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US Markets Soar to Buck Typically Downbeat August


FILE - Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City.

FILE - Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City.

Markets took a breather on Friday, following a trifecta of perfection on Thursday. Historically, August is the roughest month of the year for stocks, but not so far in 2016, as the S&P 500 Index, Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average each closed at all-time highs together for the first time since December 31, 1999.

Matthew Tuttle CEO of Tuttle Tactical Management said, "On the surface everything looks great as the momentum is in stocks as they keep making high after new high.”

Accommodative central bank policy and what Tuttle calls a “Goldilocks economy” in which it is not running too hot or too cold, and overall bullish expectations are supporting the market.

Crude oil crossed back over the $44 level following comments from Saudi Arabia's energy minister that the kingdom could participate in coordinated action to help balance the oil market. Some traders are skeptical because earlier in the week, OPEC said the Saudis' July output rose to a record 10.67 million barrels per day.

Retail sales

U.S. retail sales were unexpectedly flat in July as consumers cut back on purchases. Chris Christopher, Jr., Director of Consumer Economic at IHS Global Insight explained, “In July, consumers went to auto dealerships and bought many items online, but stayed away from the mall. Amazon’s Prime Day assisted in pushing the clicks over the bricks.”

Besides the key holiday season for retailers, back-to-school shopping is a major catalyst for consumer spending.

“August retail sales are likely to be significantly stronger than July’s reading. In 2015, back-to-school sales amounted to approximately $614.0 billion, a 3.8% increase [over the previous year],” Christopher said. “The consumer spending outlook is still relatively bright. Consumers and housing are doing most of the heavy lifting in the U.S. economy. The July retail sales report indicates that consumers have not thrown caution to the wind.”

Trading week ahead

The consumer will dominate the earnings calendar with 21 S&P 500 retail companies reporting quarterly results. Trends have been strong with housing-related stocks and discounters, while department/single-brand and big-box stores have struggled to stay competitive with online giant Amazon.com.

Key names to watch to gauge these trends are: Home Depot and Lowe’s (housing), TJX Stores and Ross Stores (discounters), Target and Wal-Mart (WMT) and Gap Stores (single-brand). Just days ago, Wal-Mart announced the largest e-commerce deal ever to acquire Jet, an online bulk retailer, in an effort to stay competitive with Amazon.

On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes from the June meeting will be released at 2 p.m. EDT. While investors do not expect a change in the minutes from the last FOMC meeting, the release will move the markets as traders pick apart each word, looking for clues to monetary policy. Three Federal Reserve Bank Presidents will also be on the speaking circuit.

Key economic data include: Housing Market Index, Consumer Price Index (CPI), Housing Starts, Industrial Production, Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey. Analysts will also be monitoring the weekly crude inventory Baker-Hughes Rig count reports to access the oil supply glut.

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