Archive for ND&S Updates

As The World Turns

July 29, 2014 

The market changed direction several times during the past week as multiple overseas developments fed the Bears while domestic earnings and economic reports provided sustenance for the Bulls. By the close on Friday, the S&P was exactly flat for the week [up 7.0% for the year], while the small-cap Russell 2000 fell 0.6% [now down 1.6% for the year!].

Israel’s ground assault on Hamas and its terrorist Gaza border tunnels dragged the market lower, with only fleeting respite from Secretary Kerry’s truce efforts [the MH17 black box discovery also helped]. Quarterly earnings reports were on balance positive. For example, Chipotle’s 11.8% advance more than offset McDonald’s 1.3% decline. In addition, positive Chinese and Eurozone manufacturing reports provided further support.

Financial markets are essential to the effective functioning of the worldwide economy, but they do not immediately respond to or measure all of the significant events of the week. A recent example sadly occurred on Thursday, when a radical band of Sunni insurgents [self-described as “The Islamic State”] destroyed the centuries-old Nabi Younes Mosque, which housed the tomb of Jonah [of swallowed-by-a-whale fame]. This is one of more than two dozen Mosul shrines destroyed by this al Qaeda spinoff since they seized Mosul [in northern Iraq] on June 10th. The world is culturally poorer as a result.

“The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
John E. E. Dalberg

Too Much Fighting & Too Much Pain

July 21, 2014 

A difficult week as the world mourns those lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17.  We offer our thoughts and prayers to all those who lost loved ones – may they rest in peace.   Increased fighting between Israel and Hamas along with ongoing battles in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq point to a world seemingly on edge.

Geopolitical tensions were not enough to bring down worldwide markets … at least not yet.  For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 17,100.18 to close the week higher by 0.92%.  The broader-based S&P 500 closed at 1,978.22 for an increase of 0.54% for the week.  The Nasdaq Composite advanced by 0.38% to close the week at 4,432.15.  International markets finished higher, but slightly trailed U.S. market gains as the Dow Jones Global (ex US) Index advanced 0.39% for the week.   After last week’s gains, market averages are higher for the year-to-date period with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 3.2% and the NASDAQ ahead by 6.1%.  The S&P 500 is showing higher year-to-date gains as it is up 7.0%.  The 10-year Treasury was rallied to close the week at a yield of 2.47% … down from last week’s 2.52% yield (a flight-to-safety into U.S. treasuries).

Economic news released last week was mixed – weaker retail sales, business inventories, industrial production and housing starts were offset by stronger-than-expected Philly and Empire State surveys, NAHB housing index, and GDP news out of China.  Earnings were mostly positive, and M & A activity continued to impress with the latest news being Fox’s $76 billion bid for Time Warner.

The week ahead has a fair amount of earnings and economic releases, but the focus will most likely be on the heightened geopolitical picture.   Particular attention will be paid to the EU and how it moves forward with sanctions against Russia.  More sanctions will inevitably lead to slower growth in the EU … not a good situation for anybody.  Barring any major geopolitical events, we expect trading volumes to be rather anemic this week as summertime activities draw investors away from the noise of Wall Street.

Summer is here … don’t forget to get out enjoy the beautiful weather. 

“You ache with it all; and the more mysterious it is, the more you ache.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Summer Swoon

July 14, 2014 

Last week equity markets reversed course, posting the biggest weekly loss in the S&P 500 (-17.93/-0.9%) since April 2014 while the DJIA shed 124.45 (-0.72%).  The NASDAQ finished the week at 4415.49, down 70.43 (-1.6%) while smaller stocks were the hardest hit with the Russell 2000 down -4.0%.  International markets also retreated with the Dow Jones Global Ex-US down 1.94% due to a number of rising geo-political concerns with rising tensions in Ukraine, Iraq, and Israel.  Not all was bad for those with a diversified portfolio, bonds rallied as interest rates moved lower with the 10 Year Treasury rate moving from 2.639% to 2.520%.

This week, there will be number of earnings releases, most notably Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, eBay Inc., General Electric and Google to name a few.  In addition to earnings, the Producer Price Index will be released on Wednesday which could provide insight ahead of next week’s CPI Index release and retail sales are scheduled for Tuesday.

Be on the watch for our 2nd quarter newsletter – The Emperor Has New Clothes (?).

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

 “Did you ever see such innocent prattle?” said its father.  One person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on.  A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

 “But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

 The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right.  But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.

– Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”

Earnings Season Begins

July 7, 2014 

Last week equity markets continued to move higher.  The DJIA was up 1.28% for the week closing above 17,000 and the S&P500 advanced 1.25%.  Also, international markets were up across the board with the DJ Global ex U.S. index increasing 1.46%.  The major economic news last week was the monthly jobs report for June which reported that 288,000 jobs were added for the month and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1% the lowest level since September 2008.  As a result, interest rates edged up the 10 year Treasury rate ended the week at 2.639% vs 2.525% the prior week.

This week starts 2nd quarter earnings season with Alcoa reporting on Tuesday and Wells Fargo on Friday. Forecasters look for an increase of 4.9% in earnings for S&P 500 companies with even further gains for the balance of the year.  Continued good economic news would be a welcome support for the equity markets.

“We must become the change we want to see.”
Mahatma Gandhi  (Indian Philosopher)

Summer has arrived, yet the Market Continues to Soldier On

July 1, 2014 

The markets turned in another lackluster performance last week, with the DJII and the S&P declining slightly, while the NASDAQ advanced by 0.7%.  The Middle East concerns have temporarily eased, as ISIS territory gains in Iraq stalled.  Economic reports on 1Q GDP growth and May consumer spending were less-than-expected, but these disappointments only depressed the markets temporarily.

The third estimate for 1Q GDP was lowered to -2.9% from the previous -1.0%E [-1.8% expected].  We knew that the winter weather [and inventory volatility] was bad, but now the distress can be quantified. Also, it must be acknowledged that without a strong consumer [real final sales of -1.3%], GDP growth will not sustain an above-average rate. This 1Q decline can be compared to the 4Q 2013 GDP of +2.6%.

These “top-down” statistics have set the stage for concern about earnings, which will be reported starting next week [AA officially starts the earnings reporting season on the 8th].  S&P earnings are still officially expected to grow 4.8% [sales +2.8%E] during the just-completed quarter.  This compares with first quarter earnings growth of 2.3% [sales of +0.9%].

The market continues to advance using the “three yards and a cloud of dust” offense.  It may not be pretty, but it has been effective [the S&P is up 6.1% YTD].  Consequently, while we’re prepared for a summer swoon, we’re staying the course.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
– Winston Churchill