The Weekly Report

  • The cover chart shows the recent stall in household consumption, at least in terms of retail sales measured relative to total employment. The Fed says it isn’t concerned. Next week’s retail sales report, then, may loom larger for the bond market than tomorrow’s payroll report. After all, the FOMC has already concluded the US is at or near full employment. By the way, the chart is only one of any number of FTN metrics that show US economic growth continues to tail from its best run in 2014.
  • Stocks, of course, are impervious to such mundane things as economic trends. Starting the second quarter, investment managers enjoy their healthiest cushion of equity profits in more than four years. The patience that comes with a three-quarter run of gains in the stock market helps to explain why interest rates see more volatility so far this year than global stock exchanges. The Fed noticed elevated P/E ratios in the March minutes, a premature reaction to what is still a short-term event. The last significant run of elevated valuations remains the 1995-2000 dot-com era.
  • Last, a look at financial market returns in both March and the first quarter, along with the rationale behind the winners and the losers.
  • The Weekly Report will not publish the next two weeks.
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