In recent weeks, the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose to three-and-a-quarter percent—a level not seen since 2011. In addition, the stock market sold off five percent from all-time highs, volatility has risen and the Chinese and European markets dipped. All this amid a backdrop of good corporate earnings and moderate-to-good economic news.
U.S. investors who enjoyed strong fourth quarter equity returns were dealt a change in market landscape this week. While history has demonstrated a low correlation between equities and U.S. government bonds – exactly the reason why Treasuries are such an important diversifier of equity risk -- this week proved to be an exception. Stock and bond prices both fell following news that the U.S. and Canada had reached agreement about modifying trade terms in North America.
It had been four years since ESPN College GameDay had been to Eugene. While the game last week between University of Oregon and Stanford was entertaining, Lee Corso’s pick of Ducks proved to be on the wrong side. In the spirit of the former coach and broadcaster, we use his infamous line, “Not so fast my friend,” when describing third quarter returns.
As kids prepare to go back to school and families make plans for that last long weekend of summer vacation, investors enjoyed new highs for blue-chip stocks this week. Despite the ongoing uncertainty of trade policy, stocks continue to ascend a wall of worry, having digested another quarter of robust earnings growth in part the result of faster U.S. economic growth.
Earlier this week, The Eagles’ Greatest Hits surpassed Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the best-selling album of all time. I would argue that “greatest hits” albums should be excluded, but that’s neither here nor there. Also, this month, the S&P 500 set the record for the longest streak without a 20 percent decline, or bull market. This trend started in March of 2009 and has lasted over 3500 days. The previous feat was the 1990s bull market which finally ended with the burst of the Internet Bubble in 2001.
A currency crisis in Turkey and continued trade uncertainty resulted in a volatile week for equities. International stocks, specifically emerging markets, started selling off. U.S. commodities were also weak. This was offset by positive news on the China trade front.
News broke this week that the Trump administration would consider bypassing congressional legislation to change the capital gains taxes rules to index for inflation. The current strategy that is being floated is to use the Treasury department and IRS rather than traditional legislation to redefine capital gains to include only returns in excess of inflation.
If you break the stock market down into its most basic elements only two things matter: earnings of companies and what investors are willing to pay for a dollar of earnings. This week, earnings season for the second quarter of 2018 was in full swing and investors are digesting the news.
Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law on December 22, 2017, pundits and economists have continued to debate if companies would increase their capital expenditures due to the 100-percent-expensing provision in the new tax code.