New Year Special Update: 2016 in Review – Weekly Update for January 3, 2017

2017-01-03-blog-imageFirst things first: Happy New Year! We’re thankful for all of you keeping up with us in 2016 and looking forward to what this next year holds. We appreciate your time and thoughts throughout the past year, and we are excited to work together to accomplish your financial goals in 2017.

Looking back on the final trading week of a very eventful year, we saw low volume and a break from the recent rallies for domestic indexes. While international stocks in the MSCI EAFE added 0.56%, all major U.S. indexes declined. The S&P 500 lost 1.10%, the Dow was down 0.86%, and the NASDAQ gave back 1.46%. For the first time since November 4, the indexes posted three straight days of losses. Despite these last-minute decreases, 2016 ended very differently than it began.

Last January, domestic indexes rang in the New Year with quite unpleasant performances. While the S&P 500 and NASDAQ dropped, the Dow experienced its worst-ever five-day start to a year, losing 1079 points on fears of an economic slowdown in China and plummeting oil prices.

By market close on December 30, 2016, all three indexes showed healthy growth for the year:

  • S&P 500: Up 9.5%
  • Dow: Up 13.4%
  • NASDAQ: Up 7.5%

In addition to this equity growth, last week showed us a number of encouraging economic indicators for 2016, including:

Consumer Confidence Surge: On December 27, Consumer Confidence beat expectations to reach 113.7 — a 13-year high. This metric indicates that consumers feel more positively about jobs, personal finances, business conditions, and more.

U.S. Dollar Increase: The dollar was up for the fourth straight year, showing a 3.7% increase for 2016 after hitting a 14-year high on December 20.

Crude Oil Recovery: After a rough start to the year, oil experienced its largest annual increase since 2009. In fact, three-dozen U.S. gas and oil producers in the S&P energy index gained more than 40% during 2016.

We all know that 2016 brought its fair share of surprises — from victories for Brexit and Donald Trump, to our recent stock market rally and beyond. However, the year ended with domestic indexes up and a number of positive economic indicators. As we look toward our future in 2017, we see opportunities for continued growth, as well as many questions that no one can yet answer.

  • Will President Trump reduce regulation and taxes?
  • Will OPEC keep its pledge to lower oil output?
  • How will China’s economy perform?
  • Could more “Brexits” be on the horizon?

The questions remain, but no matter the answers, we are here to help guide you through the year—and toward your goals—with proactive, strategic support. If you want to talk about what we experienced in 2016, or what we anticipate for the year ahead, we would love to get in touch with you. Please reach out to us at hello@hzcapital.com or give us a call at 419-425-2400.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: Markets Closed in Observance of New Year’s Day
Tuesday: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report
Thursday: PMI Services Index, ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
Friday: Employment Situation, International Trade, Factory Orders

capture

Enjoying the Rally, Focused on the Future – Weekly Update for December 5, 2016

2016-12-05-blog-imageAfter a three-week run where all major U.S. indexes posted significant gains, we saw more mixed results last week. The Dow was up 0.10%, but the S&P 500 lost 0.97% and the NASDAQ was down 2.65%. The MSCI EAFE’s measure of international developed markets also dropped 0.24%.

Rallies such as the one we’ve experienced since Donald Trump’s election can’t go on forever, so we aren’t too concerned about these minor pullbacks. In fact, as we’ve recently said, when you look more deeply at the data, we see many reasons to believe that our economy is moving in the right direction.

Good News This Week

Positive economic news for the U.S. continued to come in this week, including reports that:

Of course, despite the ongoing indications that our economy is doing well, everything isn’t perfect in the U.S. We’d like to see the economy growing even faster than it is. And while unemployment is low, the measure of people who are underemployed is still too high at 9.3%.[vi]

Overall, we continue to see signs that our plow-horse economy may be picking up speed and building greater strength in the process.

Potential Risk: Italian Referendum

 From our perspective, the most immediate risk to market performance could be the Italian Referendum. On December 4, Italians voted against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s constitutional amendment that would have reduced their Senate’s size and power while limiting the regional governments’ strength. From Renzi’s perspective, this move would stop the gridlock so common in Italy’s government while helping to stabilize the country, improve investor confidence, and speed economic recovery.

As 2016 has shown us with the unexpected victories of Brexit and Donald Trump, populist sentiments are on the rise worldwide. The Italian “No” vote not only represents a concern with concentrating power in the federal government but also a general pushback against the ruling party and status quo.

Now that “No” has prevailed, we may see additional instability in Europe. Prime Minister Renzi has promised to step down, leaving big questions about who will lead Italy and how they will find a new leader. In addition, some of Italy’s largest banks may now be at risk of insolvency, as they have fewer tools for lifting the $380 billion of bad loans that weigh them down.

No one knows what the long-term outcomes of this vote will be for Italy or Europe. We anticipate that some ripples of volatility may wash up on our shores in the process. We hope that, similar to Brexit, the initial market reaction will not last for long and that investors will quickly return to a focus on growth and fundamentals.

How to Move Forward With Confidence

From the first quarter’s stock-market volatility to a number of surprising votes, this year has presented many opportunities for emotions to enter investing. We understand how tempting it may be to sell when equities aren’t performing well —and to pursue greater growth when they are. Ultimately, emotions have no place in investing.

Recently, we’ve spoken to many clients who want to ride the post-election growth train. Just as we’re here to help you from despairing when stocks tumble, we also want to help control euphoria when the markets rally. Rallies can’t continue forever, and impulsive choices can challenge your security. As always, we want you to take the right amount of risk for your unique circumstances and stay focused on the long-term goals that we’re pursuing together.

If you have any questions about how current events are affecting your financial life, we are here to talk. Please contact us any time.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

 Monday: ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
Tuesday: International Trade, Productivity and Costs
Wednesday: Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index
Friday: Consumer Sentiment

capture

Quarter End Questions – Weekly Update for October 3, 2016

2016-10-3-blog-imageThe presidential debate, surging oil prices, and concerns about a global bank all took their toll on the market last week; however, we were pleased to see a positive quarter end for stocks. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.17%, the Dow grew 0.26%, the NASDAQ edged up 0.12%, but the MSCI EAFE lost 0.87%.

Why did Deutsche Bank affect markets?

Last week, concerns about one of the world’s largest banks caused investors to worry that a new “Lehman moment” might spark a new financial crisis. Germany’s scandal-prone banking giant is facing financial penalties in the U.S. for the role it played in the financial crisis; the bank’s problems are causing key clients to distance themselves and analysts wonder about the firm’s financial health. Investors reacted to Deutsche Bank’s woes negatively, setting off a 200-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday.

A similar loss of confidence in Lehman Brothers in 2008 caused counterparties (major clients) to ask the cash-strapped firm for their money back, triggering its collapse and the beginning of the financial crisis. However, Deutsche Bank is not Lehman, and the world is a different place than it was in late 2008. International financial institutions are not as dangerously interconnected as they were then, and global regulators are much better positioned to respond to situations that arise.

Markets agreed with that assessment and rebounded on Friday. While news from Deutsche Bank may still create headlines, we think the worst has passed. If you have any questions about Deutsche Bank or other financial firms, please reach out to us so we can respond to your concerns.

What does the data say about the economy in the third quarter?

With the third quarter officially in the rearview mirror, analysts are turning their attention to the data. Here’s what we know so far:

The third estimate of second-quarter economic growth showed that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew a stronger-than-expected 1.4%, up from initial estimates. Even better, some economists think the economy could have accelerated and grown 2.8% in the third quarter, which would put it closer to the pace we want to see. The latest September data on consumer sentiment, an important indicator of future consumer spending, shows that Americans are more confident in their financial prospects, possibly opening the door to higher spending in the critical holiday shopping season.

What might the final months of the year bring?

As we enter the final three months of 2016, markets are contending with some headwinds we’re watching. We can expect plenty of headlines around the presidential election as we get closer to November. Political beliefs aside, elections represent a lot of uncertainty, especially with wild-card candidates. Markets may react with relief after election uncertainty resolves; however, concerns about the changes a new administration will bring may also trigger further volatility.

Britain’s prime minister announced her intention to begin negotiating the UK’s Brexit from the European Union next spring. By 2019, Britain could be a sovereign nation once again, bringing a slew of changes to the EU. Ultimately, we don’t expect to see too much volatility around the Brexit until next year.

Oil prices might have finally hit bottom and be poised to rally this fall. Major oil producers, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, seem ready to coordinate production to bring oil prices back up. If a pact is made (and held), oil could head back toward $60/barrel next year, which would bring relief to beleaguered U.S. energy companies. However, higher oil process could bite consumers by making gas more expensive at the pump. It’s likely that oil prices will play a role in market movements in the weeks to come.

The week ahead is packed with data, including the September jobs report, which may factor into future Federal Reserve interest rate decisions. As always, we’ll keep you updated.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: Motor Vehicle Sales, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending

Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, International Trade, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims

Friday: Employment Situation

capture

HEADLINES:

New home sales tumble in August. Sales of newly constructed homes fell 7.6% in August after surging in July to the highest level in nearly nine years. The retreat isn’t unexpected and further volatility in the housing sector may occur.

Durable goods orders slip. U.S. factories saw fewer orders in August for long-lasting goods like aircraft, appliances, and electronics. However, a core category that represents business investment grew for the third straight month.

Weekly jobless claims edge higher. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week but held at stable levels, supporting the view that the labor market continues to improve.

Pending home sales drop. The number of homes under contract slumped in August, suggesting that home sales fell across the board. Since pending sales forecast future activity, it’s likely the drop in housing activity will be felt in the weeks ahead.

“Why Does Britain Love Tea So Much?” – August 2016 Market Update Video

In this video, I discuss major events that occurred in July and their impact on the economy and investors. We also discovered that Josh is the king of dad jokes.

When it comes to investing, you are better off ignoring politics and paying attention to the business activity around you. I am grateful to be living in a great country where the future is always better than the past. It’s important for investors to remember that the White House does not drive the direction of the markets over the long term. It’s the great companies of the United States, like Marathon Petroleum Corporation, that drive business activity and, ultimately, stock prices higher over the long term.

Send us an email or give us a call if you have any questions or concerns you would like to discuss with us.

Stocks Bounce After Jobs Blowout – Weekly Update for August 8, 2016

S&P 500 at (1)

Stocks bounced last week, ending sharply higher after a better-than-expected jobs report. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.43%, the Dow rose 0.60%, the NASDAQ added 1.14%, but the MSCI EAFE lost 1.41%.

Among last week’s major events was a shockingly good July jobs report. Last month, the economy added 255,000 new jobs, blowing away expectations of 180,000 jobs. Even better, the gains were broad-based and the labor force participation rate (an area of concern because fewer people in our population were actively participating in the labor force) ticked upward. Overall, not too shabby.

Headline unemployment remained stable at 4.9%, but that single number hides a lot of complexity. We’d like to dig a little deeper. The chart below shows six different measures of unemployment, each slicing the data in a different way.

Capture

The U-6 unemployment rate is the most comprehensive, showing total unemployed, marginally attached workers (discouraged workers and those considered barely employed), and those total employed part time for economic reasons.

You can see that all measures rose during the recession and have been steadily dropping ever since. While headline unemployment (U-3 unemployment in official parlance) stands at 4.9%, U-6 is still at 9.7%, almost two percentage points higher than the pre-recession low of 7.9% achieved in 2006. This indicates that there are many people who haven’t participated fully in the labor market recovery; however, the rate has fallen significantly from the 17.1% high it reached in 2009. All told, most areas of the labor market are still making gains.

Britain’s central bank moved to lower interest rates to fight the Brexit blues. The Bank of England cut interest rates for the first time in nearly seven years and announced an aggressive round of bond purchases to stimulate economic activity. The bank is moving quickly to head off a possible economic blowback from Britain’s vote to exit the European Union.

Will the Federal Reserve raise rates while one of our major trading partners is going the other way? We’ll be sure to keep you updated.

 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Tuesday: Productivity and Costs
Wednesday: JOLTS, EIA Petroleum Status Report, Treasury Budget
Thursday: Jobless Claims, Import and Export Prices
Friday: Retail Sales, PPI-FD, Business Inventories, Consumer Sentiment

Capture

HEADLINES:

Motor vehicle sales miss expectations. July sales of cars and trucks by major U.S. automakers slipped as pent-up demand slackened.

Consumer spending increases more than expected. Spending by American consumers rose more than expected in June, suggesting consumption remained strong throughout the second quarter.

Factory orders fall. New orders for manufactured goods fell in June for the second month in a row, though stabilizing business spending offers some hope.

Construction spending falls to one-year low. Spending on construction projects fell in June, suggesting a downward revision to second-quarter economic growth may come.

Stocks End Q2 With a Bang – Quarterly Update for July 5, 2016

Adobe Spark (21)After the previous week’s post-Brexit selloff, stocks closed out last week with one of the best performances of 2016 as investors bought the dip. In the first half of the year, the S&P 500 was up 2.69%, the Dow was up 2.90%, the NASDAQ was down 3.29%, and the MSCI EAFE was down 6.28%. All these numbers are as of the quarter’s end on June 30.

What lesson can we draw from recent market gyrations? Markets respond unpredictably to shocks, and periods of strong performance often follow close on the heels of frightening selloffs. While the media loves to predict gloom and doom at every opportunity, smart investors know to stay calm, look at underlying fundamentals, and stay away from emotional decisions. While we can hope for smooth sailing in the weeks ahead, we should expect continued volatility.

What’s going on with Britain’s exit from the EU?

Within Britain, a lot. In the aftermath of the vote, several major British politicians have resigned, including Prime Minister David Cameron, a key supporter of the “Remain” campaign. The leadership of major “pro-Leave” parties is also in flux, suggesting the coming elections will be eventful.

Several possible roadmaps for the Brexit have been released over the past week by various political factions, but no official plans exist yet. Differences in the way that UK and EU leaders would like to handle the Brexit have also emerged, leading to more uncertainty. We can expect these negotiations to dominate European headlines for months to come.

What does the data say about the U.S. economy?

The focus on international events has overshadowed some positive indicators here in the U.S. The final estimate of Q1 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth shows that the economy grew 1.1% in the first three months of the year. This final estimate is up considerably from the 0.5% growth originally reported in the first estimate.

Resilient domestic consumer spending supported growth last quarter and indications suggest the trend continued in the second quarter. Despite a strong U.S. dollar, exports grew more than expected, which is cheering news because it could mean that foreign demand is holding steady.

While we don’t yet have official data on Q2 GDP growth, two advanced forecasts by the Federal Reserve show 2.6% and 2.1% growth, respectively, indicating the economy accelerated after the first quarter.

Earnings reports will emerge in the next few weeks, and analysts are anticipating another tough season with total S&P 500 company earnings expected to be down 6.1% over Q2 2015. Much of the weakness can be attributed to persistent headwinds from low energy prices and a strong dollar. Despite the lackluster growth expectations, we’re hoping to see some positive surprises and standout performances. We’ll know more in a few weeks.

What will the next few weeks bring?

Volatility is likely. Though markets have shrugged off the Brexit panic, Europe isn’t in the rearview mirror yet, and we should be prepared for more hiccups down the road. While the summer is often a sleepy time for markets as traders take their own holidays, recent events make it likely that markets will remain fickle. When trading volume is low, even minor events can have an outsized effect on market performance.

Next week, investors will take stock of last quarter and wait for new data. Friday’s release of the June jobs report will be carefully analyzed to see whether May’s meager job gains were an anomaly or the beginning of a worrisome labor market trend. Minutes from the last Fed Open Market Committee meeting will hopefully provide some clarity about the Fed’s future interest rate decisions.

We’re still closely monitoring markets and reviewing economic data as it emerges. We’ll continue to update you as needed.

 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

 Monday: Markets closed for Independence Day Holiday

Tuesday: Factory Orders

Wednesday: International Trade, ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, FOMC Minutes

Thursday: ADP Employment Report, Jobless Claims, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Friday: Employment Situation

Capture

HEADLINES:

Motor vehicle sales stay strong. Americans continued to buy cars and trucks in June despite the market volatility. Purchases of big-ticket items are a good sign for consumer spending last quarter.

Jobless claims increase. Weekly claims for new unemployment benefits rose by 10,000 last week. Though claims remain at historically low levels, the increase could indicate slowing growth in the labor market.

Construction spending falls. Spending on construction projects fell by 0.8% in May, dropping for the second-straight month. The fall was led by a significant cutback in spending on public construction projects.

Consumer confidence rises. A June reading of how Americans feel about the U.S. economy increased, indicating consumers aren’t letting economic uncertainty get to them.

Britain’s Messy Divorce: How Brexit May Affect U.S. Investors – Weekly Update for June 27, 2016

brexit

Stocks fell sharply last week in response to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), putting major indices in the red for 2016. Why did markets react so badly?

The vote to leave was a surprise to most, and markets hate surprises. It’s too soon to know how Britain’s exit (Brexit) will play out, but predictions include a British recession, a breakup of the EU as other countries vote to leave, or the introduction of reforms by European leaders who see the writing on the wall. Since the referendum result isn’t binding on the government, there’s even a very small possibility that the Brexit won’t happen at all. It’s anyone’s guess at this point.

To help you understand how the Brexit may affect you as an investor, here are answers to some key questions:

How will Britain’s vote affect markets?

In the short and medium term, we’re likely to see a lot of volatility in financial markets around the world as investors grapple with the uncertainty of possible Brexit outcomes. In the long term, it’s hard to know what the final tally of the Brexit will be.

If we look at similar events such as the Fiscal Cliff standoff in 2011 and the European debt crisis in 2012, we see that though stocks fell significantly in the days and weeks that followed, prices later rebounded as the uncertainty cleared.

Is that what will happen this time? Possibly, but we can’t predict the future. While political events like this rarely have a long-term effect on markets, we should also keep in mind that 2016 has brought many geopolitical challenges to our door.

How will Britain’s vote affect the U.S. economy?

Currently, there’s no consensus from economists on what the fallout in the U.S. will be. Trade with Britain accounts for just 0.31% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so British problems with trade won’t necessarily affect us. However, the dollar is often viewed as a safe haven in times of international turmoil, which is pushing the dollar’s value up versus other currencies. A stronger dollar may weaken demand for U.S. exports, which isn’t good for our economy.

Globally, Britain accounts for 4.82% of worldwide GDP. We don’t yet know how negotiations over trade, labor, and finances will affect Britain’s economy. If Britain’s exit kicks off a mass exodus of EU member countries, we can certainly expect a greater impact on the global economy. However, it’s too soon to know if that will come to pass.

Britain’s vote will likely affect Federal Reserve policies this year. Post-Brexit, expectations of a rate increase this year have gone down tremendously. Some experts even suggest that rate cuts may be back on the table if economic growth slows.

Our View

Though we don’t think the Brexit is the end of the world, we want to acknowledge the risks it poses to markets. We believe that bull markets don’t die of old age, but we are facing growing headwinds from abroad that may threaten the bulls.

Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future. What we can do is focus on long-term financial goals and look for opportunities in the turmoil. The emotional reactions of others may create rational opportunities for us.

We are continually monitoring client portfolios and evaluating economic data and market research as it arrives. We will keep you informed and will contact you personally if we feel changes to your portfolio are necessary.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to our immediate response to the Brexit vote, please take a few minutes to hear our Associate Investment Advisor, Josh Robb, discuss the vote’s impact on our investment strategy:

We are always ready and available to talk with you about the latest market updates. If you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 419-425-2400, or email us at hello@hzcapital.com. Thanks for reading, and remember, keep calm and invest on!

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: International Trade in Goods, Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey

Tuesday: GDP, S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence

Wednesday: Personal Income and Outlays, Janet Yellen Speaks 9:30 AM ET, Pending Home Sales Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Chicago PMI

Friday: Motor Vehicle Sales, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending

 

Capture


HEADLINES:

Consumer sentiment slips in June. Americans were less optimistic about the economy and their financial prospects as concerns over slow economic growth grew. Despite the pessimism, consumers have been opening their wallets, pushing up measures of consumer spending.

Durable goods fall more than expected. May orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell a surprising amount, suggesting that restrained business spending may drag on economic growth this quarter.

New home sales fall from eight-year high. May sales of new residential properties fell 6.0% due to weakness in several regions. However, new home sales are extremely volatile and overall housing trends are still strong.

Weekly jobless claims drop near 43-year low. Though hiring disappointed in May, weekly claims for new unemployment benefits dropped close to a multi-decade low, indicating that the labor market still has strength.