August Market Commentary

August was a choppy, but essentially flat month for the markets. The price return of the S&P 500 was -0.19%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was -0.07%, and the Nasdaq’s price return was 1.59%. The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index was up about 0.67%. As for volatility in the markets, the VIX hit its year-to-date high on August 11th, climbing nearly 70% higher than where it started the month. Much of the increase in the VIX can be attributed to the tensions with North Korea, and certainly some of it seemed to revolve around headlines including President Trump. However, we also saw more market-centric headlines like “Deflating Nasdaq breadth may be a sign of exhaustion (Reuters).”

As we’ve written earlier this year, some sectors of the equity market appear to be getting over-valued, and the sensitivity of high growth stocks to negative news and reporting can cause a quick, dramatic fall in those stock’s price. Some current examples this year are Tesla’s 14.6% drop from June 30 to July 6, Netflix’s drop of 8.7% from June 8 to June 12, and NVIDIA’s drop of 12.6% from June 21 to July 3.

The question we ask ourselves is, “When will the party stop?” We rely upon various sources of economic and market data to help answer this question. Understanding that the U.S. economy is a Consumer Driven economy, we look to see how consumers feel. In reviewing the last 30 years of history, it is unexpected to see a prolonged drop in U.S. equities without a meaningful drop in Consumer Confidence. With the increase in consumer confidence over the last year, we don’t anticipate a prolonged market selloff at this point.

Additionally, over the last year the S&P 500’s operating earnings increased by 12%, and its revenue growth over the last quarter was up 5.1%. While these numbers can be somewhat volatile, with higher consumer confidence, and relatively strong levels of business confidence, we believe the market’s value remains fair. We’ve also been tracking Capital Expenditures for a while and although they haven’t been great, they have been increasing. The increase in capital expenditures validates that business confidence looks to stay strong.

In our opinion, the answer to the question of when will the party end is not yet. However, virtually no one ever times the end of the market’s rally perfectly. We believe fitting your portfolio to your needs helps to greatly mitigate the risk of loss during a market selloff. For those who take more consistent distributions, this means lower risk equities with higher dividends and probably more fixed income as well. For those who are not, and will not be taking distributions for some time, a higher exposure to more volatile growth oriented stocks may be acceptable. The process of careful planning to meet your needs improves the probability of meeting your goals in the future.

 


 

Fortem Financial 2017. All rights reserved. Data Sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market Data: Based on reported data in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury Yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, and do not represent those of Fortem Financial, LLC or any of its affiliates. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful. Carefully consider investment objectives, risk factors and charges and expenses before investing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighed index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Categories: Monthly Market Commentary

August was a relatively quiet month despite North Korea and Hurricane Harvey

Our hearts go out to the families affected by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The American spirit is alive and well as was demonstrated to us in last week’s search and rescue of the flooded areas. We wish all of our neighbors in Texas and Louisiana a speedy recovery.

Stocks rose last week on generally upbeat economic data and elevated expectations for tax reform, even as Hurricane Harvey inflicted major damage throughout Texas and Louisiana (more on this below). The September employment report showed continued job creation, though the gains were at the low end of analysts’ expectations; hourly earnings (+0.1%) rose less than expected and a 0.1% increase in the unemployment rate was also somewhat disappointing. Yet, other economic data were broadly positive: the revised estimate for second quarter GDP growth increased to +3.0%; consumer confidence continued to strengthen; and, manufacturing sector growth accelerated. Furthermore, increased industrial activity in China and Europe reflect growth in both domestic spending and exports. Meanwhile, the dollar has weakened 11% year-to-date against the euro; the pullback should benefit earnings for companies with foreign operations, while also helping to increase tourism-related spending in the U.S. This week, the White House began the drive for tax reform. While lacking specifics, early efforts may focus on lowering the corporate tax rate which would improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. Tax reform is high on the list of priorities as Congress reconvenes next week. Finally, North Korea’s launch on Tuesday of a missile, which traveled over Japan, continued the country’s show of force. Investors, though, seem disinterested; the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined to levels preceding the escalation in tensions.

Source: Pacific Global Investment Management Company

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

 

 

Market Week

Hurricane Harvey will go down as one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, with severe flooding and catastrophic damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure throughout the region. Moreover, the Gulf Coast is home to a substantial portion of U.S. refining capacity; gasoline prices across the nation have jumped due to the forced closure of many refineries. Estimates of storm-related losses, which currently range from $30 billion to $100 billion, make it the most costly natural disaster of the past 40 years. However, the post-disaster recovery will provide a regional economic resurgence as construction and replacement activities begin. Likewise, the disruptions for companies with significant operations in the affected areas will impact sales and profits for the third quarter; and yet, many of these companies may benefit over time. Examples of such businesses include: car dealerships, furniture and appliances retailers, industrial maintenance companies, and construction and engineering firms. Also, the tremendous effort to rebuild these communities should generate increased demand for labor along with higher wages which would, in turn, support service-oriented industries such as restaurants and retailers. These secondary effects will begin to materialize as early as the fourth quarter and continue for some time.

For the markets, August was a relatively quiet month despite North Korea and Hurricane Harvey. As investors return from summer vacation, trading activity should increase through the end of the year. Market focus will return to legislative action, third quarter corporate earnings season, and management outlooks for 2018.

Source: Pacific Global Investment Management Company

 

 

Last Week's Headlines

  1. The latest report on the second-quarter gross domestic product proved to be very solid, as the GDP climbed to 3.0% — 0.4 percentage point higher than the first estimate. The first-quarter GDP increased 1.2%. Economic growth was led by increases in consumer spending, nonresidential (business) fixed investment, federal government spending, and private inventory investment. Downturns occurred in residential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and a deceleration in exports. Increased consumer spending could be related to weak price inflation. How the Fed views this information when it meets later this month could go a long way in determining whether interest rates are raised.
  2. The number of new hires took a step back in August with only 156,000 jobs added during the month. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care, and mining. Employment growth has averaged 176,000 per month thus far this year, down from the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016. The unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 4.4%. The labor force participation rate, at 62.9%, was unchanged in August and has shown little movement on net over the past year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1%, was little changed over the month and thus far this year. The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in August. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by $0.03 to $26.39, after rising by $0.09 in July. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by $0.65, or 2.5%.
  3. Consumers' income and spending increased in July but not prices, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal (pre-tax) income increased $65.6 billion (0.4%) in July while disposable (after-tax) personal income (DPI) increased $39.6 billion (0.3%). Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $44.7 billion (0.3%). Prices for consumer goods and services as measured by the PCE price index increased a marginal 0.1%, as did core (excluding food and energy) PCE.
  4. The international trade in goods deficit expanded to $65.1 billion in July, up $1.1 billion from $64.0 billion in June. Exports of goods for July were $127.1 billion, $1.6 billion less than June exports. Imports of goods for July were $192.2 billion, $0.5 billion less than June imports.
  5. According to the August survey from IHS Markit, manufacturing output was the weakest since June 2016. U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index™ (PMI™) registered 52.8 in August, down slightly from July's reading of 53.3. Since a reading over 50 signifies growth, manufacturing output grew in August, but at a slower pace than July's growth. The purchasing managers index from the Institute for Supply Management showed output increased last month. The August PMI® registered 58.8%, an increase of 2.5 percentage points from the July reading of 56.3%. The survey sample size for the purchasing managers' index of the ISM is generally smaller than the one used by Markit, which may explain discrepancies between the reports.
  6. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® increased to 122.9 in August, up from July's reading of 120.0. Survey respondents were bullish on current economic conditions, while their short-term expectations were tepid. The Index of Consumer Sentiment from the University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers increased from July's 93.4% to 96.9% in August.
  7. In the week ended August 26, the advance figure for initial claims for unemployment insurance was 236,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 234,000 to 235,000. The advance insured unemployment rate remained at 1.4%. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance during the week ended August 19 was 1,942,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 1,954,000.

 

 

Eye on the Week Ahead

The Gulf region continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. It will be several weeks before the economic impact of that devastating storm can be measured. July's report on international trade for goods and services is out this week. Last week's report showed that the goods trade deficit expanded in July. Despite efforts on the part of the current administration to control foreign trade, imports continue to expand at a faster rate than exports, pushing the trade deficit higher.

 


 

Fortem Financial 2017. All rights reserved. Data Sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market Data: Based on reported data in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury Yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, and do not represent those of Fortem Financial, LLC or any of its affiliates. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful. Carefully consider investment objectives, risk factors and charges and expenses before investing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighed index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Finally some signs of life in small and mid-cap stocks on seasonal low trading volume…

Last week, a broad market rally led by small cap stocks followed the previous week’s selloff.  The Russell 2000® Index rose 1.45% while the other major indices also gained (the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.64%; S&P 500® Index rose 0.72% and the NASDAQ gained 0.79%).  As expected, trading volumes remained low.  The annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole garnered attention although the meeting did not reveal any notable changes in Fed monetary policy. Chair Yellen stated that regulatory reform has been successful but some changes to reduce the regulatory burden may be appropriate to increase liquidity for bank lending.  Retail stocks gained with several companies, including DSW, American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch reporting higher sales and greater foot traffic.  The FAANG stocks, market leaders during the first half of the year, have retrenched over the past few weeks; some are in correction territory with losses in excess of 10%.  New home sales were notably weak as strong demand continues to far exceed the low inventory of new homes.  Overall, this was a quiet week beginning with the nation’s attention focused skyward at the solar eclipse and ending with the Jackson Hole meeting which produced no market changing events.

Source: Pacific Global Investment Management Company

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

 

 

Market Week

In looking ahead for the remainder of the year, the most frequently debated question is “What’s the likelihood of a significant market correction?”  Historically, bull markets can continue, with periodic corrections, over many years.  During an extended run, however, markets often experience rolling corrections across various sectors; this has been the case during the current bull market.  Stocks in the Energy and Industrials sectors have endured a bear market, Retail stocks have experienced a correction, and Technology may be entering a correction phase.  Several factors, including low interest rates, low inflation, and high employment levels, and moderate economic growth, support the extended bull market.  While too early to speculate, heightened discussions about the likelihood of tax reform suggest the possibility for a significant economic boost.  And, renewed efforts at deregulation are lowering business operating costs and providing growth opportunities.  Several factors, including an improving economic outlook, the disciplined approach shown by many companies in pursuing growth strategies, and investment-friendly monetary policies across the globe, support a more optimistic view of the market.  A recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”), which tracks economic growth of forty-five countries, reinforces this outlook.  The OECD report states that, for the first time in ten years, all of the countries are on track for growth in 2017.  This report is consistent with the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) which expects 3.5% growth in economic output in 2017 compared to 3.2% in 2016.  The IMF projects 3.6% growth in 2018.  Certainly, other catalysts could also accelerate growth and provide market momentum.  Market vigilance is always important, and unforeseen events can create disruptions; but, the near-term outlook remains positive.

Source:  Pacific Global Investment Management Company

 

 

Last Week's Headlines

  1. New home sales fell by a whopping 9.4% in July to a total of 571,000 (from 630,000 in June), the lowest rate in seven months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That figure is also 8.9% below the July 2016 sales figure of 627,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2017 was $313,700, while the average sales price was $371,200. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 276,000. This represents a supply of 5.8 months at the current sales rate.
  2. The National Association of Realtors® reported that existing home sales followed a similar trend for the same month, as large demand drops in the Northeast and Midwest outweighed increases in the South and West. Overall, total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, fell 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in July from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in June. July's sales pace is still 2.1% above a year ago, but is the lowest of 2017.
  3. New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased $16.7 billion, or 6.8%, to $229.2 billion in July, reported the U.S. Census Bureau. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed a 6.4% June increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 7.8%. Transportation equipment, also down three of the last four months, drove the decrease, $17.4 billion, or 19.0%, to $74.3 billion.
  4. In what could be her last appearance at the Federal Reserve's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, chair Janet Yellen defended regulations enacted in the wake of the financial crisis, while noting that the Fed remains open to possible "improvements" that would help "efficiently maintain a resilient financial system." At the same meeting, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi voiced similar sentiment. He criticized a global trend toward economic protectionism and warned that looser financial regulations could reinvigorate the types of incentive scenarios that led to the financial crisis.
  5. In the week ended August 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 234,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's unrevised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4% for the week ended August 12, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. During the week ended August 12, there were 1,954,000 receiving unemployment insurance benefits, unchanged from the previous week's revised level.

 

 

Eye on the Week Ahead

Observers will be monitoring the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf region and the storm's potential economic and market impacts, including possible increases in oil and gas prices. Other potential influences during the week will likely include the second estimate of Q2 GDP figures and the August employment figures.

 


 

Fortem Financial 2017. All rights reserved. Data Sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market Data: Based on reported data in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury Yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, and do not represent those of Fortem Financial, LLC or any of its affiliates. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful. Carefully consider investment objectives, risk factors and charges and expenses before investing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighed index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

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