Weekly Market Update | Week 4, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • GDP Showed Strong Growth In the 4th Quarter
  • More All-Time Highs this Week

More all-time highs this week helped by strong 4th quarter GDP.  The increase in GDP at the end of last year was stronger than expected. Not only did consumers spend and businesses invest more than anticipated, but unexpectedly, trade and inventories added to growth. Also this week, PCE inflation data showed that the rate of price increases slowed as 2023 came to a close. Despite the robust growth, inflation continued to moderate, so relatively bullish data.

This week’s data is very supportive of the bullish case. Bulls were supported by Goldilocks data releases, strong GDP growth (better consumer spending), stabilized Fed pivot repricing, new ATH from the S&P 500, China stock market stimulus, and some positive earnings commentary around consumer resiliency.

On the other hand, bears were reinforced by lackluster Q4 earnings season with beat rate running below five-year average, some Treasury supply concerns, skepticism around China stock market stimulus, concerns on EV demand/margins with TSLA earnings, and uncertainty around 2024 presidential election cycle.  Other data releases largely supported the soft-landing narrative However, rate cut repricing risk was an overhang amid sticky services inflation and worries about spillover of geopolitical tensions to supply chains.

Thursday we got a better than expected GDP report. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.3% annual rate, adjusted for inflation, in the fourth quarter—better than the still respectable 2% economists were looking for—after growing at a 4.9% rate in the third quarter.

The report showed that capital spending picked up, with nonresidential investment growing at a 1.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter after growing 1.4% in the third quarter. Residential investment also eked out a slight gain, a reflection of how—even though the housing market is a complete and utter mess—home construction activity is growing again. A narrowing trade deficit also helped bump up GDP. Consumer spending was a notable driver, with the release noting strength in both services and goods.

Headline PCE of 0.17% in line with 0.2% consensus, up from last month’s 0.07% decline. Core PCE of 0.17% also in line with consensus. Elsewhere, December personal spending of 0.7% hotter than 0.5% consensus, while personal income of 0.3% in line with consensus. December durable-goods orders were little changed m/m, below forecasts for 1.0% and November’s upwardly revised 5.5% monthly rate (was 5.4%).

Meanwhile, continuing claims came in at 1833K vs forecasts for 1830K and the prior week’s 1806K. December new-home sales printed at a 664K SAAR, ahead of consensus for 645K and November’s upwardly revised 615K (was 590K). January flash manufacturing PMI came in well ahead of consensus. Flash services PMI also beat, though saw slowest rise in output charges since Jun-20.

China and crude oil were in the news this week with Bloomberg reporting Chinese authorities are looking to mobilize ~$278B to stabilize the slumping stock market. Also some focus on news BABA +6.6% co-founder Jack Ma has been buying up the company’s stock.

However, still a lot of skepticism about the ability of Chinese equities to sustain a meaningful bounce given longstanding frustration with Beijing’s gradualist approach to policy support. Hopes of a China rebound from the stimulus supported crude prices this week which ended higher for a second straight week. Crude also received support from a cold weather-caused large inventory draw, ongoing Middle East tensions, positive US GDP data, and some technical buying around the 200 DMA.

Next week brings another fed meeting and rate decision – FOMC decision (Wed afternoon). US JOLTs report for December and consumer confidence (Tues morning). US Employment Cost Index for Q4 (Wed morning). Eurozone CPI for Jan (Thurs morning). BOE decision (Thurs morning). US jobs report for Jan (Fri morning).

Fixed Income

Yield Curve

Dec FOMC Statement      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 up 1 this week. There are 621 oil and gas rigs operating in the US – Down 150 from last year.

Metals Complex 

Employment Picture 

Weekly Unemployment Claims – Released Thursday 1/25/2024 – In the week ending January 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 214,000 an increase of 25,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 202,250 a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week’s revised average.

December Jobs Report –  BLS Summary – Released 1/5/2024 –  The US Economyadded 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

Personal Income – Released 1/26/2024 – Personal income increased $60.0 billion (0.3 percent at a monthly rate) in December. Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $51.8 billion (0.3 percent). Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $133.9 billion (0.7 percent).

New Residential Sales – Released 1/25/2024 – Sales of new single‐family houses in December 2023 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 664,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This is 8.0 percent above the revised November rate of 615,000 and is 4.4 percent above the December 2022 estimate of 636,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in December 2023 was $413,200.  The average sales price was $487,300.  At the end of December, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale was 453,000, a supply of 8.2 months at the current sales rate.

Durable Goods – Released 1/25/2024 – New orders for manufactured durable goods in December, up three of the last four months, increased $0.1 billion or virtually unchanged to $295.6 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This followed a 5.5 percent November increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.5 percent. Primary metals, also up three of the last four months, drove the increase, $0.4 billion or 1.4 percent to $27.1 billion.

Advance Estimate of 4th Quarter 2023 GDP – Released 1/25/2024 – Real gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed expectations and increased at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 4.9 percent. The GDP “advance” estimate is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision. The increase in real GDP reflected increases in consumer spending, exports, state and local government spending, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

Recent Economic Data

Existing Home Sales Released 1/19/2024 – The Existing home sales decreased in December following an increase in November which followed five consecutive months of declines. Existing home sales in December decreased 1.0% from November and fell 6.2% year over year. Existing home sales decreased to 3.78 million in December seasonally adjusted. The median price of exiting homes for sale increased to a record high of $389,800.

Housing Starts – Released 1/18/2024  December housing starts came in at 1,460,000, 4.3% below the November estimate but is 7.6% above the December 2022 rate. Building permits were 1.9% above the November rate at $1,495,000 and 6.1% above the December 2022 rate.

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization – Released 1/17/2024 – Industrial production increased 0.1% in December and declined 3.1% in the fourth quarter. Manufacturing increased 0.1%. Utilities output decreased 1.0%. Mining increased 0.9%. Capacity utilization was unchanged in December, a rate that is 1.1 percent below its long-run average.

Retail Sales – Released 1/17/2024 – Headline retail sales increased 0.6% in December and are up 5.6% above December 2022.

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.

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.

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.

Next week we get data on the Advance Estimate of 4th Quarter 2023 GDP, Durable Goods, New Residential Sales, and Personal Income.


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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