Policy Risks Loom But Clarity Ahead

 

Several policy-related risks loom in September and October that may lead to an increase in market volatility. The debt ceiling needs to be raised (likely by mid-October), the government needs to be funded to avoid a shutdown by the end of September, and the Democrats are trying to pass two major spending bills and will need to provide greater clarity on tax increases over the next several weeks. We believe the greatest risks come from the debt ceiling and taxes, but expect neither to have much near-term impact on the general trajectory of the bull market.

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Poking The Bear

 

First and foremost, this week’s commentary should not be construed to suggest that we are saying stocks will go up forever. We are also not saying that stocks are immune from a pullback in the final four months of 2021. Corrections are a normal part of investing and the S&P 500 Index has yet to
pull back even 5% so far this year, something that happens on average three times per year.  However, we remain steadfastly bullish and this week want to explore five things that some bears believe that do not worry us.

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Why Stagflation Isn’t In The Cards

 

 

The term stagflation has been circulating increasingly in the financial media as inflation readings have risen sharply in recent months. The term is often associated with the 1970s, which saw runaway inflation—largely driven by sky-high energy prices—and lackluster economic growth. Stagflation and a return to the weak equity markets of the 1970s would be understandably scary. However, when looking at the data, we remain skeptical that either runaway inflation or low growth are right around the corner, much less both at the same time.

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Corporate America Does It Again

 

Corporate America did it again. Companies blew by estimates and made  strategists and analysts look silly (though we humbly suggest that we may have looked less silly than most in our earnings preview on July 12). S&P 500 earnings growth did not surprise by quite as much as in the first quarter, but came pretty close—boosted by the biggest quarterly upside revenue surprise in at least 13 years. Here, we recap the strong numbers and raise our forecasts for earnings and for S&P 500 fair value at year-end.

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COVID Update: Delta Variant Market Impact

 

The highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 now makes up an overwhelming majority of the new cases in the U.S., bringing with it a rise in cases and hospitalizations. Widespread vaccine distribution and distancing measures have helped limit the variant’s impact, but we could still see some drag on economic growth as some restrictions are reintroduced and consumers potentially become more cautious. While we may see an increase in market volatility due to the Delta variant, we believe the S&P 500 is still likely to see more gains through the end of the year.

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Three Things To Watch This Earning Season

We ran out of superlatives to describe corporate America’s stunning performance during first-quarter earnings season. Despite lofty expectations, results exceeded expectations by one of the biggest margins ever. So what will companies do for an encore? We expect more good news this quarter as more of the economy has opened up, while also acknowledging the second quarter will almost certainly end up being the peak in earnings growth for this cycle. Here, we highlight what to watch.

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Three Things That Worry Us

Markets are off to a strong start this year, with the S&P 500 Index up about 14% so far. However, most of those gains came early in the year, and many stocks have stagnated over recent months. While we remain overweight on stocks relative to bonds, this week we explore three things that worry us—and could make the market more susceptible to a pullback as we enter the second half of 2021.

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Inflation & What The Fed Is Saying

Inflation has been on the rise. Investors are not as interested in what’s happening now as they are in what’s happening next. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve (Fed) shared its views at the conclusion of its last policy meeting on Wednesday, June 16. And while the Fed’s position that inflation is likely to be transitory has become stronger, not weaker, Fed members have seemingly different opinions on the future path of monetary support.

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