Weekly (distribution list)

An eruption of volatility hit markets last week as the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This extraordinary outbreak will throw out of kilter many aspects of daily lives. Markets are rapidly reestimating risk and trying to predict the size and duration of the shock to the global economy. Central banks and governments are also stepping up response to unfolding conditions. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve cut their benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points (-1.0%) to a range of 0-0.25%, committed to buying $500 billion of U.S. Treasuries and $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities, and took other measures to…

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Safe Havens

Bond prices continue to surge, driven by coronavirus fears and a new oil price war. Prices of long-term U.S. Treasury bonds are rising rapidly, sending bond yields to record lows. Bonds at the longest end of the U.S. Treasury curve are approaching gains of 20-30% year-to-date. Similar bond price action occurred in the past, but never before have U.S. interest rates reached levels seen today. U.S. 20-year Treasury yields have now fallen through one percent, following the 10-year Treasury amid a broader global pattern of rapidly declining and ultra-low rates. The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond yield currently stands at a…

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The spread of coronavirus outside China hit markets hard last week. Stocks fell on reports of new infections and deaths in Italy and elsewhere. The sharp drop in stock prices, coupled with a plunge in Treasury bond yields, leaves the S&P 500 dividend yield now higher than the 30 year U.S. Treasury yield (first chart, below). Domestic stocks suffered more significant declines than foreign due to concern the virus could spread in the United States (second chart, below). The chart shows pronounced weakness in the S&P 500 (a measure of domestic stock performance) versus the MSCI EAFE index (a measure…

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A Hit to Q1 Growth

Global business activity is taking an unexpected hit from worries over the coronavirus outbreak, according to recent data from IHS Markit. As the chart below shows, the IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index fell sharply through mid-February with U.S. Services Business Activity Index falling to 49.4 (53.4 in January), a 76-month low. The IHS Manufacturing Survey (below) also fell to 50.8 (51.9 in January), a 6-month low. New orders fell for the first time since data collection began in 2009. Hesitancy among firms due to coronavirus is causing a decline in business activity in the United States. This is the conclusion…

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The outbreak, centered within China’s industrial heartland, is upending life and closing business across many parts of China. According to a report from CNBC, 20 Chinese provinces covering 80% of Chinese GDP, and 90% of exports are under some form of lockdown. Further complicating the situation is the timing of the Chinese New Year festival from January 25 through February 8. Because many businesses usually close during the festival, several years ago, China’s National Bureau of Statistics decided to combine January and February data reports into a single month and release the information in mid-March. In other words, much of…

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A Path Forward

Many factors conspire to cause stock values to rise and fall, but one stands above all others — profits. Successful business investment is the beginning of profit growth and rising stock values. Such activities enlarge earnings power and drive the value of an enterprise over time. But last year’s 30% rise in stock values1 was not accompanied by a rising tide of earnings and capital investment. Instead, the rise was mostly driven by investors’ willingness to pay higher prices for the same level of earnings. In our view, stock values will continue to rise only as a result of continued…

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The Bull Run

The average American household’s net worth soared to $885,000 last year, 65% higher than a decade ago, according to data from the Federal Reserve and Census Bureau1. Much of the gain came from financial markets where both stocks and bonds surged. Conditions seem supportive for further gains, but valuations are looking full. Even though fundamentals look good, returns in the future should be lower because stock and bond yields sit at historic lows and because markets are already expecting good news. Rise of Liquidity Other than a small decline last week on coronavirus concerns, stocks have been quiet. When central…

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The past few months, our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer (Table A) has bounced around sideways with no real direction. This sideways behavior comes after a monetary policy induced spring surge. With markets now in sync with central bank messaging, there is little new impetus to drive risk appetite. Ahead lies the prospect that a partial trade deal with China could bolster confidence, reenergize growth, and boost corporate earnings. Missing Link The missing link in the argument for a furthering of the current bull market is in the earnings story. Growth is critically important for any long-run bullish argument for stocks….

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50 Years On

The current equity market bull run is the longest on record, but it is just one chapter in a bigger story. This week we look back at the current run in the context of 50 years of strong returns. What Drives Return? Return comes from one of three sources: current yield, growth of income, or changes in valuation. There is no other way to create a return. Take, for example, the S&P Composite index, which traded at $94 in September 1969, some fifty years ago. The index’s dividend was $3.15, implying a then-current dividend yield of 3.3% ($3.15 / $94)….

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 are up 15% and 20%, respectively, for the year, driving the value of U.S. stocks to a record of $32 trillion. United States’ household’s net worth is $113 trillion, far eclipsing the past peak of $71 trillion back in 2007 at the height of the housing bubble. Better domestic growth than elsewhere around the world, flush corporate profits, and accommodating capital markets are all positives for U.S. investors. These conditions have gone a long-way to lift asset values to today’s levels. Diving Rates — Blessing or Curse? The rise in asset…

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Trade and Brexit worries are cutting into the outlook for global growth. Most forecasts now call for slower growth next year, below our 3.5% base case expectation. While growth estimates are holding up reasonably well in the United States, global central banks are easing. The Federal Reserve is also easing monetary policy, which is helping to support financial conditions. A plunge in global interest rates is raising recessionary red flags and forward looking cash and bond returns are declining as investors chase yield. Equity allocations are trimmed to neutral given signs of cooling in the data. Tactical tilts favor value…

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In the past couple of months, a number of headlines have caught our attention. We are reminded that corporate debt is surging, interest rates are at very low levels, and a trade war is ongoing. This week we look at specific portfolio actions that can be taken to weather the storm. Recent Headlines: “Volume of New Corporate Bond Issuance Breaks Weekly Record” — Bloomberg (September 9, 2019) “In Bond Anomaly, Negative Yields Bring Positive Returns” — Wall Street Journal (September 8, 2019) “As Trump Escalates Trade War, U.S. and China Move Further Apart With No End in Sight” — New…

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The U.S. – China trade war is taking a toll on both countries. United States manufacturing contracted somewhat in August, based on a survey from the Institute of Supply Management. Meanwhile, China reported a 16% slump in exports to the United States in August from a year ago. The trade war escalated last month as Washington announced a further 15% tariff on many Chinese goods from September, and China responded with reciprocal tariffs and currency devaluation. Winners and Losers We are not fans of trade protectionism. Tariffs and currency wars distort economic processes away from market solutions.  Consumers who buy…

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This is a third part of a series on China and trade. Part one, click here. Part two, click here.  From the early 2000s up to the financial crisis, debt levels surged in the United States. Borrowing allowed American households to consume not only from current income but from future income as well. The economy surged, but the borrowing led to problems and slower growth later on. But why did debt surge as it did? One possible explanation is that a growing trade deficit with China, and China’s rising trade surplus with the United States, was a root cause. Recall that…

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The WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer’s forecast path slipped to an average reading of 55 from 60 this month (chart, the bottom of page). CONQUEST tactical equity allocations trimmed back to a slight overweight to align with the barometer. The main story of last week was the rise in trade concerns stemming from the threat of new tariffs and reprisals. This week we spend a few extra minutes discussing our view of trade issues, its causes, and potential outcomes. The Trade Mess — How Did We Get Here? Some simple economic accounting concepts can go a long way to trace the…

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We expect the Federal Reserve to cut rates this week by 0.25% — the first cut since 2007. Last week, the European Central Bank signaled a willingness to cut rates and buy assets. Both banks are responding to signs of slower global growth and weakening trade. These actions would mark a turnaround in messaging from a year ago. At that time, most were expecting global rates to move higher as growth kept on an upward path. A Fine Line The central banks must walk a fine line between voicing a worrying message about growth and providing “insurance” against a potential…

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The past few months have seen a marked decline in market volatility. Corporate earnings are holding steady and bond yields have declined, allowing stock values to recover from last fall’s rout. However, concerns about trade, capital investment, and global growth remain and are opening the door for central banks to ease. Our read of a broad range of data is better than six months ago, with domestic conditions winning out over foreign. Therefore, we maintain tactical tilts toward domestic over foreign, value over growth, and developed over emerging. Near-term trends in our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer lead us to maintain…

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Steady As She Goes

Evidence continues to point to continued, moderate growth in the United States economy. Take last Friday’s June employment report, for example. Jobs grew by 224,000 in the United States during June, better than expected. Hourly wages are rising 3.1%, about 1% higher than inflation, suggesting a steady backdrop for household spending. The performance was not so strong, however, as to suggest the Federal Reserve needs to revisit rate hikes anytime soon. The overall unemployment rate remains near 3.7%, below what many economists see as “full employment”, but without actual signs of inflation, there is little anxiety over a potential outbreak…

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Weekend Détente

The U.S. and China backed away from escalating a trade war on Saturday at the G-20 meeting, a plus for near-term market sentiment. President Trump said the United States would hold off on new tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. He also said U.S. technology companies could start selling equipment again to Huawei, China’s largest telecom company. Stalled trade talks are expected to restart. No Deal, but a Sigh of Relief The ceasefire did not produce a deal, but should remove immediate concerns. Currency markets responded positively to the announcement, for example, in the hours following the announcement and…

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Normally, bond investors require higher returns to own longer dated bonds. This explains why ninety five percent of the time, 10-year Treasury bond rates are higher than 3-month T-Bill rates based on monthly observations  back to 1982. The other five percent of the time, bond investors have bid up long-term Treasury bonds to such an extent that the yield on those bonds fall below short-term bills. This situation is commonly known as an “inverted yield curve” and has a strong track-record as a predictor of recessions. The chart below shows that inverted curves existed before each of the last three…

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Mixed Messages

A read of incoming data puts our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer near 50 with an upward trend. While the current overall reading is about average, a closer look within the component parts of the barometer reveal some interesting takeaways. Notably, market based measures of risk appetite have moved in the right direction while indicators of actual economic performance have softened. Stocks and bonds have rallied together this year. The S&P 500 and the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index are up roughly 15% and 5% respectively. For now, investors are looking past signs of slowing growth, and focusing instead on the benefits…

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Last week we learned the United States’ economy expanded at 3.1% from a year ago through the first quarter. As the bars in the chart below shows, this marks a continuation of an accelerating growth trend that began in 2016. The improvement came despite headwinds including an escalating U.S. / China trade war, a government shutdown, Europe’s political unrest, and volatile markets at the end of last year.  The positive growth trend is not seen in business investment, however, and this is concerning to us. Last week’s GDP report, for example, revealed that nonresidential fixed investment (business investment) rose at…

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A Year of Churn In the past year, forecast earnings for S&P 500 companies are up just about 9%, slightly above the S&P 500’s 5% year-on-year advance. The S&P 500 earnings yield, or inverse of the price-earnings-ratio, now stands near 6.25%, up from 5.9% a year ago. By comparison, the S&P 500 earnings yield is 385 basis points (or 3.85%) higher than the 2.4% yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond. A year ago, the S&P 500 earnings yield spread over Treasuries was about 290 basis points (2.9%), so today’s 385 basis point spread points to somewhat better valuations for…

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France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Japan remain stuck with negative short-term (2-year) interest rates. By comparison, at 2.3%, the United States’ two-year Treasury rates seems to be quite a bargain. However, markets are expecting that U.S. rates at the short end of the curve will not be moving higher any time soon, and could even move lower despite relatively strong growth. An investor today can lock in a rate of 2.16% in the forwards market at which that investor could borrow or lend for one year’s time one year from now. This “forward” rate is below…

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The S&P 500 returned 13.7% in the first quarter, the best quarterly performance since 2009. This follows almost a 20% drop in the S&P 500 during the fourth quarter. The concerns about global growth and rising interest rates, which contributed to last fall’s market selloff, appear to be easing. The WCA Fundamental Conditions “Barometer” advanced sharply in the past few weeks as signs emerged that growth may be picking up in the United States. Accordingly, equity exposure was increased and bond portfolio duration reduced across tactical asset allocation models. Full Report Click Here

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Central Banks Fall In-Line The global economy worsened in recent months by most accounts, but policy changes are now in place that could foster some improvement. Central banks in the United States, China, and Europe recently began moving toward greater accommodation — a major shift from early last fall. The Federal Reserve is telegraphing a need for “patience”, China has unveiled tax cuts and increased bank lending, and the European Central Bank (ECB) is now signaling renewed stimulus. Slipping growth is the reason cited for most of this renewed accommodation. Good Growth, Reasonable Valuation The United States growth engine appears…

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Global stocks continue to gain ground compared to bonds (chart, below). Headlines on trade, the budget, and Brexit are recent market movers. The resolution of these issues, yet unknown, could shape how the rest of the year plays out. A bullish scenario envisions growth returning to the globe as nations reach compromises. An intensification of these issues, or if left unresolved, could further darken the outlook. Slowing growth in China, softening sales of homes and automobiles, weak retail sales, and a sharp decline in European industrial production are the latest signs of stress. The adoption of a “wait and see”…

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When Patience is a Virtue Patience is a virtue when it leads to good judgement. Last week, this kind of patience was on full display as Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, delivered a dovish outlook on monetary policy. The more hawkish message of last summer and early fall is now gone, and rightly so given trends in the data since then. Specifically, a sharp spike in market volatility last fall, and clear signs of slowing global growth, has led to this moment. Ongoing Chinese trade and Brexit negotiations also compelled the change in attitude. We are happy to see the…

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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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An update on CONQUEST tactical portfolio strategy as we get set to close out the year. How About the Economy?   Why should an investor care about keeping track of the economy? Isn’t it enough to just create a “set it and forget it” portfolio? We think investors should care about the economy for two reasons. First, theups and downs of the economy creates risks to avoid and opportunities toexploit. Second, the size of the economy determines the value of the stockmarket and drives long-run return. This is why we, as active managers, devoteso much time evaluating economic data. Near-Term…

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China has been a major contributor to the global growth story in recent years, and has had a big impact on developments in foreign and emerging markets. As we’ve noted in previous commentary, we have been seeing some weakening in growth outside the United States while growth here remains strong. A 30% drop in the Chinese stock market, a sharp reversal in the Chinese currency, and slowing output growth all point to accumulating foreign sector weakness. Within China, the Chinese government has increased stimulus as evidenced by a recent surge in local government bond issuance (chart, below), and the Peoples…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Volatility picked up again last week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 3% on Wednesday alone. For the week, the Dow was down 4%, having bounced back from an intra-week drop of almost 6%. Wednesday’s drop marked the second day this year where the Dow fell by more than 3%. Sharp declines have become more common compared to past decades. Daily drops of 3% or more in the Dow occurred only twice during all of the 1960s; five times during the 1970s; fifteen times during the 1980s; and ten times during the 1990s….

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The Bond Market Stirs The U.S. 10-year Treasury bond yield backed up toward 3.25% last week — levels not seen since 2011. Comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell point toward higher rates, perhaps higher than the market currently expects. Economic growth remains strong, labor conditions are growing tighter, and inflation expectations are becoming less clear. Markets have heretofore priced in a very shallow path for future rate increases, but that perception may now be changing given an unemployment rate near 50 year lows and market-implied long-run inflation forecasts are above 2% and moving higher. The net effect of changes…

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Ten years after the financial crisis, the United States equity, real estate, and job markets are back to records. Household wealth has, therefore, surged to a record $106 trillion. Most of the trends we see in the domestic data flow remain strong, although conditions overseas paint a less compelling picture. With much of the slack in the domestic economy gone, and inflation near target, we expect the Federal Reserve to continue normalizing interest rates. Portfolios are tactically overweight value stocks, domestic and developed equities, short duration Treasuries, and real estate. Tactical underweights include growth, foreign and emerging markets, long-duration Treasuries,…

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Ten Years After Looking back over the past ten years, the U.S. economy and stock market emerged as unlikely winners. A decade ago, Lehman Brothers and dozens of other financial firms were in the midst of collapse. In short order, the financial system and economy entered into a very dark period, culminating in a deep and painful recession. Equity markets fell by over 50% and 8.7 million Americans lost their jobs as the unemployment rate soared to 10%. From those depths, a recovery took hold and led to an expansion which endures today. Employment rolls are again full, as 20…

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Although domestic growth remains strong, the outlook for growth in other parts of the world has weakened. Global Growth Weakens Global growth is weaker than anticipated in May, said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last week in their latest Economic Outlook. Trade tensions, tightening financial conditions in emerging markets, and political risks could all further dampen the outlook according to the report. The OECD trimmed their 2018-2019 global economic growth outlook by -0.1% to 3.7%, with rising differences across countries. While the United States remains steady, the OECD sees weaker growth throughout most of the world. Confidence…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We take a look at market valuations, return patterns, and the health of the economy for clues about what might come next. Signs of Growth Are “Full Speed Ahead” The economy continues to show signs of strong growth. Friday’s August jobs report showed strength in new jobs and wages. Not only did job growth exceed expectation at 201,000 net new jobs, but incomes grew near a 5% annualized pace. Moreover, the quarterly data on output and productivity is encouraging, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, output rose 5% in the second quarter, with increased productivity…

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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 Against a good global backdrop, Turkey reminds us that risk still exists. THE CASE OF TURKEY Although the background for growth, particularly in the United States, appears good, we are reminded that the world is not without risk. The latest example of an economy in crisis is Turkey. After a period of heady growth, the country has fallen victim to a sliding currency, skyrocketing inflation and interest rates, and capital flight. The chart below shows the slide in the currency (orange line, right scale) superimposed on top of a declining stock of currency reserves (blue bars, left…

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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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THE WEEK AHEAD A move in the right direction? WCA PORTFOLIO INSIGHT After five months of slippage, the WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer (chart, below) increased last month. The barometer takes into account market measures of risk appetite, indicators of U.S. economic health, and several inputs on conditions overseas. Trends in risk appetite are generally positive, but less robust than a six or nine months ago. By and large, most trends concerning the domestic economy, such as capital goods orders, employment, and earnings trends, are also quite good. We can’t call one month’s improvement a trend, but the interruption of the…

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The U.S. economy is accelerating into the second half of the year with growth tracking toward 4% in the second quarter. However, the yield curve has flattened significantly as the Fed presses forward with rate increases, and trade concerns create some unease. Consequently, our own read of the data has become more mixed and we have tactically reduced exposure to stocks during the first half. Portfolios are overweight value versus growth, and foreign developed versus emerging. The fixed income posture is tilted toward high quality and shorter duration credit versus long-duration Treasuries. We also have a tactical tilt toward REITs…

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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 Flush earnings still help, but higher interest rates and trade concerns hurt the bull case for stocks. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Not much happens when businesses, investors, and consumers decide to pull in their horns. Fortunately, the past couple of years have had most people feeling relatively optimistic about the outlook. Consumers are benefitting from full employment, rising wages, and increased wealth. Business owners and investors are reaping the benefits from a growing economy and large profits. For the past several years, no attractive “risk free” investment alternative existed to compete against riskier assets. One way to think about…

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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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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD Big week for data and Fed policy this week. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We’ve seen some slowing in growth lately, but last week’s advance U.S. Gross Domestic Product report was encouraging. Readers of the Monday Morning Minute know that incoming data raised some red flags in the first quarter. Our Fundamental Conditions Barometer peaked with the passage of the tax act in December, declined through the remainder of the winter, and stabilized in April. According to last week’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. economy grew by an estimated 2.3% in the first…

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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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THE WEEK AHEAD Federal Reserve meets this week and is widely expected to deliver another rate increase. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We are seeing a small downshift in the pace of growth, based on incoming data. While not outright deterioration, there appears to be some softening in global economic momentum. This is not yet a major concern of ours, but some mixed signals have caught our attention. Here is a partial list of some of some of the items that have shown recent weakness: 1)     A three month decline in Chinese manufacturing surveys; 2)     A three month decline in German Business confidence;…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We assess the developing shift in fiscal policy and conclude that it is near-term bullish for growth and bearish for rates. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT The recently published Budget of the United States, Fiscal Year 2019 introduces a large increase in government spending and cuts in taxes. The net effect of these changes introduces a very large swing in the government deficit this year and next. The deficit is expected to increase to 4.7% of gross domestic product from 3.4% in 2017, and this assumes the economy expands at a 3% clip, substantially faster than the 2% pace we’ve…

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THE WEEK AHEAD MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT The drop in stocks from January 26 erased 10% from the market averages. There have been at least two dozen declines of 10% or better over the last 30-years, to put things in perspective. Very few other indicators show a spreading of concern into other areas of the markets or the economy. In the past week, corporate credit spreads remained unchanged; forecast inflation was down only slightly; and S&P 500 earnings forecasts rose. Investors can take some comfort in knowing that a broader reading of the market’s “tea leaves” continues to point toward growth. Source:…

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  MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Volatility returned to markets last week as the Dow Jones Industrial Average pared gains for the year. For the week, the index dropped roughly 4% reducing the one-year price gain to 28%. Interestingly, the pickup in volatility was not accompanied by negative economic reports, a flattening yield curve, a widening of corporate spreads, or a cut in profit forecasts. The January employment report showed a net addition of 200,000 jobs and a 2.9% jump in hourly wage growth. Private payrolls are up a healthy 1.7% from a year ago, well above the 1% “stall rate” that has…

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THE WEEK AHEAD President Trump delivers State of the Union Tuesday; Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision Wednesday (no change expected); Manufacturing and Employment data should be strong. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT There is plenty of good feeling about growth these days. Recently, the International Monetary Fund bumped their ’18-19 world growth forecast 0.2% to 3.9%. This is higher than our assumption of 3.4% growth. Domestic growth forecasts are also strong. The Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and New York see first quarter real U.S. growth at 3.4% and 3.1%, respectively. These are some of the best growth numbers we’ve seen this…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Growth story continues to lift equities, but faster growth is beginning to stir concerns over rates and inflation. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We have seen constant upward revisions to earnings and growth estimates for the last year, creating the backdrop for good equity market performance. A combination of easy monetary policy, improving growth, and strong sentiment are driving continued upside surprises for growth. Leading economic indicators remain strong, employment trends are solid, business investment is picking up, and order rates for durable goods are surging. Our own WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer (below) surged through the later part of 2017…

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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD A relatively quiet week for economic data, but new records on the Dow and S&P 500 have us thinking again about the “big picture.” MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT With the Dow just surpassing 25,000 and the S&P 500 crossing 2,700 for the first time in history last week, we thought it makes sense to pause and take a step back. As we point out in our Viewpoint 2018, we see the growing economy as the key driver of the market’s record-breaking performance, and there is clear evidence that growth continues. However, we must also point out…

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MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We begin 2018 on a positive note. Last week’s Chicago PMI posted its third straight plus 60 score and is on the best streak for the index in over three years. We expect similar positive results this week from the various manufacturing reports released. The theme of these reports is positive economic growth. After hovering around 2% for 2016 and into last year, GDP has topped 3% each of the last two quarters. We expect that this week’s data on manufacturing will point to an economy still enjoying a cyclical upswing.  Macroeconomic Advisers and the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Happy Holidays from all of us at Washington Crossing Advisors and Happy New Year! MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We first learned about the President’s tax plan a year ago. At that time, we had few details on which to base a forecast. Still, we anticipated that the plan could give a boost to the economy, especially through encouraging investment. The bipartisan Tax Foundation also looked at the early proposal and initially added roughly 0.75% to their baseline growth expectation. We raised our own long-run forecast by 0.25%. With the bill fully fleshed out, the Tax Foundation has come in…

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THE WEEK AHEAD A busy week of negotiations and analysis of tax policy this week, ahead of the Christmas holiday.   MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Congress will not be avoiding the Christmas rush this year, and a vote on a compromise bill is expected this week. A cut in the corporate tax to 21 percent from 35 percent is significant, and improves the after-tax earnings outlook. A reduced top individual income-tax rate, to 37 percent from 39.6 percent, should bolster private demand and savings. Progress on the tax front is important given the nearly $5 trillion increase in U.S. market value this…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Janet Yellen leads her final Federal Open Market Committee meeting of 2017 and will hold her final Press Conference as Chair on Wednesday.   MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT With Jerome Powell set to take the reins of the Federal Reserve (Fed) from Janet Yellen next year, we wanted to analyze Chair Yellen’s economic legacy and give an assessment of the economy that Mr. Powell will inherit.   Labor Market   Last Friday’s November Employment report showed that 228,000 jobs were added during the month and the unemployment rate, at 4.1%, has fallen to its lowest level since the early…

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THE WEEK AHEAD A Thanksgiving holiday-shortened week this week will see reports relating to business investment and minutes from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee Oct 31-Nov 1 policy meeting. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Even though markets are pricing in good outcomes, risk assets can continue to perform well because monetary and fiscal policy remain supportive of growth and data reaffirms our conviction that the economy is on an expansion path. Valuations Full The value of U.S. equities is now over $28 trillion. At 145% of gross domestic product, this would suggest valuations are full.  Since 2004, the market value averaged about…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Producer, Consumer, Import, and Export prices are in focus this week as we recap third-quarter earnings and look down the road towards future earnings seasons. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT According to FactSet, for the third quarter, companies have reported earnings growth of 5.9% and sales growth of 5.8%. In addition to these impressive gains, more companies are beating earnings per share and revenue estimates than average. For example: Of the companies that have reported, 74% have reported EPS above the mean EPS estimate. That 74% figure is above both the 1-year (71%) and 5-year average (69%). At the sector…

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THE WEEK AHEAD A busy week ahead including a Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, announcement on a selection for next Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair, possible release of some details for the tax plan, and a look at the September employment situation. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT President Trump is said to be leaning toward naming current Fed governor Jay Powell as the next Fed chair. The President has previously indicated he will make his decision before he leaves on his next foreign trip next week. Friday’s employment report is expected to show the economy added 308,000 jobs in October and the unemployment…

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THE WEEK AHEAD While markets are speculating about Federal Reserve appointments and handicapping tax reform, the earnings season kicks into high gear. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT The earnings season kicks into high gear this week as markets remain focused on happenings in Washington. Roughly 40% of S&P 500 companies are set to report third quarter earnings this week and expectations are high. Strong economic performance, despite hurricane impacts, underlie optimistic analyst forecasts for corporate earnings. For the full year, 2017 S&P 500 operating earnings are expected to increase 9% from 2016, and high growth is reflected in above average valuations. The S&P…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We update our input tables to our long-run forecast and tactical top-down investment process. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Each quarter, we update a series of tables that lie behind our long run tactical asset allocation decisions. These are all forward-looking assumptions and are inherently imperfect estimates of the future. Still, these base-case assumptions are necessary and important inputs that form the basis for our top down investment process. The ratcheting down of our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer (currently near 50 vs. 75 at the start of the year), faster than expected rate increases, stubbornly low inflation, improving overseas trends,…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Markets (and the Federal Reserve (Fed)) get a read on the health of the labor market as the September Employment Report is released on Friday. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Friday’s report is expected to show that the economy added 70,000 jobs while the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.4%. While much airtime will be spent dissecting those headline figures, we want to focus on two other aspects of this report: the change in private payrolls (Chart A) and the yearly change in average hourly earnings (Chart B). While the trend for both of these figures is generally positive, recently…

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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD Data points to above trend growth, below trend inflation, and no Fed action on rates. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Global and domestic growth continues to run above our long-run forecasts. A wide range of data suggests the global economy is performing well. For example, last week the European Central Bank raised their 2017 Euro-area growth forecast to 2.2%, the fastest pace since 2007. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s “GDP Now” model is tracking third quarter domestic growth near 3%. Japan is even growing at a healthy 2.5% pace, and China just reported a 7%…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We update our Fundamental Conditions Barometer as we flip the calendar to September. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT After reaching 80 earlier this year, our Fundamental Conditions Barometer has settled in at “cruising speed” (see chart below). Last month we rebalanced the satellite portion of the Conquest Portfolios to reflect the Barometer’s reading of 50. Overall, trends in the data we monitor remain positive. Look no further than last Friday’s Durable Goods Orders for July. Excluding transportation July’s Durable Goods Orders grew 0.5% on a monthly basis while Core Capital Goods grew 0.4%. The labor market has also displayed signs…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We forecast that the accelerating growth phase of the past year will flatten out in the months ahead. A ramp-up in growth and investor risk appetite over the past year, courtesy of the dual “reflation” and “Trump” trades, helped lift earnings and share prices to records and volatility fell sharply. Our most recent read of the data suggests the acceleration phase may be over, and the forecast path of our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer (below) is expected to return to 50. At 50, we expect near-term recession risk to be near historically average levels. Where we go…

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The “reflation trade” that drove financial market behavior since the middle of last year lifted stocks and weighed on bond prices. This leaves us with an economy performing better and stock indices near records. Lower bond yields and higher equity valuations help lift short-term growth but also dampen our long-run return forecasts. In the months ahead, we expect to see the pace of improvement moderate compared to what we experienced over the past nine months. Equity allocations in portfolios were increased last summer, and we continue to maintain a modest tactical tilt toward large capitalization domestic stocks over bonds and…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Markets digest last week’s failed vote on the American Health Care Act and begin to look forward to the upcoming earnings season. MACRO VIEW Congress abandoned a much awaited vote on The American Health Care Act on Friday. Uncertainty over the passage of the bill pressured equities, buoyed bonds, and weighed on the dollar last week. Markets recognize that prospects for potent tax cuts later this year was at least partly dependent on passage of the health care bill. Without funds resulting from the bill’s passage, the House of Representatives may struggle to pass a revenue neutral…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We update our WCA Fundamental Conditions Index this week and forecast a period of moderation ahead. MACRO VIEW The Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered their third rate increase since 2015 last week. The increase in the federal funds target rate and rate paid on excess bank reserves was widely expected, however. Months of improving employment and inflation readings paved the way for the hike. Fed Chair Janet Yellen downplayed concerns over rising asset prices, full employment, and the size of the Fed’s balance sheet. Markets took the tone of the announcement as mostly dovish, or at least consistent…

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THE WEEK AHEAD The FOMC meets this week and is expected to deliver a rate increase. Wednesday’s announcement will be associated with a summary of economic projections and a press conference by the Chair. MACRO VIEW The return on cash hasn’t been much to write home about recently. As the economy picks up, expectations for short-term interest rates are perking up (graph below). A year ago, markets were pricing in an expectation for a 1.2% short-term interest rate by early 2019. Today, that same expectation is near 1.9%. As assumed cash returns rise, they compete against returns available on other…

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THE WEEK AHEAD The improving growth theme gets tested again this week with data on factory orders and employment. MACRO VIEW We are expecting to see a strong start to 2017, followed by a period of moderation through the year. We expect consumption to grow at a 5% annualized rate through the first quarter with investment growing at a 10% pace. If correct, the rolling four quarter average growth rate for the overall economy will be trending near 2.5% growth (chart below). This forecast incorporates our expectation for a March interest rate hike and recent readings from our WCA Fundamental…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We expect good reports this way on durable goods and manufacturing this week, consistent with other recent data points. The improvement in the business outlook is being clearly embedded in market expectations. MACRO VIEW It has been more than 90 months since the last recession. Expected tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and regulation are fueling consumer and business optimism. In turn, this optimism is helping lift the stock market to records. Given this, we want to spend a minute to remind ourselves how we got here. During the ’07-09 recession, the U.S. stock market had an average value…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Quiet week on the data front this week, but the Federal Reserve (Fed) releases minutes from their latest meeting. MACRO VIEW Last week, the February Philadelphia Business Outlook Survey (BOS) reached 43.3, a level not seen since 1973. The three month moving average rose to 24.9 which was last achieved in 2004 shortly after Congress signed the  Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. Both is 1973 and 2004, the economy posted the best growth of the respective decades. Why is the report important? For one, it focuses on a very important component of the…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Data continues to come in relatively strong with last week’s employment report offering mostly good news. MACRO VIEW The January data continued to post positive momentum, supporting the bullish case for stocks. Friday’s January employment report was not an exception. Nonfarm payrolls rose 227,000 and beat most economist’s expectations. This is higher than the 180,000-200,000 range we’ve become accustomed to see over the past several quarters. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.8%, but remains near what many consider “full employment.” A closer look at private jobs reveals still healthy year-over-year growth. This measure, which ignores government…

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THE WEEK AHEAD The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets this week amid further signs of improvement in the economy. No rate increase is expected, but the focus is on the central banks’ response to shrinking economic slack and fiscal policy initiatives. Pressure is also mounting for the Fed to address the management of their $4.5 trillion balance sheet. MACRO VIEW Core durable goods orders posted strong 0.8% growth in December and inventories were flat, suggesting better growth ahead. The advance report on capital goods provides some useful clues about the future. Orders for factory goods tell us…

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THE WEEK AHEAD With the inauguration behind us, we return our focus to incoming data. Also, please note the client approved WCA Viewpoint 2017 is now available. MACRO VIEW The stock market’s move from last spring discounts the improved growth prospects developed over the last 6-9 months. Incoming economic data and better results from companies painted a better picture through the fall and drove much of the gain in stock prices. The momentum helped lift the United States’ equity market capitalization $3.6 trillion (16%) to over $25.5 trillion from $21.9 trillion a year ago, the 2.5% 30-year U.S. Treasury bond…

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2017 Viewpoint

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY There are signs that growth is improving as we start the new year. The pickup began last spring, continued through the fall, and accelerated into year’s end. The surprise outcome of the election raised expectations for new tax, spending, and regulatory proposals, which could impact growth and business sentiment. The bond market is also taking notice of a changing landscape as interest rates price in some additional inflation. We start the year with a tactical tilt toward domestic equities and away from longer-term bonds. A portfolio strategy that combines a long-run point of view with some short-term flexibility…

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THE WEEK AHEAD A surprise boost in optimism is impacting financial markets and has the potential to feed into growth as we start 2017.  The WCA Fundamental Conditions Index ends 2016 on a strong footing, suggesting better growth through the fourth quarter. MACRO VIEW Today’s Monday Morning Minute will be our last weekly commentary of the year, and we would like to say thank you to all our readers.  Our best wishes to you for a joyous holiday season and a prosperous 2017! Our final update is also a positive one for the stock market and the economy.  Although the…

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THE WEEK AHEAD The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is expected to deliver an anticipated rate hike against a backdrop of firmer growth, reflation, and anticipated fiscal policy change.  The December 13-14 meeting will be accompanied by forecast changes and a press conference by the Chair. MACRO VIEW 2016 is set to close in much better form than it began.  The start of the year saw growth stall and investor anxiety surge; but starting around mid-year, these trends reversed course.  As the year is set to close, optimism is much improved.  Consumer confidence is strong, analysts are raising profit forecasts, market…

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THE WEEK AHEAD We continue our focus on the potential impact of President-elect Trump’s policy proposals on the economy and our long-run capital market assumptions. MACRO VIEW The “Trump” rally signals an expected policy shift based on candidate Trump’s promised economic reforms.  His economic plan seeks to achieve faster growth through a combination of proposals designed to lower taxes and regulation.  Is this expectation reasonable? To begin with, the plan, as outlined during the campaign, is large.  If implemented as proposed, it would include the largest tax cut since the 1980s.  For individuals, the tax plan consolidates seven tax brackets…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Purchasing managers’ surveys and the November employment situation reports are out this week.  We expect solid showing in both areas. MACRO VIEW Friday brings the final employment report before the Federal Reserve’s December meeting.  Given other recent reports, we expect a solid report with monthly payrolls up ~200,000.  This should provide further justification for what is now a widely expected December rate hike.  We are also watching for the wage component and expect another strong rise in wages and salaries.  A 4-5% increase in year-over-year incomes seems easily in the cards and should garner significant attention. The…

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THE WEEK AHEAD A shortened week due to Thanksgiving.  Markets to focus on durable goods, Trump transition, and upcoming Italy vote. MACRO VIEW The market’s recent reaction to a Trump victory adds fuel to what was already an improving fundamental backdrop (graph, below). How are fundamentals improving?  For starters, the bottom-up S&P 500 12-month earnings forecast advanced from a monthly average of $123.52 in the first quarter to $129 currently.  Risk appetite improved and higher-risk stocks and bonds both outperformed their lower-risk counterparts.  Long-run inflation expectations firmed from 1.4% to 1.75%.  A pickup in China’s economy, firming commodity prices, the…

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THE WEEK AHEAD How the Trump win changes markets, the economy, and CONQUEST and DYNAMIC STRATEGIES portfolios. MACRO VIEW While light on details, the Trump economic vision is capturing the market’s attention.  The sweep by Republicans came as a shock to markets, and President-elect Trump’s acceptance speech highlighted spending and tax cut initiatives that are welcomed as “pro-growth.”  There is much still that needs to be worked out, and the devil is always in the details. If campaign promises are enacted as stated, sweeping changes to trade, taxes, government spending, and regulation are all on the table.  Most proposals on…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Voters head to the polls. MACRO VIEW Markets are pricing in greater political risk headed into this week’s election.  Looking beyond the market action, however, we see encouraging fundamental signs.  Employment gains, steady job growth, stable demand, and a return to earnings growth all speak to a better backdrop for stocks.  Domestic economic growth should be near our 2-3% range in the second half, marking a clear turnaround from the pattern of weakening growth through 2015 to the first half of 2016.  It is even likely that business investment is picking up, now that the ill effects…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Active week for earnings as 178 of S&P 500 companies are scheduled to report. As per FactSet, Q3 2016 blended year-over-year earnings are expected to decline 0.3%. The blended sales growth rate for Q3 2016 is 2.6%. The forward P/E multiple is now 16.5x, which is above the 10-year average of 14.3x. Friday’s advance release of Q3 2016 GDP should attract attention in addition to the five members of the Federal Reserve scheduled to speak today and Tuesday. S&P ESTIMATES and VALUATION Equity investors should focus on earnings as the long-term driver for return. For calendar year 2016,…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Corporate earnings are expected to contract moderately this quarter (-1.8%) for the sixth consecutive quarterly decline.  However, much of the data we follow improved through the summer, suggesting potential for upside surprises.  We update our forecast for the WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer which stands near 70, reflecting improved near-term growth and lessened recession risk. MACRO VIEW The WCA Fundamental Conditions index showed steady improvement in recent months (Chart A), and our near-term forecast (Chart B) continues to track above 50.  Barometer readings above 50 imply a higher probability of continued growth, with lessened near-term recession risk.  The…

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THE WEEK AHEAD The Federal Reserve releases minutes from their latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting Wednesday, and retail sales figures are due Friday. MACRO VIEW Friday’s employment report suggests that income and spending are still growing.  Six and one quarter years from the recession’s end, we see that the average wages and total numbers of hours worked are expanding.  We estimate that hours will be expanding at a 1.5% yearly rate and wages will be growing at 2.5%.  Combining these figures, total income should be expanding near 4%, and this pace is consistent with an expansion in consumer…

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The economy continues to gradually improve from a near stall earlier in the year.  Earnings forecasts are increasing, and cash returns to equity investors look appealing compared to record low Treasury yields.  With signs of economic slack abating, the Fed now seems to be on track for a December rate hike. Equity allocations in portfolios were increased to overweight during the summer, and we continue to maintain a tilt toward large capitalization domestic growth stocks versus foreign.  Bond allocations are tilted away from low-yielding, long-term Treasuries, favoring shorter-duration and higher-yielding corporate debt. Full Report Click Here

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THE WEEK AHEAD We look at credit, debt, and leverage given new data from the Federal Reserve (Fed). We conclude that private sector debt and leverage remain important contributors to both risk and growth. Elevated levels of private sector debt and leverage increase potential risks that should be addressed in portfolios as the cycle ages. MACRO VIEW Recent data from the Federal Reserve shows private sector debt remains elevated despite some household deleveraging. We continue to believe a relationship exists between private sector debt, the economic cycle, and equity market volatility, and that relationship is stronger today than years ago….

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THE WEEK AHEAD Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) rate decision, projections, and press conference Wednesday afternoon should garner significant attention and will Likely sets the stage for a December tightening. MACRO VIEW This week’s FOMC meeting should set the stage for a December hike.  There is little in recent statements that lead us to believe a September tightening is in the cards.  Data since July was generally positive, opening the door for a more balanced statement.  Brexit failed to produce a worse case dislocation, and leading indicators appear resilient.  The WCA Fundamental Conditions Index rose through the summer months, and…

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