Morning Report: Blowout jobs report

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2752 12.25
Eurostoxx index 364.42 2.24
Oil (WTI) 63.42 -0.46
10 year government bond yield 3.18%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.89%

 

Stocks are higher this morning after a strong employment report. Bonds and MBS are down.

 

Jobs report data dump:

  • Nonfarm payrolls up 250,000
  • Unemployment rate 3.7%
  • Average hourly earnings up 3.1%
  • Labor force participation rate 62.9%
  • Employment-Population ratio 60.6%

 

Overall, an exceptionally strong report, with nothing to dislike. Strong wage growth, increasing labor utilization rates, low unemployment. Simply  put, this is a blowout jobs report, the best we have seen in years.

 

The sell-off in the stock market was beginning to push the Fed Funds futures towards the dovish direction, but this report pretty much ended that. While  we will get one more job report before the December FOMC meeting, it is looking like we are going to see another 25 basis points.

 

Productivity increased 2.2% in the third quarter, which was a deceleration from the 2.9% we saw in Q2. Unit labor costs rose 1.2%. We are seeing rising compensation costs (up 3.5%) while output is also up. Rising comp costs are much higher than the inflation rate, and while it is easy to focus solely on wages, the cost of an employee is more than just wages – it includes benefits and other regulatory costs as well.

 

Construction spending was flat in August and rose 7.2% YOY. Residential construction rose 0.5% MOM and 4.9% YOY. Office and lodging rose smartly on a YOY basis. Interestingly, education building is still going strong, just as the tail end of the Millennial generation is graduating. You would think colleges would figure out how to compete on price, but for the moment they are competing on amenities and infrastructure. Which is partly why college is so expensive. There is going to be a reckoning, IMO when a demographic dearth of students meets falling affordability driven by rising interest rates.

 

Manufacturing slowed somewhat last month according to the ISM Manufacturing Survey, however it remains robust, despite what is going on with trade.  That said, many of the comments from survey participants noted that prices are rising, partially driven by tariffs. Supply lines are stretched and more firms are running at capacity. That said, the higher anecdotal capacity utilization isn’t translating into the numbers, at least not compared to historical norms:

 

capacity utilization

 

Rising interest rates have pulled back corporate bond issuance. Corporate bond issuance is often the canary in the coal mine for the economy and therefore bears watching. Many companies tapped the markets during the ZIRP years to refinance pre-crisis debt and the fund stock buybacks, so perhaps the comparisons aren’t really all that valid. Investor appetite is waning, however that may be due to the fact that shorter duration paper is beginning to earn a return, so funds are getting defensive with the Fed in tightening mode. So far we aren’t seeing a material widening of credit spreads. Still, in the summer of 2007, a few leveraged buyouts were unable to sell the paper from M&A deals, and the buyside went on a buyer’s strike against structured products. At the time, nobody had any idea what it would turn into.

Morning Report: Lots of labor data

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2723 12.25
Eurostoxx index 364.42 2.24
Oil (WTI) 64.81 -0.46
10 year government bond yield 3.16%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.89%

 

Stocks are higher this morning after yesterday’s end of month window dressing. Bonds and MBS are down again.

 

The ADP report showed the US economy added 227,000 jobs in October, which is well ahead of the Street estimate for Friday’s BLS report. There was a big (typically seasonal) increase in transportation and retail, although professional / business services was strong as well. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “The job market bounced back strongly last month despite being hit by back-to-back hurricanes. Testimonial to the robust employment picture is the broad-based gains in jobs across industries. The only blemish is the struggles small businesses are having filling open job positions.” Large and medium sized employers (50 employees +) accounted for the lion’s share of new jobs.

 

ADP jobs report

 

With added employees comes added employee cost. The Employment Cost Index rose 0.8% QOQ and 2.8% YOY. The wage component of employment costs rose 2.9% while the benefit portion rose 2.4%. The drop in healthcare costs is helping wages as higher healthcare costs of consumed a lot of employee raises. Your cost of healthcare ate your cost of living raise.

 

Mortgage Applications decreased 2.5% last week as purchases fell 2% and refis fell 4%. Rates held steady. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady over the week, but total applications decreased overall. Purchase applications inched backward from the previous week, as well as compared to one year ago – the first year-over-year decline in purchase activity since August,” said Joel Kan, AVP of economic and industry forecasts. “Purchase applications may have been adversely impacted by the recent uptick in rates and the significant stock market volatility we have seen the past couple of weeks. Additionally, the ARM share of applications increased to its highest level since 2017, but since this is a compositional measure, it was driven by a greater decrease in applications for fixed-term loans relative to the decrease in ARM applications.”

 

The Challenger and Gray job cut report rose last month, but it is a third-tier employment data point. It focuses on job cut announcements, which may or may not happen.

 

The homeownership rate rose 64.4% according to the Census Bureau. This was up 0.1% from the second quarter and 0.4% from a year ago. The homeownership rate has been ticking up, although the big jump in homeownership from 1994 to 2005 was partially driven by aggressive social engineering out of Washington and probably was artificially high.

 

homeownership rate NAD

Morning Report: Red October ends

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2704 19.25
Eurostoxx index 361.06 5.53
Oil (WTI) 66.46 0.28
10 year government bond yield 3.14%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.89%

 

Stocks are recovering as we end the worst month for stocks in a while. Bonds and MBS are down.

 

Facebook reported last night and rose despite a revenue miss. GM is up 10% pre-open on blowout earnings, while GE cut its dividend to a penny. Earnings are generally good this quarter, although if you focused only on the indices you would figure they were terrible.

 

Home prices rose 5.8% in August, according to the Case-Shiller home price index. Las Vegas led the way with 14% growth. San Francisco and Seattle were the other big winners. Underneath the headline number, we are starting to see some month-over-month declines if you look at the seasonally adjusted indices. Ultimately wages need to catch up with the new reality of higher interest rates and higher home prices.

 

Despite what is going on in housing, consumer confidence remains strong, with the consumer sentiment indices just off multi-decade highs. Historically this index has reflected gasoline prices (gas prices up, consumer confidence down), but that has broken down over the past couple of years. This confidence has allowed companies to raise prices for the first time in a decade, with a laundry list of firms from consumer staples to airlines increasing prices in reaction to increased costs, particularly fuel. Some companies are not raising prices, but cutting sizes. Wages are picking up, but they are generally lagging some of these increases in the inflation indices.

 

Freddie Mac sees home sales improving in 2019 despite an uptick in mortgage rates. Originations are expected to be flat at $1.65T while home price appreciation and GDP growth are expected to moderate. The 30 year fixed rate mortgage is expected to average around 5.1% for the year, and then jump an additional 50 basis points in 2020.

 

freddie mac mortgage rates

 

Janet Yellen told a conference that the current deficit track is unsustainable, and that if she had a magic wand, she would raise taxes and cut retirement spending.

 

Part of the inflation puzzle has always been healthcare inflation, especially in prescription drugs. Amazon looks to be entering the Rx business, and CVS is piloting a free delivery subscription program. Health care is a big part of the inflation picture and perhaps these big can take a bite out of inflation via their market strength.

Morning Report: S&P 500 enters correction territory

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2648 4.5
Eurostoxx index 355.05 -0.48
Oil (WTI) 66.58 -0.46
10 year government bond yield 3.11%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.93%

 

Stocks are slightly higher this morning ahead of a big earnings day. Bonds and MBS are down small.

 

General Electric disappointed and cut its dividend to a nominal amount. Facebook reports after the close.

 

Stocks got kicked in the teeth again yesterday, with a 100 point intraday reversal in the S&P 500. Selling climaxed right around 3:30 before recovering some of the losses into the close. The S&P is officially in a correction, which is defined as a 10% retracement from the high. Tech was thrown overboard and investors are beginning to hide in consumer staples. Bonds largely ignored the action in stocks, with the 10 year stuck in a tight range right around 3.08%.

 

Personal Income rose 0.2% in September, which came in below consensus. Personal spending was strong at 0.4%, and the savings rate fell to the lowest level this year. Inflation remained tame however, with the PCE headline and core readings at 2.0%, spot on the Fed’s target. The December Fed Funds futures are beginning to up the probability that the Fed does nothing in its final meeting of the year. Between a global growth slowdown (Europe’s GDP numbers were terrible this morning), trade fears, and controlled inflation the Fed does have the leeway to take a wait and see approach in December.

 

savings rate

 

JP Morgan was secretly prevented from growing by the Obama administration as a penance for sins during the housing bubble. The Obama Administration wouldn’t let them open any new branches in new states in a penalty that went back to 2012. The fascinating part was that it wasn’t disclosed to the markets. Surely that info was relevant to stockholders. Was Dimon hiding info from the market? Or did the Obama Admin not want people to know he was imposing double-secret probation on certain banks? Regardless, the Trump OCC has reversed the decision and JP Morgan is now free to add branches subject to the 10% deposit cap.

 

Morning Report: GDP comes in stronger than expected

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2691 21.65
Eurostoxx index 356.69 4.38
Oil (WTI) 67.32 -0.28
10 year government bond yield 3.10%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.93%

 

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

The 10% retracement level in the S&P 500 held on Friday and bond yields were around 3.08 when sitting at that level. As usual, MBS lagged the moves in the bond markets, waiting for confirmation.

 

The first estimate for third quarter GDP came in at 3.5%, which was higher than the 3.3% Street estimate. Consumption was strong, but investment growth came in weaker than previous quarters. The biggest hit to GDP came from trade, which subtracted an estimated 1.8 percentage points from the number as exports fell, while imports were largely unaffected by tariffs. As usual, housing was a weak spot.

 

Housing economist Robert Shiller notes that housing is weak, however he believes we aren’t looking at another huge slowdown. Housing never fully recovered from the bubble, and inventory is tight. While prices have recouped the losses from the bubble years, we are nowhere near bubble territory.

 

We do have some data this week, with productivity and costs, personal incomes and outlays and the jobs report on Friday. That said, bonds seem to be reacting to the movements in the stock market these days, so it is hard to say these will be market-moving reports.

 

Credit card companies are beginning to restrict credit, or at least pull back the reins a little. Capital One’s CEO believes “the economy is almost too good to be true,” and is beginning to lower credit limits. Credit card issuers are usually the first to react to a tightening in credit, so this bears watching.

Morning Report: Stocks down as Amazon disappoints

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2659 -30
Eurostoxx index 348.9 -5
Oil (WTI) 66.45 -0.88
10 year government bond yield 3.08%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.93%

 

Stocks are lower again this morning as overseas markets remain under pressure. Bonds and MBS are up, with the 10 year trading below 3.1%.

 

Initial Jobless Claims ticked up slightly to 215,000 last week. The labor market remains strong and employers are hanging on to their employees.

 

Durable Goods orders rose 0.8% last month (a strong reading) however that was driven largely by aircraft orders which can be lumpy. Ex-transportation they rose 0.1%. Capital Goods orders (a proxy for capital investment / business expansion) were down 0.1%.

 

Retail inventories rose 0.1% while wholesale inventories rose 0.3%. We will get a read on the back-to-school shopping season when the retailers begin reporting earnings next month. Note Amazon reported last night and their earnings beat expectations, but their guidance (and revenues) was terrible. The stock is down about 9% pre-open. Part of the miss in guidance is due to the decision Amazon made to raise warehouse worker wages, but the revenue guidance is something to worry about.

 

Two of the other sled-dogs in the FAANG index are down this morning – Google and Netflix. While it is probably too early to start reaching for defensives like PG or MO, the leaders are hitting a rough patch.

 

Pending home sales rose 0.5% in September, according to NAR. Don’t get too excited; they were down 1% YOY, but these days any positive reading in the housing sector is a win.

Morning Report: Delinquencies rebound

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2683 19
Eurostoxx index 354.73 1.46
Oil (WTI) 66.9 0.07
10 year government bond yield 3.12%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 4.93%

 

Stocks are higher this morning despite a huge sell-off in Asian shares last night. Bonds and MBS are flat.

 

Stocks got walloped yesterday yet again, making this month the worst since the bad days of the financial crisis. There really isn’t much of a catalyst to hang your hat on – just general overseas selling and the risk-off trade. I think part of this is a rotation back into the short term interest rate market. CDs are now paying over 2%, after having paid nothing for years. A moribund asset class is coming back, and stocks are going to feel the brunt of it.

 

With the NASDAQ officially down 10% from the high, and the S&P 500 pushing close to it, where do you think the VIX is? Just over 25, which isn’t even the high for the year. If you are hoping we have hit capitulation, we haven’t.

 

Home price appreciation decelerated in August, according to the FHFA House Price index. Prices rose 0.3% MOM and 6.1% YOY. The red-hot Pacific and Mountain MSAs have decelerated, while many of the laggards (Mid-Atlantic) are seeing improved performance.

 

New Home Sales fell dramatically in September on both a month-over-month and annual basis. They fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 553,000, which is down 5.5% MOM and over 13% YOY. With current inventory at 327,000 units, we have over 7 month’s worth of inventory, which would be characterized as a buyer’s market (6 – 6.5 months is considered “balanced.”). Note that new home sales can be extremely volatile but it confirms what we have been seeing in the homebuilder ETF – affordability is beginning to deter buyers.

 

“Modest to moderate.” was how the Fed’s Beige Book characterized economic growth. “Modest to moderate” was pretty much how the Fed characterized everything from 2010 to 2016. This is a downgrade from “brisk,” “solid” or “strong” – words the Fed has been using recently to characterize the economy.  The Beige Book is a more qualitative assessment of the economy, so parsing the language is about the only thing you have to work with.  The Fed has been expecting the economy to slow due to trade wars. If the economy is beginning to slow, the Fed might want to take a breather and let the recent rate hikes take effect before making any further moves. The Fed also noted that housing continues to underperform.

 

The sell off has affected the Fed Funds futures market. A week ago, the markets were handicapping a 80% chance for a hike. It is now down to 74%. A March 2019 hike is now a coin toss.

 

Delinquencies spiked in September, rising 13% for the biggest jump since November 2008. Hurricane Florence hit areas saw DQs rise by 38%, although there is a seasonal aspect to DQs – they typically rise during September and January.

 

Black Knight Financial delinquencies