Weekly Market Update | Week 2, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Markets Weren’t Bothered By a “Warm” December CPI
  • 10 Minus 2 Spread, Close to Un-Inverting

US equities were higher this week with leadership from megacap tech. Growth led value by over 3%. Treasuries rallied with a big curve steepening move. The dollar index was little changed on the week, Gold was up 0.1% for the week. Bitcoin futures were down around 1.5% in a very volatile week around the SEC approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs. WTI crude was down 1.5%, though off worst levels as geopolitical risk premiums jumped at the end of the week.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both finished higher for the week after breaking a nine-week streak of gains last week. This week’s upside was driven by factors including soft landing momentum and disinflation signals, optimism around the coming earnings season, a weaker dollar, and some strategists playing down extended positioning.

There was also a big focus on Dallas Fed President Logan’s comments on QT over the weekend, saying the Fed should slow the pace of the balance sheet runoff as ON RRP balances. Ending QT would remove one of the hawkish Fed overhang, and while economists were mixed on the timeline for when the Fed will slow the balance sheet runoff, some see it coming as soon as March.

Stocks were also underpinned by this week’s big Treasury rally. The 2Y yield fell nearly 25 bp for the week to just above 4.15%, the lowest since May-23. The 2Y/10Y spread also narrowed to around -25 bp, the least inverted since November and back to Jul-22 levels.

The rally more than erased last week’s hawkish repricing around the 2024 Fed rate cut path, with the year-end market median fed funds rate now around 3.76%, or 161 bp below the current median of 5.375%, suggesting between six and seven total cuts this year.

However, this week also saw a return of the geopolitical risk premium after the latest Middle East developments. The US and UK launched airstrikes on Houthi targets following Red Sea shipping attacks while White House officials are working to ease growing tensions along the Israel and Lebanon border. Other pieces of the bearish narrative include the ongoing threat of a higher-for-longer Fed, aggressive market pricing around steep rate cuts next year, and pockets of sticky inflation including services and shelter. Stretched positioning continues to be cited as a key risk.

Key economic data this week included December CPI, which came in at 0.3% m/m, hotter than 0.2% consensus, while core CPI of 0.3% was in line. The upside was due to some idiosyncratic items like higher new vehicle sales and apparel, while shelter inflation remained sticky. Services inflation fell but remained elevated, which some economists said continues to be inconsistent with the Fed’s 2% target.

However, December PPI confirmed disinflationary trends, with headline of 0.1% below 0.2% consensus and core PPI flat against 0.2% consensus. Goldman economists noted they see the PPI report as consistent with 0.17% core PCE for December, or an annualized pace of 2.9%, and reaffirmed they see core PCE at 2.2% by year-end (and six total rate cuts). Elsewhere, initial jobless claims and continuing claims both fell to the lowest levels since October.

This week’s Treasury rally also came despite some hawkish Fedspeak from New York’s Williams (voter), who said policy may need to remain restrictive for the Fed to achieve its goals, while Cleveland’s Mester (voter) said after the CPI print that March is too soon to cut rates. Dallas’ Logan (non-voter) also cautioned if the Fed doesn’t maintain sufficiently tight conditions, there is a risk inflation could pick back up. BofA economists noted hawkish Fed messaging gives officials optionality on policy, though ultimately the Fed should be comfortable with progress toward the 2% target and cooling labor market trends, which means it is closer to normalizing policy than it says.

Data next week include Tuesday’s January Empire State Index; Wednesday’s December retail sales and January NAHB housing market index; Thursday’s December housing starts/building permits and January Philadelphia Fed Index; and Friday’s January Michigan Consumer Sentiment and December Existing Home Sales. Fed Governor Waller will speak on Tuesday; Wednesday brings the Beige Book

Fixed Income

Yield Curve

Dec 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 2 this week. There are 619 oil and gas rigs operating in the US – Down 156 from last year.

Metals Complex 

Employment Picture 

Weekly Unemployment Claims – Released Thursday 1/11/2024 – In the week ending January 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 202,000 a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 207,750, a decrease of 250 from the previous week’s revised average.

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.

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

Producer Price Index – Released 1/12/2024 – The Producer Price Index for final demand declined 0.1 percent in December, seasonally adjusted. Final demand decreased 0.1 percent in November. On an unadjusted basis, the index for final demand moved up 1.0 percent for the 12 months ended in December.

Consumer Price Index Released 1/11/2024 – The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.3 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, after increasing 0.1 percent in November. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.4 percent before seasonal adjustment.

U.S. Trade Balance – Released 1/9/2024 –  The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the goods and services deficit was $63.2 billion in November, down $1.3 billion from $64.5 billion in October. November exports were $253.7 billion, $4.8 billion less than October exports. November imports were $316.9 billion, $6.1 billion less than October imports. The November decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected an decrease in the goods deficit of $0.6 billion to $89.4 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $0.7 billion to $26.2 billion.

Consumer Credit – Released 1/8/2024 – Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.7 percent in November. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 17.7 percent, while nonrevolving credit increased at an annual rate of 1.5 percent.

Recent 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.

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.

Next week we get data on Retail Sales, Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, Housing Starts, and Existing Home Sales.


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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