March 8, 2018.
The market didn’t fare half bad yesterday, but worries about a Trump-provoked trade war are still on investors’ minds. Throw in the mix a whole slew of economic figures yesterday and the market had a wild ride. Very often with economic figures, the impact on the market is more rooted in the spin or twist given to a figure rather than its objective meaning. All the more goes for earnings and losses: “The company lost money – but lost less than expected, or the company recorded record earnings, but they came out beneath the consensus.” These are but two examples of situation where the market’s reaction might be other than the one expected. And the hardest thing, sometimes – especially now with computerized algorithms – is knowing exactly when the market is going to take another hairpin turn. It just comes to show the extent to which conceptually, players see the market as perfectly pricing in expectations, because what matters more than anything is not so much, on a macro level for example, whether the Fed saw inflation but rather the extent to which it moderated vis a vis the rate projected, and the same goes for revenues and earnings: “Was it a revenue beat? Did earnings outstrip the Street’s forecast? How many rate hikes was the Fed predicting? And how ugly is this darn oneupsmanship between Trump and his European allies gonna get?”
Yesterday, the EU started releasing a list of the American products on the radar for potential tariffs. Like we noted a number of times this week, the market is spooked! So don’t expect unidirectional upward movement, the market riding a wave of optimism. With Cohn’s exit and new details unfolding about his bitter end with Trump’s economic team, one of the question on Mr. Market’s mind is “Who’s going to replace him?” Cohn was seen a more dovish force, not a trade hawk who felt that protectionist measures best served American consumers. A former Goldman executive, the loss of Cohn as the Director of the National Economic Council and Trump’s chief economic advisor, has been felt and still will be felt. Capital Economics’ chief economist, Paul Ashworth, noted, “[The] protectionists within the administration appear to be ascendant again, with few free-trade supporters in a position to oppose them.” In other White House news, Trump is reportedly considering imposing taxes on a range of Chinese goods.
All-in-all, though, some of the selling pressure yesterday tapered after the release of the Fed Beige Book. According to the report, wages throughout the U.S. are up year-to-date, meaning the tight labor market might be compelling employers to offer more to draw employees. In many of the 12 regional districts, what we saw was an uptick in wage growth to a moderate pace. The heads of the district banks also referenced an uptick in the price of steel. The Cleveland Fed related “Steel producers reported raising selling prices because of a decline in market share for foreign steel and expectations about potential outcomes of pending trade cases. Manufacturers further down the supply chain reported sizeable increases in the price of steel that they purchased. Firms’ ability to pass through price increases to their customers was little changed from the previous survey period, though there was considerable variation across industries.” The San Francisco Fed likewise referenced movement in the price of steel: “Decreased competition from abroad and solid domestic and international demand sustained elevated steel prices.” One of the focal points now is the American car sector, General Motors (GM) in the spotlight, off about 10% in the last month.
On the Economic Calendar, the ADP report featured 235 thousand more jobs in February, the initial number for January raised by 10,000 to 244 thousand. We have now seen four straight months of job growth exceeding 200 thousand. In January, the U.S. trade deficit came out at close to a 10-year high, up 5% for the month. That could add more fodder to Trump’s push for protective measures.
One of the stocks commanding attention was LAM Research (LRCX). The chip-equipment vendor announced that it was increasing its quarterly dividend by 120% to $1.10. The stock was up 1.83% on the day. In other news, H&R Block (HRB) soared 12%, recording a larger than expected fiscal-third quarter 2018 loss. With that said, revenue beat expectations, explaining the surge in the company’s stock. Ross Stores (ROST) beat Q4 sales and earnings expectations – but forecasted same-store sales growth beneath the consensus, the stock falling in turn by 6.4%.
On today’s Economic Calendar, be primed for jobless claims at 8:30.
Daily Summary: The Dow dropped 0.33% on the day, the S&P 500 falling a tad, by 0.05%. The NASDAQ bucked the trend, up 0.33%. Small caps also recorded gains, up 0.88%; they tend to have less international exposure.
Thursday’s Hot Stocks: CZR, VSLR, THO, OKTA
|Wednesday||8:30||Productivity and Costs||-0.1 %||Medium|
|Wednesday||10:30||Oil Inventories||3.0 M barrels||Low|
|Thursday||8:30||Jobless Claims||220 K||Medium|
|Friday||8:30||Unemployment Rate – Level||4.0 %||High|
|Friday||8:30||Average Hourly Earnings||0.2 %||High|
|Friday||10:00||Wholesale Trade||0.7 %||Medium|
|ROST||Ross Stores, Inc.||PM||Tuesday|
|URBN||Urban Outfitters, Inc.||PM||Tuesday|
|DLTR||Dollar Tree, Inc.||AM||Wednesday|
|COST||Costco Wholesale Corporation||PM||Wednesday|
|CZR||Caesars Entertainment Corporation||PM||Wednesday|
|AEO||American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.||AM||Thursday|
|NAV||Navistar International Corporation||AM||Thursday|
|DVMT||Dell Technologies Inc.||AM||Thursday|
|KR||The Kroger Co.||AM||Thursday|
|MRVL||Marvell Technology Group Ltd.||PM||Thursday|
|UNFI||United Natural Foods, Inc.||PM||Thursday|
|BIG||Big Lots, Inc.||AM||Friday|
|XRAY||DENTSPLY SIRONA Inc.||AM||Friday|
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