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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Markets Mostly Flat, Discretionary Stocks Find Pressure

Charles Schwab: On the Market
Posted: 9/7/2017 4:15 PM ET

Markets Mostly Flat, Discretionary Stocks Find Pressure

U.S. stocks closed mostly flat as Dow member Walt Disney and Comcast announced warnings in regard to financial numbers this quarter and after the European Central Bank kept its monetary policy stance unchanged. The U.S. dollar touched on two-year lows and Treasury yields dropped. The potential destruction arising from Hurricane Irma added to the skittishness of the markets. Jobless claims jumped in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Q2 productivity was revised higher. Crude oil and gold both rose.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) declined 23 points (0.1%) to 21,785, the S&P 500 Index was nearly unchanged at 2,465, and the Nasdaq Composite increased 5 points (0.1%) to 6,398. In moderate volume, 787 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.0 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil ticked $0.07 lower to $49.09 per barrel and wholesale gasoline lost $0.01 to $1.66 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price was $14.62 higher at $1,348.84 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.8% lower at 91.55.

Shares of GoPro Inc. (GPRO $10) jumped after the wearable action camera maker announced that it expects revenue and gross margin for Q3 to be at the high end of its previously reported guidance, citing strong demand for its GoPro products.

RH (RH $72), the furniture company formerly known as Restoration Hardware, reported a Q2 loss of $0.28 per share, or earnings-per-share (EPS) of $0.65 ex-items, versus the FactSet estimate calling for EPS of $0.47, as revenues grew 14.0% year-over-year (y/y) to $619 million, compared to the forecasted $606 million. Q2 same-store sales rose 7.0% y/y, above the projected 5.8% increase. RH boosted its full-year EPS outlook after issuing Q3 profit guidance that easily beat expectations. Shares surged over 45%.

Dow member Walt Disney Co. (DIS $97) was under solid pressure after the company noted at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference that its full-year EPS will be roughly in line with the last year's $5.72, versus the Street's expectation of $5.89.

At the same conference, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA $38) said Hurricane Harvey and competition has resulted in a loss of some video subscribers that will hit its financial numbers this quarter.

Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY $82) announced steps to streamline its operations to focus better on developing new medicines and improve its cost structure, including the reduction of its workforce by 3,500 positions. Shares finished higher.

Cabela's Inc. (CAB $61) rallied after a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. (SNV $41) received regulatory approval to acquire certain assets and assume certain liabilities of World's Foremost Bank, a subsidiary of the camping, hunting and fishing gear chain.

Jobless claims boosted by Hurricane Harvey, Q2 productivity revised higher

Weekly initial jobless claims (chart) surged by 62,000 to 298,000 last week, well above the Bloomberg forecast of 245,000, with the prior week’s figure being unrevised at 236,000. The jump is being mostly attributed to the impact of Hurricane Harvey. The four-week moving average rose by 13,500 to 250,250, while continuing claims declined 5,000 to 1,940,000, south of estimates of 1,945,000.

Final Q2 nonfarm productivity (chart) was revised to a 1.5% rate of growth on an annualized basis, from the preliminary estimate of a 0.9% increase, and versus expectations of a 1.3% rise. Q1 productivity was unrevised at a 0.1% gain. Unit labor costs were adjusted to a 0.2% gain, from the initial report of a 0.6% increase, and versus the forecast calling for a 0.3% rise. Q1 labor costs were revised lower to a 4.8% increase.

Treasuries rose, as the yield on the 2-year note fell 4 basis points (bps) to 1.27%, while the yields on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond dropped 6 bps to 2.05% and 2.66%, respectively. Bond yields and the U.S. dollar were back under pressure after yesterday's modest rebound, with the former falling back to lows not seen since November and the latter trading at more than a two-year low. Geopolitical and domestic political uncertainties are lingering, while the markets are grappling with global monetary policy uncertainty as Fed rate hike expectations slip and the European Central Bank (ECB) left its monetary policy stance unchanged but noted that currency volatility needs to be monitored. Also, the markets are eyeing Hurricane Irma, which is tracking toward Florida on the heels of last week's Hurricane Harvey that damaged the Texas Gulf and disrupted the oil & gas markets.

Schwab's Chief Fixed Income Strategist Kathy Jones notes in her article, What's the Bigger Risk: Bond Market Bubble or Complacency?, we think bond yields are likely to rise from current levels as the economy continues to improve and the Federal Reserve tightens policy, but we don’t see a bubble in the market. Read more on the Fixed Income page at, and for analysis of investing styles, see Schwab's Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders' latest article, Radioactive II: Could the Tide Finally Be Turning for Active vs. Passive?, on the Markets & Economy page. Follow Kathy and Liz Ann on Twitter: @kathyjones and @lizannsonders.

Tomorrow, the U.S. economic calendar will deliver a read on wholesale inventories for July, expected to have increased 0.4% m/m, matching the rise seen in June, while in the final hour of trading, consumer credit will be reported and is expected to have expanded by $15.0 billion during July.

Europe mostly higher as ECB holds policy steady, Asia mixed amid China data

European equity markets traded mostly higher, despite the reaction in the currency markets after the ECB expectedly left its monetary policy stance unchanged. The euro jumped to highs not seen in over two years versus the U.S. dollar and bond yields in the region were lower to pressure financials and hamstring Italian and Spanish stocks. The markets scrutinized the customary press conference from ECB President Mario Draghi that followed the decision. He noted that the recent volatility in the currency markets is a source of uncertainty which requires monitoring for its impact on price stability, while reiterating that substantial policy accommodation is still needed. The ECB lowered its inflation outlooks for 2018 and 2019, while raising this year's GDP growth forecast and leaving its guidance for economic output in to following two years unchanged. As expected, he did not offer much on the timing of removing stimulus measures, noting that autumn may be when the groundwork for the process is detailed. The markets are anticipating next month's meeting to be the one when we get the ECB's plans for paring its stimulus measures. The euro's recent rally has been reported to be causing concern at the central bank and the markets appear to be surprised that Draghi did not offer more in terms stemming the euro's jump.

The British pound also gained ground on the greenback. In other economic news, German industrial production came in flat month-over-month in July, after falling 1.1% in June, and versus projections of a 0.5% gain. Eurozone Q2 GDP was revised higher to a 2.3% y/y pace, from the preliminary estimate of a 2.2% increase. For a look at global stock investing, see Schwab's Chief Global Investment Strategist Jeffrey Kleintop's, CFA, latest article, U.S. vs international: what do earnings tell us about what may be ahead?, on the Markets & Economy page at, and his video with Vice President of Trading and Derivatives, Randy Frederick, Is An Optimistic Outlook for Global Equities Warranted?, on the Insights & Ideas page. Follow Jeff and Randy on Twitter: @jeffreykleintop and @randyafrederick.

Stocks in Asia finished mixed following yesterday's modest rebound in the U.S., aided by news that President Trump supported a package that included a short-term debt ceiling extension that appeared to ease political concerns somewhat. Market participants traded with some caution ahead of today's monetary policy decision from the ECB and with China expected to report trade and inflation data later this week. Japanese equities rose, with the yen paring a recent run, while South Korean stocks snapped a recent losing streak. Tensions toward North Korea had pressured the Korean markets but no new developments in the past couple days seems to be cooling concerns. Schwab's Jeffrey Kleintop, CFA, notes in his article, Missiles and Markets: An investor guide to geopolitical risks investors should avoid overreacting to geopolitical developments and stick to their long-term financial plans. Read more on the International Investing page at Shares trading in mainland China and Hong Kong traded lower. Australian securities finished flat after softer-than-expected reads on retail sales and the trade surplus, while Indian equities were little changed.

The international economic docket for tomorrow will include trade data, Q2 GDP and bank lending figures from Japan, home loans from Australia, trade data and labor costs from Germany and industrial and manufacturing production from the U.K. and France.

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