Friday, September 28th, was the last trading day in 2018's 3rd quarter, and the S&P 500 posted its strongest quarterly return in nearly five years.[1] The Dow also showed impressive returns by beating expectations for the quarter, while the NASDAQ notched record highs against 2017 numbers. For the quarter, the S&P 500 jumped 7.2%; the Dow increased 9.3%; and the NASDAQ moved up 7.1%.[2]

Weekly numbers, however, revealed mixed performances: the S&P 500 slipped 0.54%; the Dow fell 1.07%; and the NASDAQ gained 0.74%.[3] Internationally, the MSCI EAFE dropped 1.07%.[4]

As we learn more about the 3rd­ quarter, some details from last week offer perspectives on where we stand today.

What We Learned About the 3rd Quarter Last Week

1. Consumer outlook suggests positive trends continue.

A few early reports have given us a sense of positive trends in consumer activity during the 3rd quarter:

  • Consumer sentiment rose in September to finish at healthy levels that beat August's performance, marking the third time the index has moved above 100.[5] With personal income optimism hitting a 14-year high, the positive trend suggests that nearly every population group now benefits from the 3rd quarter expansion.[6]
     

  • Consumer confidence neared its highest reading since 2000, beating analyst predictions and inching closer to the dotcom's record highs.[7] This rise came after a surge in August, prompting predictions that spending strength will carry us through 2018.[8] From sentiment boosts in the stock market to positive home-buying trends, consumers remain optimistic.[9]

These numbers suggest healthy consumer outlooks, positive economic attitudes, and possible trends in increased spending.[10]

2. Companies anticipate softer profits.

Although corporate earnings in the 1st and 2nd quarters rose roughly 25%, 3rd quarter corporate earnings may miss that mark. Of the 98 companies in the S&P 500 that have released earnings outlooks, 74 predicted that earnings will fall below expectations from Wall Street. This ratio is the worst since the earnings recession of 1st quarter 2016.[11] Even with the softer outlook, analysts still expect the S&P 500 to post numbers that indicate a growing economy.[12]

3. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth shows signs of slowing.

Core capital goods (not including aircrafts) dropped 0.5% in August, after July's negative performance, as demand for computers, electronic products, and motor vehicles waned. The shift prompted some analysts to revise their 3rd­ quarter GDP predictions downward. Yet, with a bump in wholesale and retail inventories, overall 3rd quarter growth remains in positive territory.[13] The Atlanta Federal Reserve now predicts growth to be 3.8%, revised from an earlier prediction of 4.4%.[14]

4. Tariffs start to drag 3rd quarter growth estimates.

The early effects of tariffs seem to have surfaced, as exports are now trending negatively. On September 27th, the International Trade in Goods report posted numbers that may predict slower 3rd quarter growth:

  • Exports dropped 1.6% in August, continuing July's downward trend.

  • Imports rose 0.7% yet have so far posted a trade negative for the quarter.

  • The trade deficit hit $75.8 billion, yet analysts believe this gap will narrow slightly once more 3rd quarter data emerges.[15]

If this trend involving exports and imports continues, the U.S. dollar may take a hit.[16] Meanwhile, on September 24th, President Trump added tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China responded with its own tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products. Though negotiations between the two countries have stalled, we will monitor the situation.[17]

What's Ahead

The Federal Reserve remained optimistic last week about the economy, raising the interest rate from 2.00% to 2.25%. The third increase this year is no surprise but does suggest confidence in a growing economy and low unemployment numbers, and that a fourth quarter hike is highly probable.[18]

With new data coming in, we'll deepen our understanding of the economy's performance in the 3rd quarter. If you have questions about how this may affect you or your financial life, contact us today; we're ready and happy to help. 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR

  • Monday: PMI Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending

  • Wednesday: PMI Services Index

  • Thursday: Jobless Claims, Factory Orders

  • Friday: Employment Situation, International Trade


Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.

International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.

The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies.

The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indices from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. 

The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

Consumer Confidence Index is based on a survey of 5,000 households that attempts to measure the respondent's confidence of current economic conditions and uses 1985 as the starting benchmark.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of output from U.S. factories and related consumption in the U.S.  It does not include products made by U.S. companies in foreign markets.

The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve and, informally, as the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. The Federal Reserve System is composed of 12 regional Reserve banks which supervise state member banks. The Federal Reserve System controls the Federal Funds Rate (aka Fed Funds Rate), an important benchmark in financial markets used to influence the supply of money in the U.S. economy.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

You cannot invest directly in an index.

Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Fixed income investments are subject to various risks including changes in interest rates, credit quality, inflation risk, market valuations, prepayments, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

These are the views of Platinum Advisor Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.

[1] www.marketwatch.com/story/stock-futures-fall-dow-set-for-worst-week-in-three-months-2018-09-28
[2] www.cnbc.com/2018/09/28/us-markets-political-turmoil-and-data-take-center-stage.html
[3]  http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX®ion=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI®ion=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
[4] https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
[5] www.marketwatch.com/story/us-consumer-sentiment-cools-a-bit-in-late-september-2018-09-28
[6] mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=485859&cust=mam&year=2018&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top
[7] mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=485922&cust=mam&year=2018&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top
[8] www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy/u-s-consumer-confidence-races-to-near-18-year-high-idUSKCN1LD201
[9] mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=485922&cust=mam&year=2018&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top
[10] mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=485922&cust=mam&wiconly=1&lid=0#top
[11] www.cnbc.com/2018/09/26/companies-are-warning-about-declining-profits-and-that-could-be-the-catalyst-for-a-pullback.html 
[12] www.marketwatch.com/story/this-trend-threatens-one-of-the-stock-markets-strongest-pillars-2018-09-26
[13] www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy/us-capital-goods-orders-trade-data-temper-third-quarter-growth-forecasts-idUSKCN1M71PK 
[14] money.cnn.com/2018/09/28/investing/stocks-markets-third-quarter/index.html 
[15] mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=486154&cust=mam&year=2018&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top
[16] mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=486154&cust=mam&wiconly=1&lid=0#top
[17] www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-24/trump-imposes-next-batch-of-china-tariffs-as-trade-war-escalates
[18] www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/09/26/fed-raises-rate/1426946002/