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Higher Rate Playbook

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Higher Rate Playbook Revisited
  • Was Yesterday a Reversal?

Futures are flat following a generally quiet night as markets look ahead to this morning’s jobs report.

Economic data and earnings overnight were solid as Samsung posted good numbers while German Manufacturers’ Orders handily beat expectations (2.0% vs. (E) 0.2%).

There was no notable trade news or European political news (Italy) out overnight.

Today the focus will be on the jobs report, and expectations are – Jobs: 180k, Unemployment: 3.8%, Wages: 0.3% m/m, 2.9% y/y.

The key is the wage number, and if it prints a 3.0% yoy gain, look for Treasuries and the dollar to rally.  A rally in the dollar to the mid 96 level and the 10 year yield moving into the mid to high 3.20% range will likely pressure stocks again.

Outside of the jobs report, there are two Fed speakers, Kaplan (12:30 p.m. ET) and Bostic (12:30 p.m. ET) but neither should move markets.

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Jobs Report Preview, October 5, 2017

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Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have sapped some of the importance from tomorrow’s jobs report because it’s likely going to be temporarily distorted lower than it should otherwise be. Case in point, the expectation is for 100k job adds when it should normally be about double that. So, it’s likely we’ll get a soft number and it’ll be dismissed by the markets.

But, it’s not clear what impact the storms will have on the wage component (theoretically it shouldn’t be much). Regardless, the practical effect is that is we see a soft number tomorrow (jobs and wages) it will be handed a relative pass given the storms.

That said, the jobs report still remains very important from a “reflation rally” standpoint. This week, the Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing PMIs and auto sales have all helped to push stocks slightly higher, despite the market’s clear preference to see some profit taking in the reflation sectors. If tomorrow’s jobs report is “Just Right” and the wage number is firm, that will add fuel to the “reflation rally.”

From a practical standpoint, I’ll be adding about 75k jobs to whatever the number is on Friday to account for one-time, Hurricane Harvey/Irma-related declines.

“Too Hot” Scenario (A December Rate Hike Becomes 100% Certain, Risk Increases for More than Three Hikes in 2018)

>200k Job Adds, < 4.1% Unemployment, > 2.8% YOY wage increase. A number this hot will reinforce that an economic reflation is in deed underway, and it’ll likely make the Fed marginally more hawkish. Likely Market Reaction: This would not result in a “Virtuous Reflation.”…withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Just Right” Scenario (Leaves a December Rate Hike Likely But Not Certain)

• 50k–200k Job Adds, > 4.2% Unemployment Rate, 2.5%-2.8% YOY wage increase. This gap is really wide because of the hurricanes, but the best scenario for stocks would be a print at the upper end of this range. Likely Market Reaction: A continued “Virtuous” reflation…withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Too Cold” Scenario (Economic Growth Potentially Stalling)
< 50k Job Adds, < 2.5% YOY Wage Gains. Again, this number is artificially low because of the hurricanes, but if we see a big disappointment in the jobs number and a further softening of wage inflation that will send bond yields lower, but it would also likely weigh on stocks as it will raise concerns about economic growth. Likely Market Reaction: Bonds and gold should…withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

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Jobs Report Preview, August 31, 2017

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Before getting into this month’s jobs report preview, I want to point out that August jobs reports have a history of being the worst reports of the year, and often provide negative surprises. The reason why isn’t exactly clear. It likely has to do with the resumption of college and end of summer jobs, although that’s never been statistically verified. The reason I’m telling you this is because if there’s one month where a soft jobs report is at least partially overlooked, it’s August. Point being, a soft jobs report tomorrow won’t be as “dovish” as a soft jobs re- port any other month.

Bigger picture, the inflation component of this report remains key. A December rate hike isn’t certain, but if wages tick higher and the headline number is strong, that will push yields and the dollar higher, and stocks likely lower (at least in the short term). Longer term, though, we need a “reflation,” and that comes with better growth and inflation, so that’s the preferred outcome for anyone with a longer-term time horizon (which is all of us, I suspect).

“Too Hot” Scenario (A December Rate Hike Becomes More Certain)
>250k Job Adds, < 4.1% Unemployment, > 2.8% YOY wage increase. A number this hot will refute the lower inflation numbers and reintroduce the potential for a “not dovish” Fed. Likely Market Reaction: We should see a powerful re-engagement…withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Just Right” Scenario (Leaves a December Rate Hike As A 50/50 Proposition)
125k–250k Job Adds, > 4.2% Unemployment Rate, 2.5%-2.8% YOY wage increase. This is the best-case scenario for stocks, as it would reinforce the current expectation of balance sheet reduction in September, and (maybe) one more 25-bps rate hike in December. Likely Market Reaction: A knee-jerk, mild stock rally..withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Too Cold” Scenario (Economic Growth Potentially Stalling)
< 100k Job Adds, < 2.5% YOY Wage Gains. If we see a big disappointment in the jobs number and a further softening of wage inflation, that will send bond yields lower, but it would also likely weigh on stocks as it will raise concerns about economic growth. Likely Market Reaction: Bonds and gold should surge and the 10-year Treasury yield would…withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

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Weekly Market Cheat Sheet, August 28, 2017

Last Week in Review

There were only two notable economic reports last week, and neither were particularly controversial… and neither did anything to change the current market expectation of 1) High 2% to low 3% GDP growth in Q3, or 2) Fed reduction of the balance sheet in September.

Neither data point gave us any incremental color on whether the Fed will hike rates in December, although
we’ll get a lot more color on that issue this week. Looking at the data, the most important number last week was the August flash composite PMIs. The headline number beat at 56 vs. (E) 54.3, but that strong aggregate number hid some pretty significant discrepancies in the details.

The reason the PMIs beat was because of a surge in service companies. Flash service sector PMI rose to 56.9 vs. 54.8. But, the more important manufacturing PMI dropped to 52.5 vs. 53.2 (the manufacturing PMI is just a better reading of activity, so it’s more heavily weighted in the minds of economists).

So, despite the headline beat, this number was actually a disappointment, although I want to be clear that it was not an outright negative (PMIs need to drop below 50 before they imply economic activity is slowing). Bottom line, this is not the type of August reading that would make us think we’re seeing an economic acceleration.

Turning to Durable Goods, they were in line. Yes, the headline reading missed expectations as orders for Durable Goods fell -6.8% vs. (E) -5.8%. But, longer-time readers of this Report know you should ignore the headline as it’s massively skewed by airplane orders. The more important number is New Orders for Non-Defense Capital Goods ex Aircraft (NDCGXA) and it rose 0.4% vs. (E) 0.5%, although June data was revised 0.1% higher, so it was an in-line reading.

Again, we watch NDCGXA because it’s the best proxy for business spending and investment. And, similar to the flash PMI, while the number isn’t an outright negative, it’s not the kind of number that makes us think a broad economic acceleration is coming.

Bottom line, both numbers last week implied continued steady, but unspectacular, economic growth, and that’s simply not enough to cause a rising.

This Week’s Preview

This will be one of the busiest weeks of the year from an economic data standpoint, and it will come during one of the lowest liquidity weeks of the year… so the potential for data-based volatility this week is high.

The key reports this week (in order of importance) are: Jobs Report (Friday), Personal Income and Outlays (Thursday) and Global Manufacturing PMIs (Thursday night/Friday morning).

The reason those reports are ranked like that is because of inflation. Remember, barring a shockingly week Jobs Report on Friday, nothing is going to stop the Fed from reducing the balance sheet in September.

But, whether they hike rates in December remains uncertain, and the key variable that will decide that is inflation. So, that means that the wage number in Friday’s Jobs Report, and the Core PCE Price Index (the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, which is contained in the Personal Income and Outlays report) will be the two key numbers this week.

If they run hotter than expected, you will see markets begin to price in the chance of a December rate hike, which would likely be a near-term headwind on stocks as a rate hike is not priced in to bond yields, the dollar or equities.

Turning to measures of economic growth, the August manufacturing PMIs are always important, but again there really shouldn’t be any major surprises here. A firm number in the US that refuted the soft flash PMI from last week would be welcomed as we need better growth to push stocks higher, but really the focus will be on inflation this week.

Looking at the dovish possibilities, we could easily see the data this week push the 10-year Treasury yield to new lows if the inflation data is underwhelming, and we would view that as a negative for stocks broadly.

Bottom line, I know this is a heavy vacation week, but it’s important one for Fed and ECB expectations, and that has the potential to move markets, especially given the precarious technical situation the S&P 500 is sitting in.

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Weekly Market Cheat Sheet, August 14, 2017

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Last Week in Review

There was more underwhelming economic data last week, especially on the inflation front, as the prospects for an economic reflation in 2017 continued to dim.

From a Fed standpoint, the disappointing CPI and PPI reports further reduce the chances of a rate hike in December, although importantly the Fed is still expected to begin to reduce its balance sheet in September.

Starting with the headline numbers, CPI and PPI, they were both disappointing. The Producer Price Index declined to -0.1% vs. (E) 0.1% while the core figure was flat vs. (E) 0.2%. Meanwhile, the CPI report was slightly less underwhelming at 0.1% vs. 0.2% on the headline, and the same for the core.

While these aren’t horrible numbers, they aren’t good either, and the bottom line is that statistical inflation
remains stubbornly low, and it is appearing to continue to lose momentum. Again, for context, that’s a problem because in this environment, with (supposedly) strong economic growth and low unemployment, inflation should not be going down. Period. And the longer it goes on, the more it sparks worries that eventual deflation or disinflation will rise, and that’s not good for an economy with still-slow growth and extended asset markets.

Bottom line, even before the uptick in North Korea jitters this was a market in need of a positive catalyst to spur further gains. Unfortunately, the economic data (ex-jobs and sentiment surveys) has been consistently underwhelming, so the chances of a rising tide driven by an economic reflation continue to dim. And while a “dovish” number may be good for a mild pop in the S&P 500, soft data and a lower dollar/bond yields aren’t going to drive the market to material new highs.

This Week’s Preview

This week is busy, with mostly anecdotal data that will give us a better overall picture of the economy and inflation—and the main risk to stocks now is that the data comes in light, and along with low inflation that spurs fears of an economic loss of momentum. If that happens, stocks will take out last week’s lows.

The most important report this week will be tomorrow’s Retail Sales report. Consumer spending has been lackluster for most of 2017, but around now we see a typical seasonal uptick. That will be welcomed by markets if that appears again this year. If the number is soft, it’s going to spur worries about the pace of economic growth (remember, hard economic data hasn’t been great all year, it’s been the PMI surveys that have been strong).

Beyond retail sales, we also get a first look at August economic data via the Empire and Philly manufacturing indices. Both numbers haven’t been highly correlated to the national PMIs lately, but it’s still our most-recent economic data and it could move markets, especially if we see any weakening in the data. Empire comes tomorrow and Philly comes Thursday.

Turning to central banks, we get the Fed minutes from the July meeting on Wednesday, and the ECB minutes from the July meeting on Thursday. The Fed minutes are important because we will be looking for clues as to how eager or committed the Fed is to September balance sheet reduction. With the ECB, the key will be seeing how committed or eager the ECB is to announce tapering of QE in September. As is usually the case, there shouldn’t be any big surprises in these minutes, but they could slightly shift expectations for those two events (balance sheet reduction/announcement of tapering), and as such also move Treasury yields and Bund yields.

Finally, July Industrial Production and Housing Starts also come this week (Thursday and Wednesday,
respectively). Again, these are an opportunity for the hard data to rise and meet strong soft data surveys, and in doing so reassure investors that the economy’s accelerating.

Bottom line, none of the numbers this week are “major,” but in aggregate they will give us a lot more insight into the pace of economic growth and the outlook for the Fed and ECB. And, this market needs some economic reassurance to help bolster sentiment after last week. Better data and steady Fed/ECB are a needed boost markets this week.

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Weekly Market Cheat Sheet, August 7, 2017

Weekly market cheat sheet

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Last Week in Review

Friday’s jobs report caused a mild reversal of the week’s long downtrend in yields and the dollar, but that was more a function of “covering shorts” on the news rather than it was a function of the jobs report being materially hawkish (it met our “Just Right” scenario).

In total, while unemployment dipped further and wages were steady, in aggregate the economic data from last week largely reinforces the “stagnation” outlook for markets (slow-but-steady growth, low inflation).

Starting with the jobs report, as mentioned, it hit the upper end of our “Just Right” scenario. The headline job adds was stronger than expected (209k vs. 178k) while the June revisions were positive (up 9k to 231k).

Meanwhile, unemployment and wages met expectations: 4.3% unemployment and 0.3% wage gains, with a 2.5% yoy increase. In all, it’s a pretty Goldilocks jobs report, as job adds remain strong and the downtrend in wage inflation appears, at least in July, to have stopped.

That’s why we saw the rally in the 10-year Treasury yield and dollar. It wasn’t that the report was hawkish, but it did stop the trend in lower inflation stats. And, with a market as stretched to the downside as the Dollar Index and 10-year yield both are, it caused a snap-back rally.

Importantly, other than potentially making a December rate hike slightly more expected, Friday’s jobs report did nothing to alter the outlook for the Fed (still balance sheet reduction in September).

Looking at the economic data the rest of last week, it was more of the same: Not particularly impressive, but not implying a slowdown, either.

The ISM Manufacturing PMI slightly beat estimates at 56.3 vs. (E) 56.2, and that remained well above the important 50 mark. So, while there was a decline from June, it remains indicative of a manufacturing sector that is seeing growth accelerate.

The one disappointing economic data point last week was the ISM Non-Manufacturing (or service sector) PMI. It declined to 53.9 vs. (E) 56.9, and was the weakest reading since August 2016. However, the private sector Markit Services PMI rose to 54.7 from 54.2, so there is a conflicting message there (ISM is one firm that produces PMIs, and Markit is a competitor. Usually, their PMIs are generally in agreement, but not this month… and it has to do with the survey questions each use and the makeup of the final indices. It’s an oddity that there was a discrepancy, but it’s not an economic red flag (at least not at this point).

Bigger picture, economic growth through June and July appears consistent with the slow-but-steady growth we’ve become accustomed to over the past several years. It’s certainly not a negative for stocks, but it’s not going to create a rising tide that propels us to new highs.

This Week’s Preview

As is usually the case for the week following the jobs report and the PMIs, this week will be quieter from an economic data standpoint, although there is a very important report coming this Friday… CPI.

As we’ve said consistently, inflation is much more important right now (because it’s declining) than economic growth (which remains steady), so inflation numbers will have the potential to move markets more than growth numbers, as we saw on Friday with the jobs report.

To that end, Friday’s CPI has the potential to send bond yields and the dollar higher, if it confirms Friday’s wage number that implies inflation steadied in July. Conversely, if the CPI report is soft we’ll see Friday’s rally in bond yields and the dollar undone, quickly.

Outside of CPI Friday (and PPI on Thursday) the next most-important data point this week will be the Productivity and Costs report Wednesday. In Friday’s Report, I listed a number of events that could push stocks higher if earnings growth has peaked near term. Increased productivity was one of those events, so a strong productivity number will be positive for markets.

Beyond those two numbers, the domestic calendar is quiet this week, and none of the reports coming (NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, jobless claims) should move markets too much.

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Goldilocks Jobs Report Preview, August 3, 2017

Goldilocks Jobs Report Preview: What Will Make the Report too Hot, too Cold, or Just Right?

What a difference a month makes. For June’s jobs report, we were equally worried about a “Too Hot” report sending bond yields materially higher, and a “Too Cold” report implying a loss of momentum in the jobs market. Now, almost all the risks to this July report are skewed towards “Too Cold” given the drop in inflation we’ve seen since early July.

More specifically, even if the jobs report is a blow-outnumber, unless it’s accompanied by a big surge in wages it’s not going to elicit a “hawkish” reaction from the Fed or a spike in Treasury yields. Point being, the risk of the report being “Too Hot” is a lot lower than usual, given the drop in inflation.

Looking at the potential impact of this jobs report on the rally, it’s important realize that the dip in inflation since July has been a bullish catalyst, because economic data has stayed firm. So, low inflation makes the Fed more dovish, but economic growth stays constant, and that’s good for stocks.

However, that equation changes if US economic data starts to follow inflation lower (i.e. a big miss on the jobs number). As a result, the “Too Cold” scenario is the biggest risk for stocks heading into tomorrow’s report.

“Too Hot” Scenario (A December Rate Hike Becomes More Certain)

  • >250k Job Adds, < 4.1% Unemployment, > 2.8% YOY wage increase. A number this hot will refute the lower inflation of July and reintroduce the potential for a “not dovish” Fed. Likely Market Reaction: We should see a powerful re-engagement of the “reflation trade” from June..(withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Just Right” Scenario (Confirms Expectations of September Balance Sheet Reduction & Likely December Hike)

  • 125k–250k Job Adds, > 4.1% Unemployment Rate, 2.5%-2.8% YOY wage increase. This is the best-case scenario for stocks, as it would reinforce the current expectation of balance sheet reduction in September, and (probably) one more 25-bps rate hike in December. Likely Market Reaction: A knee-jerk, mild stock rally, but how powerful the rally is will depend on…(withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Too Cold” Scenario (Economic Growth Potentially Stalling)

  • < 100k Job Adds, < 2.5% YOY Wage Gains. If we see a big disappointment in the jobs number and a further softening of wage inflation, that will send bond yields lower, and that would likely weigh on stocks as it will raise concerns about economic growth. Likely Market Reaction: Bonds and gold should surge and…(withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).`

Bottom Line

From a short-term equity standpoint, the best outcome is for “Just Right” job adds (so between 100k-250k) and “Too Cold” wages (so less than 2.5% yoy). That will likely make the Fed incrementally more “dovish,” and take a December rate hike off the table, although it shouldn’t stay the Balance Sheet Reduction in September.

Beyond the short term, it’s important to remember that an economic reflation is the key to sustainably higher stock prices. For anyone with a medium- or long-term time horizon (so almost all of us), I’d gladly take better growth and higher inflation over falling inflation and stagnant growth, even if it meant some short term stock weakness.

Cut through the noise and understand what’s truly driving markets, as this new political and economic reality evolves. The Sevens Report is the daily market cheat sheet our subscribers use to keep up on markets, seize opportunities, avoid risks and get more assets. Sign up for your free two-week trial today and see the difference 7 minutes can make. 

Goldilocks Jobs Report Preview, July 6, 2017

Goldilocks Jobs Report Preview: What Will Make the Report too Hot, too Cold, or Just Right?

Given the Fed’s newfound confidence in inflation and economic growth, the bigger risk for stocks will be if tomorrow’s number comes in “Too Cold,” and further implies the economy is losing momentum into a hiking cycle.

However, while a “Too Cold” scenario would likely be the worst outcome for stocks, “Too Hot” wouldn’t be ideal, either, as it would cause a resumption of the reflation trade we saw in June.

So, there are two-sided risks into tomorrow’s jobs report, and if it’s outside of the “Just Right” scenario, we will either see some important sector rotation, or a broader market movement.

 

jobs report

“Too Hot” Scenario (Potential for Two More Rate Hikes in 2017)

>250k Job Adds, < 4.1% Unemployment, > 2.9% YOY wage increase. A number this hot will open the discussion for another rate hike, likely in September or November.

Likely Market Reaction: We should see a powerful reengagement of the “reflation trade” from June… (withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Just Right” Scenario (Confirms expectations of September balance sheet reduction & December rate hike)

125k–250k Job Adds, > 4.1% Unemployment Rate, 2.5%-2.8% YOY wage increase. This is the best-case scenario for stocks, as it would reinforce the current expectation of balance sheet reduction in September, and one more 25-bps rate hike in December.

Likely Market Reaction: This is the most positive outcome for stocks… (withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

“Too Cold” Scenario (Economic Growth Potentially Stalling)

< 125k Job Adds. The key to a sustained, longer term breakout in stocks is stronger economic growth that leads to higher interest rates, and a soft number here would further undermine that outcome, and imply the Fed is hiking rates into an economy that is losing momentum.

Likely Market Reaction: (Withheld for subscribers only—unlock specifics and ETFs by signing up for a free two-week trial).

Again, given the Fed and other central banks newfound hawkishness, this is the worst outcome for stocks over the coming weeks and months.

Bottom Line

This jobs report isn’t important because it will materially alter the Fed’s near-term outlook. Instead, it’s important because if it prints “Too Cold” it could send bonds and bank stocks through their 2017 lows. And while I respect the fact that stocks have been able to withstand that underperformance so far in 2017, I don’t think the broad market can withstand new lows in yields and banks.

Cut through the noise and understand what’s truly driving markets, as this new political and economic reality evolves. The Sevens Report is the daily market cheat sheet our subscribers use to keep up on markets, seize opportunities, avoid risks and get more assets. Sign up for your free two-week trial today and see the difference 7 minutes can make. 

7 Dates That Could Make or Break the Market in Q3, July 5, 2017

The Sevens Report is the daily market cheat sheet our subscribers use to keep up on markets, seize opportunities, avoid risks and get more assets.

The first half of 2017 was defined by historically low volatility, and one of the quietest macro calendars we’ve had in years. However, with several parts of the market and economy in flux heading into the second half of the year, we’re likely going to see an uptick in volatility, and I think we got a preview of that during June.

So, we’ve identified four key events and seven key dates associated with those events that we believe could either 1) Lead to an acceleration of the rally, or 2) Cause a reversal and substantial pullback in stocks.

We haven’t included the regular monthly economic data (Jobs reports, PMIs, Core PCE Price Index) because that’s always important, every month. Instead, the list below is comprised of events that are not typically on a quarterly calendar, and we want you to be aware of

1) What they are,

2) Why they are important, and

3) How they can move markets.

Everything we do at the Sevens Report is based around efficiency—giving you only the critical information in the shortest amount of time, so in that vain this list is organized by potential impact on markets (i.e. the first events listed have the most potential to move markets).

Q3 Market Event #1:

Q2 Earnings Season. Date: 7/17.

What It Is: Second quarter earnings season. Specifically, big banks (C, WFC, BAC, etc.) start to report earnings as early as 7/14, but the real volume of reports won’t kick in till 7/17, and that’s when things could get interesting.

Why It’s Important: As we’ve said frequently, the unsung hero of the 2017 rally is earnings expectations. Markets are expecting nearly 10% yoy earnings growth for the S&P 500 from 2017 to 2018. That means that conservatively, we’re looking at $137 or $138/share for 2018 S&P 500 EPS, and that doesn’t include a boost for any corporate tax cuts. Those rising earnings make the valuation math work for investors, as it keeps the S&P 500 at 18X 2018 earnings, the historical top for valuation levels. Without that earnings growth, the valuation math on this market won’t make sense, and we’ll get a pull-back.

How It Could Move Markets: If earnings growth looks to be slowing in Q2, that could cause that 2018 expected S&P 500 EPS to decline, to say $135ish. If that occurs, this market is too expensive, and we could easily see a 3%-5% pullback.

Q3 Market Event #2:

What It Is: Government Funding Expires. Date 9/30. What It Is: Markets have taken increasing levels of government incompetence in stride so far in 2017, but that’s only because the market still expects corporate tax cuts in 2018, and because all the noise and distraction hasn’t had any negative effect on the economy. That could change in the next few months.

Why It’s Important: First, the government must raise the debt ceiling by the fall, otherwise we’ll have another default scare. Second, the government must pass a budget to keep funding the government. If they don’t, we’ll have another shutdown scare.

How It Could Move Markets. If the drama in Washington threatens to have real, concrete implications on the markets and economy, then stocks will get hit, potentially hard.

Q3 Market Event #3:

What It Is: Fed Tightening. Date(s): 7/26, late August, 9/20. What Is It: Easily the biggest issue for mar-kets as we exit 1H ’17 is that the Fed is more hawkish than we are used to, and how that materializes over the next three months will move markets. There is a Fed meeting on July 26, and while no one expects a rate hike at that time, if bond yields remain low and financial conditions continue to ease, the Fed could try and send a message. Then, in late August, the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole conference takes place. The Fed could again try and deliver a hawkish message to markets. Finally, the September meeting on 9/20 is where the Fed is expected to begin to reduce its balance sheet.

Why It Matters: No one knows how markets will react if the Fed gets more hawkish. Bonds have been stubbornly buoyant, but that could change, and then the question is whether the rise in interest rates is gradual, or whether we get another “Taper Tantrum.” Conversely, if economic data stays uninspiring in Q3, we could have a scenario where yields are rising but economic growth is not.

How It Could Move Markets: If yields rise too quickly or economic data remains lackluster but the Fed stays on a tightening path, that could hit stocks. Conversely, if economic growth accelerates and the rise in rates is gradual, that could power a reflationary rally, led by banks, small caps and cyclicals.

Q3 Market Event #4:

What It Is: Washington Policy—Healthcare & Tax Cuts. Dates: 7/28, 9/5. What Is It: Things are coming to a head on healthcare and taxes, and over the next few months we’ll see whether the expectation for corporate tax cuts in 2018 is still reasonable. Specifically, the healthcare issue will be resolved one way or the other by July 28, as a bill will either pass the Senate, or it will be dead. Regarding taxes, the Trump administration has promised a specific tax plan by the time Congress returns from the August recess on September 5. If there isn’t something concrete by then, tax reform in Q1 ’18 (which is expected by markets) will become very difficult to achieve.

Why It Matters: Markets still expect corporate tax cuts in Q1 2018, and if that expectation proves false, then investors will reassess owning stocks at these valuations, as there won’t be a visible, positive earnings catalyst on the horizon.

How It Could Move Markets: If there is no concrete, real tax plan (and I’m talking about agreement on border adjustments, interest deductibility, etc.) then that changes the market’s valuation paradigm. Conversely, if we do get progress on this issue that will be bullish for highly taxed sectors such as retail, energy, healthcare, etc.

Bottom Line

There are real, potentially significant market-moving events in the third quarter that could easily cause a “melt up” in stocks, and turn 2017 into a banner year… or cause a nasty pullback. Because just based on the calendar, we’re due for a pullback (there’s been no real pullback since Feb. ’16). While it’d be nice if we got a continuation of the calm, levitating market we saw in the first half, given these looming events (and considering many of them are Washington oriented) it’s unlikely.

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Jobs Report Preview, June 1, 2017

For a second-straight month, the risks to tomorrow’s jobs report are balanced. A “Too Hot” number will increase the possibility of more than three rate hikes in 2017 while a “Too Cold” number will fan worries about the pace of economic growth, and the ability of economic growth to push stocks materially higher from current levels.

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“Goldilocks” Jobs Report Preview:

“Too Hot” Scenario (Potential for More than 3 Rate Hikes in 2017)

 >250k Job Adds, < 4.6% Unemployment, > 2.9% YOY wage increase.

A number this hot will guarantee a June rate hike, but more importantly it would likely reignite the debate over whether the Fed will hike more than three times this year. Likely Market Reaction: Withheld for Sevens Report subscribers—sign up for your free two-week trial to unlock.

“Just Right” Scenario (A June Rate Hike Is Guaranteed, But the Total Number of Expected Hikes for 2017 Remains at Three)

125k–250k Job Adds, > 4.7% Unemployment Rate, 2.5%-2.8% YOY wage increase.

This is the best-case scenario for stocks, as it would imply still-stable job growth, but not materially increase the chances for more than three rate hikes in 2017. Likely Market Reaction: Withheld for Sevens Report subscribers—sign up for your free two-week trial to unlock.

“Too Cold” Scenario (A June Rate Hike Becomes in Doubt)

< 125k Job Adds.

Given the recent unimpressive economic reports, a soft jobs number could cause a decent sell-off in equities. As the Washington policy outlook continues to dim, economic data needs to do more heavy lifting to support stocks. So, given the market’s focus on future growth, the bottom line is bad economic data still isn’t good for stocks. Likely Market Reaction: Withheld for Sevens Report subscribers—sign up for your free two-week trial to unlock.

Bottom Line

This jobs report isn’t important because it will materially alter the Fed’s near term outlook (it’d take a massive miss to do take a June hike off the table). Instead, it’s important because if it prints “Too Cold” it could send bonds and bank stocks through their 2017 lows. And while I respect the fact that stocks have been able to withstand that underperformance so far in 2017, I do not think the broad market can withstand material new lows in yields and bank stocks.

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