Week Ending 11/12/2021


Stocks were off slightly, down by 0.25% in the US. Outside the US, equities increased by 0.24%. Stocks sold off on Wednesday on the inflation news (see below) and on a weak 30-year treasury auction but recovered most of the loss on Thursday and Friday.

Inflation was up by 6.2% in October, that was the biggest one-year increase since 1990 and the fifth month in a row that inflation broke 5%. For the month, prices were up by 0.9%. Home prices were up by 16% in the third quarter compared to one year ago.

The Fed has been buying $120 billion in bonds each month, they have announced they will cut that amount by $15 billion a month. That means it will take eight months to put an end to the bond buying. And in the meantime, the Fed will be adding another $420 billion to its balance sheet. This, while inflation continues to accelerate. The Fed seems to be way behind the curve on this.


Week Ending 11/5/2021


US stocks were up by 2.3% and international equities by 1.23%. As expected, the Fed said it would begin its unwind of its bond buying program but said interest rates would remain the same. Covid numbers continue to improve and to top it off, Pfizer announced it has developed an anti-viral that was 89% effective, topping the recent drug that Merck is bring to market (50%).

The October jobs report was excellent. The economy added 531,000 jobs, the biggest gain in three months. August and September numbers were revised up by 235,000. The current economy trails the pre-Covid total job number by 4.2 million. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6% from 4.8% and the participation rate remained steady at 61.6%. On the negative side, US worker productivity fell at an annualized rate of 5%, the largest quarterly decrease since 1981.

Jack Hough’s column in this week’s Barron’s is titled “Weird Finance”, and talks about NFTs, cryptos and more of the craziness that zero percent interest rates and money everywhere has unleashed. Somewhere down the line, if people ask “what were they thinking?”, this article might be a good place to start.

Tesla’s market cap increased by over $300 billion during the last week of October. On Tuesday, Avis went up in price, at its high, by 217% on Tuesday, but would close 35% off that number. Two examples of some of the mania in this market.


Week Ending 10/22/2021


Stocks finished the week just off the Thursday record high, up by 1.57% for the week. From September 2nd to October 4th, the overall US market fell by 5.1%. Since then, stocks have rallied and are now about 0.3% above the September 2nd close.

Stocks have managed to rally despite rising interest rates. The 10-year Treasury has increased from 1.19% on August 3rd to 1.66% as of Friday. Projected inflation is measured at 2.66%, the highest rate in 15 years. Over the last few weeks there seems to have been a shift from the mantra that inflation is “transitory” to something that will be a bit longer, maybe a lot longer, than that. The Fed has indicated that tapering will start in November. Oil prices are at the highest level since 2014. Estimates for economic growth are falling. The Atlanta Fed’s GDP model now projects Q3 growth at only 0.5%. In China, the Evergrande Group, the real estate behemoth, is on the edge of bankruptcy, with a likely negative impact on the Chinese real estate sector, which represents 30% of China’s output. None of this seems to matter to the market, which is back at new highs.

Exxon is supposedly considering dropping several oil and gas projects, as directors are worried about carbon emissions. This at a time when energy prices are surging and capex across the industry is falling. Exxon’s board took a turn when a hedge fund with a 0.02% interest, Engine No. 1, managed to get their nominees added to the Company’s Board.


Week Ending 10/15/2021


US stocks were up by 1.9%.

Surprise, inflation was up more than forecast in September, increasing by 0.4% from August and up by 5.4% year over year, the biggest increase since 2008. Supply chain issues, higher commodity prices and wages get the blame. The report confirms that the Fed will need to start tapering soon.

The combination of higher inflation and the hit the economy took from the Delta virus is weighing on economic growth. The Atlanta Fed now expects Q3 growth of only 1.2%, this is down from over 6% at the end of July. A JPM survey shows that 42% of respondents expect stagflation somewhere down the line. The good news is that Covid cases have been on the decline since August.

The copper/gold ratio hits its highest level since 2013 indicating strength in industrial demand.


Week Ending 10/1/2021

Durable goods hit a record in August, up 1.8% from July to $263.5 billion. Durable goods are product meant to last three years or more. The estimate was for a 0.6% increase. The big increase indicates that businesses are investing for the future.

Home prices continued to increase at record rates in July. It was the fourth straight month of record increases. The S& P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index was up 19.7% in the year that ended in July, up from an 18.7% annual rate in June. July marked the highest annual growth rate since the index began in 1987.

But the pace of increases might be slowing. The Conference Board’s consumer-confidence index fell to 109.3 in September from 115.2 in August and the share of respondents planning to buy a house in the next six months fell for the third month in a row.

Week Ending 9/24/2021


A quick note this week, US stocks managed a 0.58% advance while international stocks fell by 0.38%. Stocks fell hard on Monday, almost 2%, on worried about the pending default of China Evergrande Group, the big Chinese property developer. They are on hook for about $300 billion.

But by Wednesday stocks were back in rally mode and close out the week with three consecutive advances.

During the week the Fed said it would begin to slow down on its bond buying program, but that was expected, at least to the stock market. Bond yields jumped by 10 basis points on the 10-year.


Week Ending 9/17/2021


The market fell again this week, although not much, down by 0.45% in the US and 1.18% outside the US. High valuations, an economy that is still growing but slower than originally thought, inflation, proposed tax increases, and tapering around the corner have stalled the market out, at least for now. In what might be an ominous sign, the market did not hold support as we wrote about last week. Now stocks certainly didn’t collapse, but they finished the week just under the mid-August highs.

One problem is that producer prices (purple line below) have been rising much faster than consumer prices (orange line below), meaning that companies have not been able to pass on the rise in recent cost inputs. Should the higher inflation numbers turn out to be “temporary” than maybe the impact won’t be that bad, but if not, it will impact profits and growth.

Another issue is Evergrande, the huge Chinese property developer. With $300 billion in debt, the company is on the brink of default. For now, the Chinese government is playing hardball and has not indicated it will provide financial help, so there is the threat of a spillover into world financial markets.