Take the Long Way Home: Economic Expansion Gets a Boost
Every month in the immediate aftermath of the release of The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) I put together a small deck together for Schwab’s Operating Committee highlighting the overall data and some of the key takeaways.
Melt-up! Now What?
U.S. stocks may have entered a melt-up phase but for now it is relatively well supported by earnings growth; and although sentiment is extended, behavioral measures indicate still some skepticism. However, given elevated valuations, and the aforementioned overly optimistic sentiment, volatility is likely to increase and more frequent pullbacks are possible. The bull should continue to run, but likely with a bit more drama, so it’s important to stay diversified and disciplined around your long-term asset allocation.
The Big Picture Heading into 2018
Investors are cautioned not to extrapolate 2017’s performance into 2018, and we expect more frequent bouts of volatility. The global bull market is intact, supported by solid global growth and strong corporate earnings. But with the expectations bar now set quite high heading into next year, pullbacks are increasingly possible. Discipline is important looking ahead.
Earnings season, both in the United States and globally, has been solid, while economic growth has accelerated across much of the globe—all supportive of an ongoing global bull market. Elevated optimism and complacency could lead to pullbacks, but we believe it would be in the context of an ongoing bull market.
One Thing Leads to Another: Productivity’s Rebound
My last report was on the acceleration in business capital spending (capex) that is likely to be an economic highlight in 2018. Part-and-parcel of capex is productivity—officially known as non-farm labor productivity—which has averaged less than 1% annualized growth during the current expansion.
Stocks Aren’t so Spooky
Global and domestic economic growth, along with a solid earnings picture and a potential tax reform tailwind, suggest investors should remain at their target equity allocations. Pullbacks are possible but a recession doesn’t appear to be in the cards in the near term, which historically has meant the risk of a pullback turning into a bear market is low.
A Decade of Results: The Past, Present, and Future of Schwab Fundamental Index Funds
It’s been 10 years since Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc. first launched the Schwab Fundamental Index Funds. Fundamental Index strategies were among the first to hit the market within the strategic beta universe.
Schwab Market Perspective: Preparing for the Latter Innings
U.S. stock indices have continued to push to record highs, with little apparently able to throw them off course. The grind higher has pushed through natural disasters, the Las Vegas tragedy, domestic political failures, international political tensions, and missile tests and threats from North Korea—an ample “wall of worry” for stocks to climb.
Fourth Quarter Fun…or Folly?
The fourth quarter is typically an active one and we don’t think this one will be any different. Solid economic growth and good corporate earnings should allow the bull market to continue but we may experience bouts of volatility and/or pullbacks. Stay diversified and disciplined around your long-term objectives.
A Cat and Mouse Fall
September has historically been a tough time for stocks and there are multiple potential pitfalls to look out for this year as well. But economic and earnings growth—both domestic and global—continues to look healthy and we expect the bull market to continue. Remain globally diversified, but also disciplined around target asset allocations; and use any volatility for rebalancing purposes.
Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season: The Aftermath of "Harma"
Our hearts go out to everyone affected by Harvey and now Irma. I did little over the weekend except sit glued to the TV watching Hurricane Irma coverage. That's because I have a home in Naples, FL, on one of the southern intercoastal waterways.
A Preview of Coming Attractions?
Action is about to heat up as summer comes to an end but investors should remain cool. Geopolitical threats, domestic politics, and Federal Reserve actions all have the potential to add to volatility and heightens the risk of a pullback or correction. But healthy economic growth and strong corporate earnings lead us to believe that the bull market has legs.
Radioactive II: Could the Tide Finally Be Turning for Active vs. Passive?
I'm often asked how I invest my own money and often imbedded in the question is whether I prefer active or passive investing strategies. My answer is always both, and at Schwab we generally believe investors can benefit from traditional active management; e.g. mutual funds; alongside newer passive vehicles; e.g. exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
The latest bout of volatility illustrates why investors should stay focused on the longer-term. Risks for a more substantial pullback in the near-term still exist, as valuations remain elevated; but we believe solid U.S. and global economic growth, strong earnings, low inflation and still-ample global liquidity should allow the bull market to continue.
Twist and Shout: United States Takes on North Korea … Implications for Stocks
Last week, President Trump promised to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea, which prompted its leader Kim Jong Un to see that bid and raise it to a direct threat against the U.S. territory of Guam. Collectively at Schwab (Schwab Center for Financial Research as well as our experts in Washington, DC) we believe the likelihood of military action remains low.
Schwab Market Perspective: Things are Looking Good … But are They Too Good?
U.S. equity indexes continue to post record highs and the proverbial "wall of worry" appears to be losing bricks. The high expectations for earnings season have largely been bested, the U.S. economy continues to trend in a "Goldilocks" zone—not too hot, nor too cold...
Big Time: An Update on Our U.S. Large Cap Bias
Having recently upgraded our view on developed international markets (hat tip to Jeffrey Kleintop), we are now recommending investors keep their allocations to all three major equity asset classes—U.S., developed international and emerging markets—in line with strategic targets.
Fed Keeps it on the QT
Much to no one's surprise, the Federal Reserve held off on raising short-term interest rates; keeping the fed funds rate in a range of 1.00-1.25%, in a unanimous vote. Although they did not say anything explicit, there were a few niblets on which to chew in the statement accompanying the meeting.
Schwab Market Perspective: Are Danger Signs Rising…or Will the Bull Run Continue?
Are risks growing or will the bull market continue? We believe the answer to both is yes. Political bumbling, monetary policy shifts, and geopolitical tensions have all escalated, but the bull continues to power ahead, largely unscathed by the tumult that surrounds it.
Smooth Sailing for Stocks?
The environment for U.S. and global stocks continues to be in decent shape, but some risks are elevated and the possibility of a pullback exists. A notable potential driver of bouts of volatility could be U.S. and global central bank policy as they sail toward monetary policy normalization.
Schwab Market Perspective: Shifting Sentiment?
A bit of volatility returned to Wall Street, with indexes pulling back from record highs and the leading sector performer to this point in the year, technology, experiencing a decent-sized pullback. Meanwhile, we've seen a flattening of the yield curve, which suggests the bond and stock markets may be sending conflicting economic signals.
The Space Between … Tech Today Doesn't Resemble Tech Circa 2000
Tech "wreck?" That's a bit of a stretch in my opinion; but the financial media loves a good headline. The major ascent—and recent pullback—of the so-called FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) has generated much attention; and lately, the subject of technology stocks more broadly has dominated Q&A sessions at events at which I've spoken.
Goldilocks…or the Three Bears?
Goldilocks appears to be taking up residence on Wall Street, with modest growth, low inflation and a cautious Fed combining to make things "just right" for investors. Additionally, the apparent improving global trade trend could help contribute to further stock market gains and support large-cap outperformance. But the risk of a pullback and/or sharp acceleration in volatility is elevated courtesy of both domestic and world political uncertainty, and the potential of a Fed misstep.
Unprecedented! Or Maybe Not?
Both political uncertainty and Fed policy changes could contribute to increased volatility, but solid economic and earnings growth—both in the United States and globally—should help the bull market to continue. We suggest looking past the political rhetoric for the most part and focusing on economic developments and the long-term stability the United States provides. Globally, we’re seeing improving growth, but China is a concern that bears watching and emphasizes the need for a globally diversified portfolio.
Gimme Three Steps … and a Stumble?
"Three steps and a stumble" was first illustrated by Edson Gould, the legendary market technician from the 1930s through the 1970s. Ultimately the baton was passed from Gould to another legendary market analyst (and my mentor/boss for my first 13 years in this business), Marty Zweig, who incorporated the "rule" into his monetary policy indicator.
Sell in May…or Settle In?
Subscribing to the "sell in May" theory has not always been financially rewarding, so be cautious about trying to trade around any likely volatility. The U.S. economy is growing, but not too fast, earnings have accelerated sharply, and fiscal tailwinds are still blowing. There is the potential for a retrenchment in the gains in emerging market stocks in the near term, but sticking with a diversified portfolio is important. Pullbacks are possible but stay focused on fundamentals and your long-term goals.
Strange Brew: Heightened Uncertainties, Yet Plunging Volatility…What Gives?
Much ink has been spilled lately by the financial press on the dramatic move down in market volatility as measured by the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), to the lowest level since February 2007.
Schwab Market Perspective: Should Sharp Sentiment Shifts Mean a Change in Strategy?
Recent market action has all the markings of a relief rally. The French vote in favor of centrist candidate Macron took "Frexit" off the table for now; a new tax cut proposal by the Trump administration, and the decreasing likelihood of a near-term U.S. government shutdown all appeared to play a part in the sharp rise in stocks and plunge in volatility.
½ Full: Seeing Through a Weak Q1
As I've often noted when it comes to the relationship between economic data and the stock market, "better or worse tends to matter more than good or bad." In other words, stocks tend to key off rate of change more than level when it comes to economic indicators.