The market went on a wild ride last week, ending with a big 185-point rally in the Dow that put the major indexes modestly in the green for the week.
But thanks to elevated geopolitical risks, traders have got that risk-off feeling.
“Risk aversion rules,” Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes said. “The Ukraine conflict shows no sign of being resolved (rather, there’s far too high a chance of escalation for comfort). [T]he U.S. has approved limited airstrikes in Northern Iraq. The conflict on Gaza, too, is in danger of re-escalation. Investors have plenty of reasons to take risk off the table and are doing so across the board.”
The safe-haven asset classes have been popular. The Japanese yen has been strengthening against the world’s major currencies; German bonds saw yields on the two-year security go negative; and gold rallied to a three-week high on Friday.
Treasury bonds have been staging an impressive rally with the yield on the 10-year note sliding to a 14-month low of 2.37%.
Here’s your Monday Scouting Report:
- Yield: “It’s really hard for me to identify why rates should go higher,” said Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine Funds. In a phone call with Business Insider on Friday, Gundlach reiterated his expectation for the 10-year yield to trade between 2.2% and 2.8%, with the risk that it goes below 2.2%. Gundlach said that we could see Treasury yields rise if European yields were to rally. However, he reminded us that the European economy continues to be in much worse shape.
Jackson Hole Will Matter This Year: It was at the 2010 Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole where then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke prepared the world for QE2, a second round of stimulative bond purchases.
While the subsequent conferences have been interesting, none have been hyped up quite like the one coming up later this month. “We expect the Jackson Hole summit (21-23 August) to become the focus for markets seeking fresh signals from central bankers,” said Barclays Christian Keller.
“We eagerly await the upcoming Jackson Hole Conference,” said Morgan Stanley’s Vincent Reinhart.
“Her remarks will provide an important update on the dashboard of labour market indicators which she is monitoring; and the financial markets will pay particular attention to her comments pertaining to gauges which continue to show ‘significant underutilization of labour resources’ as noted in the last FOMC statement,” said Deutsche Bank’s Carl Riccadonna. “Some of these measures include part-time workers for economic reasons, quit rates in the JOLTS data, the duration of unemployment, the U-6 unemployment rate and still-low labour force participation.”
- JOLTS Job Openings (Tues): Economists estimate the the BLS’s Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey will reveal there were 4.55 million job openings in June, down from 4.635 million in May. “JOLTS has garnered more attention lately as Fed Chair Yellen often cites the survey when assessing the state of the labour market,” noted Credit Suisse economists. “In May, JOLTS job openings continued to strengthen, rising to 4.6M and job vacancies per unemployed worker increased to 0.47, the highest level since May 2008. The ratio of vacancies to unemployed workers has risen much faster than its post-crisis trend for two months in a row, providing further confirmation that the US labour market has indeed shifted to a period of stronger growth. However, the rates of hiring and quitting were unchanged and remain well below pre-crisis levels.”
- Monthly Budget Statement (Tues): Economists expect the Treasury Department to report a deficit of $US96.0 billion. Here’s Morgan Stanley’s Ted Wieseman: “We estimate the federal government ran a $US92 billion budget deficit in July, down from $US98 billion a year earlier on a 3.2% rise in receipts and 0.4% increase in outlays. Flat withheld income and payroll taxes slowed tax revenue growth, while one-off payments lowered miscellaneous outlays versus higher healthcare spending. For fiscal year 2014 ending in September we see the deficit on pace to narrow to $US500 billion, or 2.9% of GDP, from $US680 billion, 4.1% of GDP, in 2013 on 6.2% growth in receipts and 5.4% growth in outlays.”
- Retail Sales (Wed): Economists estimate sales climbed by 0.2% in July, or 0.4% excluding autos and gas. “Early indications point to solid upside in retail sales in July,” said Morgan Stanley’s Wieseman. “Unit auto sales fell to a 16.4 million unit annual rate in July from an eight-year high of 16.8 million in June, but industry reports indicated that the pullback reflected lower fleet sales, while retail sales rose. Meanwhile, our AlphaWise team’s data pointed to a solid rise in ex autos and gas sales, and our retail analysts in equity research saw somewhat muted mall sales trends in July but indications of early back-to-school sales being off to a good start. So we look for a solid further 0.4% gain in the core “retail control” category on top of a 0.5% rise in June.”
- Initial Jobless Claims (Thurs): Economists estimate weekly initial claims ticked up to 295,000 from 289,000 a week ago. Here’s Citi’s Peter D’Antonio: “Note 1: After seven years, first filings have now sunk to the range that prevailed before the crisis. US growth exceeding 3 per cent going forward likely will keep claims below 300,000, except for shocks and periods known for elevated filings such as at yearend. Note 2: Beneficiaries and the insured rate also have reverted to their respective pre- crisis ranges. While the BLS’ civilian unemployment rate remains high and is expected to fall by another 1⁄2 percentage point over the next year and a half, we posit that there is limited scope for further decline in the insured rate. The insured rate is now capturing the short-term unemployed (26 weeks or less) who are finding jobs more easily. Indeed, the BLS’ short-term unemployment rate at 4% has returned to its pre-crisis range. But the civilian rate includes the short- as well as the long-term unemployed — the latter of which has further to fall.”
- Empire Manufacturing (Fri): Economists estimate this regional manufacturing index fell to 20.0 in August from 25.6 in July. “The current level for this index looks to be unsustainably high: the last time it breached 25.0, Empire fell below 20 the following month,” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists. “That said, we believe the manufacturing sector in New York State will likely continue to grow at a robust pace, as 20.0 still remains higher than levels we’ve seen over the last several years.”
- Producer Price Index (Fri): Economists estimate PPI Climbed by just 0.1% month-over-month or 1.7% year-over-year. Excluding food and energy, core PPI is estimated to have climbed by 0.2% or 1.6%, respectively. “The higher producer prices combined with rising unit labour costs will likely play a role in moderating corporate profits as the year progresses,” said Wells Fargo’s John Silvia. “The magnitude of the impact on profits will depend on the ability for producers to pass along the higher costs to consumers.”
- Industrial Production (Fri): Economists estimate industrial production increased by 0.3% in July with capacity utilization increasing to 79.2%. “Based on the BLS’s accounting of aggregate hours worked, we expect manufacturing production (excluding vehicles) to decline in July, while mining output should remain unchanged,” said Nomura economists. “We expect vehicle production to increase, especially given reports that there were fewer auto factory shutdowns for retooling this July. Lastly, based on weekly utility output data, we expect utilities production to decline due to less cooling demand (July was cooler than usual). Taking these factors into consideration, we expect industrial production to remain unchanged in July.”
- University of Michicgan Confidence (Fri): Economists estimate this index of sentiment climbed to 82.5 in August from 81.8 in July. “This would largely reflect equity markets, which have moved lower as volatility has picked up,” said Barclays economists.
Earnings season is wrapping up. “Of these 446 companies [that have reported Q2 results], 73% have reported actual EPS above the mean EPS estimate and 27% have reported actual EPS below the mean EPS estimate,” said FactSet’s John Butters. “The percentage of companies reporting EPS above the mean EPS estimate is above both the 1-year (72%) average and the 4-year (72%) average.”
“Inflation remains a key concern for management,” said Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin, whose team has thumb through the reports and listened to the conference calls. “Companies noted the potential long- term impact of rising costs on margins despite hedges that reduce the near-term impact on profits. Firms in the consumer sectors have already experienced inflationary pressures due to rising input costs. Conflicting opinions exist as to whether boosting prices on the consumer will help mitigate the effect of rising costs.”
For more insight about the middle market, visit mid-marketpulse.com.
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