The Weekly Wealth of Knowledge is your download of this week's most important topics related to financial planning, the markets, and our community. In this issue:
- A lesson on economic indicators - (2 minute read)
- June is National Safety Month - Auto Insurance (2 minute read)
- Market Outlook - Looking Forward? (4 minute read)
A Lesson on Economic Indicators
As states cautiously begin the process of relaxing their COVID-19 restrictions, some are wondering, “Why is the stock market doing so well when the economy is doing so poorly?”
It’s a great question, and fortunately, one that's been answered before. To find the answer, we’ll need to dust off those economic textbooks of yesteryear and turn to the chapter on “lead, lag, and coincident indicators.”
“Lead indicators” are factors that are used to anticipate what may happen 6-9 months in the future. Think of the stock market as the foremost lead indicator. Now, imagine that the stock prices today are anticipating where the economy will be in 6-9 months. Is it correct? Despite what some may claim, no one knows for sure.
Alternatively, “coincident indicators” attempt to show the state of the economy right now. For example, gasoline deliveries are currently trending higher, consumer confidence appears to have stabilized, and airlines are seeing more bookings. Even the supply of toilet paper seems less of a concern these days, with Google searches for TP falling to near-normal levels.1,2 This may hint at higher consumer confidence at present.
Finally, “lag indicators” provide insight into past economic data. They may confirm long-term trends, but they are not very good at forecasting. The consumer price index is a historically classic example of a lag indicator. It tells us what inflation was, but doesn’t provide much insight about the future.
In general, when trying to evaluate why the markets are behaving a certain way, it may be best to gather as much data as possible. Economic indicators can help provide context for what can often seem counterintuitive behavior, especially in the face of intense global disruption.
Let us know if you’d like to chat about the economy or any other topics you’re pondering.
1. MarketWatch, May 20, 2020
2. MarketWatch, May 20, 2020
June is National Safety Month
Liability Insurance is paramount to your overall financial plan, but dealing with it is often overlooked. We can help facilitate and ensure you have the right coverage to protect your assets and your financial plan.
Have a read about the ABC's of your Auto Insurance and don't hesitate to call if we can assist!
Market Outlook- Looking Forward
As we look ahead to the summer months, we can’t help but think what a challenging year it’s been so far. At the same time, we’re encouraged by the resiliency and accelerated innovation among US businesses and the efforts by our national, state, and local governments to support our communities. And we continue to be amazed by the unparalleled dedication and cooperation among our front-line healthcare professionals and medical researchers to see us through to the other side of this health crisis.
In a similar way, the recent strength of the financial markets appears to be looking beyond continued economic weakness. Much of the economic news has been dismal, and there may be more bad news ahead, but economic data is backward-looking. It’s important to remember that the stock market looks forward.
Economic numbers are still negative, but they aren’t as bad as they were a month ago, and that’s usually been a prelude to things starting to get better. New claims for unemployment are still historically high, but they’ve improved eight weeks in a row, and the total number of people on the unemployment rolls has actually started to drop (US Labor Bureau). Manufacturing activity contracted in May, according to the Institute for Supply Management Purchasing Managers’ Index, but it was better than the prior month for the first time since January. And new home sales actually rose in the most recent US Census Bureau data for April, when they were widely expected to collapse.
Small businesses are anticipating better times ahead, too. In a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small businesses expressed the most optimism about the economy improving than at any time in the last year and a half. And if they expect improvement, they’ll prepare for it—by retaining or rehiring workers, restocking inventories, and continuing to follow best practices for keeping customers safe.
Looking forward also means gauging the ongoing impact of fiscal support. In the United States, Congress is working on a new stimulus package. The European Commission recently announced an unprecedented 750 billion euro stimulus. Japan has announced additional stimulus that could bring its total pandemic response to 40% of that country’s gross domestic product (GDP). While debt levels are rising and may have to be addressed in the future, these current fiscal actions continue to play an important role in limiting any long-term economic damage from the recession.
The stock market may have gotten a little ahead of itself, and there still may be bouts of volatility, but recent gains in the S&P 500 Index are not out of character. Like us, the markets are seeing things to look forward to. Consider the recent rally as the stock market’s version of anticipating dinner out with friends, enjoying a ballgame, or planning a vacation. These may not be right around the corner, and there may be setbacks along the way, but the plans have been made.
In the meantime, stay safe, thank you for supporting your local small businesses, and please contact us with any questions.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
All data is provided as of June 3, 2020.
Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.
All index data from FactSet.
This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.