Employment Situation Report

TRADE WAR ESCALATES

Stocks opened lower this morning (Dow -225 pts; SPX -1%) after President Trump threatened another round of 10% trade tariffs on Chinese imports. The market began today’s session as if the next economic recession is right around the corner. Energy, materials and tech are down well over 1%. Only utilities and real estate are catching a bid. The dollar is weaker against a basket of foreign currencies. Perhaps the only real surprise is that oil prices spiked and gold is flat. Safe-haven Treasury bonds are up on the day, whereas junk bonds are falling in value. The 10-year Treasury Note yield tumbled quickly to 1.87%, the lowest since 2016’s presidential election.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

EARNINGS SEASON KICKS OFF

Major US stock market averages opened mixed this morning. The Dow is currently 28 pts and the SPX is down .2%. The Nasdaq is also down .2%. Industrials (especially transports) and materials sector stocks are rallying. On the other hand, utilities and real estate are down on a bump in interest rates. Commodities are mixed; gold and iron ore are down, but oil continues to recover. WTI crude oil is hovering around $60/barrel. It was trading down around $51/barrel one month ago. Bonds are selling off a bit today on rising interest rates. It seems like the better-than-expected jobs report back on July 5th marked a turnaround in rates. The 10-year Treasury yield has risen to 2.13% from 1.95% since then.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

WAITING ON THE FED

Stocks opened lower this morning, continuing to pout after a better than expected jobs report last Friday (see my blog entry titled “Good News is Bad News”). The Dow is currently down 139 pts and the SPX is down .6%. The worst performing sectors today are healthcare (-1%) and communications (-1%). The energy sector is up modestly as oil prices stabilized after OPEC agreed to continue modest production cuts. The market is in suspended animation pending Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s annual congressional testimony on Wednesday & Thursday. Traders will be scrutinizing every word for clues about potential interest rate cuts. Friday’s jobs report sent gold down (-1% so far this month), but most other commodities are a bit higher today. WTI crude oil is back up around $57.90/barrel. It is thought that Saudi Arabia is trying to defend oil at $50/barrel or above. The bond market is mixed today. Long-term US Treasuries edged higher but corporates are down in price. The 10-year Treasury Note yield is hovering around 2.03%, and Barron’s used this stat to assert, “There is little value in the bond market.”


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

GOOD NEWS IS BAD NEWS

The major stock market averages opened lower this morning after a stronger than expected jobs report. The Dow is currently down 106 pts and the SPX is down .55%. The financials sectors is up about .25% but all other sectors are lower in early trading. European stock markets closed down by about .6% today. In the wake of the jobs report the dollar strengthened and commodities fell. Gold is down 1.5%, copper is down about 1% and WTI crude oil fell back to $57.28/barrel. In addition, the bond market reacted by selling off. The 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 2.05% from 1.95% in the prior trading session. Whether municipals or corporates of Treasuries, the bond market is down sharply today. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) fell 1.6%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

BAD NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

Stocks surged higher today in spite of a weak jobs report. The Dow is currently up 299 points and the SPX is up 1.1%. The best performing sectors are tech (+2%), consumer discretionary (+1.5%) and communications services (+1.4%). Financials is the lone sector in the red—bank stocks are down on lower interest rates. The VIX Index is up slightly to trade around 16. European stock markets closed up about 1% and Most of Asia was higher overnight. Commodities are mixed. WTI crude oil rebounded to $54/barrel after taking a massive beating over the last six weeks. The bond market is rejoicing this morning on falling interest rates. Treasuries are up across the board, and even junk bonds are rallying. The 10-year Treasury yield dipped to 2.09% and is now at levels last seen in September 2017.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

POST FED MEETING HANGOVER

Stocks opened lower this morning (Dow -104 pts; SPX -.58%). There is a bit of pouting among traders in the wake of yesterday’s Fed meeting (see below). Interest rates are rising, and that means bank stocks are up and utilities & real estate are down. Commodities are mostly lower in early trading. Copper has lost about 5% over the last two days. WTI crude oil tumbled more than 3% today to trade around $61.30/barrel. US oil stockpiles are at a two-year high while the volume of US production is at record levels. Bonds are falling in price as a result of the Fed meeting. The 10-year Treasury yield snapped back to 2.55%. Apparently, some traders had positioned with the expectation that the Fed would discuss cutting interest rates in the near future. That seems terribly misguided but appears to have been the case.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

MIXED SIGNALS ON THE ECONOMY

The major stock market averages opened slightly higher after Apple’s (AAPL) surprise earnings announcement (sell below). The Dow is currently up 39 pts and the SPX is just above flat. Not surprisingly, the tech sector is leading the way, up .8% in early trading. The defensive sectors are giving up yesterday’s gains (except, oddly, for real estate). The energy sector is down .8% on lower oil prices. WTI crude oil fell back to $63.40/barrel following a report showing higher than expected crude stockpiles. Bonds are gaining ground again today as yields tick lower. The 10-year Treasury yield is back down to 2.48%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

JOBS REPORT TO THE RESCUE

Stocks opened higher this morning after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March jobs report (see below). The Dow is currently up 34 pts and the SPX is up .38%. Nine of eleven major market sectors are trading higher, led by energy (+1.5%) and healthcare (+.8%). The communications services sector is flat. Small-caps and emerging markets equities are outperforming today. The US dollar is slightly higher in early trading, and commodities are mixed.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

STOCK RALLY EXTENDED, EXPECT TEST OF HIGHS

Stocks opened higher today, extending the recovery rally. The Dow is currently up 75 pts and the SPX is up .5%. The SPX is now only 1.5% away from its all-time closing high back in September 2018. Nine of eleven major market sectors are higher, led by materials, tech and communications services. Only consumer staples and energy sectors are lower on the day…


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

STOCKS SAGGING ON SPURIOUS JOBS REPORT

STOCKS SAGGING ON SPURIOUS JOBS REPORT

Stocks gapped down at the open after a disappointing jobs report (see below). The Dow is currently off 148 pts and the SPX is down .77%. The Nasdaq has now been down for five straight sessions. The worst-performing groups include energy (-2.4%), transports (-1%), and healthcare (-.8%). In fact, transports have been down 11 consecutive sessions. Asian markets started the downshift last night. After a massive recovery rally this year, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 4% in the overnight session. As I’ve mentioned, all of this is to expected. We need some consolidation after a sharp rally in stocks. Commodities are also in the red today, led by oil. WTI crude collapsed back to $55/barrel today for no good reason. Bonds are mixed in early trading. Junk bonds are down about .3% today. Long-term Treasuries are up slightly. The 10-year Treasury yield has fallen back to the bottom of its six-week trading range at 2.64%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

A LITTLE HELP FROM THE JOB MARKET

A LITTLE HELP FROM THE JOB MARKET

A LITTLE HELP FROM THE JOB MARKET

The major stock market averages opened modestly higher today following the monthly jobs report (see below). The Dow is currently up 148 pts and the SPX is up .4%. The energy sector is up nearly 2% on continued gains in oil prices. Transports, banks, and semiconductors are also in the green. On the other hand, retailers, gold miners and utilities are down in early trading. Commodities are moving higher as well. WTI crude oil is back up around $55/barrel. Copper is up .3% and iron is up more than 3%. Bonds are falling back, giving up yesterday’s gains. The 5-year and 10-year Treasury yields are hovering around 2.51% and 2.69%. By the way, Treasury yields have been hovering around 1-year lows this month, a condition that usually reflects a softening economic outlook and a more dovish Federal Reserve. But on days when we get some encouraging economic news—like today’s jobs report—yields tend to jump.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

January 4, 2019

January 4, 2019

The stock market gapped up at the open after an encouraging jobs report (see below). The Dow and SPX are currently up 650 pts and 3%, respectively. Tech—hated by traders yesterday—is the best-performing sector, up over 3.5%. The materials sector is up 3% in early trading. Transports—again, hated yesterday—are up over 3% as well. The VIX Index is back down to 22.7, exactly even with VIX January futures. Traders are wondering why, when the market is now routinely moving more than 2% per day, the VIX isn’t well into the 30s. It may no longer be an accurate reflection of market volatility. European markets will close up over 2% in today’s session. The Chinese stock market has stabilized over the last several days, so that’s good news. After the release of the jobs report this morning, the dollar strengthened and bonds sold off. Opposite of the recent trend, Treasury bonds fell in price but junk bonds rose. The 10-year Treasury Note yield climbed back to 2.66%, surging 10 basis points from yesterday’s level. Bond yields provide different signals depending on the economic & market situation. At this moment, rising yields will signal some relief that perhaps the economic outlook isn’t as dire as the bears think.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

December 7, 2018

December 7, 2018

Stocks headed lower again today (Dow -550 pts; SPX -2%). Ten of 11 major market sectors are down, led by tech (-3.1%). Utilities is the only bright spot +.6%). The VIX Index is back up to 24. WTI crude oil shot up toward $52.60/barrel after OPEC agreed to cut back oil production targets. Globally, oil is temporary over-supplied due to geopolitical events and government manipulation. Crude tumbled from roughly $76/barrel to $50/barrel in just 2 ½ months. Bears are taking this as a sign of an economic slowdown.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

October 4, 2018

October 4, 2018

Stocks sank at the open on Fed/interest rate fears. The Dow is currently down 255 pts and the SPX is down .9%. Bank—and strangely enough utilities—are just about the only groups posing gains in early trading. Consumer discretionary, healthcare, technology and telecommunications sectors are all down more than 1%. The VIX Index is back up around 13.3, as you might expect. European stock markets are down between .8% and 1.2% in today’s session. Most of Asia was down overnight with the notable exception of China, which saw gains of about 1%. The dollar is flat on the day and commodities are mostly lower. Bonds are also selling off as yields rise. The 10-year Treasury yield just climbed to 3.20% for the first time in seven years. And since short-term yields aren’t up as much, the yield curve is the steepest it has been in two months.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

September 10, 2018

September 10, 2018

The major stock market averages are mixed today (Dow -42 pts; SPX flat; Nasdaq flat). Transports (+1.5%), retailers (+.4%) and semiconductors (+.8%) are faring the best. Healthcare and gold miners are down on the day, as are emerging markets. The banks are roughly flat. The VIX Index is back down around 14 after hitting 15 last Friday. European stock markets closed in the green but most of Asia was down overnight. China’s market continues to falter, now down 23% on the year, after yet another threat by President Trump to escalate the trade war. Most commodities are lower on the day. WTI crude oil is trading at $67.57/barrel after having touched $70 a week ago. Gold is now down 8% this year & copper is off over 20%. Bonds are falling in price (rising in yield) today. The 5-year Treasury Note yield is back up around 2.82%, a one-month high. The 10-year yield is up around 2.94%, inching closer to 3%. 


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

July 6, 2018

Stocks opened higher this morning as the jobs report and trade tariffs dueled for traders’ attention. The Dow is currently up 120 pts and the SPX is up .8%. Indeed, this is a traders’ market with low volume, lots of back-and-forth, but no real trend. At the moment, all eleven market sectors are in the green, led by healthcare (+1.3%). Biotechs are rallying on the back of a positive clinical trial for Biogen’s new Alzheimer drug. European markets are poised to close slightly higher on the session and Asian markets were (surprise, surprise) higher overnight. The VIX Index is back town to 13.6 and VIX July futures are trading down around 14.8. Oil is rising again; WTI crude is up around $73.60/barrel. The Bloomberg Commodity Index is up .3% today but still down on the year. Copper continues to struggle on fears that the emerging trade war could dent China’s economy. Bonds are trading higher in price—lower in yield—despite a positive jobs report. The 5-year and 10-year Treasury yields are hovering around 2.73% and 2.83%, respectively. So as an investor, you get only 10 more basis points in yield for locking up your money over an additional 5 years. The yield curve continues to flatten, and the Federal Reserve is increasingly squeezed between that fact and the fact of strong economic growth. Bloomberg Economics now believes the flat yield curve will convince the Fed to pause rate hikes. 


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

May 4, 2018

Stocks opened slightly lower but immediately spiked in early trading. The Dow is currently up 290 pts and the SPX is up 1%. All eleven major market sectors are in the green, led by tech (+1.5%), materials (+1.4%) and consumer staples (+1.3%). Price action suggests this is pretty clear risk-on trading session. The exception is staples (considered more risk-off defensive) which is just too cheap after falling more than 13% this year. The VIX Index is down around 15. Gold is down. The dollar is stronger and yet oil is sharply higher ($67/barrel). Again, risk-on. But since this is Friday and we could get news from the US trade delegation China this weekend, don’t expect today’s gains to hold. Bonds are mostly unchanged, strangely enough. The 5-year Treasury yield is hovering around 2.79%. The 10-year’s yield is 2.95%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

April 9, 2018 Special Update

Up One Day, Down The Next

Last Friday’s jobs report was supposed to be the big event of the week. It was supposed to either send the all clear signal or upset the apple cart; to confirm or deny a spike in wage inflation; to let us rest easy about labor market strength or perhaps reveal a slowdown in hiring momentum. Alas, it never delivered the excitement traders were looking for. 

Not that Friday’s trading session lacked excitement. The Dow fell 572 points and the S&P 500 fell 2.2%, capping a week of extraordinarily large rollercoaster swings. In fact, Vanguard’s Jack Bogle said that with the possible exception of the 1987 crash, he’s never seen such volatility as characterizes this stock market. 

The jobs report and its standard set of figures on payrolls, unemployment, and wage growth turned out OK. Inflation isn’t spiking. The labor market isn’t over-heating. New payroll growth decelerated, but that was largely due to weather-related issues. Other metrics like average workweek were on track. Just as with other recent economic data, there’s nothing in the report to cause an unhinging of the stock market. Nothing to explain the spike in volatility. 

What hit the market on Friday was the perfect storm of words, not data. President Trump is again engaged in a war of words with the Chinese. Thursday evening, Mr. Trump asked the US Trade Representative to consider additional trade tariffs on $100bil worth of Chinese imports. In response, China’s Commerce Ministry issued a statement that it is ready to fight a trade war. “The Chinese side will follow suit to the end and at any cost, and will firmly attack, using new comprehensive countermeasures, to firmly defend the interest of the nation and its people.” On Friday morning, Mr. Trump Tweeted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is giving an unfair trade advantage to China due to its classification of that country as “developing.” But while the war of words progressed, neither side moved closer to face-to-face negotiations. 

And there are signals that this issue isn’t going away soon. US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview that while the Trump Administration doesn’t want a trade war, “there is the potential” for one. He is “cautiously optimistic” that both sides will reach a solution. In a radio interview, the president said, “I’m not saying there won’t be a little pain, but the market has gone up 40%, 42% so we might lose a little bit of it. But we’re going to have a much stronger country when we’re finished.” 

Also thrown into the mix on Friday was congressional testimony by the new Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. He noted strong economic momentum in the US. “Given that the current pace of growth is above trend, my view is that we need to continue on the path of raising interest rates.” Mr. Powell’s message was a positive one, as expected. But considering the day’s events, investors were not in the mood to hear about further monetary tightening. The Dow took another leg down as he spoke. Mr. Powell tried to steer clear of trade tariff concerns, but when asked he said it’s “really too early” to estimate any economic impact. 

In that reply, Mr. Powell showed wisdom. We don’t yet know whether Mr. Trump’s sound bites constitute a new durable policy or simple rhetoric used as a negotiating tactic. We also don’t have a clue about the timeline for tariffs. Mr. Mnuchin said they “will take some period of time to go into effect. There will be public comment, while we’re in the period before the tariffs go on. We’ll continue to have discussions.” Besides, words change from day to day. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump eased his tone, Tweeting “President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade.” Hence, the stock market bump this morning. 

The culprit for market volatility is clear. Words, in speeches, interviews and Tweets, made traders shoot first and ask questions later. That immediate re-pricing of investment risk may prove to be unwarranted, however. Aside of positive economic momentum, corporate earnings are expected to be very strong this year. Core business trends are largely positive and by one estimate $800bil in economic benefit will come from tax reform. US companies will begin reporting first quarter results this week, and we very much hope that investors and traders pay more attention to those reports than to presidential Tweets. As Bloomberg posits, “Markets Want to Rally—If Politicians Will Let Them.”
 


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

April 6, 2018

tocks gapped down this morning on trade war tensions (not the jobs report). The Dow is currently down 364 pts and the SPX is down 1.17%. The defensive sectors—utilities, consumer staples, real estate—are not surprisingly faring better than cyclicals, but just about everything is in the red. The VIX Index is up a bit to trade just under 20. VIX April futures are around the same level. So the options market doesn’t seem to expect a full-blown trade war. European stock markets are poised to close slightly lower and Asia was mixed overnight. The dollar and most commodities are down a bit today. WTI crude oil is trading down around $62.70/barrel, continuing in the $59-$66 range. Gold is up about .4% this morning (and 2% on the year). Bonds are trading higher as yields dip. The 5-year and 10-year Treasury yields are hovering around 2.6% and 2.79%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

March 9, 2018

The major stock market averages gapped up at the open (Dow +267 pts; SPX +1%) after an encouraging jobs report. The cyclicals are alive and well today—materials, energy, industrials, tech and financials are all up over 1%. Utilities and telecom sectors are in the red. The VIX Index is back down around 15.5. Commodities are broadly higher, except gold. WTI crude oil is back up over $61/barrel. Bonds are trading mostly lower. The yields on the 5- and 10-year Treasury bonds are back up to 2.67% and 2.91%.


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