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Why the Debt Ceiling Deal Isn’t a Positive for Markets, September 7, 2017

Bottom Line: Fischer & Debt Ceiling Not Market Positives

The two big news items Wednesday were the resignation of Fed Vice Chair Fischer, and the agreement on a three-month debt ceiling extension/government funding deal.

Starting with the former, Fischer’s resignation makes the Fed very slightly more dovish (Fischer was a modest hawk) but really the future path of Fed interest rates depends a lot more on inflation data than it does Fed personnel.

From a market standpoint, the odds of a December rate hike appropriately declined slightly Tuesday. But again, Fischer’s departure isn’t a dovish gamechanger, and if inflation metrics move higher between now and December we’ll still get a rate hike. From a stock standpoint, other than the temporary pop yesterday, I don’t see this news as an influence.

Turning to Washington, as usual, politicians have kicked the can down the road. On a positive note, we won’t see a debt ceiling drama or shutdown drama in late-September.

On a negative note, we likely will see an even more intense budget battle into the year-end. This will be all the more contentious because now tax cuts will be thrown into the mix, assuming Republicans have a concrete plan by then.

From a market standpoint, this is a very short-term positive in so much as it removes the possibility of a crisis over the next few weeks.

However, it sets up an even bigger potential negative into the end of the year. Bottom line, the debt ceiling/government funding agreement is not an incremental positive for markets, and we don’t expect it to push stocks higher from here.

In sum, both of Wednesday’s headlines had no real impact on our overarching macro view. We remain cautiously positive on stocks, but continue to believe that tax cuts and earnings hold the key to performance for the remainder of 2017.

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Shutdown vs. Debt Ceiling, August 30, 2017

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Washington will be at the epicenter of markets in September, and for four reasons: Progress (or lack thereof) on tax cuts, Fed balance sheet reduction, debt ceiling increase and government shutdown. I’ve covered the first two in the Report at length, but I haven’t spent a lot of time on the latter two events.

And, once media coverage moves on from the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, as it undoubtedly will shortly, it will refocus on Washington, and specifically the debt ceiling and government shutdown, as both are coming up fast.

The shutdown and debt ceiling fight have the potential to cause a pullback in stocks, and both will undoubtedly be referenced by scary headlines on the financial media.

In reality, the chances of either event actually hitting stocks is low, and I want to spend a few minutes to give you the “need to know” on each event, and what needs to happen for either event to push stocks lower.

Government Shutdown Deadline Dates: September 30th. Why It’s A Potential Problem: The border wall. What Needs To Happen: Congress must pass a budget by that date or begin to close non-essential government services. Last Time It Happened: 2013. Will It Cause A Pullback? Almost certainly not.

The fight here seems to revolve around Trump’s border wall. The president wants funding for the wall included in the budget, but Democrats have vowed to vote against any budget that includes the border wall.

That stalemate could cause a shutdown as Republicans would have to vote as a block to pass the budget over Democrat opposition, and that’s just not something that’s likely to happen.

What Likely Happens: September 30th isn’t a hard deadline, as Congress can pass short-term “continuing resolutions” to keep the government funded and open while the negotiations get settled. Probability of a Shutdown: 20%.

Debt Ceiling. Deadline Date(s): September 30th, midOctober. Why It’s a Potential Problem: Because it’s Washington, and they can’t do anything easily (at least not so far). What Needs to Happen: Congress must pass a debt limit extension by the deadline. Last Time It Happened: Never. The government has never failed to raise the debt ceiling, although there was a big scare in 2011 that spooked markets. Will It Cause A Pullback? Almost certainly not.

There isn’t any specific issue that could cause the debt ceiling to not be extended, but again, it’s Washington—so nearly anything is possible.

What Likely Happens: Of the two issues (government shutdown and debt ceiling) the debt ceiling is the much more serious one, because there isn’t the ability to kick the can down the road like there is with funding the government (i.e. no short-term extensions). So, I’d expect the debt ceiling will be raised with (relatively) little drama. Probability of a Default (i.e. not raising the debt ceiling): 15% (and that’s probably a mild over estimation).

Bottom Line
These two events will dominate headlines in the coming weeks, but a cold, unemotional look at the facts strongly suggest these are not going to be material headwinds on the markets this fall.

Progress (or not) on tax cuts, earnings, economic data and geopolitical dramas are the major threats to this 2017 rally as we enter the stretch run into year end.

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Political Update: Stay Focused on Taxes, Not Impeachment

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Before getting into the market implications of the latest political headlines, I want to remind everyone that any political coverage I give in the Sevens Report is solely from the perspective of the markets, they don’t reflect my preference or lack of preference for any specific politician or party. My personal opinions are not important. What is important is giving you analysis that cuts through the steadily rising amount of sensationalist noise in the financial media (on both sides), and keeping you focused on what’s really moving markets.

That said, given the latest revelations on President Trump, I wanted to take a moment and push back on some of the sensationalism.

Specifically, I want to explain clearly that any talk of impeachment is not realistic in the near term. The reason is simple: Impeachment is a political process, not a legal process. The House of Representatives must start the impeachment process, and since it’s controlled by Republicans, short of having incredibly damning evidence against the president, that simply won’t happen.

In all likelihood, even if Robert Mueller’s commission finds that President Trump likely obstructed justice during the Russian investigation, the evidence would have to be unequivocally conclusive in order to cause the Republicans to impeach. That means we would have to have the equivalent of a video or audio tape of Trump telling someone to break the law.

Obstruction of justice, unlike perjury, is an opinion derived from conclusions; it’s not a hard and fast fact (i.e. you told the truth under oath, or you did not).

So, to be clear, impeachment of President Trump is very unlikely over the next 1.5 years, again because of political reasons, not legal ones (and to be fair to Republicans, Democrats wouldn’t impeach a president either without undeniable evidence).

Now, all this might change if the House changes hands in 2018, and frankly that’s more than possible. On average, the president’s party loses about 30 seats in the House in the first midterms, and the Republicans enjoy a 45 seat majority. So, if the average holds, it’ll be close. If the Democrats take control and this is still an issue, impeachment is a real risk… but that’s a problem for another day.

In the near term, the key is to stay focused on tax reform. Expectations are pretty low at this point, but the market does expect corporate tax cuts in 2018, and the ongoing Russia saga does continue to reduce the chances of that expectation being met.

The biggest risk to stocks continues to be if the market begins to factor in no tax reform in 2018. If that happens, it’ll be good for at least a mild pullback. Taxes, not Russia, remain the number one risk to this rally.

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Trumponomics Update, May 17, 2017

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Politics remains a deafening influence on the markets in 2017, but amidst the ongoing circus (which again got bigger overnight) I wanted to step back and take a look at the current state of the Trumpenomics agenda, revise current markets expectations, and re-examine what will create positive or negative political surprises for stocks over the coming months and quarters.

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Finally, I want to provide some independent context to the recent political headlines. First, they are net negative because they are causing some Republicans to start to distance themselves from Trump, and that reduces the chances of tax cuts. Second, if there was some crime committed (obstruction of justice, etc.) that is clearly a bearish gamechanger—but we are not there yet. Third, impeachment claims are currently overblown. It’s a Republican Congress and Congress must decide impeachment. Every Republican, at this point, has a better chance of getting re-elected if they pass tax cuts rather than dump Trump, and we can always count on politicians to focus on their re-employment. Bottom line, these never ending headlines are a headwind on stocks, but they are not a bearish gamechanger, yet.

Trumponomics Pillar 1: Tax Cuts

What Was Expected By Markets: An agreement in principle by the August Congressional recess to cut corporate taxes to the low-20% range, and include a one time, 10% repatriation tax holiday for foreign profits.

Reality: Nothing. There has been little-to-no progress on the tax issue, and major sticking points remain between Republicans, including border adjustments and removing interest deductibility for corporations.

Market Impact: So far, stocks have generally weathered the ineptitude here because there is still the broad expectation that there will be corporate tax reform before the mid-terms in 2018 (people are now pointing to Q1 2018).

Current Expectation: A small corporate tax cut into the high-20% range in place by Q1 2018, and some foreign profit tax repatriation holiday (around 10% tax rate).

Bullish If: Withheld for subscribers. Sign up for your free trial today.

Bearish If: Withheld for subscribers. Sign up for your free trial today.

Trumponomics Pillar 2: Deregulation (Especially Obamacare)

What Was Expected: Repeal and replacement of Obamacare in the first 100 days; massive deregulation via executive order, especially regarding environmental regulations.

Reality: Virtually nothing. While the House passed an Obamacare repeal/replace, there is no credible path for the legislation to make it out of the Senate. Meanwhile, there has been progress on reducing one-off regulations, but it’s not the type of large-scale deregulation that will ignite economic growth.

Market Impact: Healthcare has outperformed on the reduction of political risk (XLV, IHF, IBB). Overall, however, no macro impact.

Current Expectation: Not much. The healthcare bill is in limbo, and there’s no expectation of a Obamacare repeal/replace anytime soon. Meanwhile, Dodd-Frank banking regulations remain largely in place and it’s unlikely we’ll see a large overhaul of that legislation, either (that’s anecdotally negative for regional banks as they bear an outsized compliance burden compared to money center banks).

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Trumponomics Pillar 3: Infrastructure Spending

What Was Expected: $1 trillion over a 10-year period (this was always an exaggeration, but a lot was potentially expected).

Reality: Virtually nothing. Infrastructure spending has been soundly buried between the healthcare drama, tax cut bickering, and the constant media battles emanating from the White House.

Market Impact: Infrastructure stocks that rallied hard following the election have lagged so far in 2017, but this hasn’t had any macro impact on markets.

Current Expectation: Nothing. Some hope that we will see a bipartisan infrastructure bill by Q2 2018, but it’s so buried by everything else right now that’s not very likely.

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Bearish If: Withheld for subscribers. Sign up for your free trial today.

Bottom Line

Earnings and economics have helped to offset any Trumponomics disappointment as Q1 earnings were strong, and $138 2018 S&P 500 EPS is supporting stocks in the face of repeated Washington failures. Meanwhile, economic data has been “fine” on an absolute basis despite the slight loss of momentum recently.

Point being, markets have been lucky that earnings and economics have provided a shock absorber for the policy disappointment; but considerable risks remain should no further policy progress occur in the coming months and quarters, and given the seemingly unending scandalous headlines emanating from the White House, the probability of nothing happening is rising.

If we do not see real political progress by the end of ’17 or ’18, then its unlikely that economic growth will be able to hold up as the uncertainty surrounding these policies will begin to act as a headwind.

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FOMC Preview and the Next Rate Hike, May 2, 2017

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There is virtually no chance the Fed will hike rates at tomorrow’s meeting, as the chances were slim before the recently disappointing economic data. Now, those chances have declined to near zero. The key question tomorrow is: Just how forcefully will the Fed telegraph the next rate hike?

The answer to that question, taken in the important context of the recent slowing of economic momentum, will decide whether the FOMC decision pushes stocks higher, or whether we see a retracement of the recent gains.

May FOMC Meeting Preview + Next Rate Hikes

Hawkish If: The Fed clearly signals a rate hike is coming in June. Right now, Fed fund futures are pricing in about a 70% chance the Fed does hike rates, but that’s not a consensus expectation, yet. If the Fed specifically points to the “next” meeting in tomorrow’s statement (as it did in the fall of 2015 and 2016) as the likely date of the next rate increase, you will see markets react hawkishly as a June rate hike is not a foregone conclusion. Additionally, if the Fed is still intent on hiking rates in June despite recent economic data disappointments, that might imply a Fed that is more hawkish than previously expected.

Likely Market Reaction: Withheld for subscribers. Unlock with a free two-week trial of The Sevens Report.

Meets Expectations If: The Fed slightly downgrades the assessment of the economy in paragraphs one and two, but also says any slowing of activity is likely only temporary (it’s the temporary part that is the key). Markets expect the Fed to acknowledge the modest loss of economic momentum, but not to make too big a deal out of it.

Likely Market Reaction: Withheld for subscribers. Unlock with a free two-week trial of The Sevens Report.

Dovish If: The Fed materially downgrades economic commentary in paragraph one and downgrades the outlook on inflation, and in doing so materially reduces the chances for a June rate hike. Specifically, to be dovish we would need to see 1) A downgrade of both the growth and inflation language in paragraph one, plus no mention of it being temporary. The net effect would be to remove the expectation for a June rate hike.

Likely Market Reaction: Withheld for subscribers. Unlock with a free two-week trial of The Sevens Report.

Wildcard to Watch

Fed Balance Sheet. As we have covered, the reduction of the Fed’s balance sheet is an important but under reported topic that could result in a more-hawkish-than-anticipated Fed. Specifically, the major questions facing the Fed regarding the balance sheet are:

1) When will the Fed begin to reduce the balance sheet (2017 or 2018)?

2) What securities will the Fed stop buying (just Treasuries or Mortgage Backed Securities, too)?

3) How will the Fed stop reinvesting proceeds (all at once, or gradually)?

How these questions are answered will determine whether the Fed balance sheet is a hawkish influence on markets (yields up, stocks potentially down).

I (and almost everyone else) do not expect the Fed to touch on this in this week’s meeting. However, if the Fed does address this topic, it will come in paragraph five of the statement. Any change there will likely have hawkish implications on markets tomorrow, but again any changes are unlikely.

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Tax Cut Primer (What You Need to Know), March 28, 2017

With healthcare shelved, focus now will turn to the truly important topic for markets: Corporate tax cuts. This is an excerpt from today’s Sevens Report. You can sign up for your free trial at 7sReport.com—everything you need to know about the markets in your inbox by 7am, in 7 minutes or less.

I’ve covered this a lot so far this year, but I wanted to dedicate a special section today for a tax cut primer that you can refer back to as this process unfolds over the coming months.

Going forward, there are two key points to understand. First, in order for tax cuts to be a bullish gamechanger (i.e. push the S&P 500 materially above 2400) they must drop the nominal rate to 20% or below. That will provide the expected $10-$12 EPS boost for the S&P 500 in 2018 that will help stocks break out, because at $146 S&P 500 EPS (the current $134 2018 expectation, plus an additional $12 from tax cuts) the S&P 500 would be cheap at 16X 2018 earnings.

The Sevens Report - Corporate Tax Reform GuideSecond, tax cuts will be a bearish gamechanger if the market begins to believe: 1) They won’t happen at all, or 2) They will be so small that it won’t make a difference. Point being, tax cuts can be delayed in 2018 and it won’t be a bearish game changer as long as the market still expects that rate to be cut to 20% or lower.

So, to stay ahead of the tape we need to figure out what must happen to get material corporate tax reform passed. To that point, there is one issue that is the key to whether material tax reform gets passed: Border adjustments.

Here’s why border adjustments are key: Dropping the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% would mean a big loss of revenue for the government, so that needs to be offset otherwise the deficit will explode. A plan that does not have an offset will not be passed despite the Republican-controlled government.

To that point, the Tax Policy Center estimates that implementing border adjustments would generate $1.2 trillion in additional tax revenue over 10 years, which is two-thirds of the $1.8 trillion in lost revenue that would occur if the corporate tax rate drops to 20% from 35%. It’s the key to getting tax cuts at least somewhat revenue neutral.

I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty details of what border adjustments are, because I’ll put everyone to sleep. But generally, border adjustments have to do with changing the way US corporations are taxed on overseas sales and purchases. To use a simple-but-imperfect analogy, border adjustments are similar to import taxes (they aren’t the same, but for purposes of illustration the comparison makes my point).

The problem for markets is that there appears to be even bigger disagreement on border adjustments within the Republican party than there was on healthcare, so right now there is no credible path to material corporate tax reform. This is especially true after the healthcare fight created additional resentment within the party.

Bottom line, without a border adjustment compromise, there’s very little chance the corporate tax rate can be dropped to 20%, and provide the earnings boost to push stocks higher.

Going forward, a key name to watch is Kevin Brady. Brady is the House Ways & Means Chairman (where tax legislation begins). A compromise on this issue won’t happen without him, so going forward we’re closely watching any comments or articles from Brady.

Sector Winners & Losers of Tax Cuts/Border Adjustments

(ETF’s withheld for subscribers. Sign up for your free two-week trial at 7sReport.com.)

Bottom line, for fiscal stimulus to push stocks further, we have to have meaningful corporate tax cuts (20% or lower). For tax cuts to be that powerful, there has to be compromise on border adjustments, and right now, there are no signs of compromise (although again the market will likely give Republicans the benefit of the doubt till Memorial Day).

Last Week and This Week in Economics, March 27, 2017


“Last Week and This Week in Economics”—an excerpt from today’s Sevens Report: everything you need to know about the markets in your inbox by 7am, in 7 minutes or less.

For all of 2017, better-than-expected economic data has helped to offset the decreased likelihood of pro-growth policies from Washington, and that continued last week as what little economic data we did receive was generally supportive for stocks.

The Sevens Report, March 27, 2017Looking at Durable Goods, longer-term readers know we ignore the headline and look straight for New Orders for Non-Defense Capital Goods ex-Aircraft (NDCGXA). That is the better measure of business spending, as the headline Durable Goods order is massively skewed by the timing of aircraft orders.

NDCGXA missed estimates in the Feb. report (-0.1% vs. (E) 0.5%), but the January data was revised higher (from -0.4% to 0.1%). So, that largely offsets the miss in February.

The March flash manufacturing PMI was a disappointment, as it missed estimates and hit a surprise six-month low at 53.2 vs. (E) 54.3. But while disappointing, the flash PMI forecasted weakness in February that didn’t appear in other national manufacturing PMIs, and even at 53.2, that’s still a decent absolute number (remember, anything above 50 shows activity accelerating). Point being, that one number doesn’t suggest a loss of momentum.

Looking at other data, February Existing Home Sales slightly missed estimates but February New Home Sales beat estimates. But, with housing it’s helpful to step back from the monthly data and observe the overarching trend, and that trend is stability. All the housing data confirms that so far. Higher mortgage rates are now causing a noticeable slowdown in the housing recovery, and that remains key un-sung support for the economy.

Turning to the Fed, there were multiple speakers last week, but the headliner was Fed Chair Yellen, who made no comments about the economy or policy during her speech. Other Fed members were on balance slightly hawkish, as many of them referenced hiking three or four times this year, but none of it was impactful enough to reverse the dollar or Treasury yield decline we’ve seen since the Fed’s dovish hike in March. Markets still have a June rate hike at about a 50/50 proposition, unchanged from last week.

Bottom line, all the focus was on politics last week, but economic data remains the unsung hero of 2017, and it continues to help offset growing policy headwinds via Washington.

This Week

This week will be another relatively quiet week from an economic standpoint, and once again the most important number won’t come until Friday.

That number is the Core PCE Price Index contained in the Personal Income and Outlays report. That’s important because it’s the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, and if the headline PCE Price Index breaks through 2.0% yoy (last 1.9%), and the Core PCE Price Index moves further towards 2.0% (last 1.7%), that may elicit a slightly hawkish reaction in markets.

Internationally, there are two notable reports to watch. First, Chinese Manufacturing PMI hits Thursday night, and while China remains on the back burner from a macro standpoint, any signs of economic slowing will surprise markets. Second, EMU Flash HICP (their CPI) comes Friday. The best outcome for European stocks is a Goldilocks number, where core inflation doesn’t rise much from the current 0.9% yoy pace, and as such doesn’t make the ECB think about ending QE prematurely. A Goldilocks number will be positive for European ETFs (HEDJ, VGK, EZU).

Bottom line, this will be another quiet week from a data standpoint, but the numbers need to confirm the acceleration of growth to continue to support stocks. From a risk standpoint, too-strong HICP or Core PCE numbers are the events to watch (they might make the Fed and ECB lean more hawkish).

Politically, there will be a lot of analysis on the shift towards tax cuts (we’ll do a primer this week), but nothing truly important is scheduled. Finally, on the international front, British PM May will formally trigger Article 50 to begin the Brexit process (although that shouldn’t cause much volatility).

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Healthcare Vote: Macro and Micro Implications, March 23, 2017

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The healthcare vote in the House later today will have an effect on stocks in the short and long term, regardless of the outcome, so I wanted to run down the various scenarios along with sector winners and losers depending on whether the bill passes or fails.

US Capitol

Healthcare Vote: Macro and Micro Implications

Scenario #1: Bill Passes

Likely Short-Term Market Reaction: Knee-jerk, risk-on rally that likely will see cyclical sectors outperform.

Impact On Other Assets: Dollar up/bonds down/gold down/commodities down (all due to the perceived increased likelihood of tax cuts). Basically, this would be a short-term reignition of the “reflation trade/Trump-on trade” that’s driven markets higher since the election.

Likely Long-Term Market Reaction: Not a bullish game changer. Despite the likely positive reception by the market, this event by itself won’t be a catalyst for the market to move new highs. That’s because even if the healthcare law passes the House, it still has little-to-no chance of passing the Senate, and as such probably won’t become law. So, while it would be an incremental step towards the ultimate goal of corporate tax cuts, it still wouldn’t be material progress. Longer term, this outcome wouldn’t make me add or reduce stock exposure… it would elicit a “wait and see” response.

Effect on the Healthcare Sector and ETFs: This section is for subscribers only. You can sign up for a free trial to access at 7sReport.com

Next Important Event in this Scenario: Memorial Day. If the bill passes the House, then markets will give the Republicans more of a benefit of the doubt. However, healthcare needs to be done by late April/early May (or Memorial Day at the latest) if corporate tax cuts can be completed in 2017, so the clock will soon be ticking.

Scenario #2: Bill Fails

Likely Short-Term Market Reaction: A resumption of Tuesday’s sell-off. Cyclical sectors led by banks would likely pull markets lower, and a drop down through sup-port at 2300 in the S&P 500 would not be at all surprising by the end of the week. Defensive sectors would out-perform.

Impact On Other Assets: Dollar down (likely big)/bonds up (10 year yield could break down through 2.30%)/gold up (likely big)/commodities up (all due to the perceived reduced likelihood of tax cuts). Basically, this would cause a short-term reversal of the “reflation trade/Trump-on trade” that’s driven markets higher since the election, and we can expect a similar trading pattern to Tuesday.

Effect on the Healthcare Sector: This section is for subscribers only. You can sign up for a free trial to access at 7sReport.com

Next Important Event in This Scenario: Memorial Day. If the bill fails, the market will hope Republicans pivot and focus on tax cuts, and perma bulls will herald that as a positive. However, make no mistake, a failure of this bill to pass is not a positive for tax cuts, where the fight over border adjustments will make healthcare look tame. Regardless, if there is a pivot to tax cuts, then there needs to be concrete motion on a tax cut bill by Memorial Day, otherwise markets will begin to doubt tax cuts in 2017, which will be a market negative.

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The Case for Europe, March 21, 2017

Sevens Report - The Case for EuropeThe Case for Europe, an excerpt from today’s full Sevens Report. Join hundreds of advisors from huge brokerage firms like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo Advisors, Raymond James and more… see if The Sevens Report is right for you with a free trial.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been consistently mentioning Europe as an attractive tactical investment idea. Today, I wanted to more fully lay out the investment thesis, one that is based on 1) Compelling relative valuation, 2) Continued central bank support (i.e. QE), and 3) Overestimation of political risks.

I believe those three factors have created an attractive medium-term risk/reward opportunity in European stocks, and I believe the region can outperform the US over the coming months, especially if we see policy disappointment from Washington.

Bullish Factor #1: Compelling Relative Valuation.

The reasoning here is simple. The S&P 500 is trading at the top end of historical valuations: 18.25X 2017 EPS, and 17.75X 2018 EPS. There’s not much room for those multiples to go higher, and if we get policy disappointment or the economic data loses momentum, markets could hit a nasty air pocket.

Conversely, the MSCI Europe Index is trading at 15.1X 2017 earnings, and 13.8X 2018 earnings. That’s a 17% and 22% discount to the US. So while it’s true Europe should trade at a lower multiple vs. the US given the still-slow growth and political issues, those discounts are pretty compelling. In a world where most equity indices and sectors are fully valued, Europe offers value.

Bullish Factor #2: Ongoing Central Bank Support.

This one also is pretty simple… the ECB is still doing QE. The ECB is still planning to buy 60 billion euros worth of bonds through December of this year. That will support the economy, help earnings and push inflation higher, all of which are positive for stocks. Now, there is a risk that the ECB could begin to taper its QE program before December, or end it all together in December, but neither risk looms immediately, and the much more likely result is that the ECB tapers QE starting in 2018 and ends the program in June 2018. In that scenario, the outlook for Europe over the coming months remains positive.

Bullish Factor #3: Overblown political risk.

We’ve been talking about this for a while, but the fact is that political risks in Europe are overblown, and just like people underappreciated risks in 2016, I believe they are now overreacting to Brexit and Trump by extrapolating those results too far.

Going forward, there are really two important elections this year: France and Germany. The worry is that far-right candidate Marine Le Pen will win the presidency, but that remains extremely unlikely. The top end of her support looks to be just 25%, which might be enough to win the first round of voting (where voters will cast ballots for no less than 11 candidates). Yet according to all the polling, she badly loses the second round of voting by margins as big as 30% to 70%. Point being, Le Pen is not Brexit, and she’s not Trump.

Second, Germany will have elections in September, and Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz will challenge Merkel for the Prime Minster position. Schultz is a former President of the European Parliament, and he’s not anti EU at all. So, if he wins, from an EU outlook standpoint, it isn’t a negative. Now, I’m not going to get into the details of his politics, because they aren’t yet important for this investment. The bigger point is that it’s not really a problem for the European economy if Schultz wins. Bottom line, we’ve done well in international investments in the past (Japan during Abenomics, Europe when they started QE), and we believe this is another opportunity to outperform.

How to Play It: VGK vs. EZU vs. HEDJ. For subscribers only.

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What to Expect in Tomorrow’s Jobs Report. March 9, 2017

Jobs Report Preview: For notable releases like tomorrow’s jobs report, the Sevens Report offers a “Goldilocks” outlook to give a few different scenarios: too hot, too cold, and just right.

This gives our subscribers clear talking points to explain the importance of the report to clients and prospects clearly and without a lot of jargon. As always, the Sevens Report is designed to help you cut through the noise and understand what’s truly driving markets—all in seven minutes or less and in your inbox by 7am each morning. Sign up for your free 2-week trial today and see the difference this report can make for you.

Wednesday’s ADP Jobs Report clearly put upward pressure on expectations for tomorrow’s government report. And, there’s good reason for that. Over the past five months, the ADP report has been within 10k jobs of the official jobs report (the one outlier was November, when ADP was 50k over the actual jobs report). So, yesterday’s 298k jobs blowout implies a big number tomorrow.

Given that, the major issue for tomorrow’s jobs report is simple: Will it cause the Fed to consider more than three rate hikes in 2017? If the answer is “yes,” than that’s a headwind on stocks. If the answer is “no,” then it shouldn’t derail the rally.

Getting a bit more specific, the only reason the dollar is still generally stuck at resistance at 102 (and below the recent high at 103), and the 10-year yield is still below 2.60% is because the market assumes that the Fed will still only hike rates three times this year.

If that assumption gets called into doubt via a very strong jobs and wage number tomorrow, we will see the Dollar Index likely surge through 103 and the 10-year yield bust to new highs above 2.60%, and then they will begin to exert at least some headwind on stocks.

So, tomorrow’s jobs report is potentially the most important jobs number in years, as it has the ability to fundamentally alter the market’s perception of just how “gradual” the Fed will be in hiking rates.

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

  • >250k Job Adds, < 4.9% Unemployment, > 2.9% YOY wage increase. A number this hot would likely ignite the debate about whether the Fed will hike more than three times this year (or more than 75 basis points if the Fed hikes 50 in one meeting). Likely Market Reaction: Restricted for subscribers: Access today by signing up for your free 2-week trial.

“Just Right” Scenario (A March Rate Hike Is A Guarantee, But Three Hikes for 2017 Remain the Expectation)

  • 125k–250k Job Adds, > 5.0% 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. This is the most positive outcome for stocks. Likely Market Reaction: Restricted for subscribers: Access today by signing up for your free 2-week trial.

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

  • < 125k Job Adds. This would be dovish, and while the fallout would be less than previous months given the market’s focus on future growth, the bottom line is bad economic data still isn’t good for stocks. Dovish isn’t bullish any-more. Likely Market Reaction: Restricted for subscribers: Access today by signing up for your free 2-week trial.

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