6%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. -1.0 -4.2 -5.6 2.4 -0.4 1.5
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.3 NA 2.4 1.7 2.6 4.6
Gold (per ounce) -4.7 -9.2 -4.9 -13.7 -4.8 9.1
Bloomberg Commodity Index -2.5 -18.3 -27.1 -15.7 -11.1 -6.5
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -1.9 -0.3 3.1 10.4 10.6 7.6

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.