Weekly Market Cheat Sheet, June 26, 2017

The Sevens Report is the daily market cheat sheet our subscribers use to keep up on markets, leading indicators, seize opportunities, avoid risks and get more assets. Get a free two-week trial with no obligation, just tell us where to send it.

Weekly market cheat sheet - sevens report

Last Week in Review:

For a second-straight week, we got underwhelming data and a more-hawkish-than-expected Fed. And for a second-straight week, stocks ignored it. Yet as we keep saying, unless this changes it can only be ignored for so long.

Starting with the former, there was only one material economic report last week, and it came Friday via the June Flash Manufacturing PMIs. Underscoring yet again that the regional surveys (which have been strong in June) apparently have no bearing on the actual national manufacturing PMI, the June composite flash PMI missed estimates at 53.0 vs. (E) 53.6. To boot, both the manufacturing PMI (52.1 vs. (E) 52.7) and the service sector PMI (53.0 vs. (E) 53.7) also missed estimates.

So, at least according to this flash PMI, manufacturing and service sector activity decelerated in June. Now, to be fair, all three numbers (the composite, manufacturing and service PMI) remain in positive territory above 50, so it’s not like activity is outright slowing. However, the level of acceleration continued to decrease in June.

Bigger picture, Friday’s numbers certainly aren’t damning for the economy, but again they are not going in the right direction. And with stocks extended (and a lot of good news priced in), and the Fed apparently more hawkish than we thought, the lack of economic acceleration so far in 2017 is going to become a problem if it doesn’t change.

Speaking of the Fed, last Monday Fed Vice Chair Dudley reiterated that he expected economic growth to continue, and was again dismissive of the disappointing inflation numbers. And, he clearly meant to imply that the Fed remains on course to 1) Begin to reduce the balance sheet in 2017 and 2) Hike rates again.

As with the slightly hawkish Fed meeting of two weeks ago, markets largely ignored the comments. But the bottom line is that the Fed is trying to communicate a more hawkish message to the markets, and the markets aren’t listening, yet. That’s something we’re going to be covering more in depth later this week. The chances of a hawkish “shock” from the Fed are rising (they aren’t high yet, but they are rising).

To end on a positive note, however, housing data bounced back nicely last week. Existing Home Sales and the FHFA Housing Price Index both beat estimates, and countered a very soft New Home Sales report.

Bottom line, over the past two weeks the data has continued to underwhelm while the Fed appears to be more hawkish than most thought. So, one of two things will happen if this continues: 1) Bonds will be right, and the economic data will get worse, which obviously isn’t good for stocks, or 2) Bonds will stop ignoring the Fed’s hawkish message and rates will rise. Either way, it will resolve itself with an uptick in volatility for stocks.

This Week’s Preview:

This week is similar to last week in so much as the important economic data points comes Friday, although on an absolute basis we do get more data this week.

The most important report coming this week is Friday’s Personal Income and Outlays Report, because it contains the PCE Price Index (the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation). If that number is soft, you will likely see the 10- year Treasury yield drop to new 2017 lows (likely below 2.10%, and the bond market’s warning on future economic growth will get louder).

The second most important number this week is the official Chinese June Manufacturing PMI, which comes Thursday night. I covered why China is so important last week in the “Credit Impulse Continued” section of Thursday report, but the bottom line is that if this number drops below 50 (which it shouldn’t, but there’s a chance) people will get nervous again about Chinese growth, and that will become a headwind on markets.

Looking elsewhere, Durable Goods will be reported and it will be yet another opportunity for “hard” economic data to show some acceleration and close the gap between strong “soft” sentiment surveys and hard economic data. Bottom line, next week is truly the key week for economic data, but this week’s inflation numbers (in the US and Europe) and Chinese PMIs will move markets, and give us further color into the state of growth and inflation. If the numbers disappoint, I’d expect lower bond yields… and lower stocks.

Get the simple talking points you need to strengthen your client relationships with the Sevens Report. Everything you need to know about the markets delivered to your inbox by 7am each morning, in 7 minutes or less. 

Weekly Market Cheat Sheet, May 15, 2017

The Sevens Report is the daily markets cheat sheet our subscribers use to keep up on markets, leading indicators, seize opportunities, avoid risks and get more assets. Get a free two-week trial with no obligation, just tell us where to send it.

Last Week in Review:

Economic data last week was mixed in total, but from a market standpoint the takeaway was that it was neither strong enough to support a push through 2400 in the S&P 500, nor weak enough to generate any real selling. So, the net effect is that the market is left wondering whether the economic acceleration can continue, or whether we are losing momentum.

Retail Sales was the most important report last week, and while on the headline it appeared disappointing, a closer look revealed it was basically in line with expectations.

I say that, because while the headline missed estimates (0.4% vs. 0.6%) the revisions to the March data were positive, from -0.2% to 0.1%. Taken in aggregate, the two-month retail sales performance was slightly better than expected.

Looking at the more important “control” group, which is the best measure of discretionary consumer spending, it also appeared to be a disappointment, up just 0.2% vs. (E) 0.4%. But once again, the revisions were positive (from 0.5% to 0.7%), so if you take the two months together it was in line with estimates.

Bigger picture, consumer spending remains decently healthy, but activity isn’t on pace with Q3/Q4 of last year, when consumer spending powered economic growth. Without an acceleration in consumer spending, it’s hard to see the US economy accelerating materially from here.

The other notable domestic numbers last week were the April CPI and PPI. The former was much-hotter-than-expected, as the core rose 0.7% vs. 0.2% on surging service inflation (financial services costs, especially). However, core CPI was slightly underwhelming, rising just 0.1% in April, and up 1.9% year over year, below the 2.0% estimate.

Bottom line, it’s a given that inflation pressures continue to build, but all the statistical data implies they are building very slowly. And given the Fed watches the statistical data, nothing in the inflation numbers will make the Fed think about hiking more aggressively or delaying the June rate hike.

The other notable data last week came from China, and it was on balance negative. April exports, imports, M2 money supply and PPI all missed estimates, although not by wide margins. Not all the data was bad, as new yuan loans were slightly better than expected. Then, this weekend, Fixed Asset Investment, Retail Sales and Industrial Production all slightly missed expectations.

Bottom line, legitimate doubts are creeping in about the state of the Chinese economy, but it’s simply too early for anyone other than Kyle Bass to declare a problem (he’s been warning about the implosion of China for years, and I’m sure one day he will be right. In the meantime, he has plenty of capital to wait it out). Yet for us, slowing Chinese growth remains a risk, but one that just needs to be monitored for now, which we are doing.

This Week’s Preview:

The calendar is once again relatively quiet this week, although we will get the first look at May data, which will help us decide whether the March/April lull in economic growth is ending.

To that point, the two most important numbers this week are the Empire Manufacturing Survey (today) and the Philly Fed survey (Thursday). Both give us our first look at May economic activity, and while both are just regional surveys, they still matter given the seemingly precarious trend in economic data (is it the pause that refreshes, or are we losing momentum?).

Outside of those two manufacturing surveys, April Industrial Production comes Tuesday, and that will give us another hard-data look at manufacturing activity. Remember, while manufacturing PMIs soared in early 2017, actual hard data hasn’t really moved (hence the gap between soft sentiment indicators and hard data). So, it’ll be an economic positive if Industrial Production can show an acceleration in manufacturing activity.

Outside of those reports, the only other notable numbers are housing related, as we get the first look at April home sales numbers. The Housing Market Index comes today, Housing Starts come tomorrow. Sentiment towards housing is pretty buoyant right now, so it’d be unlikely (and a big surprise) if we saw a housing roll over.

Bottom line, this week will shed some incremental light on the current state of economic growth, and given the markets are starving for a catalyst (positive or negative) usually inconsequential numbers may indeed move stocks.

Get the simple talking points you need to strengthen your client relationships with the Sevens Report. Everything you need to know about the markets delivered to your inbox by 7am each morning, in 7 minutes or less.