There is some important data on the schedule for this week, along with earnings and the expected doses of FedSpeak. None of that will attract much attention. Instead expect “all Trump, all the time”. The slant in financial media will be the implications for investors. As we get news of the leadership transition, I expect the punditry to be asking:
Do investment portfolios need a transition?
Last week’s economic news was all good, but less important than the election.
In my last WTWA, I predicted a focus on the election and the chances for greater economic and financial clarity. The election expectation was obvious, and there was indeed a focus on the implications for investors. That said, I embraced the consensus expectations which proved to be dramatically incorrect. I did correctly note that the crystal ball would remain cloudy, but that proved to be quite an understatement.
The Story in One Chart
I always start my personal review of the week by looking at this great chart from Doug Short. He captures the post-election rally as well as the Friday fizzling.
Doug has a special knack for pulling together all the relevant information. His charts save more than a thousand words! Read his entire post where he adds analysis grounded in data and several more charts providing long-term perspective. Here is one additional example.
The big story of the trading week does not show up in the stock market data. As the Trump victory became apparent, overnight trading in stock futures showed a massive decline. This chart shows the selling and the morning rebound.
Each week I break down events into good and bad. Often there is an “ugly” and on rare occasion something very positive. My working definition of “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!
This week’s news was quite good. If I missed something for the “bad” list, please feel free to suggest it in the comments.
- Election uncertainty ended. This was a known, market-friendly event, although the amount of the reaction was a surprise.
- Framing lumber demand drives higher prices. Those who prefer market data to other source should take note of the data from Calculated Risk.
- Earnings reports continue strength on all measures. Earnings growth, results versus expectations, sales versus expectations, and outlook are all solid (FactSet). It is not getting much attention, but the “earnings recession” is over. Brian Gilmartin provided the first alert on this dramatic shift, and now points to a possible expansion in multiples. Ed Yardeni shows the impact via changed expectations.
- Michigan sentiment showed strength with a reading of 91.6, solidly beating the prior month and expectations. The survey was before the election.
- JOLTS remained positive. This may be the most misunderstood indicator. Pundits use it to analyze job growth, because that is what they want to know about. Many other measures do that job better. JOLTS is about the structure of the labor market. How tight things are and whether employees freely leave jobs for others. If you do not understand the Beveridge Curve, you do not understand JOLTS.
- Initial jobless claims declined to 254K, marking 88 consecutive weeks below 300K. This is the best record since 1970. Calculated Risk has the story and a helpful chart.
- OPEC output jumped. This calls into question the planned production cuts. Whether you agree with me that stock prices should not be linked to oil prices, that continues to be the reality. Thus – this news is market unfriendly. (MarketWatch)
Financial abuse of the elderly. Reshma Kapadia of Barron’s has a great feature article on this topic, describing the various scams and consequences. Here are a few of the top ones:
The Silver Bullet
I occasionally give the Silver Bullet award to someone who takes up an unpopular or thankless cause, doing the real work to demonstrate the facts. No award this week. Nominations are welcome.
Could you pass the U.S. Citizenship Test? You might enjoy the quiz from BuzzFeed. Example: Who was not one of the writers of the Federalist papers? John Jay, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, or Thomas Jefferson? Mrs. OldProf tells me that this one is too easy if you scored a ticket to Hamilton and paid attention.
The Week Ahead
We would all like to know the direction of the market in advance. Good luck with that! Second best is planning what to look for and how to react. That is the purpose of considering possible themes for the week ahead. You can make your own predictions in the comments.
We have an important week for economic data, with a special focus on housing.
The “A” List
- Housing starts and building permits (Th). Different directions in recent reports.
- Retail sales (T). Continuing strength expected.
- Initial claims (Th). The best concurrent indicator for employment trends.
The “B” List
- Philly Fed (Th). Continuing small gains expected in an early read on November.
- Industrial production (W). Small growth expected despite recent weakness.
- PPI (W). Still not a major market factor, but moving higher.
- CPI (Th). Not the Fed’s “official” inflation indicator, but it is moving beyond the target.
- Business inventories (T). September data, but relevant for final Q3 GDP.
Crude inventories (W). Recently showing even more impact on oil prices. Rightly or wrongly, that spills over to stocks.
There are still some earnings reports, including housing stocks. Once again we also have almost daily Fedspeak. We’ll get to watch some dancing around the political questions.
Next Week’s Theme
In a different year, this would be a week for special attention to housing. The economic data feature some important forward-looking indicators and earnings reports include important housing-related stocks. Instead, the surprised investment community is scrambling to identify the implications of a Trump presidency and a GOP Congress. Regular media will have daily reports of transition plans, cabinet appointments, and shifting policy stances. Financial media will focus on what it means for investors. Expect this question to be a common theme:
Does your portfolio need a complete remake?
Here are the important issues:
- Has the best asset allocation shifted? More stocks, less bonds?
- Is the overall market more dangerous? Time for more cash?
- What are the likely economic consequences, in both the short and long terms? The WSJ has a nice general summary, loaded with charts, about the economy Mr. Trump will inherit.
- Which stock sectors are likely to benefit, and by how much?
- Are there specific stock favorites?
Traders rushed to act, frequently on hastily and ill-formed ideas. The overnight futures trading is a spectacular example, but most of the other conclusions are also quite speculative. Consider how wrong many of the big names in investments have been. Citi, Goldman and Bridgewater Associates all expected declines of 3 – 10% on a Trump victory. Even after the market was rallying, many of the pros were expecting the story to end at any moment. As Time notes, the three errors included the event