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Tom Hutchinson

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If consistent cash in your pocket isn’t reason enough to own monthly dividend REITs, here are some other attractive features of this type of investment.
Even the temporarily averted government shutdown can’t do much for this market. The S&P 500 is now down more than 7% from the 52-week high and may be headed to correction territory, down 10% or more.

The main problem is high interest rates. The benchmark ten-year Treasury rate continues to rise and just hit a new 16-year high near 4.7%. The Fed’s recent statement that interest rates will remain higher for longer continues to demoralize investors.
The market is always uncertain. No one ever really knows in which direction the next 5% or 10% move will be. But this is a much higher level of uncertainty than usual.

The good year so far has been a surprise. Most pundits were forecasting more gloom and doom at the beginning of the year. But the S&P 500 is up 15% YTD. It rallied on the promise of a soft landing and then got a further boost as artificial intelligence spending promises to be a strong growth catalyst for the market’s largest sector for years to come. After sputtering for the last six weeks, where does it go from here?
The market is starting this week higher on optimism about a “soft landing.” But the CPI inflation number for August that comes out on Wednesday could derail or support the rally.

Things seem upbeat Monday morning. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday that she is “feeling very good” about avoiding a recession while still reining in prices. Of course, she called inflation “transitory” in early 2021. There were also some encouraging numbers about the Chinese economy. Also, the Fed is widely expected not to raise the Fed Funds rate later this month.
Summer is over. The post Labor Day market begins this week. What can we expect?

The market has been nearly impossible to predict over the past several years. There was the pandemic crash, the recovery that began shortly after the lockdowns began, the 2022 bear market, and the surprising return to a bull market this year.
The market tends to be lackluster in the late summer. But that goes double for the last week of the summer.

Unless there is a riveting headline, the overall market is likely in a holding pattern until the rubber hits the road next week after Labor Day. Sobered up investors back from vacation will take a fresh look at things after they wrap up the summer and come back from vacation. What will they see?
Earnings season is about over. And the end of the summer is upon us.

This is a weird time of year for the market. Investors tend to pay less attention because many of them are focused on trying to squeeze in the last bit of summer fun and laxness before it slips away. The market tends to do whatever it was doing before people stopped paying attention.

It was going sideways, and that is what it will likely continue to do for the next several weeks. Of course, a major headline could certainly change that. But most often these waning days of summer tend to be less eventful.
Stocks are starting the week back in business after last week’s dip over the credit downgrade. The credit downgrade doesn’t appear to be having much effect on the market at this point. Unless that changes, the market appears poised to continue to forge higher, at least for the time being.

Meanwhile, it’s still earnings season and the past couple of weeks have been busy for the portfolio. Earnings had been very kind to the portfolio two weeks ago with Digital Realty (DLR), AbbVie (ABBV), and Intel (INTC) all getting sizable boosts with better-than-expected results. But the season soured on the portfolio last week as both Qualcomm (QCOM) and Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) laid eggs.
The good times are here again. The S&P 500 is up over 19% YTD and is now within just 4% of the all-time high. Stocks are in a strong uptrend that began in the beginning of May and appear likely to move still higher.

Inflation is crashing. The Fed is about out of bullets. And there is no recession in sight. Things could always discombobulate down the road. But there doesn’t appear at this point to be anything ahead in the next month or so that will change the current positive narrative.
These are confusing times in the market. It looks like a soft landing for the economy is more likely. But that’s no guarantee. We could still have a recession next year. The bull market could rage on or pull back. Instead of betting on the economic cycle, it’s a time to focus on individual stocks.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) exploded onto the market scene in a huge way in May when semiconductor company Nvidia (NVDA) blew away earnings expectations citing much higher demand for AI chips than anyone expected. It added another leg to the bull market as AI-related stocks soared.
It’s anybody’s guess what the second half will have in store for the market. The first half surprised almost everyone with a stellar 16% gain in the S&P.

Investors are sensing a soft-landing, whereby we get past this Fed rate hiking cycle without a recession and minimal economic pain. Recent economic numbers reflect a greater likelihood of that scenario.

Anything is possible. The market could be off to the races, or it could sober up and pull back. Inflation is falling while the Fed is still making hawkish noises. It’s reasonable to assume that even if the economy isn’t slowing down yet, the Fed will continue to raise rates until it does.
It has been a fabulous rally that has proven naysayers wrong. The S&P 500 is up about 15% YTD just before the midpoint. Stocks have also rallied more than 20% from the October low into a new bull market.

How much gas is left in the tank?

Inflation is falling and the Fed is almost done hiking rates. It is also looking less likely that there will be a recession this year. Investors are optimistic that we can get to the other side of this hiking cycle without too much pain.
It has been a fabulous rally that has proven naysayers wrong. The S&P 500 is up about 15% YTD just before the midpoint. Stocks have also rallied more than 20% from the October low into a new bull market.

How much gas is left in the tank?

Inflation is falling and the Fed is almost done hiking rates. It is also looking less likely that there will be a recession this year. Investors are optimistic that we can get to the other side of this hiking cycle without too much pain.
It’s a new bull market! The S&P 500 has rallied over 20% from the low, the technical definition of a bull market. The index is also up about 12% YTD. Are stocks topping out or are we off to the races? Despite inflation, the Fed, and increasing forecasts of recession, stocks have defied conventional wisdom and rallied strongly. That’s impressive. But this rally is incredibly thin. Ten primarily large technology company stocks are responsible for all of the index gains YTD. The other 490 stocks have collectively gone nowhere.
The economy is showing some mixed signals. But it certainly does not appear to be near a recession now. That could change. But it keeps not coming.

At the same time, the Fed is near the end of the rate hiking cycle. Sure, there’s speculation about another rate hike in the June meeting or the next one. But it is still close to the end of the hiking cycle. Inflation appears to be moderating (for now). Unless there is a big surprise with that number, the market can soon stop worrying about the Fed.
Last week was a big week in the market. Game-changing news in the technology sector that significantly improves future earnings projections for many companies is causing the sector to soar.

AI or artificial intelligence had been seen as a huge growth engine going forward as companies invest heavily in the technology. Those growth projections got a huge shot of adrenaline and the AI phenomenon got real when semiconductor company Nvidia (NVDA) reported earnings and guidance that blew the doors off expectations because of much higher investment and spending in the technology than previously thought.
The market is up for the year. That’s promising after last year’s debacle. But stocks have been going sideways since the beginning of April and can’t seem to decide on the next decisive direction.

On the one hand, the market has shown inspiring resilience amid the troubling headlines. On the other hand, there is a strong chance that the next significant move is lower after stocks have rallied 20% from the October low.
As I mentioned in the last update, last week was a big week for the market. Important earnings, the Fed meeting, and the jobs report all had implications for the near-term direction of the market. The market survived and came away about even for the week. Now what?

Earnings were generally positive. The Fed did what was expected by raising 0.25%, and the statements afterward were ambiguous. The employment report was solid as many more jobs were created. Also, the last two months of jobs figures were lowered. The readjustment quelled inflation fears while the current jobs report indicated no recession in sight.
This is a very important week that should determine the near-term direction of the market.

While the market digests the JPMorgan (JPM) buyout of First Republic Bank (FRC), the largest bank failure since the financial crisis, it looks ahead to a packed week. There’s a Fed meeting on Wednesday, where the Central Bank is widely expected to raise the Fed Funds rate by 0.25%. But the Chairman’s comments afterward will probably have a bigger impact on the market.
The market is changing. The risk is shifting from more Fed rate hikes and inflation to a growing possibility of recession in the quarters ahead. The math is changing and so is market rotation.

At the same time, earnings season is here, and we are likely in an earnings recession already. Average S&P 500 earnings shrunk 4% last quarter and are forecast to fall 5% this quarter. Much of that expectation is already reflected in prices and investors will be carefully watching the guidance for future quarters. If that is negative, companies that can continue to grow earnings and buck the trend should be at a premium.
It’s a big week. The March Consumer Price Index (CPI) report comes out on Wednesday. The number may determine the short-term course of the market.

Stocks have trended higher over the past month as the banking situation has so far tempered the Fed without any offsetting crisis. There now seems to be a greater likelihood of a recession later this year, but investors are also pricing in Fed rate cuts in the second half. That’s the dicey part.
Things are looking up in the market. The S&P 500 soared 3.5% last week and is now more than 7% higher YTD.

Investors love that the banking issues have had the benefit of tempering the Fed with no apparent offsetting crisis, so far. The expected timeline for the Fed to stop raising rates has moved way up, to one more rate hike from what could have been a hiking cycle that lasted the rest of the year.
This is a big week in the market. Investors are grappling with the fallout from the banking crisis and the Fed meeting later this week.

The failure of two banks last week also turns a spotlight on the vulnerabilities of smaller regional banks. The situation so far has not caused major reverberations in the market, as the government backstopped the fallout so far. But the situation might not be over. There could be more bank failures and ugly days for the market ahead.
We were rolling along in a choppy market to nowhere as the sticky inflation/hawkish Fed conundrum promised to play out for longer than hoped at the beginning of the year. But over the past several days a Black Swan event popped up, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.
The market had a great start to the year and then slumped in February. March started off with the best week in a month for the S&P 500. What’s next?

There will be a lot of information coming out this month that could determine whether the market rallies or slumps from here. This week, the Fed speaks and the February jobs report comes out. These events could give investors a better idea of how aggressive the Fed will remain.
Last week marked the fourth straight week of declines for the S&P 500 and was the worst week so far this year, down nearly 3%.

The problem is inflation, go figure. The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, the Personal Expenditures Price Index (PCE), was much higher than expected in January and showed inflation moving higher, not lower, to start the year.
Stocks are bracing for the January inflation report, which comes out today. The number could determine the next thrust of the market.

It’s been a good year so far for stocks, despite the slight pullback last week, as investors embrace the notion of falling inflation and a Fed that will finish raising interest rates around midyear. But a bad inflation report could put the kibosh on that optimism and send stocks reeling.
The market is making some noise so far this year. And in a good way. The S&P 500 is 7.7% higher and the Nasdaq is up 14.7% YTD. Is this real, or just another head fake?

The rally is being prompted by increasing optimism of a soft landing, where inflation falls without the economy falling into recession. Previously pessimistic pundits are now embracing the possibility. And there is some evidence to back up the soft-landing scenario.
The year has certainly started out in fine fashion. The S&P 500 has delivered positive returns for all four weeks so far this year. The S&P is up 6% YTD and the Nasdaq is up 11% YTD, as of Friday’s close.

But earnings have been lousy so far this quarter, with the average S&P 500 company that has reported so far posting -5% earnings growth from last year’s quarter. But the market was expecting that. Investors know there will be a declining economy this year, and the sooner it declines, the sooner the Fed will be done hiking rates.
It been a good start to the year, with the S&P 500 up over 4%. There is optimism that the Fed will lose its hawkish nerve as inflation falls and the economy turns south. Inflation was lower again in December, with CPI of 6.6% versus 7.1% in November and 9.1% in June. At the same time the economy is weakening, and most economists are predicting recession this year. Since markets tend to anticipate six to nine months into the future, it might not be that long until investors start sniffing out the end of the inflation/Fed conundrum and past the recession into a recovery.