U.S. ECONOMY: REGULARLY SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE DUE - We continue to look for the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to expand near 2.5% in 2017, although potential delays in passing major fiscal policies introduce some risk to the downside. This below-trend pace is still somewhat stronger than the trajectory that the economy has experienced throughout the expansion [Figure 1], as employment, income, production, and sales have failed to reach levels achieved in prior economic cycles.
We forecast 6–9% returns for the S&P 500 Index in 2017. As investors increasingly trust that the economy can stand on its own without the need of monetary policy support, business fundamentals should take over as the primary market engine and corporate profits will take on increasing importance. We have slightly raised our 2017 S&P 500 Index total return forecast to 6–9%, commensurate with expected earnings gains.
FOR NOW, LITTLE STRESS IN FIXED INCOME - Historically, the bond market has been a pretty good indicator of increased potential for economic and geopolitical risk and thus far, we see little stress evident in the fixed income markets. Of course, year to date, shorter-dated U.S. Treasury prices have weakened as the front end of the yield curve adjusted to the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) gradual approach to tightening.
Economic reports released in April 2017, which mostly reflect economic activity in March, signaled that growth had softened somewhat during the month, and the advance estimate of first quarter 2017 gross domestic product (GDP) growth confirmed a broad economic slowdown over the entire period, although distortions from seasonality adjustments likely weighed on the final number.
The Portfolio Compass provides a snapshot of LPL Financial Research’s views on equity, equity sectors, fixed income, and alternative asset classes. This monthly publication illustrates our current views and will change as needed over a 3- to 12-month time horizon. Read recent issue...
Stock markets, bond markets, the economy, policy — some years they push and pull on each other lightly as markets follow their own path; in others, one influence, such as monetary policy, dominates. But sometimes, often following a period of change, understanding the pushes and pulls and how they interact becomes a key to reassessing market dynamics for the next year and beyond.
An important shift has taken place in this economic cycle. The Federal Reserve (Fed) was finally able to start following through on its projected rate hike path, raising rates twice in just over a three-month period. By doing so, the Fed showed increasing trust that the economy has largely met its dual mandate of 2% inflation and full employment, that the economy is progressively able to stand on its own two feet, and that fiscal policy may now provide the backstop to the economy that monetary policy has provided throughout the expansion.
During any presidential election, you can expect a barrage of promises from the yard sign endorsements, bumper stickers, stump speeches, and media headlines. All pledge to improve the economy, provide better education for all, and preserve the environment.
The Economic Cycle - We believe we are in the mid-to-late stage of the current expansion, but we are still seeing some early cycle and late cycle behavior. Extended loose monetary policy, inflation, and employment growth are still exhibiting early cycle behavior, while some items relating to corporate profits are showing late cycle behavior, although they may be reset if profits improve.