What I’m Watching This Week – 25 July 2016

The Markets (as of market close July 22, 2016)

The S&P 500 reached a record high last Friday as each of the indexes listed here posted marginal gains over the prior week. Equities have demonstrated a positive trend over the past several weeks. The Nasdaq eclipsed its previous high only to slip a bit by week’s end. While the indexes continue to forge ahead, overall trading has been light. Across the “pond” the UK’s economy has likely contracted in July, according to IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, which showed businesses responding to the uncertainty of Brexit by cutting output and payrolls.

Crude oil (WTI) closed at $44.21 a barrel last week, down from $46.28 per barrel the previous week. The price of gold (COMEX) fell to $1,330.30 by late Friday afternoon, dropping from the prior week’s price of $1,337.70. The national average retail regular gasoline price decreased for the fifth week in a row to $2.230 per gallon on July 18, $0.023 under the prior week’s price and $0.572 below a year ago.

Market/Index 2015 Close Prior Week As of 7/22 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 17425.03 18516.55 18570.85 0.29% 6.58%
Nasdaq 5007.41 5029.59 5100.16 1.40% 1.85%
S&P 500 2043.94 2161.74 2175.03 0.61% 6.41%
Russell 2000 1135.89 1205.31 1212.89 0.63% 6.78%
Global Dow 2336.45 2395.14 2396.80 0.07% 2.58%
Fed. Funds rate target 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 2.26% 1.54% 1.56% 2 bps -70 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

  • June was a good month for new home construction as the number of building permits, housing starts, and new home completions each eclipsed their respective May totals. Building permits for housing units and single family homes were up 1.5% and 1.0%, respectively. Housing starts, marked by the beginning of construction, increased by 4.8% for all housing units and 4.4% for single family housing. Housing completions were 12.3% ahead of May (single-family completions gained only 3.7%). Increasing demand and low inventory have promoted home building, which may be a sign of economic growth.
  • Sales of existing homes also improved in June, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Closings for existing homes (including single family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops) climbed 1.1% to an annual rate of 5.57 million from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in May. Over the last 12 months, existing home sales are up 3.0%–the highest level since 2007. According to the NAR, sustained job growth and lower mortgage rates are factors driving home sales. The median existing home price for all housing types in June was $247,700–up 4.8% from last June and 3.7% ahead of May’s median price. Available inventory remains an issue for homebuyers as it dipped 0.9% to 2.12 million, which is 5.8% lower than a year ago.
  • Builders remained cautiously optimistic about the newly built, single-family home market in July, according to the latest survey from the National Association of Home Builders. The Housing Market Index, based on respondents’ feedback, fell 1 point to 59 from June’s index of 60. An index reading above 50 indicates generally favorable expectations.
  • According to the Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI™, the Purchasing Managers’ Index™ was 52.9 in July, up from 51.3 in June. This reading signals solid improvement in overall business conditions, with the latest reading the strongest since October 2015. Manufacturing output, new orders, and employment continue to rise.
  • In the week ended July 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims was 253,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the prior week’s level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate dropped to 1.5%. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ended July 9 was 2,128,000, a decrease of 25,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Eye on the Week Ahead

This week is an important one for economic news. The FOMC meets and may consider raising interest rates based on the surging stock market, slowly advancing inflation, and the rebounding employment situation. Also, the latest figures on the second-quarter gross domestic product are released at the end of the week.

Advertisements

What I’m Watching This Week – 18 July 2016

The Markets (as of market close July 15, 2016)

Stocks continued to surge for the third week in a row as each of the indexes listed here posted significant gains by last week’s end. The Dow gained almost 370 points and over 2.0%, and is substantially ahead of its 2015 closing value. The S&P 500 also pushed nearly 6.0% ahead of last year’s closing value. And the Nasdaq, which had yet to reach its year-end value, finally passed that mark after gaining almost 1.5%. Clearly moving past Brexit panic, the Global Dow gained over 3.0% on the week and is 2.5% past its 2015 closing value. As prices dropped, the 10-year Treasury yield rose nearly 20 basis points on the week.

Crude oil (WTI) closed at $46.28 a barrel last week, up from $45.21 per barrel the previous week. The price of gold (COMEX) fell to $1,337.70 by late Friday afternoon, down from the prior week’s price of $1,367.40. The national average retail regular gasoline price decreased for the fourth consecutive week to $2.253 per gallon on July 11, $0.038 under the prior week’s price and $0.581 below a year ago.

Market/Index 2015 Close Prior Week As of 7/15 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 17425.03 18146.74 18516.55 2.04% 6.26%
Nasdaq 5007.41 4956.76 5029.59 1.47% 0.44%
S&P 500 2043.94 2129.90 2161.74 1.49% 5.76%
Russell 2000 1135.89 1177.36 1205.31 2.37% 6.11%
Global Dow 2336.45 2318.79 2395.14 3.29% 2.51%
Fed. Funds rate target 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 2.26% 1.36% 1.54% 18 bps -72 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

  • Businesses are paying more for goods and services as the Producer Price Index increased 0.5% in June, the largest increase in a year, according to the Labor Department. Higher energy costs pushed the increase. Since businesses usually pass on increases in the cost of goods and services, it’s likely consumer prices will increase as well, driving inflation upward.
  • In fact, consumer prices did increase in June–just not at quite the same rate as producer prices. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.2%, following the same increase in May and a 0.4% gain in April. Over the last 12 months, the CPI has increased 1.0%. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, consumer prices still increased 0.2% in June and 2.3% from a year earlier.
  • Consumers continue to spend as retail sales increased in June, jumping 0.6% from the previous month and 2.7% ahead of last June. This follows a 0.2% (downwardly revised) increase in May. Excluding autos and gas, household spending climbed 0.7% from May. Output excluding autos remained the same as the prior month. This report, coupled with increases in consumer and producer prices, provides optimism for the economy over the summer months.
  • The manufacturing sector experienced a noticeable uptick in June, as industrial production increased 0.6% after falling 0.3% in May. Manufacturing output rose 0.4%, largely due to an increase in motor vehicle assemblies. June’s gain is the largest monthly increase since November 2014.
  • The number of job openings decreased by 345,000 to 5.5 million on the last business day of May, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. April’s rate was 5.8 million. May’s job openings rate is the lowest of the year. The quits rate was unchanged at 2.0% as workers continue to remain at their present jobs. It’s important to remember that June’s employment situation report showed significant improvement on the labor front.
  • S. import prices rose 0.2% in June from May, largely due to a spike in petroleum prices. Exports also increased in June, rising 0.8% following increases of 1.2% in May and 0.4% in April. The 2.4% rise in export prices for the second quarter of 2016 was the largest three-month advance in export prices since the index rose 2.7% between February and May 2011.
  • The Treasury Department reported a $6.3 billion budgetary surplus in June, following May’s $52.5 billion deficit. However, over the first nine months of the fiscal year, the deficit is up almost 27%, at $400.9 billion, over the same period last year ($316.4 billion).
  • Largely influenced by the immediate negative impact of the Brexit vote, the Index of Consumer Sentiment fell from 93.5 in June to 89.5 in July.
  • In the week ended July 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims remained level at 254,000, unchanged from the prior week’s level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate remained at 1.6%. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ended July 2 was 2,149,000, an increase of 32,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Eye on the Week Ahead

This week focuses on the housing sector as June’s reports on housing starts and existing homes sales are released. New home building slipped a bit in May, while existing home sales picked up. Overall, the housing market has been fairly strong with prices rising and inventory having a hard time keeping up with demand.

What I’m Watching This Week – 11 July 2016

The Markets (as of market close July 8, 2016)

Equities continue to put the upheaval caused by Brexit in the rearview mirror as several of the indexes listed here are above their 2015 closing values. Of those indexes, only the Nasdaq and Global Dow remain below their end-of-year values. The S&P 500 exceeded its record high of 2130.82 during trading last Friday, finally closing at 2129.90. June’s favorable employment report likely helped fuel the end-of-week surge. The 10-year Treasury yield settled at a record low of 1.36%. After a turbulent start to 2016, the stock indexes listed here have gathered momentum heading to the middle of the summer.

Crude oil (WTI) closed at $45.21 a barrel last week, down from $49.28 per barrel the previous week. The price of gold (COMEX) rose to $1,367.40 by late Friday afternoon, up from the prior week’s price of $1,344.90. The national average retail regular gasoline price decreased to $2.291 per gallon on July 4, $0.038 under the prior week’s price and $0.502 below a year ago.

Market/Index 2015 Close Prior Week As of 7/8 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 17425.03 17949.37 18146.74 1.10% 4.14%
Nasdaq 5007.41 4862.57 4956.76 1.94% -1.01%
S&P 500 2043.94 2102.95 2129.90 1.28% 4.21%
Russell 2000 1135.89 1156.77 1177.36 1.78% 3.65%
Global Dow 2336.45 2323.19 2318.79 -0.19% -0.76%
Fed. Funds rate target 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 2.26% 1.44% 1.36% -8 bps -90 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

  • Better news from the employment sector in June as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 287,000 new jobs were added, compared to only 49,000 (revised) in May. Job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, and financial activities. Unemployment increased by 0.2 percentage point to 4.9%, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 347,000 to 7.8 million. These increases largely offset declines in May and brought both measures back in line with levels that had prevailed from August 2015 to April. The employment participation rate increased slightly from 62.7 in May to 63.1 in June. In June, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 34.4 hours for the fifth consecutive month, and the average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up $0.02 to $25.61. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.6%.
  • Factory orders fell $4.6 billion, or 1.0%, in May to $455.4 billion. This follows a 1.8% increase in April. Durable goods orders dropped $5.4 billion, or 2.3%, to $230.4 billion. A telling aspect of this report is the overall weakness in business investment, reflective of a lack of expectations for growth in manufacturing and consumer sales.
  • Imports once again outpaced exports in May, as the trade gap rose 10.1% from April. According to the Census Bureau, the goods and services deficit was $41.1 billion, up $3.8 billion from April. May’s exports were $182.4 billion, while imports were $223.5 billion–$3.4 billion more than April imports. However, year-to-date, the goods and services deficit decreased $7.2 billion, or 3.5%, from the same period in 2015. Exports decreased $47.2 billion or 4.9%. Imports decreased $54.3 billion or 4.7%. As has been the case for a while now, the strength of the dollar abroad continues to weaken demand for U.S. goods and services.
  • According to the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®, economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in June. The Non-Manufacturing Index registered 56.5% in June, 3.6 percentage points higher than the May reading of 52.9%. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased 4.4 percentage points, the New Orders Index® increased by 5.7 percentage points, and the Employment Index grew 3 percentage points. Those non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in June include mining; arts; entertainment and recreation; retail trade; health care and social assistance; utilities; and real estate.
  • The minutes from FOMC’s June meeting were released last week. It is clear that the overwhelming deterrent to raising interest rates was the May employment report, which showed only 38,000 (prior to its revision to 49,000) new jobs added.
  • In the week ended July 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims was 254,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate bumped up to 1.6%. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ended June 25 was 2,124,000, a decrease of 44,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Eye on the Week Ahead

Inflation is front and center next week as the latest reports on retail sales and producer and consumer prices are available. Growth in producer prices and consumer spending has been subdued as inflation remains below the Fed’s target rate of 2.0%. With retail sales accounting for almost one-half of total consumer spending, next week’s report should help define where the economy is heading.

What I’m Watching This Week – 5 July 2016

The Markets (as of market close July 1, 2016)

The beginning of the week saw equities still reeling from the Brexit vote. However, the markets closed with a flourish, recouping all of the losses from the prior week. Each of the indexes listed here enjoyed positive returns by week’s end with each index gaining over 3.0% week-over-week, except the Russell 2000, which finished the week up about 2.6%. Year-to-date, only the Nasdaq and Global Dow remain below their 2015 closing values, but they’re gaining ground. While equities gained some traction, long-term bond yields touched lows that hadn’t been seen in quite some time.

Crude oil (WTI) closed at $49.28 a barrel last week, up $1.71 from the previous week. The price of gold (COMEX) rose to $1,344.90 by late Friday afternoon, up from the prior week’s price of $1,319.10. The national average retail regular gasoline price decreased to $2.329 per gallon on June 27, $0.024 under the prior week’s price and $0.472 below a year ago.

Market/Index 2015 Close Prior Week As of 7/1 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 17425.03 17400.75 17949.37 3.15% 3.01%
Nasdaq 5007.41 4707.98 4862.57 3.28% -2.89%
S&P 500 2043.94 2037.41 2102.95 3.22% 2.89%
Russell 2000 1135.89 1127.54 1156.77 2.59% 1.84%
Global Dow 2336.45 2250.69 2323.19 3.22% -0.57%
Fed. Funds rate target 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0.25%-0.50% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 2.26% 1.55% 1.44% -11 bps -82 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 third estimate of the first quarter 2016 gross domestic product–the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production, adjusted for price changes–increased at an annual rate of 1.1%. The second estimate for the first quarter GDP showed an increase of only 0.8%. The third estimate is based on more complete data. The primary difference between the second and third estimates for the first quarter GDP is that exports increased more than previously estimated. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the GDP increased 1.4%. Compared to the fourth quarter, total business investment declined as did consumer spending in the first quarter 2016. The economy traditionally starts off slower during the first three months of the year, often picking up speed over the spring and summer months, leading to guarded optimism for the second quarter GDP.
  • Personal income increased $37.1 billion, or 0.2%, and disposable personal income (net after taxes) increased $33.9 billion, or 0.2% in May, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure, increased $53.5 billion, or 0.4%. Compared to April, both income and spending (PCE) slowed in May. In April, personal income increased $75.4 billion, or 0.5%, DPI increased $68.6 billion, or 0.5%, and PCE increased $141.2 billion, or 1.1%, based on revised estimates.
  • The trade gap between imports and exports grew in May, according to the latest report from the Census Bureau. Exports for May were at $119.0 billion, while imports came in at $179.6 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of roughly $60.6 billion. Exports fell 0.2% from April, and imports increased a sharp 1.6%. The trade gap in April was $57.5 billion.
  • Home prices continue to rise according to the latest report from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which reported a 5.0% annual gain in April, down from 5.1% the previous month. Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 1.0% in April.
  • Following three straight months of gains, pending home sales took a step back in May, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The Pending Home Sales Index dropped 3.7% to 110.8 in May from a downwardly revised 115.0 in April. Low mortgage rates and scant inventory are pushing home prices higher, affecting the number of home sales.
  • US manufacturers expressed guarded optimism in May and June as manufacturing expanded. The Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Purchasing Managers’ Index® registered 51.3 for May, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from April’s reading of 50.8. According to the report, new orders and production were seen as growing, while employment and inventories were contracting. The seasonally adjusted final Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) registered 51.3 in June, up from 50.7 in May, and the highest reading for three months. Higher levels of production, new orders, and employment all helped to boost the index.
  • The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® increased to 98.0 in June, up from 92.4 in May. The Present Situation Index increased from 113.2 to 118.3, while the Expectations Index rose from 78.5 to 84.5 in June. According to the Conference Board’s Lynn Franco, “Consumers were less negative about current business and labor market conditions, but only moderately more positive, suggesting no deterioration in economic conditions, but no strengthening either.”
  • In the week ended June 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims was 268,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate dropped to 1.5%. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ended June 18 was 2,120,000, a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Eye on the Week Ahead

Equities markets, at least domestically, seem to have halted the downfall from the UK’s referendum vote to withdraw from the European Union. How this major world event affects other economic indicators remains to be seen. This week, important reports on international trade and the employment situation are released.