The Conference Board’s leading economic index rose 0.1% last month, following a 0.2% increase in September and a 0.2% decline in August.
The increase was driven by the interest rate spread and higher average weekly hours offsetting weaknesses in unemployment insurance claims and new orders.
The board’s coincident index—designed to reflect current economic conditions and made up of four data points including nonfarm payrolls—also rose 0.1% last month after increasing by the same amount in September.
The index of lagging indicators increased 0.2% in October after gaining the same amount in September.
Doug Short has the best charts on the LEI. This recent uptick in the 6m RoC is very welcome.
A well-design infrastructure improvement program relying heavily on private financing could boost the U.S. economy by up to 0.2 percentage points, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute. (…)
The McKinsey report also outlined several other recommendations that together could boost GDP by up to 1.5 percentage points over a decade. But many of the suggestions are unlikely to find much support in the coming Trump administration.
For instance, the report argued for a beefed-up trade policy that would help smaller companies export abroad, support laid-off workers in the U.S. and make it easier for local governments to attract foreign investment, all of which could boost GDP by up to 0.4 percentage points, according to the report. (…)
(…) In an article by the Hollywood Reporter columnist Michael Wolff, Mr. Bannon also said the Trump administration will be squarely focused on job creation, channeling the experimentation seen in the New Deal era of the 1930s. (…)
Mr. Bannon, in the interview, said he is animated by an economic populism that has the potential to create an enduring political realignment in the U.S. (…)
“The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—— over.” In a shot at Democrats’ close ties to Silicon Valley, he continued: “They were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It’s not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about.”
Mr. Bannon offered a few hints about how Mr. Trump intends to govern. One focus will be a dramatic new public works building program that takes advantage of low interest rates – a project that Democrats have long favored.
“It’s everything related to jobs,” Mr. Bannon said. “The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”
Mortgage Rates Hit 17-Month High Mortgage rates for the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 4.125% on Friday–the highest since July 2015. That is more than half a percentage point higher from the average on election day.
(…) Rates are now well above 4% for the typical 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The average hit 4.125% on Friday–the highest since July 2015, according to MortgageNewsDaily.com. That is more than half a percentage point higher from the average on election day.
Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages move in tandem with the 10-year Treasury yield, which was 2.34% on Friday afternoon; it was just 1.88% on Nov. 8th. (…)
Dollar’s Rapid Gain Triggers Angst in Emerging Markets The dollar’s strength could slow U.S. corporate profit growth and intensify capital flight from the developing world, which would complicate the prospects for economic growth.
(…) The currency’s gains make foreign goods and travel cheaper for U.S. consumers and could give a boost to exports from Japan and Europe. But they also are reigniting fears that the dollar’s strength could slow U.S. corporate profit growth and intensify capital flight from the developing world, which would complicate the prospects for economic growth. (…)
“The strong dollar is destabilizing for markets, for foreign assets, for emerging-market nations that pay back their debt in dollars,” said Jonathan Lewis, chief investment officer Fiera Capital Inc. “That’s pretty significant.” (…)
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against six others, reached its highest level in more than 13 years Friday. (…)
Cancellations of heavy-duty truck orders soared to the highest rate in more than 20 years last month, according to ACT Research, adding to the woes of manufacturers that have seen new orders for big rigs plummet this year.
Fleet owners in October canceled orders for 8,610 Class 8 truck tractors, the biggest vehicles that carry much of the country’s supply of retail goods, said Jim Meil, principal at ACT Research. That amounted to 10.5% of the backlog of the heavy-duty trucks that have been ordered but not yet built. (…)
Overall orders for heavy-duty trucks fell 46% year-over-year in October, extending a year-long decline in orders that has hit factory operations at companies such as truck maker Navistar International Corp. and engine manufacturer Cummins Inc.
The cancellations “would indeed have some ramifications upstream to the supply chain,” he said.
MARKET STATS GALORE!
The S&P 500 added 2% since the election. Financial and industrial stocks, meanwhile, have soared far more, and dividend-paying shares — including those in the utility sector — have sold off quickly. The moves come as investors coalesce around a new, post-election market narrative that fiscal stimulus will power economic growth and fuel inflation. (…)
As for whether recent dispersion signals will trigger a “Hindenburg Omen” selloff in the broader market? LPL’s Mr. Detrick thinks not. He says that the selloff of bond-like securities is skewing the number of recent losers and masks strength in small stocks, many of which aren’t traded on the NYSE. The Russell 2000 Index of small company shares rose for the 11th day in a row on Friday, the longest stretch since 2003.
Caveat here: the NYSE includes a large number of non-operating interest-sensitive securities such as closed-end bond funds and preferred stocks which often distort NYSE breadth when interest rates move rapidly. Lowry Research calculates an Advance-Decline ratio based solely on common stocks of domestic operating company. This ratio climbed very close to its September all-time high last week.
A similar disparity is apparent in stocks at New 52-week Highs. The number of All-Issues New Highs has yet to exceed levels immediately after the June Brexit low. In contrast, this week OCO New Highs reached their highest level since March 2014. In brief, the improvement in Demand has been accompanied by a surge in breadth, signaled by gains in both the OCO Adv-Dec Line and in OCO New Highs, all characteristics of a healthy rally.
But just to blur things even more, Barron’s adds these significant numbers:
According to Howard Silverblatt, the S&P Dow Jones Indices senior index analyst and maven, the 1.98% postelection gain in the S&P 500 would have been just 0.62% without the 10.77% bump in the S&P Financials. Some 34.6% of the S&P’s advance came from just five of their members: Wells Fargo (ticker: WFC), Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), and Citigroup (C).
Obviously, small caps trumped most market stats last week:
(…) There is good reason for small-caps’ outsize reaction. Although it hasn’t been discussed much since Trump’s victory, the president-elect won on a platform calling for more protectionism and less global trade. That would benefit smaller companies, which typically generate less than 20% of sales overseas, over larger companies, whose non-U.S. sales exceed 30%.
At the same time, Trump’s desire to cut the corporate tax rate to 15% would be a major benefit for small companies, which generally don’t have the resources or geographic reach to bring their tax rates much below the 35% federal rate. Some large multinationals, in contrast, have pushed their tax rates down to the teens. Less regulation, also espoused by Trump, would also benefit small companies, which are less able than big ones to afford hefty compliance costs.
The potential for greater inflation, accompanied by higher bond yields, would also work to small-caps’ advantage. When prices fall, a typical company makes less money on the products it sells. Large companies generally have more room than small ones to cut costs to protect profit margins. But more inflation would benefit small-caps as the process reverses, says Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. Smaller stocks have outperformed larger ones in rising-rate periods. (…)
Also from Barron’s:
TrimTabs data show a veritable tsunami into equity exchange-traded funds in the seven days following the election, some $44.6 billion. That was the second-biggest surge in its records, exceeded only in July 2007, which Charles pointedly notes was not long before the peak in the U.S. equity market that autumn.
That was corroborated by other fund-data crunchers. Equity ETFs and mutual funds drew $25.39 billion in the postelection week ended on Wednesday, write Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists, citing EPFR numbers. (That squares with TrimTabs, which finds that part of the flood of money into ETFs represents cash exiting conventional mutual funds, largely a result of the ongoing exodus to passive index vehicles from actively managed funds.)
BofA ML said the weekly influx was the biggest into equities since December 2014. The outflows from bonds, meanwhile, was the largest since the taper tantrum of June 2013, a term that describes how the debt market spiked yields higher at the hint that the Federal Reserve was contemplating the end of its bond-buying program.
What to make out of all these numbers?
- Lowry’s OCO A-D line peaked last September, along with the S&P 500 Index which subsequently lost 1.6%.
- Lowry’s OCO New Highs have reached their best level since March 2014. The S&P 500 advanced 14% during the following 12 months, a period during which the S&P 500 EPS rose 11% with stable inflation. The Rule of 20 P/E went from 19.0 to 19.9 during this time frame.
- The surge in equity influx in December 2014 coincided with the S&P 500 Index reaching 2130, a high not matched for another 22 months.
- Last week’s influx into equity funds was dominated by funds moving into Russell 2000 ETFs and other small cap funds. The Russell 2000 peaked on June 24, 2015 and cratered 27% by mid-February 2016.
In all, recent data mining seems rather complicated by the big rotations going on from interest-sensitive to economy-sensitive stocks and from large to small cap equities. These herd movements are rarely the best of times to go with the flow. I will publish an updated market view tomorrow.
Overall, 95% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings to date for the third quarter. Of these companies, 72% have reported actual EPS above the mean EPS estimate, 7% have reported actual EPS equal to the mean EPS estimate, and 21% have reported actual EPS below the mean EPS estimate. The percentage of companies that have reported EPS above the mean EPS estimate is above the 1-year (70%) average and above the 5-year (67%) average.
In aggregate, companies have reported earnings that exceeded estimated by 6.3%. This surprise percentage is above the 1-year (+4.8%) average and above the 5-year (+4.4%) average.
In terms of revenues, 55% of companies have reported actual sales above estimated sales and 45% have reported actual sales below estimated sales. The percentage of companies that have reported sales above estimates is above the 1- year average (50%) and above the 5-year average (54%).
In aggregate, companies have reported sales that exceeded estimates by 0.5%. This surprise percentage is above the 1-year (0.0%) average but below the 5-year (+0.6%) average.
The blended earnings growth rate for the third quarter is 3.0% this week, which is above the blended earnings growth rate of 2.9% last week. Upside earnings surprises reported by companies in the Consumer Discretionary and Information Technology sectors were mainly responsible for the increase in the overall earnings growth rate for the index during the past week.
If the Energy sector is excluded, the blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 would improve to 6.4% from 3.0%.
The blended revenue growth rate for Q3 2016 is 2.7%. The third quarter marks the first time the index has seen yearover-year growth in sales since Q4 2014 (2.0%).
If the Energy sector is excluded, the blended revenue growth rate for the S&P 500 would improve to 4.5% from 2.7%.
At this point in time, 100 companies in the index have issued EPS guidance for Q4 2016. Of these 100 companies, 68 have issued negative EPS guidance and 32 have issued positive EPS guidance. The percentage of companies issuing negative EPS guidance is 68%, which is below the 5-year average of 74%.
However, IT companies’ guidance for Q4’16 is an uncharacteristic 12 negatives and 16 positives, a sharp reversal from guidance for Q3’16 which was 19 negatives and 14 positives at the same time. If we exclude IT, guidance for Q4 is 79% negative, up from 73% in Q3.
Thomson Reuters now sees Q4 EPS up 6.3%, down from 8.3% on October 1st.
(…) The Nikkei was the second Asian stock index to enter a bull market so far this month, with the Shanghai Composite Index rising 20% from a January low last Friday. (…)