U.S. earnings, Chinese GDP data and BoC tightening
U.S. corporate earnings season gathered momentum this week with traders encouraged about the outlooks for American companies. According to FactSet, the blended corporate earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to be 10.2% in Q4 2017 with all eleven sectors expected to report earnings growth for the quarter. Turning to economic news, the unfolding global growth story was further aided by news out of China that its economy expanded at a-better-than-expected 6.9% last year, the first acceleration in seven years. On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada increased interest rates by a quarter-percentage point to 1.25% on the backs of strong employment data, inflation close to target and an economy that’s operating at near-full capacity. One question mark on the horizon for the bank is the uncertainty surrounding NAFTA with trade talks set to resume in Montreal next week. Also in Canada, a summit held in Vancouver Tuesday to determine strategies to reign in North Korea ended with a declaration signed by 20 allied countries to ratchet up economic sanctions and political pressure until Pyongyang abandons its nuclear ambitions. Turning to U.S. political news, lawmakers remained split over immigration policies which could force a partial government shut down this weekend unless a short-term spending bill is passed to keep the doors open. In the eurozone, Greek parliamentarians approved the latest package of economic reforms Monday which clears the way for post-bailout discussions to begin as early as April after eight years of economic and political turmoil. Looking ahead, there are monetary policy meetings in Japan and the eurozone next week as well as Q4 GDP data from the U.S.
U.S stocks notch fresh records
Major U.S. stock benchmarks notched more record highs this week with the Dow closing above the 26,000 pt. mark for the first time. For the four days covered in this report, the Dow added 214 pts. to close at 26,017, the S&P 500 moved ahead 12 pts. to finish at 2,798 and the Nasdaq gained 35 pts. to end at 7,296. The TSX gave back 24 pts. through Thursday to settle at 16,284.
2018 gets off to a strong start as fundamentals remain solid
Equities: We are approaching the two-year anniversary (in February) of our bullish call on global equities. Although this call has worked out well, we are not yet ready to throw in the proverbial towel and call an end to this bull run. We have hypothesized that it could end up being the longest in history, and so far it is the second-longest (behind only that of the 1990’s). In the short term, we are encouraged by strong earnings and macro momentum, firming commodity prices, reasonable equity valuations (in our view), and an analyst community that has been reluctant to increase equity target prices (greater than 30% of S&P 500 constituents are trading above their respective 12-month consensus price targets). In our opinion, these factors bode well for a continuation of equity outperformance relative to fixed income in 2018.
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