• Weekly digest: Happy earth day!

    Philly Philly We’ll start with the easy stuff this week, the Philly Fed’s regional manufacturing index came in at 17.6 for April, below expectations for a 21.9 reading (any number above 0 in this index is reflective of a growth environment). While companies are still expecting growth over the next six months, sentiment seemed to be slightly cooling on a few components of the index like current activity, new orders, and shipments. On the other hand, there were increases to the employment and price components. The employment indicator that’s part of this index reached an all-time high last month and the price component reached the highest reading since June 1979. Looking…

  • Guess who’s back (back back) back again

    Finding new highs Consumer prices rose by a whopping 8.5% in March on an annual basis, which is the steepest increase in prices we’ve seen since the end of 1981. This was a touch higher than expectations for an 8.4% inflation print. Unfortunately for the average consumer, despite the strong wage growth we’ve seen, it’s still falling short of price increases, resulting in real wage growth actually being slightly negative. Moral of the story: Many economists are calling this “peak inflation” as expectations are for the rate of growth to start moderating from here. I’m not so sure about that given we also got a look at the March producer…

  • Fed aggression

    Replacing one issue with another There wasn’t a ton of economic data published this week, but we did get the latest read of the ISM Services Index showing the services sector grew in March for the 22nd consecutive month. Even though companies are still being impacted by capacity constraints, supply chain issues, and inflation, they are seeing the labor shortages starting to come off. At the same time, heightened geopolitical risks are adding another layer of complexity for a lot of businesses. Moral of the story: The biggest takeaway for me from this report is the easing labor shortages – it basically means that supply of labor is starting to increase as COVID…

  • Inverting

    Hanging in there In a nice chance of pace, consumer confidence increased for the first time this year in March, but still remains below levels from last year as (unsurprisingly) consumers are pretty unsettled by what’s happening in Ukraine as well as the resulting “pain at the pump” (anyone else being bombarded by this political slogan?!). Consumers are expecting inflation to be 7.9% in the next 12 months, which is the highest level ever recorded, but confidence is holding in there because of the strength of the labor market (and its accompanying wage growth). Moral of the story: As long as consumers feel confident about their job prospects, the chances are that…

  • Going in and out of style

    Laboring away While inflation is running rampant and geopolitical tensions are at explosive levels, literally, the actual consumer in the US seems to still be doing pretty ok as indicated by the labor market. New jobless claims last week came in at a measly 187k, which is the lowest level we’ve seen in 52.5 years. That number in the peak of COVID was over 6m, so we’ve clearly come a long way in recovering those jobs lost during the pandemic. Moral of the story: Companies are still fairly desperate for workers and there are 11.3m job openings in the US – that’s 1.8 jobs per unemployed person, which is a…

  • Spring break

    It’s getting worse This was another week of markets reacting daily to issues surfacing because of the Ukraine/Russia conflict – notably, commodities prices (oil, nickel) went bananas this week. One of the more notable economic data points in the middle of all this was the February Consumer Price Index (CPI) reading that showed inflation accelerating in February to 7.9% on an annual basis, the highest since January 1982. Not surprisingly, gas, groceries, and housing were the main drivers of the elevated inflation print. Unfortunately, wages haven’t kept up, falling 2.6% over the past year when adjusted for inflation. Moral of the story: This CPI report wasn’t really a surprise for investors…

  • A loaded one

    Russia situation Y’all. This week was a lot. Stocks were on a total roller-coaster ride as investors tried to digest updates of the Russia-Ukraine situation. The worst came with reports of an attack and then the Russian siege of a nuclear power plant in Ukraine (which btw happens to be the literal LARGEST IN EUROPE). You add nuclear into warfare and obviously people become v unsettled. There was a push and pull across the week as commodity prices got pushed higher, interest rates dropped, and stocks fell. Moral of the story: Historically, periods of conflict like this have proven to be great times to buy investments as markets typically overreact. It’s been…

  • As if we needed something else

    Welp, it happened What a wild way to wake up Thursday morning to the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine. I’m sure everyone’s aware of the horrors happening on the ground, but here’s a little history lesson on why this is happening if you need a refresher. First things first, if you’re looking for a way to personally help, I donated to the UN’s Ukraine Humanitarian Fund that’s part of the UN’s crisis relief program – you can donate here. Secondly, the reaction in the market to the actual invasion was pretty crazy. Stocks started the day on Thursday down sharply but somehow reversed all losses of the day to end the day in the…

  • Uncertainty abound

    It’s not going away Bear with me, we’re going to talk about inflation again. The latest data on inflation came through this week in the form of the producer price index – basically this report tells us how much more (or less) producers are having to pay for their inputs, which gives us a good idea of how they’re going to change what they charge us for the goods they produce. This index increased 9.7% for January compared to the prior year, down slightly from the prior month but still way too high for comfort. Despite the rise in prices, regional manufacturing reports from New York and Philadelphia this week indicated…

  • Russia, we have a problem

    Have you heard, this thing called inflation There were a couple big pieces of information that moved markets this week. The first was the January number for inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Inflation came in at a hot 7.5% overall, and 6% on a “core” basis, which excludes food and energy. This read on increasing prices was worse than expected and marks the sharpest annual increase in prices since February 1982. Moral of the story: The market is expecting more and more aggressive action from the central bank to curtail the impact of inflation by raising interest rates. Higher interest rates = lower present values for future earnings…

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