What I’m Watching This Week – 30 June 2014

The Markets

Domestic equities seemed to shrug off a massive downward revision to first-quarter GDP and mostly ended the week flat. Though the Nasdaq’s gain was slight, it was the sixth positive week out of the last seven. Meanwhile, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield remained low as demand from bond investors continued to support prices.

Market/Index 2013 Close Prior Week As of 6/27 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 16576.66 16947.08 16851.84 -.56% 1.66%
Nasdaq 4176.59 4368.04 4397.93 .68% 5.30%
S&P 500 1848.36 1962.87 1960.97 -.10% 6.09%
Russell 2000 1163.64 1188.42 1189.49 .09% 2.22%
Global Dow 2484.10 2617.86 2603.77 -.54% 4.82%
Fed. Funds .25% .25% .25% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 3.04% 2.63% 2.54% -9 bps -50 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

  • The U.S. economy contracted at a much faster pace in Q1 than anticipated, falling 2.9% (not the 1% recently estimated). The Bureau of Economic Analysis said its unusually steep downward revision of gross domestic product was caused not only by winter weather but also by exports and health-care spending that were both lower than previously thought.
  • The housing market rebounded strongly in May from its winter slump. According to the Commerce Department, sales of new single-family homes leaped 18.6% in May and were almost 17% better than a year earlier. Also, the National Association of Realtors® said the 4.9% increase in resales of existing homes was the biggest monthly gain in nearly three years. However, the NAR also said existing home sales were 5% lower and the number of unsold homes was 6% higher than in May 2013.
  • Data on April home prices also was mixed. Cities in the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index averaged a 1.1% gain in April, for a gain of almost 11% since last April. Boston saw its biggest monthly gain in the index’s 27-year history, and San Francisco had its sixth straight price increase. However, seven cities reported a decline since March, and S&P said year-over-year price gains had begun to slow.
  • U.S. incomes rose faster than personal consumption in May; according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, incomes were up 0.4%, while spending rose 0.2%. Even after adjusting for inflation, incomes were up 0.2% for the second straight month. The bad news? That 0.2% increase in personal consumption expenditures–a key inflation gauge for the Fed–resulted in the biggest 12-month gain since October 2012; further increases could mean inflationary pressure that might affect interest rates.
  • The European Union formalized a trade agreement with Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova–the agreement whose rejection by the former Ukrainian president led to subsequent protests and ultimately Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Shortly thereafter, European leaders told Russia it had until Monday evening to persuade rebels in Ukraine to respect a cease-fire or face further EU economic sanctions.
  • Durable goods orders fell 1% in May after three strong months. However, the Commerce Department said most of the decline was caused by a 31% drop in defense spending on equipment. Other than defense, new orders were up 0.6%.

Eye on the Week Ahead

In a holiday-shortened week, trading volumes are likely to continue to be light. Manufacturing data may suggest whether recent improvements can be sustained. The European Central Bank is scheduled to report on Thursday, but last month’s decision to adopt a negative interest rate likely precludes much immediate change in policy. And as always, the jobs report, issued a day early, will be watched.