There was nothing to distract investors from a barrage of repetitive headlines about inflation risk in a fairly quiet news week. Higher inflation is a certainty, near-term, due to the pandemic dynamics, so the question is whether or not the increase is transient. The Fed continues to believe the rise in inflation will come and go, but they did drop an interesting nugget in their meeting notes published this week.
The Fed must balance its words more carefully than any other institution as trillions of dollars hang in the balance of every utterance. As discussed last week (Inflation Concerns Overdone), investors have been watching carefully for any sign that the Fed might begin tapering their assets purchases. These asset purchases have been a big tailwind for stocks, so signs of tapering could quickly create a headwind. This week in the Fed’s FOMC minutes, we got that first hint of taper talk. The notes indicate that some participants in the meeting suggested that if the economy continues to progress, it might be appropriate to think about… thinking about… discussing tapering. Now that is what I call being careful with your words.
The U.S. stock market handled this little nugget from the Fed reasonably well. Although the market was volatile, it ended fairly close to where it started.
Headlines This Week
- Labor shortage headlines are echoing around Capitol Hill, prompting 22 governors to end their state’s participation in the $300 boost to weekly unemployment benefits. However, unemployment varies significantly by state. The states that suffered the most from pandemic still exhibit the highest rate of unemployment.
- The governors’ anecdotal arguments are that the unemployment benefits are too generous and disincentivize people to go back to work. However, the San Francisco Federal Reserve provided some evidence that the impact on the labor market from the unemployment boost is likely minimal. The researchers at the SF Fed stated, “A job is worth much more than temporary unemployment insurance payments.”
- Other contributing factors preventing people from returning to work are concerns about safety and lack of childcare.
The main takeaways from the Fed’s FOMC meeting minutes this week were:
- The economy remains far from its goal.
- Inflation risks are balanced, and the Fed sees the latest increase in inflation as transitory.
- The Fed will most likely begin discussing tapering at upcoming meetings, especially if there is any evidence supporting more permanent inflation.
- The first-quarter earnings season shows an epic comeback from an economy that seemed to be in a dire situation just a year ago. The quick response by our government has helped corporations to swiftly return to growing their profits.
- The S&P500 earnings grew by over 51%, the highest year-over-year earnings growth rate since 2010.
- The retail industry joined the rest with blowout earnings results this week, with stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, and Walmart far exceeding their sales and earnings expectations.
- Except for Industrials, all sectors showed positive earnings growth this quarter vs. a year ago.
- The Financials sector remains the largest contributor to earnings growth this season, followed by Technology, Discretionary, Communication Services, and Health Care sectors.
Cryptocurrencies continue to come under pressure. Bitcoin is down well over 40% from its April peak. This space has come under pressure as countries have begun to tick up the rhetoric on regulation. This week, Treasury Secretary Yellen has proposed new reporting requirements to the IRS on any transfers over $10,000.
The Week Ahead
Another Inflation Barometer
While repeatedly looking at inflation data might get tiring, it is crucial to keep an eye on as it will drive the Federal Reserve’s action.
- One inflation metric to look at next week will be Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), which historically has been the Fed’s preferred measure.
- The forecast is for a sharp year-over-year increase of 2.7%, which would be the highest since the early 1990s.
- While lower than the Consumer Price Index that leaped to 4.2% this month, another surprise might be in store if PCE follows the trend.
Economic Health Check
While next week is relatively quiet on the data front, some important releases warrant attention.
- On the housing front, new home sales and pending home sales will be out to give insight into how hot the real estate market currently is.
- Personal income and spending figures will be out next Friday with an expectation that personal income fell by 14.5% in April from March (due to the stimulus boost in March) while personal consumption has increased 0.6% month-over-month.
- Some other important metrics to watch out for are durable goods orders, the consumer confidence index, and the second estimate of Q1 GDP.
Earning Season Wrap-up
Some of the last earnings reports for Q1 are out next week with some notable highlights.
- On Wednesday, Nvidia (NVDA) is out after a choppy year but still riding the wave of demand for its graphic cards demanded by cryptocurrency miners.
- Thursday will see two big names when Best Buy (BBY) and Salesforce.com (CRM) report.
- Other reports to look at next week include Dell Technologies (DELL), HP (HPQ), Intuit (INTU), and Nordstrom (JWN).
Founded in 1979, Strategic is a leading investment and wealth management firm managing and advising on client assets over $1.6 billion.Overview
Strategic Financial Services, Inc. is a SEC-registered investment advisor. The term “registered” does not imply a certain level of skill or training. “Registered” means the company has filed the necessary documentation to maintain registration as an investment advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The information contained on this site is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Every client situation is different. Strategic manages customized portfolios that seek to properly reflect the particular risk and return objectives of each individual client. The discussion of any investments is for illustrative purposes only and there is no assurance that the adviser will make any investments with the same or similar characteristics as any investments presented. The investments identified and described do not represent all of the investments purchased or sold for client accounts. Any representative investments discussed were selected based on a number of factors including recent company news or earnings release. The reader should not assume that an investment identified was or will be profitable. All investments contain risk and may lose value. There is no assurance that any investments identified will remain in client accounts at the time you receive this document.
Some of the material presented is based upon forward-looking statements, information and opinions, including descriptions of anticipated market changes and expectations of future activity. Strategic Financial Services believes that such statements, information, and opinions are based upon reasonable estimates and assumptions. However, forward-looking statements, information and opinions are inherently uncertain and actual events or results may differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, undue reliance should not be placed on such forward-looking statements, information and opinions.
No content on this website is intended to provide tax or legal advice. You are advised to seek advice on these matters from separately retained professionals.
All index returns, unless otherwise noted, are presented as price returns and have been obtained from Bloomberg. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be purchased directly by investors.