There will be no podcast version of this week’s blog as Research Analyst Brooke Kuby is participating in the annual Roth MKM conference.
Three years ago, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic created a seismic shift in the global economies and financial markets. The collapse last week of the Silicon Valley Bank combined with the recent softening economic data might signal a switch to a new menu of heartburn and perhaps relief.
It was a terrible week in the equity market as the indices posted their biggest losses this year, while U.S. Treasuries and gold soared after federal regulators closed Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) on Friday in the biggest U.S. bank failure since Washington Mutual in 2008. We believe the heartburn from SVB’s failure will be most acute for the startups and venture capitalists that represented the core of the bank’s customers. By the closing bell Friday, the S&P 500 had slumped 4.5%, the Nasdaq Composite was down 4.7%, while the Russell 2000 suffered the most severe loss of over 8%, as banks and other financials comprise nearly 25% of the small cap index. Whereas there will be casualties from this crisis, we think the indiscriminate selling of all financial companies might prove to be an overreaction, as many of those firms will likely be unaffected by SVB’s failure. There was no place to hide as every sector declined, with the Utilities 2.8% loss the least dramatic, and declining issues outnumbering advancing issues by almost 10-1.
Following the sell-off, courageous investors might find some relief from lower interest rates. The fear of “higher for longer” had been plaguing the markets since early February, and in fact prior to the SVB news the stock market was already sharply lower in reaction to Chairman Powell’s comments on Tuesday suggesting that rates could be higher than the Fed’s previous guidance. Those comments seemed outdated by the end of the week, following the combination of the SVB news and the February jobs report, which offered some hints that inflation may be easing, as employee wages increased less than expected. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped 31 basis points to 3.69%, while the 2-year rate dropped a similar amount.
As we have said in the past, while our first priority is finding great businesses at great valuations, we do advocate for some exposure to precious metals that historically have been safe havens during uncertain financial markets periods. Our preferred vehicles remain Sprott Physical Gold Trust (PHYS), Newmont Corp (NEM), Pan American Silver Corp (PAAS), and Sprott Inc (SII).
The fallout over the collapse of SVB and the implications for the banking sector and venture capital ecosystem set the tone Monday morning with the U.S. government outlining the steps it is taking to protect the banking system. Investor attention will then turn to the economic releases with the consumer price index report for February due out on Tuesday. A slight moderation is expected, and on Wednesday producer prices are forecasted to show a deceleration to a 0.3% month-over-month gain from 0.7% in January. Additionally, the Empire Manufacturing Survey and the latest retail sales are both anticipated to show an economic slowdown, while industrial production and the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook are both seen improving. Fedspeak will be muted during the quiet period until the next FOMC meeting on March 21-22.
Stocks on the Move
Most stock price movements were related to the broader market, and was less based on company specific news. If you have a question on a particular company, please reach out to email@example.com.
-12.4% APA Corp (APA)
-11.4% Bank of America Corp (BAC)
-11.9% BGSF Inc (BGSF)
-12.1% Blackstone Inc (BX)
-11.8% CarParts.com Inc (PRTS)
-12.0% Paramount Global (PARA)
-15.1% Bank of Hawaii Corp (BOH)
-11.7% Compass Diversified Holdings (CODI)
-13.8% First Hawaiian Inc (FHB)
-10.0% LSI Industries Inc (LYTS)
-11.0% Rocky Brands Inc (RCKY)
-12.0% Superior Group of Companies Inc (SGC)
-14.2% Weyco Group Inc (WEYS)
The stocks mentioned above may be holdings in our mutual funds. For more information, please visit www.nsinvestfunds.com.