Since FDR first popularized the concept at the start of his first term in 1933, the first 100 days of a president’s term is often seen as a benchmark date for early accomplishments that set the tone for the presidency. …
The “Sweet 16” is set. So in the spirit of March Madness and an exciting NCAA college basketball tournament that has already brought us two shockers in second round exits by Duke and Villanova, we have compiled our “Sweet 16” for the stock market. Specifically, we have identified 16 keys — many of them policy related — for stocks for the remainder of the year [Figure 1] and assessed their implications for the market. While the path for several policy-related areas is uncertain, we still expect a solid year for stocks in 2017 — potentially even slightly above our year-end S&P 500 target of mid-single-digit gains,* depending on that policy path. Look for a deeper dive into some of these market drivers in our “Final Four” next week.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 14 – 15, 2017) will be followed by an FOMC statement at 2:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Along with the statement, the FOMC will also release a new set of economic forecasts (gross domestic product [GDP], the unemployment rate, inflation, and fed funds projections, also known as the “dot plots”). Fed Chair Yellen’s post-FOMC meeting press conference (her first of 2017) starts at 2:30 PM ET.
Last Thursday, March 9, 2017, the bull market celebrated its eighth birthday. During that eight-year period, the S&P 500 Index tripled in value including dividends, producing a total return of 314% (19.2% annualized) while rising 250% in price. So how much might the current bull have left in the tank? Given we are not seeing the warning signs that have historically signaled the ends of past bull markets, we would not be surprised if the current bull market celebrates its ninth birthday one year from now. This week, we look at some of our favorite bull market indicators.
March 2017 is one of the busiest months in a long while with multiple potential market-moving events to monitor. 2017 has started with a bang, as equity markets have soared to new highs and overall economic data continue to show improvement. Additionally, there has been very little volatility in most major asset classes, but as we were reminded at the beginning of 2016, there are ebbs and flows to everything and more volatility likely lies ahead. As we turn the page to March, it is important to stay on top of the significant happenings coming up. To help, we’ve created this guide to the March 2017 market calendar, providing an overview of the key events.
The case for increasing European investments is getting stronger, as we evaluate the fundamentals, valuations, and to a lesser extent the technicals. Throughout most of the region, we are seeing improvement in the economic data and most importantly, in corporate earnings. After a strong fourth quarter 2016 based on MSCI Europe earnings up 28%, earnings growth may be positive for the first time since 2013, albeit just barely, on a year-over-year basis. More importantly, earnings expectations for 2017 have been improving. Valuations for European stocks are relatively attractive based on forward-looking earnings estimates, though they still seem expensive based on trailing earnings. The technical picture, the last components in our investment process, is decidedly mixed. On an absolute basis, European equities appear to be close to breaking out. However, relative to U.S. stocks, European equities have stalled, at least temporarily. Much of the relative performance between U.S. and European equities will likely depend on currency markets, which in turn are likely to be largely driven by political actions in both regions.
The history of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) reminds us of the children’s nursery rhyme “Solomon Grundy” (“Born on Monday…Buried on Sunday”). NAFTA was proposed by Reagan, signed by George H.W. Bush, implemented by Clinton, defended by George W. Bush, and largely ignored by Obama. Will Trump finish the rhyme by burying NAFTA? An examination of the history, controversies, and some of the results of NAFTA may provide some answers.