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Leigh Baldwin & Co.

112 Albany Street, Cazenovia, NY 13035 | Phone: (315) 655-2964 Toll Free: 1-800-659-8044

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The Week In Review

8/11/17

The stock market's three-day slide came to an end on Friday, but just barely, as the S&P 500 (+0.1%) eked out a narrow victory. The Dow (+0.1%) finished in line with the benchmark index while the Nasdaq outperformed, advancing 0.6%. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 1.4%.

 

Geopolitical tensions continued to linger on Friday, pushing both European and Asian markets lower and keeping gains on Wall Street in check. President Trump issued another statement regarding the ongoing situation with North Korea, saying "[m]ilitary solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely."

 

However, the market's anxiety was obviously dialed back a bit as the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX 15.52, -0.52) declined 3.2%, retreating from the four-month high it posted on Thursday. Conversely, U.S. Treasuries moved higher once again, but the rally had more to do with another tepid inflationary reading than with geopolitical concerns.

 

Both the Consumer Price Index and the core Consumer Price Index, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.1% in July. Those monthly readings were below expectations--the Briefing.com consensus anticipated an increase of 0.2% for both--and left the CPI up 1.7% year-over-year, versus 1.6% in June, and the core CPI up 1.7%, unchanged from June.

 

The Fed will like that there wasn't any further deterioration in consumer inflation trends, yet with its preferred PCE Price Index up just 1.4% year-over-year in June, today's CPI report isn't going to change the prevailing belief that the Fed will want to take more time to determine if inflation is picking up toward its 2.0% target on a sustained basis.

 

Treasuries moved higher across the curve, but buying was heaviest at the front end; the 2-yr yield dropped four basis points to 1.29% while the 10-yr yield slipped two basis points to 2.19%. Meanwhile, the U.S. Dollar Index (92.95, -0.35) lost 0.4% as the greenback dropped 0.5% against the euro to 1.1825 and 0.3% against the pound to 1.3019.

 

As for the equity market, the S&P 500's most influential sectors--technology (+0.8%) and financials (-0.5%)--battled each other from opposite ends of the leaderboard. The tech group benefited from broad strength with mega-cap names like Apple (AAPL 157.48, +2.16) and Microsoft (MSFT 72.50, +1.09) showing particular resolve. The two names advanced 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively.

 

NVIDIA (NVDA 155.96, -8.78) was one of the few laggards in the tech space, dropping 5.3% despite beating both top and bottom line estimates and raising its revenue guidance for the third quarter. However, the good news was likely priced in ahead of the report as the chipmaker did come into Friday's session with an impressive year-to-date gain of 54.3%.

 

Elsewhere on the earnings front, Snap (SNAP 11.83, -1.94) plunged 14.1% after reporting worse than expected earnings, revenues, and daily active users. Following Friday's slide, the social media company now sits 59.8% below its all-time high of $29.44 per share, which it posted shortly after its IPO in early March.

 

In total, five sectors--technology (+0.8%), consumer discretionary (+0.5%), health care (+0.3%), industrials (+0.1%), and consumer staples (+0.1%)--finished in the green while six sectors--energy (-0.7%), utilities (-0.6%), real estate (-0.6%), financials (-0.5%), materials (-0.2%), and telecom services (-0.1%)--finished in the red.

 

Looking ahead, investors will not receive any economic data of note on Monday.

 

Nasdaq Composite +16.2% YTD

Dow Jones Industrial Average +10.6% YTD

S&P 500 +9.0% YTD

Russell 2000 +1.3% YTD

Week In Review: Wall Street Slips Alongside U.S.-North Korea Relations

 

Wall Street took it to the chin this week as a war of words between the U.S. and North Korea prompted investors to take some profits on the heels of the stock market's most recent run to new record highs. Small caps paced the retreat, sending the Russell 2000 lower by 2.7%. The benchmark S&P 500 dropped 1.4% while the Dow (-1.1%) did a little better and the Nasdaq (-1.5%) did a little worse.

 

After closing Monday at record highs, the S&P 500 and the Dow showed no signs of slowing down on Tuesday morning, further extending their all-time intraday highs. But then sentiment began to shift. The major averages retraced the bulk of their gains as the heavily-weighted financial sector, which led the early rally on Tuesday, began to weaken. Then a second wave of selling took Wall Street into the red.

 

The second round of selling followed a statement from President Trump, in which he warned that North Korea will be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continues to threaten action against the United States. Mr. Trump's comment came just a few hours after the Washington Post reported that North Korea now has the capability to load its missiles with miniaturized nuclear warheads.

 

Selling extended into Wednesday's session after Pyongyang responded to President Trump's Tuesday comment by saying that it's examining a plan to send missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam. However, it's important to note that selling on Tuesday and Wednesday was very modest, leaving the S&P 500 with a two-day loss of just 0.3%.

 

That changed on Thursday though as investors began selling with conviction, sending the S&P 500 lower by 1.5%. While the jawboning between the U.S. and North Korea certainly threw the bulls off balance, Thursday's slide, which marked the S&P 500's worst one-day loss since May, pointed to a market that was probably overdue for a pullback following yet another run to new record highs.

 

In other words, the U.S.-North Korea spat certainty didn't help investor sentiment, but, more than anything, it provided a convenient excuse for investors to take some money off the table.

 

Boosted by another lukewarm inflationary reading and an ever-persistent "buy the dip" mentality, the bulls won out on Friday, pushing the stock market slightly higher. The Consumer Price Index ticked up just 0.1% in July, missing the Briefing.com consensus of +0.2%. The Fed prefers the PCE Price Index, but it's clear that the latest CPI reading didn't help the case for a third rate hike in 2017.

 

The fed funds futures market now points to the June FOMC meeting as the most likely time for the next rate-hike announcement with an implied probability of 57.5%. Last week, the market expected the next rate hike to occur in December with an implied probability of 50.4%.

 

It's also worth pointing out that the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spiked 5.5 points, or 54.7%, this week after drifting near an all-time low from mid-July to early August. The VIX shows what kind of a move, in percentage terms, the market is pricing in for a one-month period from the spot reading. The index is derived from near-dated options on the S&P 500.