The economy is moving in the right direction, as many economic data points are coming in substantially better than what the economists expected. From May job gains coming in more than 10 million higher than expected and retail sales soaring a record 18%, how quickly the economy is bouncing back has surprised nearly everyone.
Collateralized loan obligations (CLO) are portfolios of leveraged loans, a type of below-investment grade loan usually taken out by more heavily indebted companies. Each CLO is divided into a series of tranches with different degrees of risk. The more senior tranches receive their interest payments first, and therefore, have a higher credit rating. Since the loans carry a floating rate of interest, CLOs provide investors with better protection from inflation and rising interest rates than bonds that have fixed payments.
The US economy has made impressive progress in recent weeks. As the economy re-opens, the way we assess the recovery has changed. In March and April, we were looking for evidence that growth in COVID-19 cases was decelerating—which thankfully it did—along with evidence that a recession was priced into stocks and that stimulus measures were sufficient to get us through the crisis. We used our Road to Recovery Playbook, shown below, to help us determine how the market was progressing in its bottoming process.
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, or CESI, tracks how the economic data fare compared with expectations. The index rises when economic data exceeds Bloomberg consensus estimates and falls when data is below forecasts. The CESI has had a volatile year in 2020, as the effects of lockdowns in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 significantly impacted the global economy. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, following an all-time low in April, the index has skyrocketed to a new all-time high as the economy’s reopening process continues.
Yesterday, The Conference Board released last month’s reading for its Leading Economic Index (LEI), a composite of leading data series, which showed a month-over-month increase of 2.8%. As seen in the LPL Chart of the Day, the return to positive territory follows three straight months of negative monthly growth.
US equities continued to gain ground in May, with the S&P 500 Index advancing an additional 4.5%. However, Treasury yields have been remarkably stable since the equity markets bottomed on March 23, with the 10-year Treasury yield trading in just a 16 basis point range during the entire month of May. That all changed this month, as the benchmark yield broke out of its range, moving 30 basis points higher to 0.96% in the first five trading days of June.
Dear Valued Investor,
As we look ahead to the summer months, we can’t help but think what a challenging year it’s been so far. At the same time, we’re encouraged by the resiliency and accelerated innovation among US businesses and the efforts by our national, state, and local governments to support our communities. And we continue to be amazed by the unparalleled dedication and cooperation among our front-line healthcare professionals and medical researchers to see us through to the other side of this health crisis.
The S&P 500 Index has rallied mightily off of its March 23 low, climbing almost 40% through the close of the market yesterday, as market participants look ahead to the economy continuing to gradually reopen. While there are signs that bond market participants’ overall assessment of the economy is slowly edging toward a similar outlook, it’s hard to call them true believers yet.
2020 is only five months old, but in many ways it is one of the most historic years we’ve ever seen. “2020 went from moving along nicely, to seeing the worst recession in a generation and the fastest bear market ever,” explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Now stocks are in the midst of one of the best bull runs ever, even though the economy remains extremely weak, thanks to record stimulus and hopes over a vaccine.”
Dear Valued Investor,
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
The economic struggles in our country are among the worst we’ve ever seen. In April, a record 20 million people lost their jobs, and 36 million people have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March. Record drops in consumer confidence, manufacturing, and spending are all adding to the immediate economic fallout. Specific industries have been devastated, with names like J.C. Penney, J.Crew, and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy.