The continued expectations of easing monetary policies across the globe buoyed stocks higher this week. After the Fed chairman’s testimony before Congress, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied to a new record high and closed above 27,000. Powell’s comments were clearly aimed at a more accommodative policy that strengthened expectations for a rate cut on the horizon. The European Central Bank (ECB) is also reiterating this sentiment and is considering injecting fresh stimulus to the economy via interest-rate cuts, or the possibly quantitative easing. As the second-quarter earnings season kicks off next week, attention will shift from central banks moves to earnings, which analysts believe may increase volatility.
The U.S. economic expansion seems set to continue in good stead. In his words to Congress this week, Chair Powell characterized the economy as “in a good place.” Many endorse the fact that our current economic expansion has endured largely because of moderate pacing of economic growth. The economy’s steady pacing is supported by solid consumer spending, which composes 70% of economic growth. Based on strong unemployment, modest wage growth, and low interest rates, consumers are expected to maintain the current positive trend. As always, there are risks to this optimistic outlook:
- Too low of inflation
Inflation running either too high or too low is a negative. In the current climate the more immediate risk to the bull market is too low inflation more commonly called deflation. The risk here is that deflation could trigger a recession. The Fed has shown its willingness to cut short-term interest rates to correct this.
- U.S.- China trade tensions
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China are a major factor with the potential to slow global growth by dampening business investment and disrupting supply chains. According to OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), world trade growth for 2019 has fallen to 2.1% in 2019 from 3.9% in 2018. Trade tensions play a major role.
- Slowing global growth
While trade tensions are currently stealing headlines, other global concerns can be worrisome. These are based around geopolitical uncertainties such as Brexit, burgeoning Italian debt, and a slowing Chinese economy. All these factors have contributed to a slowing of global growth. Based on current trends, analysts expect global economic growth to slow over 2019.
Metals and Mining
The gold market had solid gains for the week with prices holding above critical psychological level at $1,400 an ounce. Gold also benefited from Fed Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments before Congress, which indicated a rate cut on July 31. A softer US dollar, geopolitical issues and a slow in economic growth were the main drivers behind the precious metal’s ability to trend between US$1,270 and US$1,420 per ounce throughout the quarter. August gold futures last traded at $1,418.60 an ounce, up more than 1% since last Friday. Next week will test endurance for gold bulls, as they wait to see if prices can hold above $1,400 an ounce in what should be a relatively uneventful week.
Silver made slight gains of 1.26 percent over the second quarter of this year which just came to a close. The white metal was somewhat stagnant throughout the period, but on a positive sentiment note, it reached its highest level towards the end of June.
Energy and Oil
Global oil demand continues to soften, which analysts say could result in a supply surplus in the second half of this year. The EIA downgraded its forecast for global oil demand growth to just 1.1 million barrels per day (mb/d) this year, down from the 1.2 mb/d the agency forecasted last month and from 1.4 mb/d in May in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook. They say that the “increasingly weak outlook” for demand could upend global balances. A slowing economic picture now means that inventories could actually increase by 0.1 mb/d. So, even with the OPEC+ cuts extended, the oil market could remain in a state of surplus throughout this year and next.
Natural gas spot prices rose at most locations this week. Henry Hub spot prices rose from $2.24 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) last Wednesday to $2.46/MMBtu Friday. At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the price of the August 2019 contract increased 15¢, from $2.29/MMBtu last Wednesday to $2.444/MMBtu Friday. According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Tuesday, July 2, the natural gas rig count increased by 1 to a total 174. The number of oil-directed rigs fell by 5 to a total of 788. The total rig count decreased by 4, and it now stands at 963.
Stock markets in Europe fell even as continued signs that both the Fed and the European Central Bank (ECB) are endorsing further stimulus measures. The pan-European STOXX Europe 600, the UK’s FTSE 100 Index, the German DAX index, and France’s CAC 40 Index fell as trade tensions expanded to a U.S. and France dust up. The European Commission cut its eurozone growth and inflation estimates citing the fact U.S. trade policy could pose a risk to the group. The commission lowered its inflation rate increase expectation, which it believes will be further from the ECB’s target of close to, but less than 2% over all.
Stocks in China recorded a weekly loss, likely as the U.S. trade policy’s impact on China’s economy sunk in. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.67%, and the large-cap CSI 300 Index, gave up 2.16%. China reported that export growth in June slowed 1.3% from a year ago, while imports fell a bigger-than-expected 7.3% from the prior-year period.
Even as a temporary halt in the trade battle was reached between the U.S and China, analysts believe that the differences between the two countries are complex and are not easy to resolve. This leaves the risk of increased tariffs and other forms of retaliation to potentially escalate quickly if negotiations break down.
The Week Ahead
This week kicks off the second-quarter earnings season when about 10% of S&P 500 companies report earnings all week long. Key economic data coming this week include retail sales, industrial production numbers, housing starts, and the index of leading economic indicators report, along with consumer sentiment released Friday.
Key Topics to Watch
– First S&P companies reporting
– June retail sales report
– June industrial production numbers
– NAHB homebuilders index released
– Leading economic indicators report
– Consumer sentiment
Markets Index Wrap Up