Morning Briefing

Markets increasingly think Fed’s end of bond buying will be no big deal

Markets increasingly think Fed’s end of bond buying will be no big deal

I wouldn’t call it the consensus yet, but financial market thinking seems headed toward a belief that the end of the Fed’s $120 billion a month in purchases of Treasuries and mortgage backed assets won’t be a big deal. Certainly not enough to upset the bond market or produce another temper tantrum. The belief hinges on forecast of demand and supply that sees them roughly in balance even after the Fed stops its buying. An end to Fed purchases would be a significant hit to demand. But it looks like the U.S. Treasury will be cutting back on bond auctions as about the same time. And that would leave demand and supply roughly where they are now.

Saturday Night Quarterback (on a Monday) says, For the week ahead expect…

Saturday Night Quarterback (on a Monday) says, For the week ahead expect…

I’m looking for answers to two big questions that earnings from Amazon (AMZN) and Caterpillar (CAT) left us with last week. In the case of Amazon, where the company reported a slide in revenue growth after a big bump in sales due to everybody ordering everything on line during the Pandemic shutdown, the question is What is the actual sales growth trend once you remove all the plus and minuses from the Pandemic? This isn’t a question just for Amazon, of course. It’s important for figuring out the valuation of everything from Las Vegas hotel and casino play MGM Resorts International (MGM) to streaming champion Netflix (NFLX) to Starbucks (SBUX). The other question left hanging at the end of the week is whether or not we’re about to see a string of companies forecasting lower margins due to rising prices for raw materials. That was the takeaway message from Caterpillar’s (CAT) earnings report.

A tried and true earnings game  boosts Microsoft another 1.23% today

A tried and true earnings game boosts Microsoft another 1.23% today

After picking up; 1.3% yesterday, shares of Microsoft added 1.23% today, Friday, July 23, as Wall Street analysts raised earnings estimates ahead of the company’s July 27 earnings report. It’s a tried and true earnings season game: No analyst wants to be on the wrong side of a strong earnings report so the days before a company is due to report earnings brings a raft of new, higher target prices.

Special Report: Fixed income investing is facing a crisis–3 tactics and 7 picks so you can fix your income investing crisis–Part 1, The Tactical Framework

Special Report: Fixed income investing is facing a crisis–3 tactics and 7 picks so you can fix your income investing crisis–Part 1, The Tactical Framework

The big arguments in the financial markets these days are about inflation–will it stay elevated at an annual rate of the better than 5% reported in May and June or will be fall to the 2.5% or so envisioned by the Federal Reserve–and interest rates–the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.21% on Monday, July 19 and some market strategists see 1% in the cards while others are looking for a 2.5% or even 4% at the peak of this cycle. I certainly won’t pretend the results of these arguments don’t matter. Inflation sentiment and interest rate projections are the two biggest drivers of stock and bond prices right now. (Well, maybe in the short term next to worries that a fourth wave in the pandemic will shut down the U.S. and global economies again.) But these arguments matter rather less than you might think to investors saving for retirement and those looking to generate some income from their portfolio either to fund retirement or some other predictable big ticket item (like monthly mortgage payments on a first or second (don’t I wish) home.) That’s because from that perspective the results of these arguments don’t change the portfolio cash flow picture very much

Investors buy the dip; Delta variant is forgotten for a day

Investors buy the dip; Delta variant is forgotten for a day

Today investors and traders ran to buy all the re-opening, post-vaccine recovery, cyclical stocks that they dumped yesterday. Macy’s (M) is up 4.29% as of 3:30 p.m. New York time after plunging 4.90% yesterday. Amusement park operator Cedar Fair (FUN) is up 4.12%. Cyclical Dupont (DD) is up 1.34% after closing down 4.46% yesterday. Carnival Cruise (CCL) is ahead 7.83% today after dropping 5.74% yesterday. It’s as if the market has decided that the really scary upward trend in new infections from the spread of the Delta variant is done with and over. Pandemic yesterday. No pandemic today.. The figures from the pandemic front say otherwise. The 14-day change in new cases as of July 19 is 198%. The 14-day change in new deaths is 44%.

Surprising growth in retail June retail sales not enough to keep stocks from falling

U.S. retail sales surged 18.0% in June from June 2020, the Commerce Department reported today. Demand for goods remained strong but spending is clearly shifting back to services. Stocks fell despite the good news with economic recovery and post-vaccine stocks taking the biggest hit. The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLY) fell 1.23% on the day. The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) gained 0.20%.

China GDP growth misses but not by as much as feared

China GDP growth misses but not by as much as feared

China’s economy grew by 7.9% in the second quarter of 2021 from the second quarter of 2020. That was a huge slowdown from the 18.3% year over year growth in the first quarter. No one had expected that growth surge from the end of pandemic lockdowns to be duplicated this quarter. Before the report economists surveyed by Reuters were looking for GDP to grow by 8.1% in the quarter. So today’s report contains a slight miss on projections but it is be no means a worst case scenario, especially since other economic numbers were stronger than the GDP reading.

CPI inflation climbs to 5.4% annual rate, stocks shrug

CPI inflation climbs to 5.4% annual rate, stocks shrug

The Federal Reserve has said that the current jump in inflation is temporary, a result of post-pandemic glitches in the supply chain. So far the market is going along with that view. But huge jumps in monthly inflation in May and now, this morning, June are treating that confidence.
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.9% in June from May and by 5.4% from June 2020, according to the Labor Department today. Excluding more volatile food and energy components, core CPI inflation rose by 4.5% from June 2020. That’s the biggest jump in core inflation since November 1991.

If China’s growth is slowing, can the U.S. and other economies be far behind?

The announcement last week by the People’s Bank of China that it would cut the reserve requirement for China’s big banks by 50 basis points has led to fears that China’s economy might be slowing from its peak pandemic growth rate. While economists had been expecting the move from the People’s Bank, they weren’t expecting such as large cut so soon. Which has led to fears the the People’s Bank moved so aggressively because China’s growth rate is slowing. Data on second quarter GDP is due to be released on Thursday and economists are expecting that growth in the quarter slowed to 8% from the record gain of 18.3% in the first quarter, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. Growth in retail sales, industrial production, and fixed asset investment is expected to moderate too.