Weekly Market Update | Week 1, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Market’s Impressive Win Streak Comes to an End
  • U.S. Economy Adds 2.7 Million Jobs in 2023.

US equities were lower in the first week of the new year, with the S&P and Nasdaq declining after nine straight weeks of gains. The “Santa Claus” period (the final five sessions of December and the first two in January), which has seen the S&P rise nearly 80% of the time, this round ended with an S&P decline of 0.9%.

The Magnificent Seven names were all lower. The big corporate story for the week was the slide in Apple (5.9%), which faced downgrades from Barclays and Piper Sandler along with news the Justice Department is finalizing its antitrust case against the company. 

Treasuries were weaker across the curve, with the 10Y moving back above 4% for the first time since mid-December. The dollar was better on the major crosses gaining +1.1%,  its best week since July. Gold  lost ground after capping a big 2023 gain last Friday. Oil was stronger, with WTI crude settling up 3.0%.

The stock market entered 2024 on the defensive. While there was not a single catalyst, analysts continued to flag overbought conditions and stretched positioning after a strong Q4 capped 2023, as well as pointing to last year’s significant gains among many megacap tech stocks.

The minutes from the December FOMC meeting were perhaps not as dovish as hoped, highlighting the gap between Fed signaling and the market’s aggressive rate-cut expectations. There were some cautious earnings-related stories that raised some anxieties about the Q4 earnings season to come. And geopolitics remained a threat on the fringes, with continued dangers to Red Sea shipping and a deadly bomb blast in Tehran kept fears of a widening Mideast war alive. In short, conditions were favorable for a period of digestion after a long market rally.

The US economy added 2.7 million jobs in 2023. That’s a net gain of 3.8 million since the beginning of covid. Additionally, the US economy has added a net 25.8 million jobs since the turn of the century.

Employment Update

There were some mixed takeaways from Friday’s jobs report. December nonfarm payrolls printed even higher than some of the whisper numbers, though the previous two months were revised lower (with ten of the past 11 monthly reports ultimately being revised down).

At the same time, average hourly earnings came in hotter than consensus, though there was some offset from a shorter workweek. In any event, there seemed to be general agreement that the result in itself was not sufficient to shift the Fed’s calculus about possible rate cuts in the months ahead (and next week’s December CPI report may ultimately carry more weight).

Other economic reports were also a mixed bag. November job openings in the JOLTS report were a little ahead of consensus but were the lowest in nearly three years, and overall not much changed from the past few months.

Both initial and continuing jobless claims were lighter than expected for their respective weeks. December ISM manufacturing remained in contraction, with the prices-paid component softer. December ISM services was weaker than forecast, with the headline at its lowest since May, but its employment component slipped into contraction.

Despite all that, the bull case remains largely in place with soft-/no-landing expectations still predominating. The labor market remains healthy and disinflationary forces remain in play (as evidenced by ISM prices-paid data). Signs of a big inflow into money-market funds reinforces the “dry powder” theme and may provide more fuel for FOMO trends. And while there is some angst about the coming Q4 earnings season (FactSet notes analysts have been lowering EPS estimates more than normal), S&P 500 constituents are still expected to post overall y/y growth in earnings.

We get December CPI on Thursday (followed by PPI on Friday), which will be the central economic data point for the week.

Fixed Income

Yield Curve

Nov FOMC Statement   September Fed Minutes     Balance Sheet Reduction Plan       Credit, Liquidity and Balance Sheet    Federal Reserve Dot Plots 

Treasury.gov yields    FOMC Policy Normalization Statement     Longer- Run Goals Jan 2022

Foreign Exchange Market

Energy Complex 

The Baker Hughes rig count was down 1 this week. There are 621 oil and gas rigs operating in the US – Down 151 from last year.

Metals Complex 

Employment Picture 

December Jobs Report – BLS Summary Released 1/5/2024 – The US economy added 216k nonfarm jobs in December and the Unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%. Average hourly earnings increased 15 cents to $34.27.  Hiring highlights include +38k Healthcare, +52k Government,+21k Social Assistance, and +17k Construction.

  • Average hourly earnings increased 15 cents/0.4% to $34.27.
  • U3 unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%. U6 unemployment rate increased 0.1% to 7.1%.
  • The labor force participation rate decreased 0.3% to 62.5%.
  • Average work week decreased 0.1 to 34.3 hours.

Weekly Unemployment Claims – Released Thursday 1/4/2024 – In the week ending December 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 202,000 a decrease of 18,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 207,750, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average.

Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey JOLTS – Released 1/3/2024 – The number of job openings changed little at 8.8 million on the last business day of November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Over the month the number of hires and total separations decreased to 5.5 million and 5.3 million, respectively. Within separations, quits (3.5 million) and discharges (1.5 million) changed little.

Employment Cost Index – Released 10/31/2023  Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1.1% for the 3-month period ending in September 2023. The 12-month period ending in September 2023 saw compensation costs increase by 4.3. The 12-month period ending September 2022 increased 5.0%. Wages and salaries increased 4.6 percent over the 12-month September 2023 and increased 5.1 percent for the 12-month period ending in September 2022. Benefit costs increased 4.1 percent over the 12-month period ending September 2023 and increased 4.9 percent for the 12-month period ending in September 2022. This report is published quarterly.

This Week’s Economic Data

PMI Non-Manufacturing IndexReleased 1/5/2024 – Economic activity in the services sector expanded in December for the twelfth consecutive month as the Services PMI® registered 50.6 percent, 2.1 percentage points lower than November’s reading of 52.7 percent.

U.S. Construction Spending – Released 1/2/2024 – Construction spending during November 2023 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2,050.1 billion, 0.4 percent above the revised October estimate of $2,042.5 billion. The November figure is 11.3 percent above the November 2022 estimate of $1,842.2 billion.

PMI Manufacturing Index  Released 1/2/2024 – The December Manufacturing PMI registered 47.4 percent, up 0.7 percent from November. Regarding the overall economy, it continued in contraction for a third month after one month of weak expansion preceded by nine months of contraction The New Orders Index remained in contraction territory at 47.1 percent, 1.2 percentage points lower than the figure of 48.3 percent recorded in November. The Production Index reading of 50.3 percent is a 1.8-percentage point increase compared to November’s figure of 48.5 percent.

Recent Economic Data

Chicago PMI – Released 12/29/2023 – Chicago PMI moved back into contraction territory in December after expanding in November decreasing to 46.9 points down from 55.8 points in November. The contraction follows one month of expansion and follows 14 consecutive months of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.

US Light Vehicle SalesReleased 12/29/2023 – U.S. light vehicle sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 15.319 million units in November.

Personal Income – Released 12/22/2023 – Personal income increased $81.6 billion (0.4 percent at a monthly rate) in November. Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $71.9 billion (0.4 percent). Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $46.7 billion (0.2 percent).

New Residential Sales – Released 12/22/2023 – Sales of new single‐family houses in November 2023 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This is 12.2 percent below the revised October rate of 672,000 but is 1.4 percent above the November 2022 estimate of 582,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in November 2023 was $434,700.  The average sales price was $488,900.  At the end of November, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale was 451,000, a supply of 9.2 months at the current sales rate.

Durable Goods – Released 12/22/2023 – New orders for manufactured durable goods in November, up two of the last three months, increased $15.1 billion or 5.4 percent to $295.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This followed a 5.1 percent October decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 6.5 percent. Transportation equipment, also up two of the last three months, drove the increase, $14.3 billion or 15.3 percent to $107.8 billion.

Third Estimate of 3rd Quarter 2023 GDP – Released 12/21/2023 – Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2023, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.1 percent. The GDP in the “third” estimate is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” and “advance” estimates. In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 5.2 percent. The update primarily reflected a downward revision to consumer spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised down. The increase in real GDP reflected increases in consumer spending, private inventory investment, exports, state and local government spending, federal government spending, residential fixed investment, and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports increased.

Consumer Confidence– Released 12/20/2023 – Consumer Confidence increased in December, up to 110.7 from 101.0 in November. Expectations increased from 77.4 to 85.6. The Expectations index increase reflects optimism in line with levels last seen in July.

Existing Home Sales – Released 12/20/2023 – The Existing home sales increased in November ending five consecutive months of declines. Existing home sales in November increased 0.8% from October but fell 7.3% year over year. Existing home sales increased to 3.82 million in November seasonally adjusted.

Housing Starts – Released 12/19/2023 – November housing starts came in at 1,560,000, 14.8% above the October estimate and is 9.3% above the November 2022 rate. Building permits were 2.5% below the October rate at $1,460,000 but 4.1% above the November 2022 rate.

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization – Released 12/15/2023 – Industrial production increased 0.2% in November. Manufacturing increased 0.3%. The increase in manufacturing output was more than accounted for by a 7.1% rebound in motor vehicles and parts production following the resolution of strikes at several major automakers. Utilities output decreased 0.4%. Mining increased 0.3%. Capacity utilization increased to 78.8% in November, 0.9 percent below its long-run average.

Retail Sales – Released 12/14/2023 –Headline retail sales increased 0.3% in November and are up 4.1% above November 2022.

Producer Price Index – Released 12/13/2023 – The Producer Price Index for final demand was unchanged in November, seasonally adjusted. Final demand decreased 0.4 percent in October. On an unadjusted basis, the index for final demand moved up 0.9 percent for the 12 months ended in November.

Consumer Price Index – Released 12/12/2023 – The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.1 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, after being unchanged in October. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.1 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Consumer Credit – Released 12/7/2023 – Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.2 percent in October. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 0.7 percent.

U.S. Trade Balance  Released 12/6/2023 – The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the goods and services deficit was $64.3 billion in October, up $3.1 billion from $61.2 billion in September. October exports were $258.8 billion, $2.6 billion less than September exports. October imports were $323.0 billion, $0.5 billion more than September imports. The October increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $3.5 billion to $89.8 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $0.4 billion to $25.5 billion.

Next week we get data on the U.S. Trade Balance, Consumer Credit, CPI, and PPI.


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Data Sources: 

Conference Board Economic Indicators   Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)   Congressional Budget Office (CBO)     U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)    Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED Charts)

CME Fed Watch   U.S. Treasury – Yields   U.S. Census Bureau    Institute for Supply Management (ISM)    Weekly DOL Employment Data    BLS Monthly Jobs Report    JOLTS      All capital in one visualization 2020

US Energy Admn (EIA)   BLS Consumer Price Index CPI      BLS Producer Price Index PPIAtlanta Fed GDPNOW    NY Fed Nowcast GDP     US Census Bureau Housing Starts   U.S. Energy Admn

Consumer Credit  USCB Retail Sales   Construction Spending      Federal Reserve Dot Plots 2017   NY Empire Index    Philadelphia Federal Reserve   P/E Ratio Data -Yardeni Research

Technical Analysis Info: Koyfin.com  StockCharts.com – Financial Charts    Exponential vs Simple Moving Average

Other links: 1973 Arab Oil Embargo    Hunt Brothers Silver    Asian Contagion   Long-Term Capital bailout