Weekly Market Update | Week 49, 2023

Market Update

Most of the major US equity benchmarks were up this week but large caps have slowed their advance.

November marked a broadening out of returns:

  • The one-month number on the S&P 500 is over 5%
  • Both the S&P 600 and the Russell 2000 are up over 9%
  • The equal-weight S&P is up over 7% in the last month
  • Both the Dow and the S&P 500 made year-to-date closing highs on Friday

The Magnificent Seven names were mostly higher this week, with GOOGL +2.4% helped by another round of AI optimism after it launched its Gemini model. Drug stores, airlines, homebuilders, building products, apparel, food, biotech, and regional banks were among the other outperformers. Energy, industrial metals, HPCs, road/rail, exchanges, P&C insurance, and chemicals were some of the laggards.

Treasuries were mostly weaker with the curve flattening. The 2Y yield moved farther above last week’s lows but the 30Y yield was down 9bp w/w. The dollar was better on the euro and sterling crosses but was a notable laggard vs the yen in the wake of BoJ comments hinting at a possible earlier-than-expected exit from NIRP. Gold was down 3.6% after hitting a fresh record high in premarket trading Monday. Oil was down for the seventh consecutive week, with WTI crude settling down 3.8%, but ending the week above $70/barrel.

The path of least resistance remained to the upside this week. Discussions in the early part of the week talked about stocks possibly taking a breather following several weeks of notable strength (the S&P is up nearly 12% since its 27-Oct low), but solid gains later in the week had some analysts wondering whether equities still had room to run.

The dominant market narrative has been increasing confidence about a soft- or no-landing economic scenario, with the Fed possibly starting to cut rates in H1’24, and another round of “goldilocks” economic data this week helped continue to support this narrative.

November nonfarm payrolls rose by 199K (ahead of the 175K consensus), with analysts noting job growth even beyond the impact of workers coming off recent strikes. The unemployment rate also ticked down to 3.7% (from the prior 3.9%). There were also positive takes on the October JOLTS report, which showed a larger-than-expected decline in job openings.

November’s ISM services index remained fairly stable, and continuing jobless claims came down from the prior week’s two-year highs. And Friday’s preliminary UMich consumer sentiment report showed a notable uptick (with a big slump in year-ahead inflation expectations).

But at the same time there remain voices urging caution. Disinflation traction continues and the Fed itself projects it will begin cutting rates next year, but there are worries policymakers could push back against the market’s aggressive easing expectations (Fedwatch this week showed market-based odds looking for a rate cut as early as March).

More bearish narratives also cite overbought conditions, dampened positioning/sentiment tailwinds in the wake of the recent run higher, continued concerns about the resilience of Treasury demand, and the wildcard of geopolitical uncertainties (though the market has thus far largely ignored these).

The big event next week will be the December FOMC meeting, which will also come with a new Summary of Economic Projections and dot plot. Just prior to that will be Tuesday’s November CPI report, with consensus looking for only a 0.05% m/m headline rise but a step up to 0.3% m/m in the core (from October’s 0.2% pace). Investors will also see November retail sales on Thursday and December’s NY Fed Empire survey coming next Friday.  

Next week we get data on CPI, PPI, Retail Sales, and Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization.

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 up 1 this week. There are 626 oil and gas rigs operating in the US – Down 154 from last year.

Metals Complex 

This Week’s Employment Picture 

November Jobs Report –  BLS Summary – Released 12/8/2023 – The US economy added 199k nonfarm jobs in November and the Unemployment rate edged down to 3.7%. Average hourly earnings increased 12 cents to $34.10.  Hiring highlights include +77k Healthcare, +49k Government, and +28k Manufacturing.

  • Average hourly earnings increased 12 cents/0.4% to $34.10.
  • U3 unemployment rate edged down 0.2% to 3.7%. U6 unemployment rate decreased 0.2% to 7.0%.
  • The labor force participation rate was little changed at 62.8%.
  • Average work week increased 0.1 to 34.4 hours.

Weekly Unemployment Claims – Released Thursday 12/7/2023 – In the week ending December 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 220,000 an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 220,750, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s revised average.

Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey JOLTS – Released 12/5/2023 – The number of job openings decreased to 8.7 million on the last business day of October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Over the month the number of hires and total separations were little changed at 5.9 million and 5.6 million, respectively. Within separations, quits (3.6 million) and discharges (1.6 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

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.

PMI Non-Manufacturing Index – Released 12/5/2023 – Economic activity in the services sector expanded in November for the eleventh consecutive month as the Services PMI® registered 52.7 percent, 0.9 percentage points higher than October’s reading of 51.8 percent.

Recent Economic Data

U.S. Construction Spending – Released 12/1/2023 – Construction spending during October 2023 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2,027.1 billion, 0.6 percent above the revised September estimate of $2,014.7 billion. The October figure is 10.7 percent above the October 2022 estimate of $1,830.5 billion.

PMI Manufacturing Index  Released 12/1/2023 – The November Manufacturing PMI registered 46.7 percent, unchanged from October. Regarding the overall economy, it continued in contraction for a second month after one month of weak expansion preceded by nine months of contraction The New Orders Index remained in contraction territory at 48.3 percent, 2.8 percentage points higher than the figure of 45.5 percent recorded in October. The Production Index reading of 48.5 percent is a 1.9-percentage point decrease compared to October’s figure of 50.4 percent.

Chicago PMI – Released 11/30/2023 – Chicago PMI moved into expansion territory for the first time in a year in November increasing to 55.8 points up from 44.0 points in October. The expansion follows 14 consecutive months of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.

Personal Income  Released 11/30/2023 Personal income increased $57.1 billion (0.2 percent at a monthly rate) in October. Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $63.4 billion (0.3 percent). Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $41.2 billion (0.2 percent).

Second Estimate of 3rd Quarter 2023 GDP – Released 11/29/2023 – Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2023, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.1 percent. The GDP in the “second” estimate is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 4.9 percent. The update primarily reflected upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and state and local government spending that were partly offset by 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, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a decrease in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

Consumer Confidence  Released 11/28/2023 – Consumer Confidence increased in November following three consecutive months in decline, up to 102.0 from 99.1 in October. Expectations increased from 72.7 to 77.8. Despite this month’s improvement, the Expectations Index remains below 80 for a third consecutive month—a level that historically signals a recession within the next year.

New Residential Sales – Released 11/27/2023 – Sales of new single‐family houses in October 2023 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 679,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This is 5.6 percent below the revised September rate of 719,000 but is 17.7 percent above the October 2022 estimate of 577,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2023 was $409,300.  The average sales price was $487,000.  At the end of October, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale was 439,000, a supply of 7.8 months at the current sales rate.

Durable GoodsReleased 11/22/2023 – New orders for manufactured durable goods in October, down three of the last four months, decreased $16.0 billion or 5.4 percent to $279.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This followed a 4.0 percent September increase. Excluding transportation, new orders were virtually unchanged. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 6.7 percent. Transportation equipment, also down three of the last four months, drove the decrease, $16.0 billion or 14.8 percent to $92.1 billion.

Existing Home Sales – Released 11/21/2023 – The Existing home slowdown continues with a slight improvement over last month. Existing home sales in October fell 14.6 year over year but that trend is actually improving.

Housing Starts Released 11/17/2023 – October housing starts came in at 1,372,000, 1.9% above the September estimate but is 4.2% below the October 2022 rate. Building permits were 1.1% above the September rate at $1,487,000 but 4.4% below the October 2022 rate.

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization Released 11/16/2023 – Industrial production decreased 0.6% in October. Much of this decline can be attributed to a 10.0% drop in motor vehicle and parts production that has been affected by strikes within automobile manufacturers. Utilities output decreased 1.6%. Manufacturing decreased 0.7%. Mining increased 0.4%. Capacity utilization decreased to 78.9% in October, 0.8 percent below its long-run average.

Retail Sales Released 11/15/2023 – Headline retail sales decreased 0.1% in October and are up 2.5% above October 2022.

Producer Price Index Released 11/15/2023 – The Producer Price Index for final demand decreased 0.5 percent October, seasonally adjusted. Final demand increased 0.4 percent in September. On an unadjusted basis, the index for final demand moved up 1.3 percent for the 12 months ended in October.

Consumer Price Index Released 11/14/2023 – The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers was unchanged in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, after increasing 0.4 percent in September. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.

US Light Vehicle SalesReleased 11/3/2023 – U.S. light vehicle sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 15.497 million units in October.


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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