Results 151–200 of 232 found.
Economy Enters A Soft Patch
Another volatile week resulted in the S&P 500 Index losing 0.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.7%. Economic data last week continued to confirm that housing markets are sluggish and that manufacturing is entering a weak patch. Existing home sales unexpectedly fell in April. Economists expected sales of existing homes to reach 5.2 million in the month, but the actual tally for April was 5.05 million, down 0.8% from the previous month.
Is Inflation in the Process of Peaking?
Investors turned away from the equity markets last week, as the S&P 500 Index fell 0.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.3%. Stocks started the week in positive fashion, but an uptick in risk aversion on Wednesday weighed on markets. Market participants were caught off guard by unfavorable inflation statistics from China, a tightening of monetary policy in China and recent strength in the US dollar. At the beginning of May, the US dollar was nearing oversold territory and traders would likely capture profits in the weeks ahead. That is exactly what occurred.
The Financial Impact of an Aging Demographic
A volatile week of trading resulted in the S&P 500 Index losing 1.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1.3%. However, those losses were tame relative to the rout experienced in commodity markets. According to the Wall Street Journal, crude oil dropped 14.7% last week, while the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index lost 9.1%. There was no single cause for the sudden risk aversion, but it appears that recognition of a slowing US economy, along with tighter monetary policy in developing economies, contributed to the renewed caution.
Financial Markets Offer Conflicting Opinions
Another week of encouraging corporate earnings reports allowed the equity market to continue its recent strong run. On the housing front, the disappointing streak continued. New home sales increased from a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 270,000 in February to 300,000 in March, according to the Department of Commerce. Although the gain was sizeable at 11.1%, new home sales are mired at abjectly low levels. Homebuyers are finding favorable opportunities in the form of distressed properties, reducing the chance of a significant rebound in new home sales in the months ahead.
No Child Left Behind... Until They Are Teenagers, At Least
News of a potential downgrade to the US credit rating caused a sudden sell off in the equity markets, but positive earnings reports led to a rebound. By the end of the week, the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both closed higher by 1.3%. S&P took the unusual step of placing the US on credit watch negative, indicating that there is now a 1-in-3 chance of an outright downgrade to the US credit rating in the next two years. The announcement by S&P resulted in a severe equity market sell off on Monday morning before investors remembered S&P?s previous track record.
The Bell Tolls in Washington
Earnings season brought about a week of choppy trading in the equity market, resulting in the S&P 500 index falling 0.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 0.3%. Economic data throughout the week was mixed, but the impact of higher gas prices is being felt across the economy. Small businesses recorded a severe hit to sentiment last month after the small business optimism index sank from 94.5 to 91.9. A host of concerns, from declining sales expectations to trepidation about the future of the economy, were culprits behind the weakening.
Sentiment Creeps Back into Overly Bullish Territory
Over the past six months, actions by the Federal Reserve to purchase assets through its quantitative easing program played a major role in driving market prices. As the markets prepare to transition away from quantitative easing, investors are facing the prospects of a tougher market environment. The upcoming earnings season will go a long way in determining whether this recovery is ready to stand on its own.
Employment Manufactures Another Month of Positive Growth
Equity markets surged into quarter end, with the S&P 500 index rising 1.4% and the Dow Jones increasing 1.3%. For the first time since Feb the S&P 500 increased in two weeks. After hitting a trough on Tuesday morning, several positive employment reports encouraged the equity markets to move higher. As expected, manufacturing activity had a deceleration, as the ISM Purchasing Managers Index fell from 61.4% in February to 61.2% in March. Readings above 50% are representative of expansion in the manufacturing sector. Although the index fell, it is still the third highest reading since 1990.
A Central Bank Match
Equity markets donned the rally cap last week as the S&P 500 index finished higher by 2.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a 3.1% gain. Stability in the price of crude oil and improvement in Japan lent a helping hand to the markets, as did the announcement that AT&T would buy T-Mobile. On the domestic front, investors turned a blind eye to the slew of negative economic data. Housing, in particular, experienced the brunt of the disappointment. Existing home sales offered the first piece of bad news after falling 9.6% to 4.88mln on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate in February.
Inflation Ready To Make Its Grand Entrance
Stock markets struggled in recent weeks due to a host of macroeconomic concerns, from earthquakes in Japan to uprising in the Middle East. This is causing a move in the markets that is similar, but different to what is typical during the third year of a Presidential cycle. Generally, markets rally in the first portion of the year before trading essentially flat in the second half. In the first two months, markets were adhering to this same pattern, but the aforementioned macro concerns derailed that rally. This does not mean markets will be unable to stage a recovery.
Consumers Right the Ship
A confluence of macroeconomic events created selling pressure during the week, sending the S&P 500 Index lower by 1.3% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1%. Releases on the domestic economic situation continued to show positive momentum, ranging from improvement in retail sales to a pickup in consumer credit. There was some concern about weaker consumer confidence figures and deterioration in weekly jobless claims, but it was clear last week that consumer balance sheet deleveraging continues. Retail sales for Feb increased 1% from Jan for a total increase of 8.9% in 12 months.
Will the Global Recovery be Brought to its Knees by Commodity Prices?
There is a dangerous trend developing in food and energy costs, one that threatens to derail the global recovery. Thus far, consumers are able and willing to accept higher commodity prices. With consumers still feeling the effects of the worst recession in nearly a century, though, there is only so much that people will be willing to tolerate and the second half of the year may be too far away, at least when it comes to crude prices.
When Inflation Fuels Deflation
Global macroecon concerns led to the sharpest weekly sell off in the S&P500 Index in three months. For the week, the S&P 500 Index was down 1.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.1%. A multitude of catalysts were behind the selloff, including concerns about the situation in Africa and the Middle East, surging commodity prices, in particular crude oil, and finally, a feeling that equity valuations were moving into overbought territory. There were only a handful of important domestic economic releases last week, including several data points on housing and the state of the consumer.
A Laughable Attempt at Cutting the Budget
In a sadly fitting tribute to the fiscal mismanagement occurring in Washington, D.C. these days, the National Christmas Tree, which stood in the same spot since 1978, was felled by high winds Saturday morning. Not to fear, park authorities had a contingency plan in place and a new tree is on the way. Unfortunately, politicians are not known for the same degree of contingency planning and last week?s budget proposals proved that we are in for a torrent of trouble.
Recovery Here to Stay with Equities Flashing Caution
Equity markets continue to melt higher, despite several unfavorable technical developments. The market began its recent rally in September of last year, with only a brief respite in November. Since that time, each pull back is used as an opportunity to pile more money into equities and with the Federal Reserve offering massive liquidity to all corners of the market, this phenomenon could potentially last longer than any are willing to admit.
The Economic Recovery Pushes Ahead Despite The Strange Labor Report
Encouraging. Confusing. Disappointing. Mixed Bag. These were all terms used to describe the labor report for January. Ultimately, it may turn out that none of those terms are relevant and investors would be better served in pretending this report was a figment of our imaginations.
Is Japan's Downgrade An Ominous Warning For The US?
Last week, Standard & Poor?s made the decision to cut Japan?s credit rating from AA to AA-. The timing of the decision was unusual as there was no sudden event in Japan that triggered the downgrade, but S&P cited mounting debt concerns and the lack of coherent strategy by the Democratic Party of Japan as major reasons for the concern. Japan was initially downgraded from AAA status in 2001, when debt to GDP stood at 135%. With the US well on its way to that same figure, is now the time to ring the alarm bell?
Was That The Correction?
Important economic data recently released concerns housing, which has provided both signs of encouragement and weakness in the past month. Existing home sales jumped 12.3% in December, to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.28mln. An uptick in mortgage rates, from a recent low of 4.17% in November, to 4.86% more recently appears to be encouraging buyers to enter the market before it is too late. Due to the strong showing in December, overall housing inventory fell quite considerably in the month, reaching its lowest point since March.
Pundits Call For A Correction, But Where Is It?
Equity markets trended higher for the seventh consecutive week, raising concerns about the potential for a long overdue correction.The S&P 500 Index was up 1.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.0%. Economic data proved to be somewhat mixed, but largely supportive of the move higher in equity prices.Retail sales, for instance, which reached an all-time high in December, increased 0.6% in the month, slightly below economists? expectations for a 0.8% gain.
New Year Fraught with New Risks?
With 2010 officially behind us, it is time to consider what risks and opportunities lay ahead for investors for 2011. Just as 2010 proved to be the year of the sovereign credit crisis, 2011 will not be forgotten as a year without its own potholes. From the economic side of the ledger, the biggest concern remains employment. Despite improving economic growth and a Federal Reserve that has shown a penchant for doing everything in its power to stimulate the economy, employment growth is virtually nonexistent since the recovery began.
The Economic Recovery Heads For Greener Pastures Entering 2011
For as much attention as inflation garners, it still appears to be a far off concern, for consumers at the least. Consumers should also understand that when the time for price increases does materialize, producers will be sure to make up for lost time and lost profits by funneling those increases through in rapid fashion.
Bullish Sentiment Nears Extreme Levels As Investors Pile Into Equities
According to EPFR Global, a research provider that aggregates mutual fund flows, the week ending December 8th saw investors allocate $13.7bln of new capital to stocks funds while only investing $146mln in fixed income funds. Domestic bond funds experienced withdrawals of more than $1bln. Interestingly, money market funds picked up more than $32bln in new funds, the highest total in 22 weeks. Whether this is a wise time to jump back into equity securities remains a hotly debated issue but based on several metrics, this may not be the most opportune time to increase equity exposure.
Markets Rebound Despite Poor Jobs Report
Earlier in the fall, pessimists were pointing towards a slowing ISM index as a surefire harbinger that a ?double-dip? recession was on the way. That did not happen, fortunately, and manufacturing activity has since rebounded. Several subcomponents also provided encouraging data. In particular, the employment index finished the month at 57.5, a clear-cut sign that manufacturers are continuing to hire in order to keep up with growing demand. Somewhat less positive was the prices paid index, which remained elevated at 69.5 in November.
Holiday Shopping Off to Enouraging Start
Early indications from the weekend shopping spree suggest that it was an overall success for retailers. Perhaps even more encouraging was the news that consumers would be less reliant on credit cards for purchases this holiday season.
Europe's Latest Victim Enters the Spotlight
Now that Ireland?s domino is falling, what next? It turns out that the vultures are circling back to get another piece of Greece. Officials restated Greece?s budget deficit for 2009 to a whopping 15.9% of GDP. Couple that with recent rumors that Greece was hoping for a payment extension on its $150bln bailout and you have a recipe for further disaster. Not to be forgotten is Portugal, a country with a budget deficit of 9.3% of GDP in 2009. It may be a period of months before Portugal is forced to pay the piper, but make no mistake, eventually Portugal will face its day of reckoning.
Is The Psychological Impact of QE2 Already Being Felt?
Economic data provided a degree of cautiously optimistic news, although it was a subdued week compared to the exhaustive news faced in prior weeks. There will be plenty of important economic data to key in on this week. October retail sales will be released on Monday and economists are expecting a relatively healthy gain for the month. Inflation will return to the forefront with the release of the Producer Price Index on Tuesday and the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday.
Crossing the Threshold into a New World ... Or Not
There is no doubt that the events which transpired last week are without precedent. The long-term implications of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve are entirely unknown. Should the Fed?s program conclude on schedule, private investors would need to step to the plate and replace the incremental demand lost from the Fed. It is unlikely private investors could replace that demand, which would lead to enormous upward pressure on interest rates.
Investors Ready for a Ghoulishly Busy Week
Investors are wondering whether the recent market rally is built on a solid foundation or merely another in a long line of illusionary rallies should heed a bit of caution. Investors are largely bidding risk assets higher on the belief that the Federal Reserve will inject significant amounts of liquidity into the economy through a second round of asset purchases. This is an extremely dangerous and poor investment thesis.
Is Austerity the Road to Prosperity?
Some prominent European leaders have touted the view that fiscal austerity actually supports short-term economic growth. The root of this thinking is a study by Harvard economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna. A recent IMF report, however, questions the credibility of that study. The IMF concluded that austerity 'clearly' inhibits growth in the short term, while a fiscal consolidation equivalent to 1 percent of GDP leads on average to a 0.5 percent decline in GDP after two years, and to an increase of 0.3 percent in the unemployment rate.
Is Inflation Gone Today and Here Tomorrow?
Inflation is arguably not an issue for the time being, but with the Fed prepared to unleash trillions in additional liquidity, the outlook for inflation is more uncertain than ever. While yields on government bonds with a maturity between 2- and 10-years are flattening, the long end of the yield curve is widening dramatically. Long-term bonds exhibit the most sensitivity to interest rates and inflation, so this may be the first indication that inflation will pose a serious threat down the road. Investors and consumers alike should tread very, very carefully.
Will the Holiday Shopping Season Boost Employment?
The National Retail Federation announced last week that it expects holiday sales to increase by 2.3 percent from last year. That is good news following a decline of 3.9 percent in 2008 and a meager 0.4 percent growth rate in 2009. In addition, consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that the retail sector will add as many as 600,000 jobs over the next three months. That is better than the 501,000 jobs added during the holidays last year, but still well below the pre-crisis levels of more than 700,000.
Is it Feasible to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too?
Suggesting that the bond markets are in a bubble is dangerous at this point in the economic cycle. The intervention of the Federal Reserve into the government bond markets will inherently depress yields, while a lack of clarity around economic growth will encourage individuals and corporations to refrain from embracing excessive spending. This in turn could lead to stagnant growth and further desire to hold less risky assets. For now, bond investors can sleep well knowing that sometimes, just sometimes, you can have your cake and eat it too.
The Chinese Conundrum That Will Not Go Away
The determination by the U.S. government to revalue China's renminbi is another smoke and mirrors tactic to divert our attention from the true crux of the problem, a faltering economy with little hope for regaining stable ground for at least the next several years. Even if China appreciates its currency, there is no guarantee that it will provide a boost to the American economy. Jobs that were long ago outsourced to China will simply move to the next-cheapest home; they will not return to the U.S.
Consumer Spending Increases, But the Outlook is Cloudy
Is the global economic recovery about to grind to a halt? This column provides evidence on economic performance in the decades following macroeconomic crises. It finds much slower growth, as well as several episodes of 'double-dips,' as well as many instances of plain 'bad luck' that strike at a time when the economy remains highly vulnerable.
All Aboard the European Debt Express
A recent paper from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the European bank stress tests were less than stressful. This was because they only considered sovereign debt held on banks' trading books, not on banking books. The trading book of Greek banks, for example, only represents 6.7 percent of the overall Greek sovereign debt exposure on their books. The ignored banking book exposure represents the other 93.3 percent. On a cumulative basis, that translates into a sovereign exposure to Tier 1 capital ratio of more than 225 percent.
The Battle Between Double-Dip and Slower Growth Rages On
Moderate optimism began to wash over the markets last week, as the S&P 500 Index rose 3.7 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 2.9 percent. The rally was driven by several factors, including an improvement in the tone of various economic releases, primarily the much discussed labor report and a strong announcement on manufacturing. Based on releases from last week, it became more apparent that the economy is on track for a period of slower growth and that the possibility of a double-dip is still slim.
The Structural Side of Cyclical Job Losses
The unemployment rate in the U.S. refuses to decline, despite a perceived recovery that began more than 12 months ago. While it is too early to declare whether structural problems are overtaking cyclical unemployment factors, it is obvious that labor markets in the U.S. are not as dynamic as in previous recoveries. Geographic immobility, economic uncertainty and a lack of skilled workers are elongating the headwinds faced by the economy, raising fears of a long and slow economic recovery.
Bonds or Stocks - Who is Right?
Over the past several months, bond and equity markets have been on starkly divergent paths. Investors are growing increasingly concerned that perhaps the bond market knows something that the stock market is overlooking. One reason for this divergence is corporations. Emerging from one of the most severe recessions in the last century, companies are more than willing to hoard cash and favor a 'wait and see' approach before resuming expansion. Meanwhile, individual investors continue to sell equities in favor of fixed income securities.
Is Hiring Set to Pick Up?
The decline in productivity during the first quarter has an interesting implication for both the corporate and consumer sectors. For corporations, it is an indication that profitability will remain strong as prices increased faster than costs. The gains were 2.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. From the consumer standpoint, it appears that businesses have sucked every last ounce of productivity from current employees. If that turns out to be true, then corporations will hire additional workers, bolstering spending and encouraging further hiring.
Is There Hope For the U.S. Consumer?
Consumers face a challenging environment in the second half of the year as stubbornly high unemployment and stagnant wages will limit their ability or desire to spend. The rapid improvement in corporate profitability should encourage hiring at the beginning of 2011, but the road will be long and bumpy. Meanwhile, a series of economic reports this week are likely to provide confirmation that economic growth is slowing.
The Role of Taxes in Future Growth
Democrats who were previously in favor of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of this year are suddenly swimming in the opposite direction, with several favoring extensions to the tax credit, given the poor economic backdrop. It is easy to find evidence to support both camps, but the simple reality is that economically restrictive policies will create a drag on growth at a time when the economy can ill afford them.
Earnings Bolster Investor Confidence
Investors found reason to cheer last week after a round of impressive earnings reports buoyed confidence. The challenge for the broader economy, however, is that companies are becoming more profitable but are unwilling to pass on those gains to their respective employees. Instead, they are stockpiling cash at the expense of employee compensation. Moving into the second half of 2010, as executives begin solidifying budgets for the next fiscal year, we could see an uptick in hiring.
The Inflation Debate Rages On
Last week's reports on the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index only served to confirm what everyone already knows ? any discussion of budding inflationary pressure is nave at the moment. It is too early to write off a full-blown deflationary episode. In addition to weakness at the consumer and producer levels, the rate at which money changes hands (a common means of inflation) is near its slowest pace in years. Other problems facing the U.S. are a rising personal savings rate and ever-slower demand for commercial loans.
The Crowd Zigs, Time to Zag?
When the crowd is zigging, it is best to trust one's contrarian instincts and zag. The ratio of bearish to bullish investors has steadily risen since early May, when concerns about sovereign stability began to unravel. In the week ending July 8th, 57 percent of individual investors reported being bearish in the intermediate term, against only 21 percent that hold a bullish stance. Investor sentiment is sitting at the lowest point since March 2009, and we all know what happened in the intervening months.
Second Half Growth Will Slow, but is a Double-Dip Certain?
While it is easy to remain pessimistic on the state of the economy, especially following the events of 2008, the signs of a double-dip recession are simply not there yet. Slower growth is a given at this point, but this should not come as a surprise considering that it has been well-documented that previous stimuli would become a detractor to growth in the second half of 2010 and through 2011. Further stimulus packages are already being debated, even in the face of fiscal tightening by countries across Europe, as politicians face difficult battles at the polls.
On The Merits of Hedged Equity
Despite positive predictions for the housing market, existing home sales fell in May. This may be due to a number of first time buyers who snapped up distressed properties, requiring a longer wait between contract acceptance and closing date. At the same time, new home sales plummeted and median home sale price fell. A glimmer of hope exists in this market as home prices are in the positive over a year-over-year basis.
Risk Assets Regain Favor But Risk Looms on the Horizon
The resurgence in risk appetite continued apace this past week, allowing the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to return to positive territory for the year. By the end of the week, the S&P was up 2.4 percent and the DJIA finished up 2.3 percent. The recession of 2008-2009 seems to have left a mark on many individuals, however, especially those in the baby boomer generation who are inching ever closer to retirement. This is fueling a reallocation away from equities in favor of bonds and income-producing securities.
Equites Jump, But Uncertainties Persist
Equity indices logged solid gains this past week, with the S&P 500 index up 2.5 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 2.6 percent. The positive outcome was a result of light trading on Thursday and Friday, although it appears there is little conviction in the rally, with trading volume falling well short of the 50-day average over the course of both days. A measure of confidence from the Yale School of Management shows that individual investors are becoming disenchanted with the market, which makes them hesitant to buy equities during periods of correction.
China's Housing Bubble, To Be or Not To Be?
Market forecasters are worried about the state of the Chinese real estate market, with one publication after another declaring that an asset bubble is only moments away from popping. Clearly the recovery in the Chinese real estate market is impressive, perhaps curiously so, but the dynamics of the Chinese market indicate that an asset bubble is nowhere to be found?for now. From an affordability standpoint, the price-to-income index is on the rise, but well below the levels seen in the U.S., the UK and even India.
Results 151–200 of 232 found.