January 21, 2017
Clarksville, TN – Each quarter, the Raymond James Investment Strategy Committee completes a detailed survey sharing their views on the investment environment, and their responses are the basis for a discussion of key themes and investment implications covered in this quarter’s Investment Strategy Quarterly.
Read an overview of the key themes below, or download the entire publication for a more thorough view of the markets and the economy.
January 15, 2017
Clarksville, TN – The economic calendar was relatively thin. Small business optimism rose sharply in December. Growth in retail sales was concentrated in autos and gasoline – mixed and generally flat otherwise (with unusual softness in food) – but it was still a relatively good quarter overall.
Department store sales were weak, but that is a long-term trend (not necessarily a sign of consumer weakness). The PPI was largely in line with expectations, reflecting moderate pipeline inflationary pressures (consistent with further Fed rate hikes in the months ahead).
December 17, 2016
Clarksville, TN – “I saw the bravest man in the world playing the hardest role of his life,” Robin Williams’ widow wrote in October of her husband’s dementia and the months leading up to his death in 2014. When his anxiety, personality changes and memory problems began three years ago, a “foundation of friendship and love was our armor,” Susan Schneider Williams said.
Her story likely strikes a chord among those caring for a loved one with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that more than 15 million Americans currently are.
December 16, 2016
Clarksville, TN – Every day, an estimated 10,000 people reach the IRS trigger age when they must begin withdrawing money from their retirement plans. If you’re among them, it’s wise to develop a strategy.
Once you hit 70½, IRS rules call for required minimum distributions (RMDs) every year on all of your traditional, simplified employee pension (SEP) and SIMPLE IRAs, as well as employer-sponsored plans. Roth IRAs are exempt.
December 11, 2016
Clarksville, TN – Italy voted “no” on its constitutional referendum and Prime Minister Renzi resigned. South Korea’s president was impeached. The European Central Bank extended its asset purchase program to the end of 2017, but will reduce the monthly pace of purchases in April.
None of that disturbed U.S. equity market investors who continued to enjoy the Trump sizzle. After showing some signs of stability, bond yields again moved higher.
December 6, 2016
Clarksville, TN – There was a ton of economic data, most of it consistent with moderately strong growth in the near term. Nonfarm payrolls rose in line with expectations in November.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.6% (the lowest since August 2007), but that was partly due to a drop in labor force participation. Average hourly earnings fell 0.1%, following a 0.4% rise in October, up 2.5% y/y (still trending higher, but more moderately than it appeared a month ago).
November 29, 2016
Clarksville, TN – Next week, fresh economic figures will arrive, but none of the reports, including the November employment report, are expected to sway the Fed away from raising short-term interest rates on December 14th.
Job growth is expected to have been moderately strong in November, but keep a close eye on average hourly earnings, which have suggested the wage pressures are building (note that the average hourly earnings figures can be quirky – they are often revised the next month – but the trend is higher).
November 7, 2016
Clarksville, TN – The Federal Open Market Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged, as expected, and the policy statement was a near photocopy of the one in September.
The FOMC noted that “the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has continued to strengthen,” but for the time being, officials decided “to wait for some further evidence of continued progress towards our objectives.”
The October Employment Report was largely in line with expectations. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 161,000 (median forecast: +175,000), but the two previous months were revised a net 44,000 higher.
November 2, 2016
Clarksville, TN – Real GDP rose at a 2.9% annual rate in the advance estimate of third quarter growth, a bit on the high side of expectations. However, the economy was not as strong as the headline figure suggests (similarly, growth over the four previous quarters was not as weak as the GDP number implies).
Inventories, which had been slowing over the five previous quarters (subtracting from GDP growth), rose at a faster pace (adding 0.6 percentage point to overall growth). Net exports (a narrower trade deficit) added 0.8 percentage point.
October 28, 2016
Clarksville, TN – The recent economic data reports have done little to alter the overall picture (moderate growth, low inflation). The Fed’s Beige Book noted that economic activity has continued to expand, with most Fed districts describing growth as “modest” or “moderate.”
In mid-September, nine of the 12 district banks had requested an increase in the discount rate (the rate the Fed charges banks for short-term borrowing) – one more than in late July – suggesting internal pressures for higher short-term interest rates at the Fed.