Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

Investors are becoming more discriminating.

Trade tensions escalated as the U.S. administration expanded tariffs on Chinese goods last week. You wouldn’t have known by watching the performance of benchmark indices, though. Just four of the 25 national stock market indices tracked by Barron’s – Australia, Italy, Spain, and Mexico – moved lower.

However, if you look a little deeper into the performance of various market sectors, you discover an important fact: The market tide wasn’t lifting all stocks.

It has been said a rising tide lifts all boats. When translated into stock-market speak, the saying becomes, ‘A rising market tide lifts all stocks.’ In other words, when the market moves higher, stocks tend to move higher, too.

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

What a rollercoaster of a quarter!

When it comes to the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) Sentiment Survey, respondents tend to be more bullish than bearish about U.S. stock markets. The survey’s historical averages are:

  • 38.5 percent bullish

  • 31.0 percent neutral

  • 30.5 percent bearish

 As the second quarter of 2018 began, investors were feeling less optimistic than usual. (About 36.6 percent were bearish and 31.9 percent bullish.) Their outlook was informed by a variety of factors, according to an early April article in The New York Times, which said:

“First there was the risk that the economy might be growing too fast, which could prompt central banks to hike interest rates sooner than expected. Then there was the risk of a trade war ignited by the White House imposing tariffs on certain products, an action that quickly prompted countries like China to erect trade barriers of their own. Next came the threat of a government crackdown on technology companies, after revelations of their misuse of customer data.”

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

There’s a bear in China – and it’s not a panda.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) Composite Index, which reflects the performance of all shares that trade on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, dropped into bear market territory last week, reported CNBC. The Index has fallen more than 20 percent from its previous high. It appears some investors saw an opportunity and bought the dip since the SSE Index bounced higher last Friday, gaining more than 2 percent.

Slower economic growth and rising trade tensions were responsible for much of the red ink in China, reported Barron’s, but the Chinese government may be playing a role, too:

“What’s got global market watchers worried is that China’s stocks are sliding in tandem with its currency, the renminbi or yuan…That suggests China is using the exchange rate as a weapon. ‘The most effective way for China to retaliate [against] rising U.S. tariffs is to weaken the yuan,’ according to the July Bank Credit Analyst. That could roil financial markets, however. The dual declines in China’s equity market and currency are raising concerns of a repeat of 2015. Treasury strategists at NatWest Markets recall that the drop in the yuan that summer sparked severe equity market losses, including a 10.5 percent correction in the S&P 500.”

Are You a Subscriber?

Are You a Subscriber?

In the olden days, the word ‘subscription’ typically was applied to just magazines and newspapers. Today, that’s not the case. Americans are buying everything from meal kits to baby products to vitamins by subscription. A McKinsey & Company survey found:1

“Although streaming-media subscriptions have been popular for some time – 46 percent of consumers in our survey subscribed to an online streaming-media service…shoppers are now also turning to subscriptions for consumer goods…Male shoppers are more likely than women to have three or more active subscriptions – 42 percent versus 28 percent, respectively…”

In general, consumers pay monthly fees to receive goods or services that have tangible benefits.

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

What time is it?

The yield curve may be the pocket watch of economic indicators. It’s been around for a long time and it’s often right, but not always.

The yield curve is the difference between the interest paid on two-year government bonds and 10-year government bonds. In normal circumstances, an investor would expect to earn a higher rate of interest when lending money to a government for 10 years than when lending money for two years because there is more risk associated with lending for a longer period of time.