Weekly Market Report: May 19th, 2023

A light economic calendar, the unofficial end to Q1 earnings season, ongoing debt ceiling negotiations, and ample FedSpeak were primary drivers behind the capital markets last week in what amounted to some risk-on price action. Equity markets posted solid gains on the week. The S&P 500 was up 1.65% marking a fresh YTD high (+9.2%) while developed (+0.71%) and emerging (+1.12%) markets weren’t far behind. Year to date global equity markets have returned 9.5% with developed international (+12.2%) offsetting the emerging markets (+2.9%) and U.S. markets in line. Rates jumped sharply higher across the curve last week, taking the 10 yr UST yield back up to 3.7% while both commodities and the USD edged higher.

Market Anecdotes

  • Charlie Bilello updated his CNBC “Markets in Turmoil” fail safe go long market signal, illustrating very clearly the “be greedy when others are fearful” rule of thumb. This S&P 500 rally does seem to be lacking breadth, despite marking a YTD high last week, and has been range bound.
  • Much like Wall Street earnings forecasts, consensus economic forecasts too have been well below the mark as evidenced by the surging Bloomberg Economic Surprise Index.

  • Alpine Macros’ look at the Fed Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey illustrates a significant shift tighter in CRE lending standards along with a dramatic fall in loan demand.

  • Fedspeak last week saw hawkish comments from Bullard, Logan, Barkin, Mester, Bostic, and Kashkari countered by a doveish but undecided Goolsby. Powell’s remarks Friday echoed past statements but market based expectations for a 25 bps hike in June did move briefly higher.

  • A surprise hike this month by the BoA and an unexpected inflation acceleration in Canada serve to remind investors and global central banks that monetary policy (risks) remain.

  • U.S. politicians are talking tough on the debt ceiling with mid-week signs of progress followed by a breakdown on Friday, putting talks on “pause.”

  • The WMT earnings report marks the unofficial end to Q1 earnings season with blended earnings decline of – 2.2% and revenue growth of 4.1%. Forward earnings estimates for Q2 (-6.4%), Q3 (0.7%), and Q4 (8.1%) see recovery eventually but not until year end.

  • A Goldman Sachs look at corporate debt shows a move higher in default rates but ample runway when accounting for generationally low coupons, excluding floating rate bank loans.

  • The contrarian narrative from MRB to those in the recession camp includes, while inevitable eventually, the cost of capital is not yet at a breaking point for the U.S. economy and delevered private/consumer sectors and the relative importance of CRE vs RRE are tangible positives.

  • NY Fed Household Debt and Credit Report showed credit growth slowing from 8.5% to 7.6% in Q1 with a deceleration in mortgages offsetting notable increases in credit card and HELOC debt while credit card delinquencies are beginning to turn higher.

Economic Release Highlights

  • April Retail Sales were mixed versus forecasts with headline (0.4% vs 0.7%), ex-vehicles (0.4% vs 0.4%), and ex-vehicles & gas (0.7% vs 0.4%) but rebounded from the declines posted in March.
  • April Industrial Production beat expectations (0.5% vs 0.0%) as did the reading on Manufacturing Output (1.0% vs 0.1%).

  • The Empire State Manufacturing Index fell from 10.8 to -31.8 in May, the second largest monthly drop on record, albeit a notoriously volatile index over recent months.

  • The Housing Market Index in May registered 50, ahead of the spot forecast of 45 and the consensus range of 43-46. Starts of 1.401M and Permits of 1.416M were both within consensus range. Existing Home Sales declined 3.3% MoM to 4.28M.

  • Initial unemployment claims of 242k was improved over the prior month jump higher to 264k.

This communication is provided for informational purposes only and is not an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any security or other investment. This communication does not constitute, nor should it be regarded as, investment research or a research report, a securities or investment recommendation, nor does it provide information reasonably sufficient upon which to base an investment decision. Additional analysis of your or your client’s specific parameters would be required to make an investment decision. This communication is not based on the investment objectives, strategies, goals, financial circumstances, needs or risk tolerance of any client or portfolio and is not presented as suitable to any other particular client or portfolio.
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