There was something of a change in tone last week. There is more recognition of improving conditions. With a tailwind from improving earnings, more will be wondering:
What if you have missed the rally?
Last Week Recap
Last week began with stories about revised targets for the market and ended with Fed speculation. The market took the international stories and news about President Trump in stride.
The Story in One Chart
I always start my personal review of the week by looking at a chart of market price moves. The Wednesday pre-market release of Chair Yellen’s Congressional testimony was the most notable feature. The market gained 1.4%, reaching a new all-time high.
I am on vacation starting Friday and through the next week. This means that I will probably miss two installments of WTWA. Since readers requested and appreciate the “limited editions” we have produced when I have been away, we’ll do that again. We will include indicator updates, a few observations on news and worries, and perhaps some “timeless” advice that has special relevance right now.
Since I cannot ever get completely away, I’ll be in touch with events and my office. Is something important is happening, I’ll get involved. The last time I went to Toronto my vacation was spoiled by the debt limit crisis. I hope to avoid a repeat of that!
Each week I break down events into good and bad. For our purposes, “good” has two components. The news must be market friendly and better than expectations. I avoid using my personal preferences in evaluating news – and you should, too!
The economic news last week was mixed, but tilting positive.
- Industrial production for June was up 0.4%, slightly beating expectations and much better than last month’s 0.1%.
- JOLTS showed a high quit rate. Those voluntarily leaving jobs represent a sign of strength. The analysis of overall labor market conditions (the Beveridge curve) is also important. Anyone focusing on “job openings” or “job growth” is not using the best data and is also on the wrong theme. Bespoke has it right.
- Inflation remained low. I understand that many treat this as “bad news” because it is not hitting the Fed target. This makes no sense. If we could get good economic growth without inflation, that would be wonderful. We should not be cheering for more inflation unless it reflects an improving global economy.
- Earnings reports are strong. It is still early in the season, but reports are beating expectations at a higher rate than in the past five years. Same for revenue, and the size of the beat. (FactSet has more details and charts). Avondale monitors conference calls, providing useful color. Their news is also encouraging. Check it out for yourself.
- The first gene therapy was endorsed by an FDA advisory committee. We are still some distance from widespread use, but my guess is that ten years from now, this will be the most important news from this week. The Washington Post has a nice account.
Fed news satisfied the markets. That is one test, but it does not change the favorite sport of Fed-bashing.
- Jason Cawley (who brings strong analytical skill and experience to the problem) takes a refreshing perspective in his article, Grading the Fed. He analyzes the Fed in terms of their own stated objectives – not those of critics. Those interested – and you should be – must read the entire article and the grades for each objective. Here is an example chart.