May 2, 2019 – Over the past several months, expectations (and hopes) have been building that the Federal Reserve (Fed) may be moving toward rate cuts in the face of stubbornly low inflation, a move that would likely be helpful to equities. No one really expected the central bank to cut rates this week, but it appears that some investors were hoping for hints that it may be tilting more in that direction, and some apparently read the initial statement as just such a hint.
March 8, 2019— The February jobs report was just plain awful. With a Bloomberg median expectation of 180,000 jobs added, and our own higher expectation of 200,000, the shockingly low figure of just 20,000 had many of us thinking we were looking at a typo. Along with some other weak data on retail sales and business spending, the weak jobs figure will certainly drive discussions of whether we are coming up on the end of the expansion.
March 1, 2019— At long last, we have an estimate of economic growth for the fourth quarter of 2018. The report, which was delayed a month due to the government shutdown, surprised a bit to the upside, showing that Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, grew at an annualized rate of 2.6% in Q42018. There had been a few indications that growth might come in weaker, so it was a nice upside surprise.