The Independent Market Observer

Monday Update: Economic Growth Accelerates in Q4 2021

January 31, 2022

There were a number of important economic updates last week, with a focus on consumer confidence, the Fed’s January meeting, and the advanced estimate of fourth-quarter GDP growth. The first look at GDP growth in the fourth quarter was a highlight, as the report showed that the economic recovery picked up speed to finish out the year. This will be another busy week of updates, with reports on business confidence and January employment serving as highlights to come.

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Will Chinese Equities Roar in the Year of the Tiger?

January 28, 2022

On February 1, China bids farewell to the Year of the Ox and rings in the Year of the Tiger. The ox symbolizes prosperity, diligence, and perseverance. In 2021, this symbol was apt, as Chinese economic policy shifted from “growth at all costs” to “common prosperity” and the country diligently persevered through many regulatory changes. Chinese equities were collateral damage in the process. As the Year of the Tiger rolls in, Chinese equities could remain volatile but purr stronger.

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What the Fed Said

January 27, 2022

One of the key sources of uncertainty that has driven the market pullback over the past weeks has been interest rates. Specifically, the rise in rates—and the fear that the Fed would tighten further—pulled growth stocks down, including many in the tech sector, and generated significant uncertainty around where the economy was going.

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An Update on the 100K Project

January 26, 2022

I see the market is bouncing back a bit, and I know the headlines of the day will revolve around the Fed meeting and press conference, which are still a couple of hours away and I will cover tomorrow. So, let’s do something a bit different today. Let’s take a look at my 100K project.

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More Market Volatility Ahead?

January 25, 2022

Yesterday gave a great example of what I meant in Friday’s post when I said the stock market was not crashing. For those who missed it, the U.S. markets dropped sharply during the day, with the Nasdaq down almost 5 percent on the day, only to rebound at day’s end and land in the green. This kind of reversal is rare and signaled that—at the depths of the decline yesterday—a number of investors saw enough value in those prices to step in and buy.

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Monday Update: Existing Home Sales Hit 15-Year High in 2021

January 24, 2022

Last week saw the release of a number of important economic updates, with a focus on the housing sector. The existing home sales report was a highlight, as sales of existing homes showed notable year-over-year growth in 2021. This week will be busy once again. The highlights to come include reports on consumer confidence, the results from the January FOMC meeting, and the first look at fourth-quarter GDP growth.

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The Stock Market Is Not Crashing

January 21, 2022

Yesterday, I got two emails requesting a response to the current market pullback. I received another couple of emails referring to a prediction (by a very well-known investor) that the stock market was now inevitably poised for a 50 percent decline. Clearly, the anxiety level is high, which makes sense given the multitude of worries and things that could go wrong. We have the Omicron wave, inflation, interest rates, a potential war in Ukraine, and on and on. Is this the end of days—again?

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Assessing Omicron’s Economic Damage

January 20, 2022

Now that we’re two years into the pandemic, analysts have a lot more context than we did at the start. We have seen multiple waves of the virus, have watched the economy react in real time, and have a sense of what the policy responses are likely to be. As such, we could look back on history for some guidance as to what was likely to happen with the winter Delta wave—and that guidance by and large worked.

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Don’t Panic About Interest Rates

January 19, 2022

The panic of the day is the news about interest rates. The headlines state (correctly) that rates have moved up sharply in recent days. They state (correctly) that stocks have pulled back, noting this fact is due to that increase (which is possibly but not necessarily true). And they state (incorrectly, I believe) that higher rates are going to derail the economy and the markets, in that order.

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Monday Update (on Tuesday): Retail Sales Slide to End the Year

January 18, 2022

There were a number of important economic data reports last week, with a focus on December’s inflation and retail sales reports. Retail sales came in well below expectations, as inflation and the Omicron variant weighed on spending during the month. This will be another busy week for updates, with a focus on the housing sector.

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Will We See a Supply Glut in 2022?

January 14, 2022

The year 2021 was all about supply shortages—from semiconductor chips to construction materials and everything in between. As supply chain logjams ease in 2022, some goods will get back to a normal balance. Others may swing to an oversupply. Sectors and industries that benefit from economic activity in which supply rises to meet demand may continue to reward investors in the near term. The business cycles for some companies may be at or near peak, however, so investors must watch for potential signs of a downturn. 

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A Preview of Q4 2021 Earnings

January 13, 2022

We are just starting earnings season, when companies will be reporting how much money they made in the fourth quarter of last year. This is always an important time, as stock values depend crucially on how much money companies make. But this season will be especially important.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: January 2022

January 12, 2022

My colleague Sam Millette, manager, fixed income on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Market Risk Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

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Economic Risk Factor Update: January 2022

January 11, 2022

My colleague Sam Millette, manager, fixed income on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Economic Risk Factor Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

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Monday Update: December Job Growth Comes In Below Expectations

January 10, 2022

We received a number of important economic data releases last week, with a focus on business confidence, the international trade report, and the December jobs report. Fewer jobs than expected were added in December, although improvements to the household survey and participation rate caused the unemployment rate to fall notably to end the year. This week will be packed with updates, with reports to come on December inflation, retail sales, and industrial production, as well as consumer sentiment to start January.

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Looking Under the Hood of the Latest Jobs Report

January 7, 2022

This morning’s jobs report came out, and we have all seen the data. Job growth is down, but the unemployment rate is also down. Hiring is weak, but more people have jobs. This makes perfect sense, not. What’s going on here?

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What's Ahead for the Markets and Economy in 2022?

January 6, 2022

After yesterday's monthly looking back/looking ahead post, I had a request to do the same thing for 2021 and 2022. While I haven’t taken this approach in the past, it seemed like a good idea to bring this format to the 2022 outlook in the context of 2021. So, let’s take a closer look.

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Looking Back at the Markets in December and Ahead to January 2022

January 5, 2022

December was a solid month for both the economy and the markets but a difficult month for medical news. The Omicron wave of the COVID-19 virus drove new case counts to all-time highs at year-end. Job growth kept improving, however, and consumer confidence and spending also continued to grow. Business confidence and investment remained strong, and the markets reacted to the positive news. The economic news continued to be strong through year-end, although we should note it was based on backward-looking data. The outlook for January is more mixed. The Omicron wave is likely to start showing up in the economic data. It’s quite possible it will also influence the markets.

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Market Thoughts for January 2022 [Video]

January 4, 2022

The year closed on a strong note, with the Dow and S&P showing gains. The Nasdaq struggled a bit, but it ended December in the green. On the medical front, the omicron variant drove COVID cases to new highs. Still, the economic data kept getting better. Consumer confidence numbers bounced back, and consumer spending kept growing. Further, business confidence and investment remain very high.

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Monday Update: Busy Week of Updates Ahead

January 3, 2022

There were no major economic data releases last week. This week, however, we’ll see a number of important updates to start the new year. The focus will be on business confidence, the minutes from the most recent Fed meeting, the international trade report, and the December employment report.

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