We have endured some rather unattractive volatility the past several months. It’s like investors can’t make up their minds whether to be bullish or bearish.
This stems from the many calls for a recession that led to a drop in stock prices. Yet, when it did not really come to pass is when the market runs higher once again. Kind of like the action the past week with no further bank failures in the headlines.
This week is chock full of key economic reports and there are already some interesting cracks in the economic foundation that warrant discussion. What that means for the market outlook will be the focus of today’s Reitmeister Total Return commentary.
We all appreciate that a combination of high inflation and hawkish Fed is typically a recipe for recession and bear market. This explains why investors wasted no time hitting the sell button as early as January 2022 leading to an official bear market call in June with S&P 500 (SPY) lows of 3,491 made in October.
Yet, here we are six months later with the same possibility of recession…but no proof in hand. This has led many investors to think of the recession calls not unlike “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. This explains why stocks are 17% above the lows.
Helping to bolster this view of no real recession on the way was the surprising strength of Q1 GDP. Just a few weeks back the famed GDPNow model from the Atlanta Fed was pointing to +3.2% results this past quarter. Then came a host of subpar economic reports cutting it down to 1.7% in a hurry.
Most notable of these announcements slashing the GDP forecast was ISM Manufacturing coming in Monday at a post Covid low of 46.3. There was no light in this tunnel as every sub-metric was pointing in the wrong direction:
44.3 New Orders vs. 47 last month vs. 49 forecast
46.9 Employment vs. 49.1 last month vs. 50 forecast
Why were these results so much worse than expectations?
This likely harkens back to what the Fed spoke about at their last meeting. That concerns over the banking industry was like another rate hike by itself. Both from the standpoint that it would lead to tighter credit, but also from the fact that it would increase doubt about the economic outlook which would dampen demand.
Now let’s follow that interesting thread about the depressed reading for the ISM Manufacturing Employment component which is now at the lowest post Covid level, 46.9. Many of us have pondered, including the Fed, what it will take for employment to finally weaken because that is likely the key nail in the high inflation coffin.
So this weak reading is a curious start to wondering if employment is finally ready to rollover. And just the very next day we get another clue that this trend may finally be afoot. That being the precipitous 632,000 drop in job openings from the monthly JOLTs report that makes it the lowest level since May 2021.
Think about it this way..
Step 1 before laying people off is to stop hiring new employees. This lowering of job openings may be that lynchpin for Step 2 being much larger layoffs around the corner that would lead to a rise in unemployment.
Let’s remember the vicious cycle that takes place once job loss is in the economic mix:
Job Loss > Lower Income > Lower Spending > Lower Corporate Profits > Rinse & Repeat
The “Rinse & Repeat” aspect is an acknowledgement that most often the solution to lower corporate profits is to lay off more employees. And that is how a crack in the unemployment foundation can become a much wider chasm over time.
Not helping matters was a surprise output cut from OPEC just in time for the all important summer driving season. This has oil back up from a recent low of $67 to over $80 once again.
It does not take a genius to appreciate that this only acerbates the high inflation concerns of the Fed. Plus for the rest of the economy, if more money is being drained into the gas tank, there is that much less to be spent elsewhere.
Add this all up and you appreciate why investors were wise to end their recent bull run on Tuesday. This pause will likely mean that investors will have a watchful eye on the next slate of economic reports to see if indeed there is greater cause for concern.
4/5 ADP Employment & ISM Services
4/6 Jobless Claims (leading indicator for the health of employment)
4/7 Government Employment Situation (with focus on wage inflation which has been Public Enemy #1 for the Fed).
Mid April through Mid May = Q1 Earnings Season
To sum up, I think the stars are finally aligning for the recession to unfold starting in Q2 which would bring the bear market back out from its recent hibernation. That is why I continue to have my bearish portfolio strategy in place which gained +0.73% Tuesday as the market slumped.
However, just like in the recent past, if those recessionary forecasts do not hold true, then be prepared to bet on more market upside. That means to watch each key economic report closely for clues of where we stand and what comes next.
Be sure to review these announcements as objectively as possible because those looking for a bear market may see one even if the facts don’t support that conclusion. The same goes for you bulls being too optimistic at times only for Chairman Powell to sternly remind you of current realities.
Now let the chips fall where they may and we will trade accordingly.
What To Do Next?
Watch my brand new presentation, REVISED: 2023 Stock Market Outlook
There I will cover vital issues such as…
- 5 Warnings Signs the Bear Returns Starting Now!
- Banking Crisis Concerns Another Nail in the Coffin
- How Low Will Stocks Go?
- 7 Timely Trades to Profit on the Way Down
- Plan to Bottom Fish for Next Bull Market
- 2 Trades with 100%+ Upside Potential as New Bull Emerges
- And Much More!
If these ideas concern you, then please click below to access this vital presentation now:
Wishing you a world of investment success!
Steve Reitmeister…but everyone calls me Reity (pronounced “Righty”)
CEO, StockNews.com and Editor, Reitmeister Total Return
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SPY shares rose $0.37 (+0.09%) in after-hours trading Tuesday. Year-to-date, SPY has gained 7.27%, versus a % rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
About the Author: Steve Reitmeister
Steve is better known to the StockNews audience as “Reity”. Not only is he the CEO of the firm, but he also shares his 40 years of investment experience in the Reitmeister Total Return portfolio. Learn more about Reity’s background, along with links to his most recent articles and stock picks. More...
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