On Our Minds

Third-Quarter Market Update

The S&P 500 Index is consolidating as Washington policymakers postpone important decisions on the budget ceiling and the infrastructure bills. The S&P 500 Index has grown this year as earnings and growth have supported valuations, but now, as fiscal and monetary policies change, we are seeing investor concerns. With fiscal policy, there are many supportive benefits of spending $500 billion on actual bridge and road infrastructure. However, the massive $3.5-trillion “human” infrastructure package is concerning due to higher taxes and escalating inflation. This plan is likely to be debated and downsized before passage – if at all.

More

Market Conditions Inspire Optimism

The equity markets continue to move higher on news of steady economic growth and the receding COVID virus. The S&P 500 Index has grown in each of the first seven months of the year and when this has occurred historically, it has led to further gains through year-end. Recent economic indicators are demonstrating slower and more stable U.S. domestic growth and that has inspired optimism for future earnings.

More

Pent-up demand fuels economy

Hello friends,
I hope you are having a healthy and wonderful summer! I am providing the following financial market update for your review:

Economic indicators are proving that consumers and businesses are fueling the economy with pent-up demand on spending. Consumers are reacting to the vaccinations with robust spending on vacations, furniture, automobiles and homes, while businesses are trying to ramp up production and services to meet the need. With GDP growing at 6.5% and now back to pre-pandemic levels, this pace is not sustainable and should decelerate in the coming quarters. This does not foreshadow a recession: the economy is returning to steady 2-3% sustainable growth with stable employment and lower inflation. GDP growth would have been stronger if supply chains, home building, and product delivery had not been suppressed by inventory and labor shortages.

More

Investors see an improving economy with continued low interest rates as positive.

Welcome to the Roaring ’20s

The S&P 500 Index gained 8.1% for the second quarter and 14.4% year-to-date despite concerns over Federal Reserve policy, fiscal spending and the spreading delta variant of COVID. Most investors see an improving economy with continued low interest rates being positive for corporate earnings. Small cap stocks, which are mostly leveraged to an improving domestic economy, are leading the market higher. The best performing sectors were energy, financial, healthcare, and materials as value and cyclical companies are perceived to have more inflation-induced pricing power. The reflationary and cyclical trade into financials, industrials, basic materials, and travel-related companies is beginning to wane, however, as earnings expectations are set astronomically high. This will make the second-quarter earnings period more challenging for those companies that miss high expectations. In addition, most commodity prices appear to have peaked. Growth stocks, particularly large cap technology stocks that are known for more consistent earnings, are coming back into favor as interest rates remain lower for longer.

More

Investor confidence grows in May

The S&P 500 index was up slightly in the month of May due to growing investor confidence in higher 2021 corporate revenues and earnings. With the receding COVID pandemic, consumers and businesses are emerging from social-distancing protocols and accelerating their spending. This strong growth in demand for goods has led to inventory shortages in many cases. Temporary delivery delays for raw materials and components are constraining global growth. Employment is expanding, however, which means goods manufacturing should improve and service industries should gain momentum.

More

Corporate earnings meet or beat expectations

Most first-quarter corporate earnings reports have been meeting or beating expectations and this has raised the confidence that equity valuations are not excessive. The S&P 500 Index is trading at a reasonable 22x Price to Earnings multiple, but earnings estimates are being actively raised by analysts who see stronger revenue and profit growth in the second half of 2021. Financial, industrial, energy and basic materials companies are showing considerable revenue acceleration, expense control and order backlogs. Earnings from Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Qualcomm were all above expectation and guidance was strong for the year ahead. Both growth and value stocks are rising, but the pervasive microchip shortage is constraining production at some cyclical companies like Caterpillar and Ford. Small Cap and Mid Cap stocks continue to lead the market, while the service sector, especially travel and leisure, is gradually recovering.

More

Major Stimulus Sparks Economy

The S&P 500 Index grew 5.8% in the first quarter in response to the massive fiscal stimulus and the anticipation of a significant economic rebound. The recent passage of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package added to the previous five major stimulus bills totaling over $5.2 trillion. Lawmakers as well as the Federal Reserve have responded dramatically to the COVID pandemic flooding the market with liquidity and the markets responded positively. The COVID-relief money flooding into depository institutions is being used for consumption and investment and helping corporate earnings rebound quickly.

More

Economic recovery is underway

With the completion of the fourth quarter of 2020 corporate earnings releases, investors are monitoring daily COVID headlines, rising interest rates, and the potential for a new stimulus program. Corporate earnings were mostly better than expected and guidance for the year ahead was surprisingly strong.

More

Initial market in President Biden's first days

The S&P 500 Index was down 1% in January based on investors’ revised expectations of corporate revenue growth and earnings. First, the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and inoculation process is proceeding slowly while the virus is mutating. The new strains appear to be slightly more virulent and the vaccination timeline will take longer and delay economic normalization. Second, the peaceful installation of the Biden Administration with impactful policy changes have added uncertainty. New executive orders are being launched daily with an emphasis so far on changing carbon emissions, raising the minimum wage and bringing about social justice. Third, the expectation for further fiscal stimulus in the next 100 days is losing its enthusiasm. The passage of another $1.9 trillion relief package so soon after the recently passed $900-million package seems excessive even for the new Congress.

More

Investment Market Update: Positive Takeaways From 2020

2020 was an unusual and volatile one with the S&P 500 Index’s 34% decline in 30 days in March followed by a retracement and rise of over 16% by year-end. This proved once again that a longer-term outlook is required in successful equity investing.

More