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Economic Update

∎ Denotes updated information

4Q19 real GDP growth came in at 2.1% q/q saar, with positive contributions from consumption, government spending, home building and exports, which were partly offset by negative contributions from inventories and nonresidential fixed investment. Going forward we anticipate a fall, a stall, and a surge, with 1Q slightly negative, 2Q sharply negative, a stall into the end of the year, and a rebound in 2021 once we get a vaccine. However, the impacts of social distancing measures were apparent in the services PMIs across the globe, of which most fell to their lowest levels ever recorded.

Nonfarm payrolls fell by 701,000 in March, an unexpected fall given the impacts of social distancing were less widespread when the data was collected earlier in the month. However, given that initial jobless claims surged to 6.6 million, after topping over 3 million the prior week, the April jobs report released in May will show a sharply deteriorating labor market. The unemployment rate, which rose to 4.4%, could top 10% in the next report. Wages rose 0.4% m/m for all workers and for production and non-supervisory workers (3.1% y/y and 3.4% y/y), likely given that job losses were concentrated in lower wage industries.

With 481 companies having reported (98.1% of market cap), our current estimate for 4Q19 earnings is $39.22, with EPS growth of 12.0% y/y. EPS growth is expected to be strong given easy comparables to 4Q18, which experienced weakness due to accounting adjustments. Thus far, 71% of companies have beaten on earnings, and 49% have beaten on revenue. While margins, revenues and share buybacks are expected to contribute positively, margin pressures remain and share buyback contributions may be the lowest since 2Q18. From a sector standpoint, financials have been the strongest performer, energy has been the weakest and tech earnings have been stronger than expected.

February headline PCE rose 0.1% m/m and core PCE rose 0.2% m/m, and both rose 1.8% y/y. Headline CPI, which includes food and energy, rose 0.1% m/m in February, increasing 2.3% y/y. This was driven by a 0.5% m/m increase in food at home, which offset energy declines, possibly reflecting food stockpiling at the end of the month due to COVID-19. Core CPI (ex-food and energy) rose 0.2% m/m, increasing 2.4% y/y. The significant decline in energy prices and growth challenges should put downward pressure on inflation ahead.

The FOMC delivered an emergency rate cut of 50 bps, bringing the federal funds target rate to a range of 1.00%–1.25%. This was the first rate cut outside of an official FOMC meeting since 2008. In an emergency press conference, Chairman Powell said that the Fed took this action as it saw that COVID-19 was having a material impact on the economic outlook. The FOMC convenes on March 17 and 18, and is likely to cut rates again, potentially to 0%-0.25%. The Fed injected $1.5 trillion into repo markets and will purchase $500 billion in Treasuries and $200 billion in MBS, effectively restarting quantitative easing.

  • Impacts from COVID-19 may cause a global recession.
  • Political headlines may foment market volatility.
  • Earnings growth has slowed and could stall if there is an economic recession.
  • Quality and total shareholder yield (dividends + buybacks) should be a focus for U.S. equity investors.
  • Fixed income investors should move up in quality, and look to core bonds for portfolio ballast.
  • Long-term growth prospects and cheap absolute and relative valuations support international equities.

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Data are as of April 6, 2020

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Diversification does not guarantee investment returns and does not eliminate the risk of loss.

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Despite the negative results of the US Labor Department report, which confirmed that the American labor market began to suffer from the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, to the point where the US states became the top country on the list of the most affected by the epidemic.

With Austria and Denmark relaxing lockdown measures, Germany drafting plans to return to a new normal, and the global death toll easing

The price of an ounce of gold increased by $60 in the beginning of this week’s trading, and the price of the yellow metal jumped to $1670 an ounce, before settling around the $1660 level in the beginning of today’s trading.

Japan unveiled a record-breaking ¥108 trillion economic stimuli, equivalent of 20% of GDP.

As soon as it was announced that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will enter intensive care.

The USD/JPY rose by more than 100 points in the beginning of this week’s trading, reaching the 109.37 resistance before the pair stabilized around the 109.20 level at the time of writing.

Despite criticism of the New Zealand government’s reliance on infrastructure projects to grow out of the Covid-19 global pandemic,

Australian job advertisements slumped for March while February exports and imports posted contractions.

AUD/USD: Resistance possible around 0.6200

The US dollar has rallied a bit against the Japanese yen, breaking significantly above the resistance that we had seen over the last couple of days.

The Euro has gone back and forth during the trading session on Monday to kick off the week.

The British pound has gapped lower to kick off the trading week on Monday, but then turned around to rally not only billing the gap but breaking above there.

The US dollar has exploded to the upside against South African Rand as of late, considering that the market had been as low as 15.50

The Australian dollar has rallied significantly during the trading session on Monday, showing signs of support at the 0.60 level.

USD/JPY: Pivotal point at 109.23

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