THE WEEK ON WALL STREET
Markets drifted lower last week as uninspired investors digested mixed news on the economic front. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.91% while the Standard & Poor’s 500 slid 1.48%. The Nasdaq Composite index stumbled 1.54% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slipped 0.26%.
STOCKS DRIFT LOWER
Stocks traded without much conviction last week, pushed lower, in part, by a broad retreat in technology. Rising interest rates also dampened enthusiasm, feeding concerns over their effect on current stock valuations. Markets seemed deaf to a stream of news, moving little on the House impeachment vote, encouraging news on the vaccine front, reassurances from Fed Chair Powell, or a jump in jobless claims. Energy and financials continued their recent advance, while smaller capitalization stocks rose on expectations of becoming beneficiaries of any stimulus bill. Stocks turned lower to close the week, following the unveiling of president-elect Biden’s stimulus plan and a weaker-than-expected retail sales number.
NEW STIMULUS PROPOSAL
Biden revealed his long-anticipated stimulus proposal last week, announcing a $1.9 trillion spending plan to provide further help to an unsteady economy. Along with monetary easing, fiscal stimulus has been one of the major drivers of the stock market recovery, which is why investors have anxiously awaited his plan. His proposal seeks to help individuals, including direct payments for qualifying Americans and enhanced unemployment aid. The proposal would also include help for small businesses with a new grant program in addition to the Paycheck Protection Program, and would bolster state finances by funding frontline workers, vaccine distribution, reopening schools, and vital services. The market reaction was muted. Investors will be watching the extent to which Congress amends Biden’s proposal and the speed at which it’s picked up by the legislature.
THE WEEK AHEAD: KEY ECONOMIC DATA
Thursday: Housing Starts. Jobless Claims.
Friday: Existing Home Sales. PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) Composite Flash.
THE WEEK AHEAD: NOTABLE COMPANIES REPORTING EARNINGS
Tuesday: Netflix (NFLX), Bank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS), J.B. Hunt Transportation (JBHT).
Wednesday: UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Morgan Stanley (MS), United Airlines (UAL).
Thursday: IBM (IBM), CSX Corporation (CSX), Union Pacific (UNP).
Friday: Kansas City Southern (KSU), PPG Industries (PPG).
Fourth quarter earnings season ramps up this week with quite a few big names reporting out of the gate. According to Refinitiv, S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 9.5% in the final quarter of 2020 from a year ago, but are expected to rebound in 2021, with a gain of 16.4% projected for the first quarter. (Source: Refinitiv)
The economic calendar will feature tomorrow's inauguration and the legislative progress under new Senate leadership of the House approved version of the additional stimulus package.
The economic recovery process will require patience and endurance. The war against COVID-19 is far from over and its consequences continue to infringe on an otherwise strong economy. The short-term time horizon may seem hazy, but the long-term outlook remains positive. We'll need everyone rowing in the same direction - the Fed, the government, and the consumer.
Have a good week.