The Week In Review
The major averages wrapped up the range-bound week with modest Friday gains. The S&P 500 (+0.4%) and the Nasdaq (+0.4%) finished at new record highs while the Dow (+0.3%) settled just a step behind its peers. For the week, the S&P 500 added 0.6%.
Buyers had a slight edge from the jump after the Employment Situation Report for April showed better than expected nonfarm payrolls (211,000 actual vs 180,000 Briefing.com consensus) and lower than expected unemployment (4.4% actual vs 4.6% Briefing.com consensus). However, the Jobs report did have a few blemishes. Namely, the labor force participation rate dipped to 62.9% from 63.0% and average hourly earnings decelerated on a year-over-year basis (to 2.5% from 2.6%).
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York revised its second quarter GDP forecast to +1.8% from last week's +2.3% following today's data. However, investors in the bond market lacked conviction to push Treasuries one way or the other. The benchmark 10-yr yield (2.35%) settled at its unchanged mark.
Crude oil registered a much needed bounce-back performance on Friday, jumping 1.5% to $46.23/bbl. However, the positive showing only put a dent into the 8.0% week-to-date loss that the commodity brought into Friday's session. WTI crude faced multiple challenges this week, including persistently high U.S. inventories, weak economic data from China, and deteriorating technical support. Nonetheless, the energy sector appreciated the late-week rally, adding 1.6%.
The lightly-weighted telecom services (+1.5%) and materials (+1.4%) sectors closed in line with the energy space at the top of the day's leaderboard. Like energy, the materials group received some support from the commodity market with copper ($2.53/lb, +0.8%) finishing solidly higher after dropping 5.7% over the three previous sessions. Gold (1,226.90/ozt, -0.1%) and silver ($16.28/ozt, -0.1%) closed just below their flat lines, however, in light of their respective weekly losses of 3.3% and 5.7%, the slight downtick was a positive.
Retailers helped push the consumer discretionary sector (+0.6%) ahead of the benchmark index, evidenced by the 1.5% increase in the SPDR S&P 500 Retail ETF (XRT 43.39, +0.62). The industrial group (+0.6%) also settled ahead of the broader market with aerospace and defense names providing a pocket of strength. The real estate (+0.8%), utilities (+0.6%), consumer staples (+0.3%), and technology (+0.3%) spaces also finished in the green.
On the flip side, the influential financials (-0.1%) and health care (-0.1%) sectors ended Friday's session a tick below their flat lines. Biotech names weighed on the health care sector with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 295.87, -2.58) losing 0.9%. The financial space experienced broad weakness with most of its largest components settling in the red.
In Europe, the major bourses finished higher across the board with France's CAC (+1.1%) leading the advance. The positive performance precedes the French presidential run-off, which will take place on Sunday. The latest polls give Emmanuel Macron a healthy 62-38 advantage over Marine Le Pen. This has been construed as a positive for equity markets in light of Ms. Le Pen's anti-EU rhetoric. Germany's DAX and the UK's FTSE settled higher by 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively.
The U.S. Dollar Index (98.44, -0.17) slipped 0.2% as the greenback lost 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively, against the euro (1.0994) and the pound (1.2978).
In addition to the Employment Situation Report, investors received the March Consumer Credit report on Friday:
The April Jobs Report showed that nonfarm payrolls hit 211,000 (Briefing.com consensus 180,000), nonfarm private payrolls added 194,000 (Briefing.com consensus 175,000), the unemployment rate fell to 4.4% (Briefing.com consensus 4.6%), average hourly earnings increased 0.3% (Briefing.com consensus 0.3%), and the average work week was 34.4 (Briefing.com consensus 34.4).
The key takeaway from the report for us is that there were some elements that left it a little out of sync with the view that the economy is poised to hit, and sustain, escape velocity. The asynchrony we are referring to is the drop in the labor force participation rate and the deceleration in average hourly earnings growth on a year-over-year basis. The former dipped to 62.9% from 63.0% while the latter slipped to 2.5% from 2.6%. Friday's last economic report--March Consumer Credit (Briefing.com consensus $16.0 billion)--will cross the wires at 15:00 ET.
The Consumer Credit report for March showed an increase of $16.4 billion while the Briefing.com consensus expected growth of $16.0 billion. The prior month's credit growth was revised to $13.8 billion from $15.2 billion.
Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.25% during the first quarter (and 5.25% in March), with revolving credit little changed and nonrevolving credit increasing at an annual rate of 5.75%.
Investors will not receive any economic data on Monday.
Nasdaq Composite +13.3% YTD
S&P 500 +7.2% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +6.3% YTD
Russell 2000 +2.9% YTD
Week In Review: Flat & Happy
The S&P 500 opened the week by eking out back-to-back wins. Monday's marginal victory was fueled by the top-weighted technology and financials sectors while Tuesday's uptick took place despite the lack of sector leadership and crude oil's 2.5% decline. On the political front, Congress reached an agreement to keep the government funded through September while President Trump reiterated that he might like to break up the nation's biggest banks.
On Wednesday, the benchmark index registered its first, and only, loss of the week (-0.1%) after Apple (AAPL) reported lower than expected iPhone unit sales. However, the tech giant's upbeat earnings kept losses in check. The FOMC voted to leave the fed funds target range unchanged at 0.75%-1.00%, as expected, with the accompanying policy statement providing little to no new information.
The House of Representatives passed the revised American Health Care Act on Thursday, a big victory for the GOP. However, the bill will face heavy resistance in the Senate, where it can only afford to lose two Republican votes. Crude oil also made headlines, plunging 4.7% to a five-month low near $45.50/bbl. The tumble was credited to a string of disappointing inventory reports, some weak data out of China, and the deteriorating technical picture for the commodity. The S&P 500 added 0.1%.
Buyers were intrigued by Friday's better than expected Employment Situation Report for April, however, gains were capped once again ahead of the final round of the French presidential election, which will take place on Sunday. Polls suggest that Emmanuel Macron will easily defeat his rival Marine Le Pen, which has been construed as a positive for global equity markets given Ms. Le Pen's anti-EU rhetoric. France's CAC ended the week at its highest level in over ten years.
In the end, despite the range-bound action, this week will be remembered as a happy one with the S&P 500 advancing for the fourth week in a row, adding 0.6%. The fed funds futures market still points to the June FOMC meeting as the most likely time for the next rate-hike announcement with an implied probability of 83.1%, up from last week's 66.6%.