Disappointing Jobs report for the US? Not Really!

   Schwaben Blog

February 05, 2016

 

 

Weekly Statistics:

  Today Week Ago Year Ago
  05-Feb-16 29-Jan-16 05-Feb-15
       
S&P TSX 12,763 12,822 14,384
S&P 500 1,880 1,940 2,044
DJIA 16,205 16,466 17,780
OIL $31.00 $33.20  $68.86
USD vs CAD 0.7202 0.7112 0.8503
Gold $1,174 $1,121  $1,174

 

Another volatile week for US equities ended with S&P 500 losing more than 3% for the week. The disappointing jobs report released on Friday brought further negative momentum to already fragile markets. But a detailed look into that report brings out some positive takeaways. The jobless rate dropped to 4.9%, matching the Fed’s median forecast for the long-run sustainable level of unemployment or “full employment”, and continuing the most impressive trend in U.S. economic data. It is the first time since February 2008 that the unemployment rate has dropped below 5%.  The hourly wages also rose by 0.5% in January, the largest increase since January 2015 and beating market expectations by 0.3%. The gain in hourly wages will certainly help the US economy move closer to their inflation target of 2%.  The US economy is 70% consumption driven and with extra savings from lower oil prices, consumers will eventually put more money into the economy. So far we have not seen a substantial improvement in consumer spending but as Deutsche Bank recently said in its research report “Lower oil has an immediate impact on energy sector and the positive effects on the economy usually appear with a lag”. Another explanation for lower consumer spending could be that consumers are paying down their debts instead of spending. According to a Morgan Stanley report, consumer balance sheets are in great shape, with the lowest debt-to-disposable income ratio since 2003. As far as earnings recession goes, if we strip out the energy companies from the S&P 500, the blended earnings will improve from -3.8% to 2.2%. This shows that except the energy companies, the US corporations are doing well and are financially stable.

Is S&P 500 set for another decline in quarterly earnings?

    Schwaben Blog

January 15, 2016

 

 

Weekly Statistics:

  Today Week Ago Year Ago
  15-Jan-16 08-Jan-16 15-Jan-15
       
S&P TSX 12,073 12,445 14,384
S&P 500 1,880 1,922 2,044
DJIA 15,988 16,346 17,780
OIL $29.70 $32.88  $68.86
USD vs CAD 0.6889 0.7093 0.8503
Gold $1,089 $1,104  $1,174

 

Equity markets in the US closed sharply lower on Friday, locking in the worst 10-day start to a calendar year ever, as oil prices plunged and investors worried about slowing growth in the U.S. During the intraday trading, the S&P500 broke the August 24, 2015 low of 1,867 but closed at 1,880. The slowing growth in Chinese economy and correction in oil prices are the main reasons for this rout in equity markets. Now that the global sanctions have been lifted off from Iran and Russia continues to pump more oil to support its flagging economy, oil prices are expected to drop further below their current level of $29. While about $21 billion have been pulled out of equity funds in the past two weeks, the outflow pales in comparison to withdrawals of $35 billion during the August 2015 selloff and $90 billion in August 2011, back when the market was mired in the European sovereign debt crisis. The earnings season for Q4 2015 has already kicked off and 6% of the companies in the S&P 500 have already reported their earnings. Out of those, 78% have reported earnings above the mean estimate and 47% have reported sales above the mean estimate. For Q4 2015, the blended earnings decline is 5.7%. If the index reports a decline in earnings for Q4, it will mark the first time the index has seen three consecutive quarters of year-over year declines in earnings since 2009. While the US economy is growing at a decent pace, the slowing Chinese economy and falling oil prices could bring further correction to equity markets in the short term.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Fed rate hike!!

   Schwaben Blog

December 18, 2015

 

 

Weekly Statistics:

  Today Week Ago Year Ago
  18-Dec-15 11-Dec-15 18-Dec-14
       
S&P TSX 13,024 12,742 15,417
S&P 500 2,006 2,017 2,089
DJIA 17,129 17,266 17,819
OIL $34.55 $35.56 $68.86
USD vs CAD 0.7165 0.7278 0.8503
Gold $1,066 $1,078 $1,174

 

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in a decade, pointing towards a healthier and a stronger US economy. The board members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted unanimously for this rate hike. The U.S. central bank’s policy-setting committee raised the range of its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to between 0.25 percent and 0.50 percent, ending a lengthy debate about whether the economy was strong enough to withstand higher borrowing costs. Many economists see this rate hike as a vote of confidence in the US economy. The central bank clarified that the rate hike was a tentative beginning to a “gradual” tightening cycle, and that in deciding its next move it would give more importance on monitoring inflation, which remains well below the Fed’s target rate of 2%. A Dec. 9 Reuters poll showed economists forecasting the federal funds rate to be 1.0 percent to 1.25 percent by the end of 2016 and 2.25 percent by the end of 2017. Equity markets applauded the rate hike and rose sharply on Wednesday after the announcement, but markets lost their gains and fell subsequently on Thursday and Friday. The main reasons for the subsequent drop in equity markets are the rising US dollar and falling oil prices falling $35 per barrel (first time in last seven years). Today is a big options expiry day- a day when futures and options contracts expire- which is likely adding to volatility. The chart below depicts the US Fed funds rate, which peaked at 5.25% in 2006 and stayed at almost 0% since 2009.

 

Source- Bloomberg, Globe Investor Gold, Financial Post, Market Watch, Trading Economics

“That’ll be the day … “when the Fed hikes the rate … It could be in December !

   Schwaben Blog

November 20, 2015 

Weekly Statistics:

  Today Week Ago Year Ago
  20-Nov-15 13-Nov-15 20-Nov-14
       
S&P TSX 13,433 13,075 15,111
S&P 500 2,089 2,023 2,052
DJIA 17,824 17,245 17,719
OIL $39.39 $40.73  $75.86
USD vs CAD 0.7493 0.7507 0.8903
Gold $1,077 $1,083  $1,194

 

As more members of the Federal Reserve are starting to point towards a rate hike in December, market participants become more optimistic about the health of the US economy. In the past, investors did not respond well to the possibility of a rate hike due to higher business borrowing costs. Investors recently shifted their perspectives due to strong economic indicators. Investors are more confident that the US economy is strong enough to sustain an interest rate hike. Minutes from the October meeting of Federal Reserve officials supported the idea that rate hikes will be very gradual. This improved the sentiment of equity markets.  The Dow Jones, S&P and the TSX recorded gains of 3.4%, 3.3% and 2.8% respectively. S&P 500 recorded its best week in six weeks and the DJIA climbed back into the positive year-to-date territory. One of the major reasons why the Fed has not yet raised interest rates likely is lower inflation. However, recently St Louis Fed President James Bullard said that the rate of inflation will soon rise towards the Fed’s 2% annual target. This reduces concerns that stagnant inflation could dissuade policymakers from raising rates. Many members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) are in the favor of a rate hike at the December meeting. The image below is of the CME FedWatch Tool, which shows the probability of an interest rate hike of 74% probability at the December meeting, up from 70% the previous week. Further, should interest rates increase; there is a 73.6% probability of a 50 basis points hike and 26.4% probability of a 25 basis points hike.

Reasons for the Recent Rally in Equity Markets.

   Schwaben Blog

October 23, 2015

Weekly Statistics:

Today Week Ago Year Ago
23-Oct-15 16-Oct-15 23-Oct-14
S&P TSX 13,953 13,838 14,227
S&P 500 2,075 2,033 1,950
DJIA 17,647 17,216 16,677
OIL $44.33 $47.17 $80.39
USD vs CAD 0.7657 0.7757 0.9012
Gold $1,164 $1,177 $1,233

The consecutive announcements by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Thursday and Friday respectively drove equity indices higher. The ECB signaled that it would expand its $1.28 Trillion quantitative easing program in December and cut its deposit rate if the slowdown in emerging economies threatens the eurozone’s economic recovery. Furthermore, the Chinese central bank dropped their benchmark interest rates by 25 bps. Many analysts are viewing this cut in interest rate as a measure by Chinese leaders to spur the country’s economic growth to their target of 7 percent. The reduction in interest rates is planned to stimulate the growth of the Chinese economy and stimulate global equity markets. Unexpected smaller declines in profits in US equities also drive the recovery in equity indices from a few months ago. 77 percent of the 173 companies that have reported their earnings for Q3 2015 have reported above expectations. On September 30, the estimated earnings decline for the S&P 500 for Q3 2015 was -5.1 percent. As of today, the earnings decline has been revised to -3.8 percent. Upside earnings surprises by companies in the Information Technology, Consumer Discretionary, and Telecom Services sectors accounted for most of the decrease in the earnings decline for the index. Microsoft, McDonald’s, Amazon, AT&T, GM as well as other Blue Chip equities had a positive impact in their respective sectors. Energy and Materials are the largest contributors to the earning declines across all sectors.

Source- Bloomberg, Globe Investor Gold, Financial Post, Market Watch, Trading Economics

Will the S&P 500 Miss the Earnings Estimate Again?

   Schwaben Blog

October 09, 2015

Weekly Statistics:

Today Week Ago Year Ago
09-Oct-15 02-Oct-15 09-Oct-14
S&P TSX 13,964 13,340 15,086
S&P 500 2,015 1,951 1,906
DJIA 17,084 16,472 16,544
OIL $49.49 $45.63  $83.58
USD vs CAD 0.7725 0.7507 0.9062
Gold $1,156 $1,137  $1,225

The minutes from FOMC’s September meeting were recently released and they clearly indicated that the members of Federal Reserve were more inclined towards raising the interest rates but did not do so because of fears of global slowdown. According to the minutes of the meeting, “ Participants anticipated that recent global developments would likely put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term; compared with their previous forecasts, more now saw the risks to inflation as tilted to the downside”. Although this led to sharp correction in the equity indices but the overall sentiment since the last meeting has greatly improved. Investors seem to have discounted the probability of a rate hike in October or probably even in December and a rally of around 4 percent (week-over-week) followed across the major indices of the US and Canada, but it does not mean that the outlook is certainly positive for equities. Earnings drive stock prices and with valuations at historical highs, it will take decent to strong earnings for this bull market to continue. According to FactSet, for Q3 2015, the average estimate for earnings decline is -5.5 percent for S&P 500. If the index reports a decline in earnings for Q3, it will mark the first back-to-back quarters of earnings decline since 2009. Only 5 percent of the S&P 500 companies have reported their earnings till now and many heavyweights like Intel, Johnson and Johnson, Kinder Morgan, JP Morgan etc. are reporting next week. Of the companies that have already reported their earnings, consumer driven companies like Nike, Costco have delivered strong results but industrials like Alcoa have disappointed the investors.  Slowing Chinese economy and a strong dollar could again be made the scapegoats and many companies have already cited a stronger dollar to have a negative impact on their Q3 earnings.

The US Economy Slowing Down?

   Schwaben Blog

October 02, 2015

Weekly Statistics:

Today Week Ago Year Ago
02-Oct-15 25-Sep-15 02-Oct-14
S&P TSX 13,340 13,380 15,026
S&P 500 1,951 1,931 1,965
DJIA 16,472 16,315 16,945
OIL $45.63 $45.58  $89.37
USD vs CAD 0.7507 0.7507 0.9051
Gold $1,137 $1,146  $1,226

With only two weeks left for the October FOMC meeting, it certainly doesn’t look like a rate hike is on the Fed’s agenda. The disappointing unemployment report for the US economy justifies the Fed’s decision to not to raise the interest rates during their last meeting. In September, the US economy added a seasonally adjusted 142,00 jobs compared with analysts’ expectation for a gain of 200,000 jobs. This is the second month of disappointing unemployment numbers, after the US economy added only 136,000 jobs in august compared with analysts’ expectation of 173,000. A significant correction in oil prices during last one year has led to mounting losses/ bankruptcies for many energy companies and they have cut 120,000 positions since December 2014. The longer the oil prices stay low, the deeper the losses for energy companies, and therefore more layoffs. These layoffs could be one of the reason for disappointing unemployment numbers since last two months. After deciding to keep interest rates steady during the last meeting in September, the Federal reserve chairperson, Janet Yellen, commented that most members on Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) still expect a rate increase in 2015, but I believe that a rate hike in the first quarter of 2016 would be more prosperous for the US economy. The poor unemployment numbers in the last two months could also mean the economy did not grow at a decent pace in the third quarter. At a time when global economies were slowing down, the US economy grew at 3.9 percent in the second quarter and a dismal performance in the third quarter   would cast serious doubts over the strength of the economy.

Source- Bloomberg, Globe Investor Gold, Financial Post, Market Watch, Trading EconomicsUS Jobless Sep 2015