Great market summary from Bob Doll at Nuveen Asset Management:
- Economic data remains strong and hurricane effects have been surprisingly muted. Real third quarter gross domestic product was reported to be 3.0%, with nominal growth hitting 5.2%. Both numbers came in higher than expected, with nominal growth reaching its strongest pace since 2006.
- Home sales are increasing, demonstrating that economic growth remains broad. New home sales hit their highest level since 2007.
- The Federal Reserve is on track to increase rates again in December. We expect the central bank will enact its third hike of the year, while continuing to reduce its balance sheet. Fed policy remains accommodative, but is clearly normalizing.
- Corporate earnings are on track for another strong quarter. We are past the halfway point of reporting season, and the vast majority of companies have beaten expectations. On average, companies are ahead of earnings growth expectations by 4.9%.
- Stock buybacks appear to have slowed, but companies are still deploying cash in shareholder-friendly ways. From our vantage point, we are seeing companies pour more resources into hiring and modest amounts of capital expenditures.
- Tax reform prospects still appear uncertain, but we have seen progress on the regulatory front. While President Trump has struggled to enact his pro-growth legislative agenda, he has had success in rolling back regulatory enforcement. The financial and energy sectors in particular appear to be benefiting from less scrutiny.
- It is possible that tax reform will focus on corporate rather than individual rates. The most controversial aspects of tax reform are focused on possible changes to individual tax rates (such as arguments over the deductibility of state and local taxes). In contrast, corporate tax reform appears less controversial, as Congress seems to have broad agreement on the need to reduce corporate taxes and solve the issue of overseas profits. While still a small probability, Republicans may choose to separate the two issues and proceed solely on a corporate tax bill.
Economic growth remains muted but earnings are exceeding expectations. High levels of stock buybacks in the last few years must be playing a part.
Rising home sales are a bullish sign.
The Fed remains accommodative for the present but I expect increasing inflationary pressure to temper this next year.
Slow rates of investment remain a cause for concern and could hamper future growth — buybacks are cosmetic and won’t solve the low growth problem in the long-term.
Corporate tax reform would be a smart move, creating a more level playing field, while avoiding the acrimony surrounding individual tax rates.
Stage 3 of the bull market continues…..