Posted on August 4, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
Observations on the Capital Markets – Week Ended August 1, 2014
The FOMC met last week, expressed satisfaction and maintained course. While their policy decisions (continue the taper—now $25b—and keep the Fed Funds rate where it is) were no surprise, the language of the Fed statement was tweaked to reflect the continued/continuing improvement in the economy and labor markets (e.g.: “the likelihood of inflation running persistently below 2% has diminished somewhat”). The Fed feels it is accomplishing its goal…so a continuation of policy normalization is appropriate.
At the same time, the Fed statement said “…a range of labor market indicators suggests that there remains significant underutilization of labor resources.” Analysis: the Yellen Fed is moving cautiously…with Japan and Europe still weak, the Fed appears willing to risk an inflationary boom in the U.S. to minimize the likelihood of having to fight a recession and/or deflation when it has a bloated balance sheet and low Fed Funds rate, but very robust tools to fight inflation. As I said on CNBC last week, a submarine commander doesn’t give the order to submerge when most of the hatches are closed.
Filed under: Equity Market Insights, Europe, Fixed Income Market Insights, GDP, Macroeconomics, Sam Wardwell, Uncategorized | Tagged: China, economy, Japan, labor market, Sam Wardwell, the Fed, Tipping Point, US GDP, Yellen's Fed | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 28, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
The Yellen Fed is wary of tightening too soon. It wants to see significant improvement in labor markets. (We’re seeing it.) It also wants to see evidence that U.S. inflation has formed a bottom. This precondition for a tighter Fed policy is also being fulfilled – CPI inflation has been steady and slow…but not slowing.
U.S. Economic Activity Looks Good
- Initial unemployment claims dropped to 284k, the first reading this cycle below 300k and the lowest since early 2006. These are boom-time readings, not recovering economy readings.
- CPI came in at 2.1% y/y; Core was 1.9%.
- About 200 S&P 500 companies have reported so far; more than 70% (slightly better than average) have beaten consensus.
- The Chicago Fed National Activity Index, a gauge of economic activity, was slightly above-trend.
- The Markit U.S. manufacturing PMI softened a bit, to 56.3…still strong (50 is break-even).
- The Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index (zero is break-even) rose from 4 to 7–solid; hiring was notably strong.
- The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index rose from 6 to 9, lifted by durable goods producers and employment. Rising quit rates particularly among machinists and welders were cited.
Filed under: Equity Market Insights, Europe, GDP, Macroeconomics, Sam Wardwell | Tagged: Europe, inflation, Japan, QE Tapering, Sam Wardwell, SEC Money Market Rules, the Fed | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 21, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
Observations on the Capital Markets – Week Ended July 18, 2014
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony this week, in my view, was not pointing to bubbles. In her testimony, she suggested that valuations of social media and biotech stocks and lower-rated corporate debt appear “stretched.” Some observers suggested she was saying we are in a bubble. But I have a different perspective: I think she was saying, in effect, “yes, prices are high in some niches, but not generally.” In any case, it’s doubtful Yellen is shifting her focus from less-than-full-employment to the question of possible market bubbles. Continue reading
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Posted on July 14, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
Observations on the Capital Markets – Week Ended July 11, 2014
It was a tough week for Europe over all last week – industrial production declined in Germany, Italy, France, and the UK, with the details broadly downbeat. Trade (import and export) data, especially from Germany, was disappointing as well. But the big story in Europe last week came from Portugal, where Banco Espírito Santo (BES), a leading Portuguese bank, suffered a share price crash and trading was suspended after reports of financial irregularities.
Filed under: Equity Market Insights, Europe, Fixed Income Market Insights, Inflation, Macroeconomics, Sam Wardwell | Tagged: Banco Espirito, Capital Markets, consumer spending, labor market, Sam Wardwell, the Fed, Unemployment | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 7, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
It’s not surprising that World Cup Syndrome has historically been responsible for lower office productivity around the world – in fact, you may have seen the telling chart created by Bloomberg, which uses European Central Bank (ECB) data to track dips in trading volume during games in the 2010 World Cup.
Perhaps ‘WCS’ is owed a nod for last week’s drop in ISIS (Islamic State) activity? The so-called Group of Death (Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the caliphate formerly known as ISIS) was very quiet last week.
- ISIS renamed itself the Islamist State and said it was a caliphate.
- Iraq’s parliament appears frozen, with Sunni, Kurdish, and Shiite factions apparently unable to strike a deal.
- It appears that the Islamist State gained ground…but oil traders don’t seem worried.
Filed under: Equity Market Insights, Europe, Fixed Income Market Insights, Macroeconomics, Sam Wardwell | Tagged: Capital Markets, Central Banks, ECB, Europe, Sam Wardwell, World Cup, World Cup Syndrome | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 30, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
Observations on the Capital Markets – Week Ended June 27, 2014
Summer, summer, summertime – time to sit back and unwind. The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff might have been talking about the quiet tone last week in the capital markets.
- Can you spell Goldilocks? Stocks, bonds, and commodities all rallied in the first half of 2014…for the first time since 1993.
- Currencies: The Euro and Yen each rose 0.5%-1% against the dollar, extending their gains for the month.
- Bonds: The 10-year Treasury yield fell 9 basis points (bps) to 2.54%; the 10-year TIP yield fell 8 bps to 0.27%.The Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Index (BoAML HY) widened 1 bp to 3.48%. The Japanese 10-year bond fell to 0.55%, a 2014 low. Eurozone bond markets were generally quiet.
- Equities: The S&P 500 Index declined almost imperceptibly last week. Within the index, Utilities and Consumer Discretionary (each up 1.0%) led; media companies rallied when the Supreme Court effectively shut down Aereo. Industrials (-1.7%) lagged; Consumer Staples (-1.3%) and Energy (-0.9%) were also weak. MSCI Europe and Japan were each down 1.5-2%. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was down a bit.
- Commodities: WTI Oil was down about $1 (1%)…still not really reacting to Iraq. Gold, up 3% last week, gained another $5 (0.5%).
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Posted on June 23, 2014 by Sam Wardwell
Observations on the Capital Markets – Week Ended June 20, 2014
Iraq news didn’t spark a flight to safety and it’s not yet clear whose side we’re on (or should be on). Fed policy seems to be on autopilot, which the markets interpret as dovish. As expected from last week’s FOMC meeting, there was no change to the taper pace or rate policy. The statement’s wording and forecasts were tweaked only slightly from the previous. Higher inflation readings and stronger labor market data didn’t lead to a material change in the language. For the Fed to react so little to the labor and inflation data apparently led “the market” to think the Fed is even more dovish. The market apparently expects the Fed to be even more dovish than the Fed expects to be. December Fed Fund futures are trading around 1.75%‑well below the Fed’s 2.5% projection. Continue reading
Filed under: Contributors, ECB, Equity Market Insights, Europe, Fixed Income Market Insights, GDP, Inflation, Macroeconomics, Political, Sam Wardwell, U.S. Dollar, United States | Tagged: China, economic indicators, government policy, U.S. unemployment | Leave a comment »