Buoyed by the best quarterly earnings growth in six years, blue chip equities are forging new highs, with investors disregarding the turmoil in Washington and discounting increasingly lofty expectations for the remainder of 2017.
Political risk has always been frustrating for investors. We like the rules of the game to be known and the playing field level. Any kind of uncertainty leads to volatility in markets. While many believed that the Republican sweep would deliver pro-growth initiatives, Trump’s troubles have led to concerns regarding those outcomes.
In a week full of geopolitical news, the market showed a bit of malaise. The S&P 500 posted a small loss of 0.4 percent. Bonds were similarly docile with the 10-year U.S. Treasury ending the week off two basis points at 2.3 percent.
The S&P 500 headed toward a third weekly increase on a rebound in hiring and economic optimism. The benchmark 10-year Treasury is currently trading at a yield of 2.35 percent, which is lower for the day but seven basis points higher than last week. The euro reached its highest level of the year, at 1.098, against the U.S. dollar, rallying on polls that favor a Macron win in France. Oil regained 2 percent after briefly dropping below a six-month low of $44 per barrel due to mounting concerns over a supply glut.
As investors, the best thing about earnings season is it filters a lot of the other noise out of the market. A month ago, a tweet, tariff headlines or even a longshot tax proposal would have moved the equity markets. But now that we are in the throes of earnings season, equity investors are focused on the most important factor in investing: earnings.
First quarter earnings season kicked into high gear this week and investors were treated to a smorgasbord of blue-chip results across a range of industries. As they typically do, numbers for most companies have exceeded Wall Street expectations, but with almost 20 percent of the S&P 500 now having reported, the .75:1 ratio of “beats” is modestly better than where it has been over the last several quarters.
For the shortened holiday week, equity markets were down by almost 1 percent as investors followed events in Russia and North Korea. Interest rates were lower with the 10-year Treasury declining in yield from 2.36 to 2.22 percent.
Equity markets were relatively flat on the week as economic data was weighed against global events. Interest rates continued their slow trend downward with the 10-year U.S. Treasury finishing the week at a 2.32 percent yield.
Most markets, international stocks and the U.S. Dollar ended the week near where they started. Stocks are quietly ending a strong first quarter, with this week leaving the S&P 500 up a little over 1 percent and the Dow Jones up about 0.5 percent.
Stocks sold off this week as Congress debated the replacement bill for Obamacare. The S&P 500 was down a little over 1 percent over the past five sessions. Bonds rallied on stock weakness with the 10-year Treasury finishing the week at a 2.40 percent yield.
As traders were nursing their wounds from early bracket pains, the market saw that U.S. stocks were muted this week, up 0.2 percent. Investors’ reactions to finally getting the anticipated Fed rate hike were tempered by oil production figures from OPEC, causing concern early in the week.
This week, investors recognized the 8-year anniversary of a bull market that is now second only in length to the tech-fueled run of the 1990s. In March, blue chip stocks consolidated a small portion of recent gains, but nevertheless, the S&P 500 has now returned over 250 percent since the bear market lows in March of 2009.
Stocks posted a 0.5 percent return this week as investors became more confident in economic and fiscal policies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average passed 21,000 for the first time and equities posted their first 1 percent day in over four months.
Stocks ended the week marginally higher as U.S. economic data continued to generate positive headlines. Though regional manufacturing surveys around the U.S. are showing improving growth, retail earnings this week were mixed as some companies cited that delays in tax returns were effecting spending. As tax refunds are running $60 billion below average thus far this year.
For the week, the equity markets were higher by about 1.15 percent as investors absorbed Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress and the stronger-than-expected economic data that was posted. Interest rates were higher with the 10-year U.S. Treasury climbing in yield from 2.39 percent to 2.41 percent.