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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Stocks Advance Ahead of Jobs Report

Charles Schwab: On the Market
Posted: 12/7/2017 4:15 PM EST

Stocks Advance Ahead of Jobs Report
U.S. stocks traded higher with technology shares leading the advance on the heels of some upbeat results and guidance from Broadcom. Crude oil prices rose solidly and Treasury yields were mostly higher, while gold was lower and the U.S. dollar ticked to the upside to add to its recent gains. Market participants continued to assess the tax reform landscape amid the reconciliation process. Tomorrow, the morning release of the November labor report will likely garner much attention.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) increased 71 points (0.3%) to 24,211, the S&P 500 Index was 8 points (0.3%) higher at 2,637, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 36 points (0.5%) to 6,813. In moderate volume, 824 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 1.9 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil increased $0.73 to $56.69 per barrel and wholesale gasoline gained $0.04 to $1.70 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price moved $15.54 lower to $1,247.83 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was nearly 0.1% higher at 93.74.

Broadcom Limited (AVGO $264) reported fiscal Q4 earnings-per-share (EPS) of $1.50, or $4.59 ex-items, versus the $4.52 FactSet estimate, as revenues rose 17.0% year-over-year (y/y) to $4.9 billion, above the projected $4.8 billion. The chipmaker issued Q1 revenue guidance that had a midpoint above expectations. The company also announced a 72% increase to its quarterly dividend to $1.75 per share. Shares finished flat after initially trading higher.

Dollar General Corp. (DG $93) posted Q3 EPS of $0.93, versus the estimated $0.94, as revenues increased 11.0% y/y to $5.9 billion, topping the projected $5.8 billion. Q3 same-store sales grew 4.3% y/y, exceeding the forecasted 2.7% gain. DG narrowed its full-year earnings outlook, while increasing its sales guidance. Shares gained ground.

Dow member General Electric Co. (GE $18) announced that its GE Power group plans to reduce its global headcount by about 12,000 positions as part of its effort to reduce overall structural costs. GE traded to the upside.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. (LULU $72) announced Q3 EPS of $0.43, or $0.56 ex-items, versus the projected $0.52, with revenues rising 14.0% y/y to $619 million, north of the expected $610 million. Q3 same-store sales grew 8.0% y/y, above the estimated 5.3% gain. The company's gross and operating margins topped forecasts. LULU issued Q4 guidance that topped forecasts, while it raised its full-year outlook. Separately, the company authorized the repurchase of up to $200 million in its common shares. Shares gained solid ground.

Shares of SAGE Therapeutics Inc. (SAGE $156) rallied 70% after the company announced positive results regarding a trial of its treatment for major depressive disorder.

Consumer credit tops expectations, jobless claims surprisingly decline

Consumer credit, released in the final hour of trading, showed consumer borrowing expanded by $20.5 billion during October, well above the $17.0 billion forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg, while September's figure was adjusted lower to $19.2 billion from $20.8 billion. Non-revolving debt, which includes student loans and loans for vehicles and mobile homes, rose $12.2 billion, a 5.3% increase y/y, while revolving debt, which includes credit cards, rose by $8.3 billion, a 9.9% y/y rise.

Weekly initial jobless claims (chart) decreased by 2,000 to 236,000 last week, versus the Bloomberg forecast of 240,000, as the prior week was unrevised at 238,000. The four-week moving average dipped by 750 to 241,500, while continuing claims dropped by 52,000 to 1,908,000, south of estimates of 1,919,000.

The upbeat report comes ahead of tomorrow's November nonfarm payroll report, with jobs projected to rise by 195,000, following October's 261,000 jump (economic calendar). Private sector employment is expected to grow 198,000 on the heels of the prior month's 252,000 gain. The unemployment rate is forecasted to remain at 4.1%. However, given the importance of the consumer on U.S. economic output and the subdued inflation outlook, tomorrow's wage component of the report is likely to garner the most attention as the markets try to project the pace of Fed rate hikes in 2018 after December's highly-expected increase. Average hourly earnings are anticipated to rise 0.3% month-over-month (m/m) after being disappointingly flat in October and the y/y pace of earnings is projected to accelerate to 2.7% from 2.4%.

As we head into 2018, Schwab's Director of Market and Sector Analysis, Brad Sorensen, CFA, offers his latest, Schwab Sector Views: 18 Thoughts Heading into '18. In our view, a repeat of 2017 is unlikely, and we’re expecting more sector changes in 2018 than there were in 2017. Brad adds that the Fed will be under new management and have several new members throughout the year, and we don’t currently expect major changes in the normalization process but the new makeup could change things.

Treasuries were mostly lower, with the yield on the 2-year note dipping 1 basis point (bp) to 1.80%, while the yield on the 10-year note increased 2 bps to 2.36%, and the 30-year bond rate advanced 3 bps to 2.76%.

The U.S. dollar slightly extended its weekly gain and Treasury yields dipped. Tax reform continues to be a main focus for the markets as the House and Senate grapple with key differences in their bills with the reconciliation process expected to be highly competitive.

Schwab's Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Hayden Adams, CPA, offers analysis of some likely changes, based on what we know about the current bills, in his article, Tax Reform: What Investors Should Know, though he cautions that it's hard to be certain what might be in the final bill.
We believe it would be premature for individual investors to make changes now, given the high degree of uncertainty over any eventual new tax law, but Hayden offers his Tax Reform: Frequently Asked Questions for investors wondering how the most sweeping tax overhaul effort in decades will affect them.

Additional economic reports expected tomorrow include wholesale inventories, forecasted to have declined 0.4% m/m in October, and the preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, expected to have ticked higher for December's initial result to 99.0 from November's final read of 98.5.

Europe and Asia finish mixed

European equity markets finished mixed, following some divergent economic data in the region, while conviction remained stymied by policy uncertainty as the U.S. tax reform reconciliation process looms and U.K. Brexit concerns festered. The British pound turned slightly higher versus the U.S. dollar as U.K. Prime Minister May scrambles amid heightened political pressures to try to make progress on Brexit negotiations. The U.K. and EU have reportedly agreed on the future role of the European Court of Justice in British legal cases but the Irish border issues still remains a substantial sticking point as a deadline nears for the EU to deem if negotiations have progressed enough to move on to the next stage. Schwab's Chief Global Investment Strategist Jeffrey Kleintop, CFA, and Vice President of Trading and Derivatives Randy Frederick point out in the video, Political Risk: How Should Investors Respond?, that a long history of these developments shows us that holding a well-diversified portfolio may buffer the short-term market moves that are often the result. So, investors should avoid overreacting to the political and geopolitical drama and stick to their long-term financial plans. In economic news, German industrial production unexpectedly fell in October and the Q3 eurozone GDP growth rate was revised higher to a 2.6% y/y pace, from a previous estimate of a 2.5% gain, where it was expected to remain. The euro was little changed versus the U.S. dollar and bond yields in the region traded mixed.

Stocks in Asia finished mixed, with technology issues rebounding after a recent bout of pressure, while the focus on U.S. tax reform remained and the markets appear to be continuing to assess the year's strong advance. The global rally is discussed by Schwab's Jeffrey Kleintop, CFA, and Randy Frederick, in the video, It's All Relative: Why Stocks May Not Be Overvalued. Japanese equities almost overcame yesterday's entire drop, with the yen giving back yesterday's rise. Stocks trading in Hong Kong rebounded slightly from yesterday's slide, though mainland Chinese shares declined with banks seeing some pressure after a the IMF said lenders need more capital and the government proposed liquidity-management regulations. Australian securities traded higher, led by strength in banking stocks and Indian equities gained ground on the heels of yesterday's unchanged monetary policy decision by the Reserve Bank of India. South Korean stocks declined with the tech rebound being countered by weakness in manufacturing and energy issues.

The international economic docket for tomorrow will yield reports on Q3 GDP and bank lending from Japan, home loans from Australia, the trade balance and labor costs from Germany, and construction output, industrial and manufacturing production, and the trade balance from the U.K.

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