ND&S Weekly 3.5.19 – GDP Report – Better Than Expected

March 5, 2019

The initial estimate for 4Q18 GDP was reported last week and showed the U.S. economy grew 2.6%, beating analyst expectations. For 2018 as a whole, the economy grew at a solid 2.9% rate up from 2017’s 2.2% pace. Consumption and business fixed investment were the main contributors at 1.8% and 0.9%, respectively, aided by the tax cuts. Housing’s contribution was close to zero reflecting the dampening effect of higher mortgage rates.

Stock markets continued to advance last week with the S&P 500 up 0.46%, the DJIA up 0.07% and the NASDAQ 0.93%. Internationally, the MSCI EAFE advanced 0.58% while emerging markets declined 0.65%. The best performing S&P 500 sectors last week were energy, technology and financials. Bond prices slipped last week as the rate on the 10-year U.S. treasury rose from 2.65% to 2.76%.

This week, look for economic reports on productivity, housing starts and February jobs numbers. Expectations are for 185,000 new jobs versus 304,000 reported in January. For 2019, we look for a slowing in GDP growth to a pace of 2.0%- 2.5%. Expectations for the first quarter have been revised lower to reflect the negative impact due to the government shutdown.

“Snow brings a special quality with it – the power to stop life as you know it dead in its tracks.” – Nancy Hatch Woodward

Weekly Commentary 02.25.2019 – A Home Run or Ball 4

February 25, 2019

With baseball season starting it’s only fitting that the market closed on Friday with a “ninth” straight week of gains. Federal Reserve concerns were calmed by the release of their “dovish” January meeting minutes. There were positive trade resolutions with China, and fourth quarter earnings season has been better than the “bears” expected.
The shortened President’s Day week was fairly positive for equity markets. The DOW industrials and the S&P 500 rose 0.6% and the tech heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.74%. The Russell 2000 was the winner increasing 1.27%. The best performing sectors were Utilities 2.4%, Basic Materials 2.4%, and Tech 1.4%.
China’s leaders and President Trump along with his key negotiators, met and cited progress from the latest round of talks. President Trump said he would be willing to extend the March 1st new tariff deadline and the delegation will remain in Washington a few more days to continue negotiations. The global markets reacted favorably with Developed equity markets advancing 1.5% and Emerging increasing 2.7% for the week.
The Federal Reserve, disclosed in minutes of their Jan. 29-30 meeting, confirmed earlier statements that they are willing to be patient in raising rates and flexible in shrinking its balance sheet. US Treasuries rallied with the yield on the 10 year dropping 4bps to 2.65%.
Another driver of the week’s gains was better than expected corporate earnings and revenues. Thus far 89% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported fourth quarter results, 69% of S&P 500 companies reported a positive EPS surprise and 61% reported a positive revenue surprise. The forward 12-month price to earnings ratio for the S&P 500 is now 16.2 which is in line with the five year average of 16.4.
Along with trade talks and Washington political haggling there will be a slew of important economic data released this week. On Wednesday housing starts, Thursday fourth-quarter GDP and on Friday ISM manufacturing, consumer confidence, and auto sales will be reported.
Though the drivers of the markets were in place last week, we continue to have our eyes on the strength of the US and global economies going forward. We recommend staying diversified and take advantage of a potential market sell-off, favoring dividend growth to help mitigate volaltility.
“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”–Yoga Berra

ND&S Weekly Commentary 2.19.19 – Crisis Averted

February 19, 2019

The equity markets’ resilience continued last week as trade progress with China and a government-spending bill that averted another shutdown provided the lift. For the week, the DJIA jumped higher by 3.21% while the broader-based S&P 500 closed up 2.56%. Smaller US companies continued their surge closing the week up 4.22%. However, international equities were mixed with the MSCI EAFE up 2.04% and emerging markets down 0.49%. Yields pushed higher on the week with the 10yr US Treasury yield settling at 2.66%, up 3bps from the previous week.

With roughly two weeks remaining in the US-imposed 90-day negotiating window with China, media suggested that President Trump is considering extending the deadline for another 60 days as progress is being made. There are plenty of thorny issues still to be ironed out, but optimism over a potential deal helped support markets last week. Additionally, congressional negotiators cobbled together a spending package to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The agreement did include some funding for barriers, but much less than the White House requested. No doubt this removed some uncertainty in the short-term.

With roughly 80% of the constituents of the S&P 500 Index having reported for Q4 2018, forecasted earnings growth is running at a 13.1% year-over-year pace while revenues are seen rising 7% compared with the same quarter a year ago, according to FactSet Research. However, estimates for Q1 continue to be lowered with analysts now expecting earnings per share to decline around 2.5% this quarter. There is plenty of talk in the financial media about the potential “earnings recession” but that doesn’t necessarily mean equities will be negative in that environment. We are monitoring this closely as the bar has been set low with potential upside surprises looming.

In the week ahead, the minutes of January’s FOMC meeting will be released as well as economic reports on durable goods order and existing home sales. Let’s make it another good week!

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”Dwight D. Eisenhower

Weekly Commentary (02/11/19) – A Mixed Bag: Will February Make Us Shiver?

February 11, 2019

Markets were mixed last week as heightened global growth concerns dominated the headlines. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that the Fed would remain ‘patient’ … excellent news for investors.

For the week, the DJIA gained 0.32% while the S&P 500 tacked-on 0.11%. The volatile NASDAQ advanced 0.53%. Developed international markets retreated as the MSCI EAFE index dropped 1.38% for the week. Emerging markets also lost ground as the MSCI EM index declined 1.34%. Small company stocks, represented by the Russell 2000, finished 0.32% for the week. Fixed income, represented by the Bloomberg/Barclays Aggregate, finished the week slightly higher (+0.38%) in a quiet week for bonds. As a result, the 10 YR US Treasury closed at a yield of 2.63% (down 7 bps from the previous week’s closing yield of 2.70%). Gold prices closed at $1,313.70/oz – down 0.24% on the week. Oil prices sold off as oil closed at $52.72 – lower by 4.60% on the week.

February is off to a reasonable start, but will February make us shiver? It all depends on a few key events. The weeks ahead will be filled with uncertainty in the run-up to the important March 1 trade deadline with China that could see trade tariffs increase from 10% to 25%. Rhetoric out of the White House will likely downplay the event, but investors know that a deal with China is crucial for further gains in worldwide markets. Not to be forgotten, a potential second government shutdown still looms. Let’s hope that Congress and the president can find a reasonable path forward.

In the meantime, Newman Dignan & Sheerar, Inc. does not plan to add to risk assets in any meaningful way until the drama in Washington subsides.

“But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step”

– Don McLean

NDS Weekly Commentary 2.4.19 – 2019 Off to a Good Start

February 4, 2019


ND&S Weekly Update – 1.28.19 – “Come Together – The Beatles Song”

January 28, 2019

Last week, the markets were very close to extending their four-week winning streak that saw them gain 11%. For the week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 declined 0.21%, while the Dow (DJIA) and the Nasdaq rose a meager 0.12% and 0.11%, respectively. International equities fared well with developed moving 0.48% and emerging 1.42%.
As leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum last week, investors contemplated and digested better-than-expected US corporate earnings and indications of slower global economic growth. China reported an estimated 6.6% GDP, its slowest annual pace since 1990. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the US is “miles and miles away from a trade deal with China.” President Trump has promised to increase the existing 10% tariff on over $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25%, if a deal is not reached. Monty Hall: “Let’s Make A Deal.”

Fortunately, an interim reprieve to end the government shutdown after 34 days was agreed to on Friday. However, lawmakers have until February 15th to agree to an extended deal. Economic advisors are warning that the shut-down could lead to near zero growth in the first quarter. The European Central Bank backed off from increasing interest rates, citing the “cooling off” of the European economy, as countries including Germany have lost some strength. U.S. fixed income markets were rather tame with the yield of the 10 year Treasury staying about the same at 2.77%. The government shutdown has caused delays in the reporting of economic data somewhat deferring bond investors’ trades.

Three-fourths of the ninety seven S&P 500 companies reporting have reported higher quarterly profit estimates. There’s nothing like better corporate earnings to soothe investors’ worries. Earnings will kick into high gear this week with 153 S&P 500 companies reporting quarterly results.

We desperately need improved negotiations to resolve the US-China trade conflict, the battle of Brexit and the US government shutdown. This week will be eventful with the Federal Reserve’s first policy meeting of the year, US jobs data, more trade talks and Senate meetings as well as impactful corporate reports including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.

“As a player, it says everything about you if you made the Hall of Fame. But then again, boy….there’s something about winning a Super Bowl”Terry Bradshaw


Markets Push Higher as Shutdown Continues (1.22.19)

January 22, 2019

Markets pushed higher for the week as sentiment continued to shift away from fear and pessimism that have dominated markets for the past few months. Equities have now retraced 50% of the peak-to-trough decline that began in September 2018. A definitively more dovish Fed, positive U.S./China resolution, and continuation of US earnings growth (albeit lower than 2018 …) are the likely catalysts to keep the rally alive.

For the week, the DJIA increased 3.0% while the broader-based S&P 500 was up 2.9%. Smaller US companies representing the Russell 2000 closed 2.4% higher on the week. International equities also finished the week in the green with the MSCI EAFE and MSCI EM up 1.1% and 1.7%, respectively. 10yr US Treasury yields ended the week higher at a yield of 2.79%. Oil (WTI) continued to press higher closing at $53.80 a barrel despite record production levels in the U.S.

Company earnings reports and guidance will likely drive the market in the short-term as the reporting of economic data has been disrupted by the partial US government shutdown. Fourth-quarter earnings season kicked off last week with mostly positive reports from a number of Wall Street money center banks. This week, 65 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report. Fourth-quarter earnings are expected to increase 10.3% compared with the same quarter a year ago. Analysts are expecting revenues to rise 5.75% for the quarter, according to FactSet Research.

It is too soon to determine the impact of the longest partial government shutdown in history. We do know, however, that a shutdown will be a negative drag on economic growth. A resolution this week will certainly be welcomed. The impact of the shutdown combined with earnings season will keep market volatility elevated.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

ND&S Weekly Commentary (1.14.19) – A Solid Rebound

January 14, 2019

Markets rebounded solidly last week as positive comments from the Fed, strong economic data and increased optimism surrounding a trade deal with China buoyed investors’ spirits.

For the week, the DJIA gained 2.4% while the S&P 500 tacked-on 2.6%. The volatile NASDAQ jumped 3.5%. Developed international markets were also higher as the MSCI EAFE index increased 2.9% for the week. Emerging markets rebounded nicely as the MSCI EM index leapt 3.8%. Small company stocks, represented by the Russell 2000, surged 4.8% last week after being beaten-down last year. Fixed income, represented by the Bloomberg/Barclays Aggregate, finished the week slightly lower (-0.04%) in a quiet week for bonds. As a result, the 10 YR US Treasury closed at a yield of 2.71% (up 4 bps from the previous week’s closing yield of 2.67%). Gold prices closed at $1,287.10/oz – up 0.34% on the week. Oil prices continued their rebound as oil closed at $51.59 – higher by 7.57% on the week.

The week ahead will bring a host of economic reports – housing starts and existing home sales, retail sales, industrial production and producer prices. We expect most economic reports to be fairly positive, but investors will be focusing on the Brexit vote on Tuesday. Fourth-quarter earnings will kick off this week with bank earnings in the headlines as Citigroup reports on Monday followed by other money center banks later in the week. We expect a fair amount of volatility around company earnings over the next few weeks as the impact of trade tariffs (real and potential) will likely be felt. Of course, any developments regarding the lingering government shutdown and the trade spat with China will provide lots of drama this week.

The recent rebound in the markets is certainly a welcome start to the new year. Is the rebound simply reflexive or is it sustainable? We expect a decent year in the markets for 2019 with no signs of a recession. The year-end sell-off resulted in valuations that are decently lower than their 25-year averages. Inflation seems to be mild while employment is strong and consumer confidence is healthy … a good combination for a moderate rebound in 2019. The road ahead, however, will be a bit bumpy (as usual) … so buckle-up.

Go Pats!

“Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling.” – Bill Belichick

ND&S Weekly Commentary 1/7/19 – Strong Jobs Report Eases Growth Concerns

January 7, 2019

Equity markets continued their volatile ways last week. On Thursday, the DJIA fell over 600 points on news from Apple that 4th quarter iPhone sales in China were below estimates. This marked the first negative sales revision for Apple in 15 years. Then on Friday, the DJIA soared over 700 points, recovering all of the previous day’s decline, as a blowout jobs report and comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that the FOMC would be patient on future rate increases. Friday’s advance pushed equities into positive territory for the week with the DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ up 1.7%, 1.9% and 2.8%, respectively. International equities were also positive with the MSCI EAFE increasing 1.4% and the MSCI EM advancing a modest 0.3% on the week.

The jobs report on Friday came in well above expectations with an increase of 312,000 jobs in December, with an additional 58,000 from upward revisions to prior months. Notably, the unemployment rate did rise to 3.9%, pushed up by over 400,000 workers entering the labor force last month. This moved the labor participation rate up to 63.1% from 62.9%. Perhaps, the best part of Friday’s report was that wages showed a healthy gain of 0.4% in December and are now up 3.2% from a year ago. Gains in payrolls, more workers joining the labor force and higher real wages should support additional consumer spending and bolster somewhat slower but stable economic growth in 2019.

Interest rates fell last week as the rate on the 10 year U.S. Treasury dropped from 2.72% to 2.67% further flattening the yield curve. This week, look for economic reports on ISM non-mfg. PMI, inflation and the release of FOMC minutes from last month. In addition, US-China trade talks would resume this week at the vice-ministerial level.

“Without investment there will not be growth, and without growth there will not be employment.” -Muhtar Kent

ND&S Weekly Commentary 12.31.18 – Auld Lang Syne

December 31, 2018

It was an unprecedented volatile week on Wall Street heading into 2019. While retailers were experiencing the biggest holiday sales increases in six years, investors were rattled by tumultuous trading in equity markets.

For the week, the DJIA advanced 2.8%, while the broader-based S&P 500 finished at 2.9%. The tech-heavy NASDAQ surged 4.0% and international markets were slightly weaker with the MSCI EAFE and MSCI EM up 0.5% and 0.8%, respectively. The 10yr US Treasury yield declined to 2.72% down from the previous week’s 2.79%. Investors sought safety in Treasuries as the risk-off scenario continued.

The National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales fell 0.7% in November after declining 2.6% in October. Homebuilders and suppliers have been hit hard. Recently, mortgage rates have declined slightly which should help the housing market. US crude prices closed the week at $45.51 a barrel and have slid 11.2% for the month of December.

The partial government shutdown started a week ago Saturday closing down funding for nine cabinet-level departments and several agencies. President Trump, again at odds with Democrats, is holding the line on his demand for the border wall to be built.

The market’s decline that began in October has erased all of its 2018 gains. Several headwinds including the China and US trade conflict, the Federal Reserve tightening of monetary policy and the partial government shutdown have weighed heavily on investor minds. We expect market volatility to continue, hopefully, with less oscillation. The market needs reassurances that interest rates will remain somewhat steady, the US-China trade conflicts will de-escalate and that the government shutdown will end. While these issues are being resolved, we take solace in the strength of our economy and more than reasonable earnings expectations for 2019. The major banks begin reporting on January 18th.

Please try to avoid the media’s melodramatic coverage of financial and political instability and stay the course.

Happy New Year!

“And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.”
Robert Burns