Jason Norris of Ferguson Wellman by Jason Norris, CFA Executive Vice President of Research

The first couple weeks of trading in October have been volatile, primarily on the downside. While the U.S. economy continues to print positive data points, most other regions around the globe seem to be experiencing some headwinds. We continue to see deteriorating economic data coming out of the Eurozone. Germany had been stronger; however, recent data is pointing to the country possibly entering into recession. Industrial production and manufacturing orders came in weak, and this concern has pushed the yield on the 10-year German Bund to 0.84 percent.

China is a wildcard as well. Growth has been slowing moderately; however, Thursday evening technology investors were greeted with bad news from a key component supplier. Microchip Semiconductor, a supplier of chips that go into a broad array of consumer, household and industrial products, issued a warning citing weakness in China. The company believes this is a short-term issue, but demand just three months ago was strong. This resulted in a drubbing of the Philadelphia Semiconductor index and caused the industry to be down over 5 percent on Friday. Even though there may be some general hiccups in demand, we continue to play the semiconductor space through specific technologies and applications, primarily in the wireless space.

We don’t anticipate a slowdown here in the states. The U.S. economy should continue to exhibit solid growth and decouple itself from the rest of the globe. The most recent positive development has been the decline in energy prices over the last couple weeks, which will result in a nice increase of discretionary income for U.S. consumers.

When Doves Cry

The Fed released its meeting minutes earlier this week and the capital markets were pleasantly surprised. There had been some concern that the Fed may become more hawkish and looking to tighten. However, contents of the minutes showed the Fed to be focused on the data. They highlighted benign inflation, a strengthening U.S. dollar (which is positive for low inflation) as well as increased risks of a global slowdown due to Europe’s stalling growth. We still believe that the Fed will be looking to raise the funds rate in the second quarter of 2015. Even though inflation remains low, U.S. economic growth will support the beginning of a rate hike cycle.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also signaled his dovish intentions for the ECB earlier this week. At a speaking engagement in Washington D.C., he stated that the bank was willing and able to alter its current bond buying program which may eventually move from just asset-backed securities to actual sovereign debt. We believe the ECB will be active in the market and will attempt to push growth higher to fight any possibility of deflation.

Our Takeaways for the Week: 

  • While the Eurozone looks to be slowing, U.S. economic growth remains healthy which is positive for both the U.S. dollar and equities
  • The Fed will remain data dependent when determining when to increase rates, which probably won’t happen for another 6-9 months