Equity – US

Viewpoint 2019

Against a backdrop of worry over trade and rising interest rates, the United States economy continues to perform well. While equity markets generally declined in 2018, investors in the United States generally fared better than overseas. Moreover, most companies saw revenue, profits, and dividends grow in 2018, and we expect more to come in 2019. This annual Viewpoint, along with quarterly updates, provides an organized way of looking at the economy, financial markets, and your portfolio. The full report is available by clicking the link below.

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THE WEEK AHEAD The economy continues to power along, led by strengthening investment. Investment The economy is doing far better than we had expected a few years ago. Mired in sub-par growth for years, the U.S. economy is accelerating by most measures we follow. Jobs are plentiful, corporate profits are up, and wealth measures are full. The economy grew by 4.1% in the second quarter, the best pace since 2014. Business investment is also turning up after a two year lull in 2014-2015. Through July, core capital goods orders surged to nearly the highest levels on record. 8.5% year-over-year to…

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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD Against a good global backdrop, Turkey reminds us that risk still exists. So Far… So Good… Our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer remained stable over the past month (chart A, below). This is a good sign for the economy and markets. Because performance has firmed up, we have stopped cutting equity exposure, and remain tactically tilted toward stocks in Conquest tactical ETF portfolios. Chart A If we drill deeper into the barometer, we can get a better understanding of what is going on. The barometer has about one-third weighting in market based indicators of “risk…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Strong economy drives earnings growth, risk appetite, valuations. A VERY GOOD QUARTER According to FactSet, second quarter results for the S&P 500 companies were strong, and technology companies led the parade. At the end of July about half of the S&P 500 companies had finished reporting financial results for the second quarter. On average, earnings per share were up 21%, thanks to tax reform and a good economy. So good, in fact, was the economy that sales rose 9.3% for the average S&P 500 company from a year before. These results are made all the more extraordinary…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Last Friday’s strong 4.1% second quarter GDP print figures to be on the minds of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members as they meet this week. CONTRIBUTIONS TO GROWTH The 4.1% GDP growth rate in the second quarter is the fifth highest growth rate of the expansion (see graph below). Breaking down the significant Contributions to GDP Growth: Consumer Spending rose a very strong 4.0% during the quarter and contributed 2.7% of the total rate. Spending on services contributed 1.5% while spending on goods (durables plus nondurables) contributed 0.6%. While the jury is still out on the…

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2018 Viewpoint

Our 2018 Viewpoint begins on an optimistic note. Growth continues to pick up by most accounts, businesses are again investing, and asset values are near records. Confidence necessary for risk taking is apparent, and inflation remains at bay. On the other hand, we are now confronted with higher valuations in many asset classes, which we feel should eventually weigh on long-run returns. This annual Viewpoint, along with quarterly updates, provides an organized way of looking at the economy, financial markets, and your portfolio. Full Report Click Here

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THE WEEK AHEAD As we head into mid-year, we update some of our Long-Term Capital Market Assumptions that feed into the CONQUEST and Dynamic Strategies TACTICAL portfolios. WCA PORTFOLIO INSIGHT Long-Term View We start our analysis by observing what returns are available in markets. An investment in a 90-day U.S. Treasury bill today will earn an annualized return of 1.9%, for example. A year ago, this same Treasury bill offered a return of 1%. The increase is due to the Federal Reserve’s(Fed) deliberate effort to raise policy rates. While not a historically high rate by any measure, the direction is…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Earnings are up, but so too are worries over trade. We discuss this year’s changing market, and tactical adjustments WCA has made in CONQUEST and Dynamic Strategies portfolios. WCA PORTFOLIO INSIGHT Most of the surge in profit forecasts can be directly linked to last year’s tax cut. Profit forecasts for the S&P 500 jumped right after passage of President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The TCJA reduced the corporate income tax rate to 21% from 35%, instantly adding a ~20% tax “bump” to S&P 500 after-tax profit forecasts (blue line in graph). Some better economic…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We update our barometer and tactical positioning for June. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Our forecast path for the WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer declined in June (chart, below), and now sits just below 50. The decline in the index from above 70 at the start of the year suggests that risk appetite has waned somewhat. Accordingly, we trimmed back the equity exposure in the satellite portion of tactical portfolios to 45% from 55% last month. Why is this happening? A closer look at the data shows some evidence of softening in Europe, a build in domestic inventories, wider credit spreads,…

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THE WEEK AHEAD As the economy enters its tenth year of growth since the last recession, we look at just how far we’ve come. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We will soon begin the tenth year of economic expansion since the last recession ended. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recovery from the last recession began in July 2009. With most of our tea-leaves pointing toward continued growth, we thought a look back at where we’ve come from is appropriate. Amid the turmoil of the Great Recession and 2009 Financial Crisis, the economy and financial markets were in distress. The…

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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD WCA Barometer holds steady for second month as markets weigh growth, inflation, and rates. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Strong global demand has driven growth and may now be pushing up against supply constraints. Bottlenecks are leading to higher prices and raising concerns about inflation. Cash and bond markets have been pricing in expectations for firmer inflation and higher policy rates. Consider global commodity prices. Oil, aluminum, wood pulp, and lumber prices all began to spike a little over a year-ago. Oil is up 20%, aluminum is up 15%, pulp is up 25%, and lumber is up…

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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD Producer, Consumer, Import, and Export prices for April released this week. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Fixed Income Focus Corporations continue to exhibit good financial health, which has helped drive default rates down. According to Moody’s Investment Research, defaults by corporate borrowers are below average. Last year, about 1.4% of all corporate issues globally defaulted. The average since the early 1980’s is 1.5%, and the high water mark was 5% back in 2009. The decline in defaults stands in sharp contrast to rising corporate indebtedness as outstanding non-financial corporate credit reaches a record high as a percent…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We look at how rising interest rates could harm returns for some highly-leveraged firms. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Some firm are paying more to borrow money, which is weighing on stock price performance. The world’s most widely used benchmark for pricing loans and specifying financial contracts is the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR. The rate for 30-day LIBOR stands near 2.4%, about double the level of a year ago, and most of the rise occurred in the last four months (chart, below). Over $5 trillion of business and consumer loans reset relative to LIBOR, making this a key…

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We see the economy on a growth track, but after a year of strong returns and historically low volatility, some moderation to growth and risk appetite seems reasonable. Continued economic growth, without a notable pickup in inflation, remains our dominant view. Last year’s tax changes, and new federal spending initiatives, have the potential to lift investment and speed up growth. Risks to our outlook include rising trade and geopolitical tension, elevated asset prices in some areas, and rising interest rates. During the quarter, we made a few tactical adjustments to portfolios. We tilted portfolios toward large cap domestic value, and…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Markets reprice risk as trade and interest rate risks emerge. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 1,400 points last week, against a backdrop of trade actions and reprisals. Buying appears to be on hold, at least for now, following a year or more of solid gains for stocks. It is always hard to pinpoint which, the chicken or the egg, comes first when talking about markets and the economy. To our eye, the two work in conjunction and feed back into each other. We all recognize that an improving economy tends to promote…

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