PulsePoints > November Investment & Market Update
Current Market Moving Headlines The Gill Capital Partners Investment Committee meets weekly to review asset allocations, macro-economic events and manager performance. Below are a few topical items and the Committee’s view on them.
Equity Market Rally As bad as the global equity markets were in August and September, October was almost as good. Is the current rally a temporary respite with more selling to follow? Or was it the beginning of a sustained market rally?
Our view: In line with what we’ve expressed over the past couple of months, it was and continues to be our position that the selling and accompanying volatility in August and September represented a much needed market correction, not the beginning of a larger move down. As we pointed out in previous communications, many of the investor sentiment readings (VIX, short interest, etc.) reached levels of negativity not seen since 2008 and 2009. Such extreme negative investor sentiment has generally accompanied market bottoms, not tops. As this document is being written, the S&P 500 is up nearly 10% since September 30th and emerging market equities are up nearly 9%. That is compared to declines of 6.5% and 18% in the third quarter, respectively. So where do we see equity markets going from here? We are maintaining our equity allocations moving into year end. In fact, we are cautiously optimistic for a year-end market rally based on increased Federal Reserve clarity and optimism, federal budget and debt ceiling resolution (more on these topics below), lessening concern about the global economy, and earnings stability.
Federal Reserve Update The Federal Reserve, as was widely anticipated, left interest rates unchanged again at the October 28th FOMC meeting. What is the updated outlook for interest rates and Federal Reserve policy?
Our view: September’s Fed meeting was somewhat of a disaster, as the Federal Reserve passed on their opportunity to raise interest rates and provide clarity to financial markets, only instead adding confusion and volatility to the global financial markets. In contrast, the Federal Reserve seemed to get it right in October, opening the door for a potential rate hike at the December meeting, and removing language from their minutes related to their concerns over global growth. Financial markets liked the clarity and the Federal Reserve’s generally positive take on the economy as equity markets rallied following the news. Assuming that economic reports continue to show gradual improvement, including a strengthening labor market and strong consumer spending, we anticipate the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates by 25 basis points at some point in the next few months, and likely in December. More importantly, however, is the question of how quickly the Federal Reserve will continue to increase rates over the coming months and years. It is our assumption, as we have stated previously, that we will likely see a much slower pace of tightening than we have in past cycles. The Federal Reserve recognizes that it needs be very careful not to tighten monetary policy too much in light of a strengthening dollar and ongoing Central Bank easing in many parts of the world. We are using these assumptions to target specific areas of the yield curve to invest in and to determine what should be avoided.
Debt Ceiling and a Budget Deal As of this writing, it appears that an agreement on the budget, and therefore an increase to the debt ceiling, appear imminent. In the face of a debt ceiling deadline of November 3rd, Lawmakers in the House approved a budget deal that would lift the debt ceiling through March of 2017, when the nation’s borrowing authority runs out. The Senate is now expected to vote in the coming days, where departing House Speaker John Boehner has, by all accounts, negotiated an agreement that will see the budget quickly move to President Obama’s desk for approval. The budget will increase federal spending to over $80 billion for the next two years and suspend the nation’s debt limit through March of 2017. To pay for the higher levels of spending, the proposal uses a mix of reforms to entitlement programs, including disability and Medicare. It also proposes generating revenue from the sale of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.
Our view: While not done yet, it appears that a budget deal is looking likely and that Congress will raise the debt limit prior to the deadline. We view the risk of the Treasury missing scheduled payments to be very low. This is a recurring issue that arises every couple of years; the process this time around has been quite smooth so far. If the budget is enacted prior to the deadline, it will eliminate one more near-term source of market uncertainty and potential economic drag. Furthermore, if enacted, many analysts believe the deal will result in a modest boost to growth in 2016 and 2017.
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