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Economic Update 9-25-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates unchanged but kept language relatively hawkish. Housing data was negative, with a drop in existing home sales as well as starts and homebuilder sentiment, although building permits improved. The index of leading economic indicators remained in a negative trend. 
  • Global stocks fell back last week, due to the hawkish tone of central bank commentary, as opposed to actual rate hikes done, as well as idiosyncratic economic stresses. Bonds fell back, directly due to the rise in longer-term yields. Commodities were mixed, with crude oil prices little changed for the week. 

U.S. stocks began decently, but fell back starting just after the FOMC meeting, as investors took Chair Powell’s comments regarding policy as ‘higher rates for longer.’ Naturally, this serves to pressure the economy, and notably earnings, further. The UAW strike has also intensified from only three plants to now nearly 40 around the nation, with uncertain duration and impact, in addition to a potentially upcoming government shutdown. Thursday’s decline, while not severe, was the largest in six months. As it stands, the S&P 500 is down -6% from its peak in late July (drawdowns can be stealthy, with September again proving its negative reputation). 

Every sector declined in value last week, led by consumer discretionary down -6% (pulled down by Tesla and Amazon, together which represent 50% of the sector, among others), as well as more cyclical materials and financials. As expected, more defensive utilities, health care, and consumer staples held up better, with lesser but still-present declines. Real estate fell back over -5% with a significant move higher in interest rates, affecting financing conditions and required cap rates. Small cap stocks fared significantly worse than large cap, presumably more negatively affected by higher financing rates as well. 

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Economic Update 9-18-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included mixed producer and consumer inflation results, with headline numbers driven by higher energy costs. Retail sales, industrial production, and regional manufacturing results showed gains for the prior. 
  • Equities ended with flattish returns in the U.S., underperforming foreign stocks, which saw gains. Bonds fell back along with higher interest rates across the yield curve. Commodities gained last week, led by continued supply concerns in crude oil. 

U.S. stocks ended flattish on the week, with sectors mixed, seeing gains in utilities, consumer discretionary (solely due to gains in Tesla), and financials. Technology was the sole decliner of several percent, with some degree of disappointment about Apple’s annual fall product event last week. Real estate ticked slightly higher, despite a rise in interest rates. Stocks closed the week on a sourer note, as data from China came in more positively, weakening the case for additional stimulus there that markets had hoped for. The U.S. auto worker strike also began, being the first time where all three domestic automakers were targeted in a century, which economists have predicted could negatively affect spending and GDP growth if it continues for an extended period. At the same time, decent economic data and rising energy prices as of late threatens another Fed rate hike—even if not for this coming week’s meeting (as futures markets point to overwhelming odds of no change). 

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Economic Update 9-11-2023 

  • On a shortened holiday week, economic data was positive, which included ISM services sentiment coming in stronger than expected, and jobless claims falling a bit. 
  • Global equities fell back as interest rates rose in conjunction with the still-decent U.S. economic data. Bonds fell in line with slightly higher yields, and a stronger U.S. dollar held back foreign debt markets. Commodities were mixed, with weaker metals offset by a continued rise in the price of crude oil. 

U.S. stocks fell back in the shortened holiday week as decent economic data (stronger ISM services and lower jobless claims) resulted in a creep higher for interest rates. However, later in the week, some Fed comments were taken dovishly, that policy rate hikes may be finished. By sector, conditions were mixed, with gains in energy coming along with higher petroleum prices, as well as defensive utilities. By contrast, industrials, materials, and technology all experienced declines of several percent each. In particular, large index component Apple was hampered by the news of Chinese government employees to be restricted from using iPhones, as well as uncertainty over the potential popularity of the new iPhone models assumed to be rolled out next week. Real estate also fell back by a percent, in keeping with higher interest rates. 

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Economic Update 9-05-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included a revision downward for U.S. Q2 GDP, as well as improved but still negative ISM manufacturing. Housing results were generally positive, from the standpoint of home prices and pending sales. Labor market data was mixed, with continued signs of slowing, but remaining decent. 
  • Global equities experienced gains, with U.S. stocks outperforming most foreign with benign economic, inflation, and interest rate news. Bonds rose along with a pullback in interest rates. Commodities were led higher by crude oil and industrial metals.

U.S. stocks started off well last week, particularly Tue. as job openings declined significantly (presumably lowering the probability of another Fed rate hike). The downward revision of Q2 GDP on Wed. also pointed to lowered likelihood of a hike, at least relative to a revision upward. Later in the week, the employment situation report reaction was mixed, with signs of labor slowing a positive in terms of keeping Fed policy where it is, but the sharply higher unemployment rate again raised some recession concerns. 

By sector, cyclicals broadly gained, led by technology, materials, energy, and consumer discretionary, each with returns of 3-4% on the week. Defensive industries utilities and consumer staples lagged with declines. Real estate also rose over a percent for the week. 

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Economic Update 8-28-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included a decline in durable goods orders, while housing data was mixed, with a drop in existing home sales offset by a rise in new home sales. 
  • Equities rose globally as economic growth continued to stay non-negative, along with hopes for an eventual peak in interest rates. Bonds fared positively in the U.S. as yields fell back from prior-week highs. Commodities gained due to specific supply/demand dynamics and continued waning recession fears. 

U.S. stocks gained on the week, with mixed economic results and subtle positives, such as UPS workers approving a new 5-year labor deal, although autoworkers have yet to do the same. Positive market response to Fed Chair Powell’s non-controversial opening comments to the Fed’s Jackson Hole conference also helped sentiment. For now, the financial market response seems to continue to be all about yields. By sector, technology led the way, up over 2% (helped by NVIDIA’s results), followed by gains in consumer discretionary and communications; laggards included energy and consumer staples. Real estate also gained three-quarters of a percent for the week. 

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Economic Update 8-21-2023 

  • Economic releases for the week included the index of leading economic indicators continuing its long-running decline. However, retail sales and industrial production surpassed expectations on the upside. Housing data was mixed, as were several regional manufacturing surveys. 
  • Stocks saw negative returns globally, with interest rates rising and concerns over the Chinese economy dominating sentiment. Bonds declined due to the direct impact of those rising yields. Commodities fell due to currency effects and demand concerns in oil and metals. 

U.S. stocks fell back for the third straight week. Domestic economic data continued at a mixed to decent growth rate; however, the FOMC minutes soured the mood with some officials hinting at further rate hikes potentially being necessary, and negative economic news from China also eroded sentiment. 

Every domestic sector lost ground, led by consumer discretionary down over -4% (with several members down, but mostly Tesla), followed by a decline in communications; on the other hand, energy, technology, and typically defensive health care and utilities suffered the fewest losses. Real estate also declined over -3% along with higher interest rates across the board. 

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Economic Update 8-14-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included consumer price inflation coming in at a continued decelerated pace, as were producer prices to a slightly lesser degree. Jobless claims rose modestly, with no major recent change. 
  • Equities were mixed to lower last week, as interest rates rose and summer trading volumes remained low. Bonds fell back as well, due to the duration impact of rates. Commodities were mixed, with oil prices inching up slightly in a continuation of tighter supply conditions. 

U.S. stocks were mixed during the week, with lighter summer volumes coming along with the contrasting news of flatter inflation coupled with higher interest rates. By sector, energy gained over 3%, followed by health care, which was helped by drug-related news, with defensives generally faring better than cyclicals. Technology fell back nearly -3%, bucking recent strong trends. Financials were mixed as well, as several smaller banks received credit downgrades, which affected the small cap value market specifically. 

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Economic Update 7-31-2023 

  • Economic news for the week included the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates by another quarter percent, Q2 GDP growth that came in stronger than expected, as did durable goods orders and consumer sentiment. 
  • Global equities gained for the week, with positive economic news and improved inflation readings. Bonds were generally negative, as interest rates ticked higher along with central bank hawkishness about potential future hikes. Commodities were mixed, with oil prices up 5%. 

U.S. stocks ended the week mixed to higher, with a bit uncertainty in direction following the Fed’s decision to raise rates, strong U.S. GDP growth, durable goods and consumer sentiment results that defy worries about a potential recession, as well as decent corporate earnings and falling PCE inflation. The S&P 500 has risen by 30% from a low point in October, now well above the closely-watched 50-day and 200-day moving averages. From a technical standpoint, this represents a bull market. However, other technical signals, such as near-term relative strength, point to a potentially overbought condition. This isn’t unusual, nor would be a short-term pullback at this point (just to keep expectations in check). 

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Economic Update 7-24-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included the index of leading economic indicators continuing a long stretch of declines, pointing to ongoing recession risks. Industrial production and retail sales slowed, as did sales and starts in the housing sector. 
  • U.S. stocks saw gains last week, coupled with mixed results abroad. Bonds were little changed in the U.S. with a stable yield curve, while foreign bonds suffered from a weaker dollar. Commodities were also mixed, with gains in energy offset by weaker prices for industrial metals. 

U.S. stocks were mixed last week, with continued positive sentiment from the prior week’s better inflation readings and optimism about potential avoidance of a recession—seen by improved outlooks from some prominent economists. However, in earnings season, results are often stock-specific. Growth sectors ended in the negative, in contrast to recent strength, while value names gained over 2%. Small cap stocks outperformed large caps, to make up some of their lost ground in 2023, with some investors acknowledging their multi-year valuation discounts relative to larger companies. By sector, gains were had in energy and financials (for example, better than expected earnings for some firms, and Charles Schwab losing deposits at a slower rate than feared) as well as more defensive sectors health care and utilities. On the negative side, communications (Alphabet/Google) and consumer discretionary (Amazon and Tesla) each fell -2% to -3%. The reconfiguring of the Nasdaq 100 today (along with its popular tracking funds like the QQQ) will serve to trim weightings from the largest seven firms, while boosting the relative sizes of the rest, which may have also influenced some pre-emptive trading. 

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Economic Update 7-18-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included producer and consumer price inflation continuing to decelerate—and even more so than expectations. Consumer sentiment also improved to the highest point in several years. 
  • Global equities gained last week on the back of the improving U.S. inflation data. Bonds also gained along with the retreat in interest rates. Commodities rose with help from a weaker dollar. 

In the midst of slower summer volume, U.S. stocks gained last week, as falling consumer and producer inflation boosted investor spirits. The key factor, of course, is the impact on the economy, as well as the lower probability of the Fed’s continued hawkish rate hike path. Every sector ended in the positive last week, with communications and consumer discretionary leading the way, and energy and consumer staples coming up in the rear, with lesser gains. Real estate fared positively, up nearly 3%, as interest rates fell back. Earnings season began Friday, with several large banks showing mixed results for the quarter. 

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Economic Update 7-10-2023 

  • In a holiday-shortened week, economic releases included the mixed results of ISM manufacturing falling further into contraction, while ISM services rose further into expansion. The employment situation report showed positive jobs growth, but at a slower rate than expected, to cap a week of mixed labor data generally. 
  • Equities fell globally last week, with expectations for more hawkish central bank policy and associated higher interest rates for longer, following not-terrible economic data. Bonds fell back along with higher assumed rates. Commodities were up slightly, led by production cuts in crude oil that boosted prices. 

U.S. stocks fell back generally last week, as decent economic news continued to perpetuate an assumed hawkish Fed policy lasting longer than expected, with further rate hikes. Stocks declined sharply on Thurs. specifically as strong labor market data (ADP and claims) highlighted these expectations. This was particularly true in light of somewhat hawkish Fed minutes from June, where further hikes were debated to a greater degree than was previously assumed. Nearly every sector was down for the week, led by health care, materials, and technology. Health care appeared to be negatively affected by disappointing trial results for a new lung cancer drug from AstraZeneca. Utilities and communications suffered least, with minimal changes for the week. Real estate gained a fraction of a percent, interestingly, despite a rise in interest rates.  

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Economic Update 6-20-2023 

  • Economic news for the week included the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates steady for the first time in a year. In other data, consumer price inflation decelerated but remained high, while producer price inflation decelerated even further. Retail sales rose, while industrial production fell back, and several regional manufacturing indexes were mixed.  
  • Global equities saw strong returns last week, in keeping with the Fed pause, lower inflation, and an absence of otherwise poor economic news. Bonds were little changed, along with a quiet yield curve, with corporates and foreign outperforming. Commodities fared positively, with gains in agriculture and natural gas. 

U.S. stocks steady gains last week. Every sector except energy ended positively, led by ‘growth’ areas technology, consumer discretionary, while industrials and materials also rallied. Real estate rose over a percent, with little change in interest rates on net. After an initial negative reaction to the FOMC meeting, as the hawkish tone alluded to more interest rate hikes than markets expected, mixed data later in the week settled nerves a bit, as did the realization that inflation is indeed improving. 

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Economic Update 6-12-2023 

  • In a light week for economic data, ISM non-manufacturing fell back but continued on a path of expansion. Jobless claims were mixed, with possible continued effects from seasonal adjustments. 
  • Equities gained across the board last week, as sentiment continued in a positive direction. Investment-grade bonds fell back, as yields ticked higher, with foreign bonds seeing gains from a weaker dollar. Commodities were mixed, with crude oil falling back, as production cuts were offset by economic growth concerns. 

U.S. stocks earned minor gains last week, with little economic news but enthusiasm over the potential benefits of AI as well as an expected pause by the Fed next week seemingly leading the mildly positive sentiment. By sector, stocks were dominated by gains in consumer discretionary (due to Tesla), utilities, energy, and industrials; laggards included negative returns for technology and consumer staples. In tech, there was some interest in the eagerly anticipated Apple mixed reality headset (with a price tag of up to $3,500). Then again, as with AI, the near-term economic growth benefits don’t seem obvious, and price reaction was neutral on net. 

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Economic Update 6-05-2023 

  • Economic data for the holiday-shortened week included strength in the May employment situation report and construction spending, while ISM manufacturing and consumer confidence declined. 
  • Global stocks broadly rose last week, helped by the conclusion to the U.S. debt ceiling negotiations and strong labor data. Bonds fared well as interest rates ticked downward. Commodities were mixed, with energy again falling back. 

U.S. stocks gained last week, with Wednesday night’s news of the House passing the U.S. debt ceiling deal in an uneventful manner, seen as the biggest hurdle to full approval, which was followed by the Senate on Thursday night. This pushes the ceiling beyond the 2024 election and into Jan. 2025. The formal name, the ‘Fiscal Responsibility Act,’ might either be seen as antagonistic or ironic, depending on what side one is on, as it features a variety of discretionary spending caps for future years, reducing funding for the IRS, among other projects approved in earlier legislation. Friday’s strong jobs report also buoyed sentiment higher. 

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Economic Update 1-30-2023 

  • Economic data for the week included U.S. GDP coming in for Q4 at a stronger pace than expected, in addition to positive reports for durable goods orders, new home sales, and consumer sentiment.
  • Global stocks rose last week, with the U.S. leading the way, upon rising hopes for the economy achieving a soft landing and inflation easing. Bonds were little changed on the week. Commodities were mixed, with both crude oil and natural gas prices falling due to higher supply pressures.

U.S. stocks were mixed last week, with offsetting weaker economic reports and improved producer inflation readings. Sentiment mid-week took a turn downhill due to lower retail sales and industrial production numbers, as well as a large layoff announcement from Microsoft and Google. Thus far, layoff announcements have been concentrated in the tech industry, but markets appear to be awaiting a broader spread. Labor market erosion seems to be one of the key factors the Fed is anticipating in finding a fed funds rate peak. Sector results were oddly mixed, with communications (mostly Alphabet/Google), technology, and energy leading the way; industrials fared worst, along with normally defensive consumer staples and utilities. Real estate also fell back by nearly a percent.

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Economic Update 10-24-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a rise in industrial production, mixed regional manufacturing indexes, and a variety of weaker housing sales and sentiment reports. The index of leading economic indicators continues to lean towards a recession in coming months.
  • U.S. equity markets saw sharp gains last week, due to stronger earnings and rising hopes for a Fed potentially slowing down on rate hikes, with foreign stocks also positive. Bonds fell back due to still-rising long-term yields. Commodities were mixed.

U.S. stocks saw gains last week with corporate earnings reports coming in better than expected. Additionally, a large batch of options expiring by the end of the week added to volatility. While comments from Fed members earlier in the week pointed to ongoing hawkishness, these were talked back later in the week with possible indications the Fed may slow or pause hikes pause early in 2023 to assess their impact thus far. Of course, such Fed comments aren’t made in a vacuum, and tend to be carefully worded when they are shared. Financial markets took this as a positive sign for better clarity on long-term yields. Every sector ended the week in the positive, led by energy stocks up 8%, followed by materials and technology. Real estate rose nearly 3% despite higher interest rates.

Earnings season for Q3 has begun, with several large firms in the financial sector having already reported. So far, rising loss provisions (a discretionary earnings item to a large degree) in expectation for recession have resulted in lowered earnings in that sector. Per FactSet, 20% of S&P members have now reported, with another half of the index reporting this coming week. Expectations have become more variable, with 115% earnings growth in energy barbelled by double-digit declines in financials, materials, and communications. As a whole, S&P 500 estimates for Q3 have fallen by a percent, but remain a positive 1.5% on a year-over-year basis, although nearly three-quarters of firms have surprised positively on an earnings and revenue basis. For the full 2022 calendar year, earnings growth is expected to be 6-7%, and rising to 7-8% for 2023. The current 12-month forward P/E is 15.6, just below the 10-year average, and right around the long-term average number.

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Economic Update 9-12-2022

  • On a holiday-shortened week, economic data for the week included the ISM services index strengthening, and mixed results for jobless claims.


  • Global equity markets gained last week, as central bank actions and member comments solidified a commitment to fighting inflation without overly damaging the global economy, in addition to inflation pressures themselves cooling. Bonds were mixed, with treasuries down due to higher rates, and high yield seeing gains. Commodities were mixed, with energy falling back due to natural gas prices, while crude oil was little changed.

U.S. stocks gained ground last week, in a reversal of recent negativity, led by lower energy prices and well-accepted Fed comments about the ability to achieve a soft landing. Every sector was in positive territory, led by most cyclical consumer discretionary and materials, each up over 5%. Energy lagged, up less than a percent. Real estate also gained several percent, despite higher longer-term interest rates, which have been a headwind for the group.

Foreign stocks came in a bit behind U.S. stocks, with Europe and the U.K. several percent higher, while gains in Japan and emerging markets were more tempered. More solidified plans by several European nations (such as household energy cost caps in the U.K.) in handling the energy crisis resulting from gas shortages appeared to improve sentiment. The magnitude of some fiscal aid is approaching or exceeding that of the Covid response. The ECB raised interest rates by 0.75% on Thurs., which, coupled with hawkish language, has raised expectations for further hikes later in the year. Chinese producer price inflation fell unexpectedly, which helped global sentiment later in the week.

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  • Economic news for the week included the Federal Reserve raising interest rates sharply in their fight with inflation. Data was mixed, with the index of leading economic indicators and retail sales softer, while industrial production improved. Producer prices remained high, but showed some deceleration. Housing starts and sentiment continued to decline, not helped by rising mortgage interest rates.
  • Global equity markets responded negatively to persistent worries over high inflation, rate hikes, and rising recession risks. Bonds fell back on higher yields globally, and pressure on credit. Commodities fell broadly with a pullback in crude oil and natural gas prices.

Fed Update 6-15-2022

6/15/2022 scott

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Fed Note:

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee continued its aggressive tightening pace in the June meeting, by raising the key fed funds interest rate today by 0.75%—to a new range of 1.50-1.75%. This was the largest single meeting hike since 1994, and featured one dissenting vote (by a member favoring 0.50%). Why 0.75% and not 0.50%? It appeared the most recent consumer price index reading (still persisting around peak levels) and longer-term inflation expectations in the recent Univ. of Michigan consumer sentiment survey in recent days may have been catalysts for the stronger message and front-loading of hikes from later to earlier meetings....

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Economic Update 6-13-2022

  • Economic data for the week included consumer price inflation coming in high in keeping with expectations. Consumer sentiment remains challenged, at its lowest levels in decades, due to high inflationary pressures, notably with gasoline. Jobless claims were little changed, when adjusted for seasonal effects.
  • Global equity markets fell back last week, as high inflation reports and poor consumer sentiment dampened risk-taking. However, emerging market stocks fared better as pandemic conditions in China appear to be improving. Bond markets fell back again with interest rates rising across the board. Commodities were mixed overall, but oil and natural gas prices continued to move higher.
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Economic Update 6-06-2022

  • Economic data for the holiday-shortened week included a rise in manufacturing sentiment and small drop in services sentiment, despite both remaining solidly expansionary. House prices continued to increase at a dramatic pace. The May employment situation report outpaced expectations, although results were not as strong as in recent months.
  • Global equity markets fell back from a steep recovery the prior week, except for emerging markets, which gained ground as Chinese lockdowns eased. Bond prices declined as the result of higher treasury interest yields. Commodities were mixed, with higher energy prices offsetting a pullback in grains.
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Economic Update 5-30-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a slight downward revision in first quarter GDP, positive durable goods orders, along with weaker new home sales data and consumer sentiment.
  • Global equity markets rose broadly last week, with U.S. stocks outperforming foreign. Bonds also fared positively, with interest rates pulling back upon a possible peaking in inflationary pressures. Commodities rose due to gains in crude oil and natural gas.
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Economic Update 5-23-2022

  • Economic data for the week included gains in retail sales and industrial production. On the other hand, regional manufacturing sentiment fell back, as did several housing metrics as activity slowed along with historically-low residential home inventories.
  • Global equities were mixed on the week, with U.S. stocks down sharply once again, while foreign stocks gained ground. Bonds fared positively, with interest rates backing off of peaks. Commodities gained a bit, led by industrial metals rather than oil.
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Economic Update 5-16-2022

  • Economic data for the week included higher readings for the producer price and consumer price indexes—continuing a trend of higher inflation. However, import prices saw some relief. Continuing jobless claims fell further to very low levels, indicating labor market strength.
  • Global markets fell back sharply last week, as volatility amidst a variety of geopolitical and financial crosswinds as well as a rising interest rate regime kept sentiment depressed. Bonds reversed course and saw gains as longer-term yields fell back from recent peaks. Commodities were mixed, with little change in oil prices, which remained high.
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Economic Update 5-09-2022

  • Economic data for the week included the Federal Reserve raising short-term interest rates by a half-percent, an amount not seen in over two decades. The employment situation report for April continued to show a strong improvement in jobs, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at a tight level. ISM manufacturing and services fell back a bit, but remained solidly in expansionary territory.
  • Global equity markets experienced another volatile week, with U.S. stocks outperforming foreign markets. Bonds also declined along with rising interest rates, prompted by the Fed policy move. Commodities ended higher, driven by tight crude oil supplies.

Fed Update 5-04-2022

5/4/2022 scott

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The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee turned more aggressive in this month’s meeting by raising the key fed funds interest rate by 0.50%—for the first time in over twenty years by that amount—to a new range of 0.75-1.00%. There were no dissents. This was in line with consensus estimates, steered by Fed member comments over the past few weeks that guided markets to anticipate this more hawkish outcome.

The formal statement language noted that economic activity edged down in Q1, although household and business spending remains strong, as are job gains. Inflation was described as remaining elevated, reflecting ongoing pandemic disruptions as well as higher energy prices, although broadened to other areas. Ukraine was also mentioned as an additional source of geopolitical uncertainty, and Covid lockdowns in China continuing to weigh on supply disruptions. In addition to today’s rate hike, ‘ongoing’ rate increases were seen as appropriate. Guidelines for balance sheet reduction were also outlined, set to begin in June at $47.5 bil./mo., ramping up to $95 bil./mo. after three months.

Based on CME data, formal probabilities of a 0.50% fed funds hike ticked up a few percentage points in recent days to just under 100%1. In addition, a 0.75% rate increase is the highest expected outcome for June. The September level is predicted to reach 2.50-2.75% (around the Fed long-term neutral rate), and 3.00-3.25% by December, although that features more outcome dispersion on both sides. The latest period available, Jul. 2023, shows the highest probability being 3.50-3.75%, implying some slowing in the hiking pace by that time. Regardless, markets are predicting a much more aggressive Fed pace than we’ve been used to, although these probability markets are subject to rapid change.

The Fed’s evaluation metrics remain mixed, in terms of high inflation being offset by still decent, but decelerating economic growth fundamentals: ...

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Economic Update 5-02-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a surprisingly negative U.S. GDP result for the first quarter. Housing data was mixed, with slower sales, but home prices reached record highs. Consumer sentiment fell back a bit, but durable goods rose, and jobless claims remained positive, and near multi-decade lows.
  • Global equity markets fell back sharply last week, due to mixed earnings reports, high commodity prices, slowing growth, and Ukraine concerns. Bonds were little changed in the U.S., but were negatively impacted abroad by an especially strong U.S. dollar. Commodities were mixed, with higher energy prices offsetting declines in metals.
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Economic Update 4-25-2022

  • Economic data for the week included declines in several national housing numbers, such as existing home sales and homebuilder sentiment; however, housing starts rose a bit. The index of leading economic indicators showed growth, but at a tempered pace from preceding months.
  • Global equity markets fell back last week, in keeping with continued concerns over the ongoing Ukraine war as well as hawkish rhetoric from global central bankers. Bonds declined due to that same rhetoric, which pushed intermediate-term interest rates higher, and foreign bonds hurt by a stronger dollar. Commodities reversed trend last week, by falling back across the board, notably in energy.
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Economic Update 4-18-2022

  • Economic data for the week included gains in retail sales, as well as improvement in consumer sentiment, and continued healthy jobless claims. However, producer and consumer price inflation continued to come in at multi-decade high levels.
  • In a holiday-shortened week, global equity markets were mixed to lower, as high inflation readings and negative sentiment about Ukraine weighed on risk-taking. Foreign outperformed the U.S. slightly due to a weaker dollar. Bonds continued to lose ground as interest rates climbed higher in keeping with high CPI and PPI readings. Commodities also gained, with crude oil and natural gas prices rising sharply.
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Economic Update 4-11-2022

  • In a light week for economic data, ISM services sentiment continued to show strength, while the minutes from the most recent March Fed meeting laid out a plan for faster rate hikes and a plan to allow for a balance sheet run-off of treasury and mortgage bonds.
  • Equity markets in both the U.S. and abroad fell back last week, as interest rates ticked higher and economic concerns weighed on sentiment. Bonds suffered along with rising rates. Commodities were mixed, with gains in agriculture offset by less volatile energy prices last week.
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Economic Update 4-04-2022

  • Economic data for the week included minimal revisions to prior-quarter U.S. GDP growth, and a slight decline in the pace of still-positive ISM manufacturing sentiment. Housing prices continued to rise at a solid clip, while labor markets continue to demonstrate a recovery, notably in nonfarm payrolls for March.
  • U.S. equity markets were little changed on net, and were outshined by gains in foreign markets. Bonds gained ground to end the quarter, as interest rates fell back from highs. Commodity prices fell back, led by energy, along with a potential increase in crude oil supply from government reserves.
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Economic Update 3-28-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a decline in durable goods orders and new home sales, and consumer sentiment fell to multi-year lows. However, jobless claims again reached multi-decade levels of strength.
  • U.S. equity markets gained ground last week, despite a more hawkish Fed; foreign markets were mixed, based on the relative impacts of high energy prices and the war in Ukraine. Bonds fell back sharply, as hawkish central bank language caused interest rates to drift higher in a variety of maturities. Commodities continued to gain across the board along with supply shortages, notably in energy and metals, due to the war in Ukraine and associated Russian sanctions.
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Economic Update 3-21-2022

  • In economic news, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in several years, by a quarter percent. In other data releases, retail sales and industrial production increased, as did housing starts, while jobless claims also came in better than expected. Producer prices continued their rise, and the index of leading economic indicators improved.
  • Global equity markets rose last week with a tempering in commodity prices, a Fed that acted on the more tempered side, and rumors of progress in Ukraine-Russia peace talks. U.S. bonds fell back as interest rates ticked higher, along with hawkish Fed language. Commodities fell back due to concern over lower demand in China, due to Covid lockdowns.

Fed Update 3-16-2022

3/16/2022 scott

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The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee raised the key fed funds interest rate today by 0.25%, to a new range of 0.25-0.50%. This first hike in four years was as expected, with the Fed communicating their intention and amount fairly directly in recent weeks. However, at least until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was debate about whether the hike could be as high as 0.50%. In fact, there was one dissent in the committee decision, by Fed St. Louis President Bullard, who preferred the 0.50% hike....

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Economic Update 3-14-2022

  • Economic data for the week included the consumer price index rising to another multi-decade high, job openings continued to show strength, while jobless claims were little changed.
  • Global equity markets lost ground again in keeping with the geopolitical and economic aftermath of the Ukraine conflict, although hopes for diplomacy resulted in a few positive days. Bonds fell back as well, with interest rates rising on net along with record inflation data. Commodities prices pulled back after a strong run since the start of the conflict.
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Economic Update 3-07-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a robust employment situation report, as well as other labor metrics, and improved manufacturing and construction activity.
  • Global financial market sentiment continued to be driven by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with U.S. and especially foreign stocks losing ground and staying in correction territory. Bonds were mixed, with higher-quality safe haven debt faring positively. Commodities experienced sharp gains, led by crude oil and grains—exports most affected by Russian and Ukrainian supplies.
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Economic Update 2-28-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a slight revision to prior-quarter GDP, a continued gain in house prices, and continued lower jobless claims. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine dominated most other news.
  • Global equity markets initially fell sharply last week, in the ramp-up to the Russian invasion, which had been brewing for weeks. However, stocks recovered after the military activity started and rumors of negotiations came. U.S. bonds started strong but fell back as interest rates ticked higher along with a return to inflation worries. Commodities gained across the board, notably in energy and agriculture, due Russian and Ukrainian-specific supply concerns.
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A variety of conflicts involving major world powers have tended to historically raise short-term volatility in global financial assets. However, market damage has tended to be short-lived, as in the magnitude of a typical market correction (-10% or a bit more). One has currently been already underway since January, mostly due to interest rate fears, but also the probability of Russian military action in the Ukraine. Markets have reacted worse (such as -20% bear market-type declines) during broader regional conflicts, such as World War II or the Israel/Arab war in 1973. In the majority of cases, though, recoveries have also been relatively swift, and there has not been as much direct long-term economic impact as one might fear...

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Economic Update 2-22-2022

  • Economic data for the week included retail sales that came in higher than expected, as well as gains in industrial production, mixed regional manufacturing sentiment and housing metrics, and a slight pullback in the index of leading indicators.
  • U.S. and foreign equity markets fell back last week, as tensions over Russia and Ukraine wavered (generally rising), in addition to continued strong U.S. inflation rhetoric. Bonds were mixed, with yields little changed, but credit spreads widened. Commodities were also mixed, with gains in metals offset by a pullback in oil prices by several percent.
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Economic Update 2-07-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a much stronger than expected employment situation report for January, as well as a pullback in the ISM manufacturing and services indexes, although the two still lie solidly in expansion.
  • Global equity markets bounced back last week, with decent economic data and some improvement in the Covid caseload. Bonds fell back across the board, as interest rates continued to tick higher, along with the consensus opinion that central banks will be raising rates through 2020. Commodities gained ground again last week, led by crude oil prices, with high demand continuing to surpass more limited supply.
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Economic Update 1-31-2022

  • Economic data for the week included the Fed signaling upcoming rate hikes, a stronger-than-expected GDP growth report for Q4, and robust housing data, but a weaker durable goods report.
  • U.S. equity markets ended mixed to higher in a volatile trading week, with large cap stocks outperforming small caps. Foreign stocks generally were negative, in keeping with a stronger dollar. Bonds fell back broadly along with higher interest rates following a hawkish Federal Reserve. Commodities gained, mostly in the energy sector—particularly due to weather, Ukraine, and market technicals in natural gas.

Fed Update 1-26-2022

1/26/2022 scott

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Fed Note:

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee made no changes in interest rates today, as expected, staying with the target of 0.00-0.25%. But, times are changing.

The formal statement language was significantly simplified from December, that economic activity and employment have ‘continued to strengthen’, but also acknowledged the sharp recent rise in Covid cases on particular sectors. High inflation was attributed to ongoing ‘supply and demand imbalances’. However, the FOMC expects that it will ‘soon be appropriate’ to raise interest rates. The tapering off of treasury and mortgage-backed bond purchases was ramped up, scheduled to end in ‘early March’....

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Economic Update 1-24-2022

  • Economic data for the holiday-shortened week included mixed regional manufacturing results and housing data, higher jobless claims, but continued gains in the index of leading indicators.
  • U.S. equity markets, especially the Nasdaq-heavy group of technology stocks, fell back near or into correction territory. Foreign stocks fared slightly better than U.S., although also in the negative. Bonds were mixed, based on risk level. Commodities gained a bit on net, along with continued tight supplies in crude oil markets.
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Economic Update 1-18-2022

  • Economic data for the week included continued historically-strong producer and consumer inflation readings, while retail sales came in weaker than expected.
  • U.S. equity markets fell back last week, as investor continued to digest tighter monetary policy and the impact of the Covid omicron variant. Foreign stocks fared a bit better, due to a weaker dollar. Bonds were mixed, with lower-rated bonds outpacing investment-grade, with yields moving slightly higher. Commodities gained in keeping with a weaker dollar and rising crude oil prices.
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Economic Update 1-10-2022

  • Economic data for the week included a disappointment in December nonfarm payrolls, although the unemployment rate continued to improve. ISM manufacturing and services both fell back for the month, but remained solidly in expansion. Minutes from the Dec. Fed meeting showed a more hawkish tone than did the original statement released at the time.
  • U.S. equity markets fell back along with higher yields, hawkish Fed meeting minutes, and higher commodity prices. Foreign stocks fared better, with mixed results. Bonds fell back sharply, as a result of higher long-term interest rates. Commodities gained, due to a geopolitical-based spike in energy prices.
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Economic Update 1-3-2022

  • For the final week of 2021, sparse economic data included a continued rise in national home prices, although pending sales fell back. Jobless claims continued to show downward improvement.
  • Global equity markets ended the year on a positive note last week. Bonds were mixed, as interest rates were little changed. Commodities gained more ground, with help from a weaker dollar and hopes for continued demand recovery.
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Economic Update 12-27-2021

  • Economic data during the holiday week included a slight revision upward for Q3 U.S. GDP, and a slight improvement in consumer confidence. Durable goods orders and housing metrics were mixed.
  • Global equity markets gained broadly last week, as fear of the Covid omicron variant’s severity seemed to subside a bit. Bonds were mixed to lower along with higher interest rates. Commodities also fared well, particularly in oil and metals, where the demand outlook was again viewed more positively.
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Economic Update 12-20-2021

  • Economic data for the week included the Federal Reserve announcing a faster pace in the tapering off of bond purchases, reflecting stronger growth and inflation pressures, as seen by last week’s high PPI number. Retail sales and industrial production rose, while several regional manufacturing indexes were mixed. Housing metrics also continued to improve.
  • Global equity markets fell as fears of the omicron variant and Fed tightening intensified toward the end of the week. Bonds fared well with investors avoiding risk, which pushed long-term rates lower. Commodities were mixed, with gains in metals offset by declines in energy.

Fed Update 12-15-2021

12/15/2021 scott

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Fed Note:

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee made no changes in interest rates today, as expected, staying at the target of 0.00-0.25%.

However, in keeping with intensified market expectations in recent weeks (and signaled by the Fed itself), a key policy change was a doubling in the pace of tapering (to $30 bil./month) off of treasury and mortgage-backed bond purchases. This implies they’ll finish buying completely by early Q2 2022. The tone was a bit more hawkish than the market perhaps expected.

The formal statement language noted that a variety of sectors continue to be affected by Covid, including new variants, although job gains have been ‘solid in recent months’. Supply/demand imbalances were still noted as contributing to elevated inflation.

The dot plot seems to imply three rate moves next year, at a median rate of 0.75-1.00%. Compared to the September report, inflation forecasts have risen sharply from 4.2% to 5.3% in 2021, but only from 2.2% to 2.6% in 2022. The unemployment rate forecasts have moved in the other direction, moving lower by -0.5% this year and by -0.3% in 2022 (to a low 3.5% level). GDP expectations have fallen by -0.4% this year, with mixed results over the next several years.

Persistent inflation being no longer ‘transitory’ (per Jerome Powell’s words), has been the most important recent change in sentiment, with growing pressure to move away from accommodative policy. This also pulls the timeline for rate increases forward, from late 2022 to possibly as soon as mid-2022. This means next year could much more interesting than the last few years.

The Fed’s evaluation metrics remain mixed and heavily debated (and more fluid than usual):...

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Economic Update 12-13-2021

  • In a lighter week for economic data, releases included consumer price inflation reaching a 40-year high, while jobs statistics continued to show improvement.
  • Global equity markets rose with waning concern over the severity of the Covid omicron variant, and its potential impacts on economic growth. Bonds were mixed, with high-grade debt falling back due to rising rates, while bonds of lower credit quality fared positively. Commodities gained as crude oil prices bounced back strongly.
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Economic Update 12-06-2021

  • Economic data for the week included stronger manufacturing data and higher home prices, while consumer sentiment fell back a bit. The employment situation report came in far weaker than expected on a headline basis, although other data appeared more robust.
  • U.S. equity markets fell back last week upon the Federal Reserve’s evolving opinion of inflation and the uncertainty surrounding the new Covid omicron variant; foreign stocks, however, fared better. Bonds gained ground in keeping with investors moving away from risky assets. Commodities lost ground, with the prices of crude oil and natural gas continuing to fall on demand concerns.
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Economic Update 11-29-2021

  • In a holiday-shortened week, economic data included stronger personal income and spending, as well as recovering consumer sentiment, while durable goods orders fell back. Housing data was strong in both new and existing home sales.
  • Global equity markets were benign until Friday, when the emergence of a new Covid variant rattled investors. U.S. treasury bonds fared slightly positive due to flows away from risk, while credit and emerging market bonds fell back. Commodities also fell back, highlighted by a rapid correction in the price of crude oil.
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Economic Update 11-15-2021

  • Economic data for the week included higher ongoing readings for producer and consumer price inflation—the latter rising at the fastest year-over-year rate in three decades. The trend in improving jobless claims also slowed, and consumer confidence fell.
  • Global equity markets declined in keeping with a higher U.S. inflation report, weaker sentiment, and rising foreign Covid cases. Bonds reversed course and pulled back as long-term rates ticked higher. Commodities were mixed, but energy fell back contrary to recent trends.
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Economic Update 11-08-2021

  • Economic data for the week included the Federal Reserve beginning its ‘taper’, coupled with weaker manufacturing results, but new all-time highs in services sentiment. The employment situation report for October surpassed expectations, reversing disappointment of the prior month.
  • Global equity markets gained with continued economic and earnings improvement, and less hawkish-than-expected world central bank policy. Bonds fared well globally as interest rates declined. Commodities ended the week mixed, with declines in energy and industrial metals offset by gains in precious metals.
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Economic Update 11-01-2021

  • Economic data for the week included weaker-than-expected U.S. GDP growth for the third quarter, and declines in durable goods orders and pending home sales. However, home prices, new home sales, consumer confidence, and jobless claims all improved.
  • Global equity markets were mixed, with gains in the U.S. offset by little change in Europe, and declines in emerging markets. Domestic bonds fared positively due to a decline in interest rates. Commodities featured little change in energy prices, and mixed results in grains and metals.
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Economic Update 10-25-2021

  • Economic data for the week included manufacturing indexes which leveled off a bit from highs, while on the positive side, jobless claims fell to new cyclical lows. Home sales and housing starts were mixed, with prices moving higher and inventories remaining tight.
  • Global equity markets continued their positive performance, due to strong earnings results for the prior quarter. Bonds suffered, as interest rates rose again in keeping with improving conditions. Commodities were mixed, with metals falling back, while energy again experienced gains.
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Economic Update 10-18-2021

  • Economic data for the week included stronger-than-expected results for retail sales, while inflation continued to come in elevated for producer, consumer, and import prices. Job openings and jobless claims also continued to strengthen as labor markets show improvement.
  • Global equity markets rose along with improving economic data, and inflation that came in no worse than expectations. Bonds also gained as long-term interest rates declined. Commodity prices continued to rise with prices for copper and other metals overtaking the energy story last week.
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Economic Update 10-11-2021

  • Economic data for the week included improvement in ISM non-manufacturing sentiment, ADP private employment, and jobless claims. However, the employment situation report for September came in short of expectations.
  • U.S. equity markets gained last week, in contrast to a negative September, while foreign regions ended mixed. Bonds lost ground globally as interest rates rose, in keeping with persistent inflation concerns. Commodities gained several percent, as crude oil prices reached a multi-year high upon strong demand and lack of available supply.
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Economic Update 8-02-2021

  • Economic data for the week included Q2 GDP growth that came in robust, but below market expectations. Housing metrics were mixed, with strong prices but weaker sales. Consumer confidence continued to improve slightly.
  • U.S. equity markets were mixed, as large caps lost ground but small caps gained. Foreign stocks were similarly mixed, with emerging markets were pulled down by volatility in certain Chinese sectors. Bonds gained slightly as interest rates continued to pull back. Commodities were helped from a weaker dollar, particularly in energy and industrial metals.


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Economic Update 6-08-2020

  • Economic data released last week continued to show broad shutdown-based weakness over the past several months, in manufacturing, services, construction, and employment. However, some signs of improvement are being seen on the margin, which have been taken positively by financial markets.
  • U.S. equity markets gained with signs of economic recovery and a strong jobs report later in the week; foreign markets moved higher to an even greater degree. Bonds lagged with interest rates ticking higher on this same strength. Commodities rose with another strong recovery in crude oil, as producing nations discussed further supply cuts and demand is up.
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Economic Update 6-01-2020

  • On a shortened holiday week, economic data continued its lackluster trend, now reporting the well-known weakness of April and May in many industries. Included were weaker numbers for durable goods, jobless claims, and pending home sales. Consumer sentiment and housing prices were mixed.
  • Global equity markets gained with optimism over lockdowns easing and a slow return to normalized activity. Foreign stocks outperformed U.S., helped by a weaker dollar. Bonds gained upon lower interest rates, and tighter credit spreads. Commodities gained along with hopes for economic recovery, led by higher crude oil prices—which have come a long way in recent weeks.