Maybe it’s a good thing that the US markets will be closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
In 2016, traders around the world have spent most of the markets’ open hours dumping assets.
The S&P 500 is down 8% since the beginning of the year in what has been the worst first ten days of trading in history.
“Following last week’s tumultuous ride in the financial markets, investors will be closely monitoring updated US economic developments in the upcoming holiday-shortened week,” Wells Fargo’s Sam Bullard said on Sunday.
Here’s your Monday Scouting Report:
- The US economy is not in a recession. Despite all the worries about tighter monetary policy from the Fed, decelerating growth in China, tumbling prices for commodities like oil, etc., the story in the US economy continues to be one of growth. Here’s Deutsche Bank: “Falling markets induce recession forecasts quicker than you can scream sell. A Bloomberg survey puts the odds of a US slump this year at one-in-five, double three months ago. Really? In the 12 months leading up to each of the past five American recessions, annual auto sales growth was negative in at least eight months. No single such month so far. And cheap oil keeps those wheels turning. Growth in miles driven, which typically collapses before a recession, is near a decade-high. It’s not just cars Americans are getting around in — planes were also 85% full in December. Finally, for market watchers worried about a flattening yield curve, the ten year-two year spread fell to a post-2008 low of 1.15% this week. The last two times that happened a recession was at least three years away.” For more, read Myles Udland’s post.
- The stock market is a different story. The US stock market and the US economy are not the same thing. Relative to the US economy, US stocks are far more sensitive to exports, energy prices, manufacturing activity, the strong dollar, and China. All of those variables have been causes of concern for investors, who are demanding more of a risk premium amid the heightened level of uncertainty of late. Plummeting oil prices have been among the more tangible sources of pain, which has forced strategists across Wall Street to hack their outlooks for the stock market in 2016. Here’s Citi’s Tobias Levkovich: “The near 20% decline in crude prices year to date is forcing additional cuts to the earnings outlook. While the Energy sector contributed an estimated 5%-6% of overall S&P 500 EPS last year, it could plunge another 40% this year. Thus, we are trimming $2.00 from our prior 2016 forecast to $126.50. Thus, the profit growth outlook is cut back to around 5% from the previous 7%…With earnings estimates dipping back, it is fair to imply that the S&P 500 will not achieve the 2,200 year-end 2016 target that was projected last September but be more like 2,150 (and 18,500 on the DJIA).”
- US markets are closed Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
- NAHB Housing Market Index (Tues.): Economists estimate this homebuilder sentiment index was unchanged to 61 in January. Here’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch: “”The NAHB housing survey is likely to slip to 60 in early January. The combination of the weather worsening early in January, the deterioration in the stock market and the beginning of the Fed’s hiking cycle likely leaves builders feeling a bit more concerned. That said, a 60 print on this index is still indicative of solid performance.””
- Housing Starts (Wed.): Economists estimate the pace of housing starts climbed 2.3% to an annualized rate of 1.200 million units. Permits are estimated to have dropped 6.4% to 1.200 million units. Here’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch: “We are assuming that part of the strength over November and December owes to abnormally warm winter weather. The average temperature in December broke historical records by a wide margin. If part of the gain is indeed due to the weather, than we should see a payback in 1Q16. If builders were able to accomplish more in the winter, there will not be as big of a push in the spring to prepare for the buying season. Therefore, we advise smoothing through the data to understand the underlying trend rather than focus on one month of indicators.”
- Consumer Price Index (Wed): Economists estimate CPI went nowhere month-over-month in December, reflecting a 0.8% year-over-year increase. Excluding food and energy, core-CPI is estimated to have climbed 0.2% and 2.1%, respectively. Here’s Nomura: “Both headline and core CPI were modestly stronger than expected in November as inflation of medical care service prices came in a little stronger than expected. Although medical care services prices are relatively volatile, the recent pickup in medical care prices poses some upside risks to our core CPI forecast going forward. Elsewhere, given the tightening in labour markets and low vacancy rate of rental houses, we continue to expect a gradual pick-up in core inflation in the medium term. We expect a 0.147% m-o-m (+2.1% y-o-y) gain in core CPI in December. We forecast that energy prices declined in December and that food prices were flat. As such, we expect headline prices to fall by 0.01% m-o-m (+0.8% y-o-y).”
- Initial Jobless Claims (Thurs.): Economists estimate that initial claims slipped to 280,000 from 284,000 a week ago. Here’s Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna: “Thursday’s jobless claims data take on elevated significance because they correspond to the January employment survey week. While claims have moved up slightly in recent weeks, temporary spikes can occur around holiday periods. As long as the four-week average remains comfortably below 300k, job growth should remain decent. Interestingly, despite the 292k increase in December nonfarm payrolls, the rate of job growth is actually slowing — its year-over-year rate is down to 1.9% from an early 2015 cyclical peak of 2.3%.”
- Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook (Thurs.): Economists estimate sales climbed 0.1% in December. Excluding autos and gas, core retail sales are estimated this regional activity index improved to -5.0 in January from -5.9 in December. Here’s UBS’s Sam Coffin: “New seasonal factors for the Philadelphia Fed survey resulted in downward revision to the current activity index in recent months. We project some improvement in early January. Other regional factory measures have generally suggested slower rates of decline, as has the ISM index. Some of the weakness in factory measures probably reflects weak pricing as well as stalled unit output.”
- Markit US Manufacturing PMI (Fri.): Economists estimate this manufacturing index slipped to 51.0 in January from 51.2 in December. Here’s UBS’s Coffin: “The Markit index has not shown as much slowing as factory output growth but fell in the last several months to closer to the breakeven-50 level. Even so, its utility as a signal for factory output is called into doubt by its failure to capture 2015’s slowing in output.”
- Existing Home Sales (Fri): Economists estimate the pace of sales jumped 9.2% in December to an annualized rate of 5.20 million units. Here’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch: “We look for existing home sales to increase to a 5.0 million pace in December. This would be a partial reversal of the sharp decline in November. However, the weakness in November owed to a delay in contract closing given the implementation of a new system to process mortgages. Once the changes have been made, there will be a backlog of mortgage contracts that need to close and hence will show up as existing home sales.”
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