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.