Weekly Market Report: March 8th, 2023

Last week markets absorbed a good deal of Fed speak and an economic calendar which lent itself marginally to a higher for longer (firm growth backdrop) narrative. U.S. equity markets exhibited some breadth with the S&P 500, despite marking a new record high, ending the week down 0.26% while most sub-mega cap stocks posted marginal gains. Developed (+1.6%) and emerging (+0.84%) equity markets were both up nicely for the week thanks in part to a weakening USD which gave back 1.11% against a basket of currencies, particularly the Yen. U.S. bond yields declined mostly on the long end pushing the 10yr yields back down below 4.1%. Commodities were mixed with WTI oil down 2.45% to $78 but industrial metals rallied 1%-5% across the board.

Market Anecdotes

  • U.S. equity markets powered by a more sanguine view on interest rates, resilient growth, and the mega cap/ AI craze have bounced a remarkable 26% off the late October 2023 lows, perhaps a bit short term overbought, but a strong tape is a strong tape as they say.
  • A look at 2024 forecasted revenue and earnings growth of 5% and 11% respectively suggests the street may still be a bit optimistic given growth expectations and potential earnings headwinds.
  • Earnings and performance of the companies within the ‘Mag 7’ have seen some dispersion recently which may carry some interesting translations to both active manager performance and market index considerations.
  • The ‘strong tape’ is stronger nowhere more so than the AI fueled semiconductor industry where Bespoke noted 80 consecutive SOX closes at least 3% above its 50-dma, a first ever close above the headline S&P 500 index, but still some very wide dispersion within the index.
  • A look back provides an important reminder of how equity markets, despite some unsettling volatility with 10 ‘ups’ and 10 ‘downs’, can ultimately generate a nice outcome. Similarly, a Bespoke look at credit spreads and subsequent equity market returns reminds us to be greedy when others are fearful.
  • Powell testimony noted policy moves including taking the fed funds from 0% to 5.25% and QT which has reduced the Fed balance sheet from $8.5t to $7.1t have helped bring PCE inflation down to 2.4% (headline) and 2.8% (core) but they remain data dependent on the path forward.
  • Central bank news saw the ECB keep their policy rates unchanged last week while rumors of the BoJ considering an end to its NIRP ( -0.10%) sent some volatility into global bond and currency markets. Higher wages and cooling inflation may give the BoJ room to end the extreme policy.

Economic Release Highlights

  • February payrolls handily beat expectations (275k vs 190k) and the unemployment rate rose from 3.7% to 3.9%. Labor market participation stayed at 62.5% and average hourly earnings was broadly in line with consensus of 4.3% YOY (0.1% MOM).
  • January JOLTS reported a slight decline in job openings to 8.863M.
  • U.S. February ISM Services Index (52.6 vs 53.0) was generally in line with the consensus forecast.
  • The JPM Global Manufacturing PMI improved from 50.0 to 50.3 in February while final non-U.S. PMI (C, S) readings were Eurozone (49.2, 50.2), China (52.5, 52.5), U.K. (53.0, 53.8).
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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