Wealth Management — July 15, 2022
- The S&P 500 Index rose 1.9% to 3,863 by the close of trading Friday. With the rally, the index is now down 19.0% year to date. The S&P 500 index snapped a five-day losing streak with today's gains, but still finished the week down 0.9%.
- Equities closed out the week on an optimistic note as better-than-expected economic data and Q2 earnings reports helped buoy sentiment into the weekend. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index and US retail sales reported above-consensus estimates and a global large-cap bank topped earnings estimates by posting strong results. This appeared to help the broad Financials sector gain 3.5% in the session. Additionally, Federal Reserve presidents Bostic and Bullard pushed back on the market's speculation of a 100-basis-point rate hike for the July FOMC meeting following Wednesday's release of a new 40-year high in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- All 11 S&P 500 sectors closed higher Friday, as Financials (+3.5%) and Health Care (+2.4%) outperformed the broad market while Consumer Staples (+0.4%) and Utilities (+0.2%) lagged.
- As of the 4pm equity market close, the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.92%, while 2-year yields declined to 3.13%. WTI oil rebounded to above $97 per barrel, while the US Dollar Index declined modestly.
- Q2 Earnings Preview: Many financial stocks reported this week, with mixed results. Seventy-two S&P 500 companies are expected to report next week. For the S&P 500, bottom-up, blended 2Q22 earnings growth is anticipated to be 5.6% y/y as earnings from Energy companies are driving much of the growth, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv. Excluding Energy, second quarter earnings are expected to be down 3.4% y/y. During company 2Q22 earnings calls, investors will be closely monitoring forward guidance as well as vulnerability of margins and earnings due to headwinds from slowing growth, higher input costs and deteriorating demand conditions.
- Monetary Policy: On June 15, the Federal Reserve met expectations by raising the Fed Funds rate by 75 basis points to a range of 1.50%-1.75%. This was the first such move since 1994. Chairman Jerome Powell cited continued inflation pressures, including the May CPI report, which showed headline inflation was the highest in 42 years, as well as the University of Michigan survey, which noted that consumer sentiment met an all-time low. The Chair also indicated that before the FOMC determines the speed at which the rate increases will progress going forward (including the potential for a 50- or 75-basis-point hike following the July 26 and 27 meetings), the committee will focus on incoming data and look for compelling evidence of a sequential decline in inflation readings. This week, reports of continued inflationary pressures were released with June's 9.1% y/y headline CPI report. MS & Co. economists believe that Fed hikes will be front-loaded, expecting an additional 75-basis-point hike in July and a peak rate of 3.625% by year-end 2022.
- Economic Calendar: NAHB Housing Market Index (7/18); Housing Starts, Building Permits (7/19); Existing Home Sales (7/20); Jobless Claims, Leading Index (7/21); S&P Global US PMIs (7/22).
With the Fed poised to respond to 40-year highs in inflation through both rate hikes and balance sheet run-off in 2022, the GIC’s call for continued caution in the indices remains intact. Our June 2023 base case provides a target of 3,900 for the S&P 500. This scenario assumes earnings and revenue growth decelerates due to high cost pressures in a slowing growth environment. Our June 2023 bear case of 3,350 considers a slowdown in earnings growth rate, margin pressure, sticky inflation, and a recession. Our June 2023 bull case of 4,450 corresponds to a soft landing environment where earnings growth slows but remains positive, inflation decelerates, cost pressures ease, and confidence improves. This bull case forecast embeds an estimate of 17.9x forward June 2024 earnings. With earnings revisions moving lower off the prior peak, investors should focus on risk management through quality factor exposure, defensiveness with regard to interest rate sensitivity, and attention to stock-specific valuations. We are moving to a position of maximum diversification by sector and market cap, with interesting ideas in Energy, Industrials, Materials, Health Care, Consumer Services, Financials, Utilities and Staples. While the US recovery matures, we see opportunities outside the US as relatively more attractive, especially given less expensive valuations and exposure to economic cyclicality. In fixed income, the challenge is two-fold: generating sufficient income, while also preserving capital in a rising rate and higher inflation environment. This requires a diversified and active exposure, with our preference for core investment grade, preferreds, leveraged loans, and asset-backed securities, including select mortgage-backed, and dividend-paying stocks. Real assets such as gold, infrastructure, and real estate present an attractive opportunity as a portfolio ballast for income generation and as an inflation hedge.
Market data provided by Bloomberg.
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA): A price-weighted average of 30 blue-chip stocks that are generally the leaders in their industry.
NASDAQ Composite Index: A broad-based capitalization-weighted index of stocks in all three NASDAQ tiers: Global Select, Global Market and Capital Market.
S&P 500 Index: The Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 Index tracks the performance of 500 widely held, large-capitalization US stocks.
US Trade-Weighted Dollar Index: A weighted average of the foreign exchange value of the 17US dollar against a subset of the broad index currencies that circulate widely outside the US.