- Stocks tick higher to begin week. (10:29am ET) U.S. equities are slightly higher this morning as earnings season ramps up this week with 63 S&P 500 components set to report. Markets moved lower the final three sessions of the last week’s shortened trading week, concluding with a 0.7% loss for the S&P 500 on Thursday which was led lower by energy (-1.9%) and financials (-1.7%). Asian indexes closed mixed overnight, with the Nikkei gaining 0.1%, while China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.7% as a request from the country’s top securities regulator to tighten controls overshadowed an upside surprise to Gross Domestic Product (GDP); European markets are closed for Easter Monday. Meanwhile COMEX gold ($1291/oz.) is near flat, WTI crude oil ($53.03/barrel) is dropping 0.3%, and the yield on the 10-year Note little changed at 2.23%.
- First big earnings week on tap. This week 16% of the S&P 500’s market cap will report first quarter 2017 results, highlighted by the financials and industrials sectors. Banks got the season off to a good start late last week, pushing the financials earnings growth rate to near 18% from an estimated 15.6% over the past week. Overall, Thomson-tracked consensus for S&P 500 earnings is calling for a 10.4% year-over-year increase in the quarter; a strong 76% earnings beat rate thus far has lifted overall earnings growth by 0.2% (though just 6% of the S&P 500’s market cap reported last week). Look for our earnings dashboard here on April 24.
- Consumer prices fell in March. The consumer price index (CPI) fell 0.3% month over month in March, below consensus expectations for a flat reading. Core prices, excluding food and energy, slipped 0.1% month over month, the first sequential decline since January of 2010 and well below consensus estimates of +0.2%. The drop pushed the year-over-year changes in headline and core prices to 2.4% (down from 2.7% in February) and 2.0% (down from 2.2% in February), respectively. The drop in prices was broad based, driven by a combination of wireless phone services, apparel, autos, and housing. We continue to expect two more rate hikes from the Federal Reserve (Fed) in 2017, but the soft data in March may cause markets to at least partially discount the probability of a June hike, which is currently about a coin flip based on fed funds futures markets.
- Retail sales fell for the second straight month. Following a downward revision to February, retail sales fell for the second straight month in March, slipping 0.2% (vs. consensus of -0.1%), though sales increased by a respectable 5.2% on a year-over-year basis. Core retail sales (excluding autos, gasoline, building materials and food services), rose 0.5% month over month, above expectations, after a downwardly revised 0.2% decline in February. Consumer spending clearly slowed in the first quarter after a strong finish to 2016, but weather, delayed tax refunds, and seasonal quirks in first quarter data in recent years suggest a rebound in the second quarter is likely. Still, first quarter gross domestic product, based on available data to date, is tracking to only about 1%.
- Upside surprise to Chinese GDP. The Chinese government released its official Q1 GDP report overnight, up 6.9%, better than expectations which generally were in the 6.5%-6.7% range. Economic indicators were up across the board, including growth in Fixed Asset Investment (infrastructure and real estate spending), which is often heavily influenced by government policy, and retail sales. Consumer spending is key to the Chinese government, as it is trying to manage its economy away from infrastructure and heavy industry and toward consumer spending and the service sector.
- Though many are skeptical regarding Chinese GDP growth figures, what may matter most is how China responds to them. Because the government is signaling that the economic situation is strong, it gives it room to be more aggressive on important issues, primarily the debt problem. Chinese shares were down slightly despite the positive data. Why? Perhaps because of the government’s signal that policy will shift away from supporting the economy (which officially no longer needs the support) and toward dealing with these longer term imbalances.
- Checking in on technicals, sentiment, and uncertainty. This week in the Weekly Market Commentary we will take a look at market technicals, sentiment, and the ever increasing uncertainty. The good news is market breadth remains strong and globally we are seeing many major markets in uptrends as well. Still, sentiment is a mixed picture and the level of uncertainty remains high. All of this, coupled with the historically low level of market volatility during the first-quarter, makes the potential for higher volatility very likely.
- BOJ: Kuroda Speaks to Trust Companies Association
- Initial Jobless Claims (Apr 15)
- Conference Board US Leading Index (Mar)
- Eurozone: Consumer Confidence (Apr)
- Existing Home Sales (Mar)
- Eurozone: Markit Mfg. & Services PMI (Apr)
- CAD: CPI (Mar)
- ECB: Current Account (Feb)
Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted.
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