Let the QT Commence
Rampant pessimism returned from its repose following the Memorial Day holiday, as the airwaves were bounteous with ominous proclamations from high-profile business and government celebrities. Most notably, the sound bite from J.P. Morgan’s Jamie Dimon that despite the currently sunny conditions in the economy, to brace ourselves for an economic “hurricane” ahead due to the war in Ukraine and the Fed’s tightening policies. Apparently, Mr. Dimon’s weather forecast significantly worsened during the ten days since J.P. Morgan’s analyst day presentation, when he suggested that storm clouds in the economy might dissipate. Given the respect that he has earned, the earlier comment had triggered a very handsome rally, while the latter sparked a selling wave. Speaking of the Fed, quantitative tightening officially began on Wednesday, as the Federal Reserve started the process of shrinking its $9 trillion balance sheet. Additionally, several Fed officials reiterated the need for multiple upcoming rate increases. Nevertheless, the market was still slightly ahead for the week going into Friday’s much anticipated jobs report, which showed a stronger than expected addition of 390,000 jobs in May. In response, stocks and bonds fell in unison, with the S& P 500 finishing down 1.2%, the Nasdaq negative 0.9%, and the Russell 2000 outperforming at a loss of -0.3%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury advanced 22 basis points to 2.96%, crude oil jumped another 3%, while the dollar and gold were relatively steady. It was the eighth weekly loss out of the last nine. Despite the market’s reaction, we believe that strong job growth and restoring some semblance of normalcy to monetary policy are both positive developments.
Turning back to the weather forecast, we are reminded on the 1962 Bob Dylan classic, “It’s a Hard Rain Gonna Fall”. As was the case 60 years ago, one could write numerous verses about all the challenges that “our darling young one” confronts in the world today. That being said, the stock market has a long history of climbing in the face of inclement conditions. The DJIA which is currently just under 34,000 was at 652 at the end of 1962. We would also like to highlight the timeless line in the last verse of that song, “the pellets of poison are flooding the waters,” which Dylan explained referred to all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers. Media outlets today, particularly the cable networks, internet, and social media platforms, exert a powerful influence on the thoughts and behavior of society. Hopefully that influence won’t create, rather than report, an economic downturn.
Credit and the Consumer
There are several important items on the economic calendar, starting with the Federal Reserve’s report on April consumer credit on Tuesday. In the first quarter, credit-card debt jumped more than 20% as consumers kept spending by borrowing more. On Thursday the ECB will announce its monetary policy decision, with expectations for it to keep its deposit rate at negative 0.5%, despite the eurozone’s record surge in inflation. The University of Michigan releases its Consumer Sentiment index for June on Friday. Economists forecast a slight uptick from the May 2022 reading that was the lowest reading in 11 years. Also on Friday, the BLS releases the consumer price index, which is expected to show a slight downtick for the second month in a row.
Developments in the war and the pandemic will remain of the utmost importance. Restrictions were lifted in Shanghai following two months of citywide quarantine while other areas of China are also cautiously returning to normal. There is a light at the end of every tunnel, but these two tunnels are proving much longer than we had hoped.
Stocks on the Move
+9.7% Westwood Holdings Group Inc (WHG) provides investment advisory services to a broad range of institutional clients. The Company also offers trust and custodial services to institutions and high-net-worth individuals. Last week, Westwood announced the all-cash acquisition of Salient Partners, a Houston-based investment firm. The deal will be immediately accretive to Westwood’s earnings and will expand the group’s opportunities across multi-asset and alternatives products. The acquisition will bring WHG’s total AUM to $18.4B.
+14.4% Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc (CNSL) offers telecommunications services. The Company offers local and long-distance telephone, high-speed internet access, and digital television services to individuals and businesses in the States of Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The stock was up on no significant company news.
The stocks mentioned above may be holdings in our mutual funds. For more information, please visit www.nsinvestfunds.com.