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Consumer Conditions

The drop in gasoline prices over the fall and summer months has been a plus for spending, but other factors have a much bigger impact on the consumer. The better tone to the labor market, the sharp rise in household net worth, and prerecession levels of consumer confidence all act as supports for the consumer. However, stubbornly weak wage and income growth remain as key constraints on spending. Sustained economic growth is the best way to ensure solid employment growth.

High-Yield Divergence

The headwinds of rising high-quality bond yields and increasing new issuance have slowed the advance of high-yield bonds in late October 2014, relative to stock market gains. Nonetheless, we expect high-yield bonds may improve as economic expansion, earnings growth, and low defaults continue to drive our positive outlook. We continue to expect a challenging, lowreturn environment across the bond market, with high-yield bonds a likely bright spot.

S&P Is Not GDP

It is important to recognize that the S&P 500 is not GDP. S&P 500 companies have different drivers for earnings than the components that drive GDP. The backdrop of solid business spending within a slower trajectory of overall GDP growth can be a favorable one for the stock market. Although stocks are at the low end of our target 10–15% S&P 500 return range for 2014, we see further gains between now and year end as likely, with profit growth as a primary driver.

QE Ended, Now What?

The Fed ended its bond purchase program last week and the bar has been set fairly high for restarting more QE. The economy is in far better shape today, compared with the start of QE in 2008 and the end of QE1 and QE2. It is probably too soon to know if QE has “worked,” and the better question may be, can the U.S. economy stand on its own without QE? We believe the BOJ and ECB are likely to do more QE.

Breaking Up

The Fed will end outright bond purchases this week, barring any surprises from this week’s Fed meeting. The end of bond purchases should not create much market reaction, as bond investors focus more on global economic growth and expectations for interest rate hikes. The Fed’s breakup will not be a clean one as it maintains a steady influence in the MBS market.

 
Results: 90 Articles found.
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