Friday, August 23, 2019

The Mixed Economic Data Presents A Challenge For Investors

Thursday's release of the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators Index (LEI) shows an increase in the LEI for July of .5%. This reverses the declines in May and June. Importantly, and as the Conference Board release highlights, "While the LEI suggests the US economy will continue to expand in the second half of 2019, it is likely to do so at a moderate pace." Although a moderate expansion is expected, it is expansion nonetheless. The chart below shows the one year change in the LEI of 1.63%. Prior to previous recessions, the YoY change turned negative and this is not the case at this point in time.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Compensation Growth Supporting Strong Retail Sales Environment

The market lost ground for the third consecutive week last week, down 2.93%. In spite of the recent weakness, equities continue to show respectable returns this year with the S&P 500 Index up 15.23%. Foreign stocks have not held up nearly as well and the emerging market index (green line) is only up 2% year to date so far in 2019.

The Yield Curve Dominates The Narrative

On Wednesday the financial media would have one believe the world and market's would fall apart as a result of the 2-year/10-year U.S. Treasury yield curve inverting, i.e., the 2-year yield moved to a higher level than the 10-year yield. The S&P 500 Index fell 2.93% on the day. The importance of the inversion is the fact the yield curve has some predictive power in recession forecasting. From a technical perspective though, the yield curve inverted on an intra-day basis but not on a closing basis. At the close Wednesday, the curve was positive, even if only by 1 basis point and has since steepened to 7 basis points.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Improvement In Forward Earnings Expectations Versus Trailing Actual

Just as the market encountered an earnings recession in 2015/2016 due in part to the after effects of higher oil prices and a stronger US Dollar, current earnings reports show S&P 500 earnings growing at a low single digit pace. A large part of today's earnings slowdown is attributable to the tougher prior period comparisons resulting from the earnings improvement from the tax cut in late 2017. I wrote a post earlier this year on this topic and will not repeat it here, but those interested can read it at this link, The Tax Cut And Jobs Act Is Distorting 2019 Estimated Earnings Growth.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Investor Sentiment Has Reached An Extreme And Not A Bullish Extreme

AAII is reporting individual investor bullish sentiment declined a sizable 16.8 percentage points to 21.7% in the week ending 8/7/2019. This is the lowest level since bullish sentiment reached 20.9% on December 13, 2018, a market bottom in the fourth quarter 2018 pullback. The low level of of bullish sentiment certainly classifies this as an extreme level.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

High Consumer Confidence But Not Too Bullish Of An Investor

Earlier this week I wrote that on balance economic and company data seemed to be more positive than negative. Also noted in that post was the fact the services segment of the economy has become a significantly larger component than the manufacturing segment. Certainly there are headwinds that seem mostly associated with the trade and tariff issues and this was top of mind in the just completed week. On the day President Trump announced that more tariffs are likely to be imposed on September 1, the market swung 600 points. On a percentage basis though, the market was up 1% that day and fell to down 1%. Much of the financial commentary from the media seemed focused on the point swings in the Dow Jones Index itself. On a percentage basis not a significant change. As the below chart shows, the S&P 500 Index remains up 16.96% this year on a price only basis and is only down 3.74% from its high. For the week the market was down just 3.1%.