- U.S. indexes aim for fresh record highs on global strength. (9:45am ET) Domestic markets look to add to last week’s gains after the S&P 500 rose 0.4% Friday with all but one sector finishing in the green; materials (+0.9%), energy (+0.8%), and industrials (+0.8%) led the way while consumer staples (-0.1%) lost ground. Overseas, stocks in Asia began the week higher as traders evaluated Japanese GDP data and a generally positive outcome of the U.S.-Japan summit over the weekend; the Shanghai Composite (+0.6%) and Hang Seng (+0.6%) led major indexes in the region, while the Nikkei gained 0.4%. European markets are also moving up as the STOXX 600 is heading for its fifth consecutive gain. Elsewhere, the dollar touched a two-week high, WTI crude oil ($53.07/barrel) is pulling back after three days of gains, COMEX gold ($1227/oz.) is modestly lower, and the yield on 10-year Treasuries is up 3 basis points (0.03%) to 2.44%.
- Earnings update: strong growth, decent upside. With 71% of S&P 500 companies having reported, S&P 500 earnings are tracking to an 8.4% year-over-year increase, 2.3% above estimates on January 1, 2017 (Thomson Reuters data). Financials, materials, and technology have produced the most upside (all 3% or more) and financials the most growth (+20.8%), followed by technology at 10.9%. An earnings gain for all 11 S&P sectors remains possible with no sector down more than 1.5%. Revenue growth ticked up to 4.4%, led by consumer discretionary, healthcare and technology. This week is another busy one with 55 S&P 500 companies slated to report results.
- Supportive guidance. S&P 500 earnings estimates for 2017 are down by a below-average 1.1% since earnings season began (the average decline is 2.5%). Industrials, financials and energy estimates have held up best, with energy actually seeing estimates rise. We continue to expect mid- to high-single-digit earnings growth for the S&P 500 overall in 2017, as noted in Outlook 2017: Gauging Market Milestones, and have seen nothing from corporate America during earnings season that would cause us to lose confidence in that forecast. The possibility exists that this forecast might prove too low given the potential for a policy boost later this year
- Real estate by cycles in this week’s Weekly Market Commentary. Evaluating real estate investments depends on three cycles: the economic cycle, the building cycle, and the interest rate cycle. We believe we are in a good spot in the economic cycle for attractive real estate returns, with steady job gains and an improving domestic economic growth outlook. The building cycle for real estate shows little sign of the type of overbuilding that has ended previous cycles. Finally, although we expect interest rates to rise, we expect increases to be modest and driven by improving economic growth and a gradual pickup in inflation, conditions historically favorable for real estate. Based on these metrics, our real estate outlook, including REITs, is favorable while a spike in interest rates remains a key risk.
- Japan releases Q4 and 2016 gross domestic product (GDP) data overnight. The results were modestly disappointing as Q4 growth was 0.2% vs. an estimated 0.3%; for calendar year 2016, GDP growth was 1.0%, vs. consensus expectations of 1.1%. More telling than the narrow miss itself is the source of Japanese growth: mostly exports. Domestic consumption was flat for Q4 and represented about one half of the total economic growth in 2016. This may encourage Japanese authorities to weaken the yen further, though doing so may ire the Trump administration, which had previously labeled Japan’s trade surplus as unfair. Japanese stocks were stronger overnight, while the yen weakened 0.4%.
- Busy calendar this week includes Yellen testimony. Fed Chair Yellen’s semiannual monetary policy testimony to Congress highlights this week’s very busy economic and event calendar. In addition to Yellen, a half dozen other Fed officials are on the docket as markets gauge whether or not the Fed will raise rates at its March 2017 meeting. The data due out this week on January CPI, retail sales, leading indicators, housing starts and industrial production, along with February reports on Empire State and Philadelphia Fed manufacturing and housing market sentiment, will weigh on the Fed’s decision. Overseas, Q4 GDP reports are due out in the Eurozone, Poland, and Malaysia, along with the always timely ZEW report (February) in Germany. There are no major central bank meetings this week.
- Happy Anniversary. The S&P 500 hit last year’s low on February 11 and has since gained more than 26%. Over the past year we’ve seen a massive global stock market rally, with financials, energy, and materials leading in the U.S. A year ago there were calls to “sell everything” and many high-profile cuts of year-end equity targets. Today on the LPL Research blog we will take a closer look at what we were seeing in markets a year ago and focus on one subtle clue that things were potentially ready to turn around.