The United States, and the rest of the world, are looking to emerge from the shadow of COVID-19, and business conditions may already have put the pandemic in the rear-view mirror—at least according to the monthly business surveys conducted by the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). The ISM Manufacturing PMI surged to 64.7 in March versus 60.8 a month prior (index levels above 50 indicate expansion) and above all but one of the Bloomberg consensus survey estimates.
It has now been a little over a year since the first COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns were implemented in the United States, with California having implemented the first stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020. LPL Research can now use high-frequency data to compare where we are now to the early days of the pandemic.
Leading economic indicators are providing early signs that we may be exiting a recent soft patch and the economic recovery could be poised for a reacceleration.
Retail sales rebound in January. US retail sales rose 5.3% month over month in January according to the US Census Bureau, ahead of Bloomberg consensus forecasts of 1.1%. The surge in retail sales was the highest in seven months, a strong response following December’s 1% decline as fresh stimulus checks helped spur consumer demand following the headwinds caused by rising COVID-19 cases at the end of 2020. Further, strong January retail sales should remove much of the risk for the US economy to stall in the first quarter of 2021.
“Bulls make money, bears make money, and pigs get slaughtered.” Old Wall Street saying.
The Super Bowl Indicator suggests stocks rise for the full year when the Super Bowl winner has come from the original National Football League (now the NFC), but when an original American Football League (now the AFC) team has won, stocks fall. We would be the first to admit that this indicator has no connection to the stock market, but “data don’t lie”: The S&P 500 Index has performed better, and posted positive gains with greater frequency, over the past 54 Super Bowl games when NFC teams have won. Of course, it doesn’t always work, as stocks did quite well the past two years even though AFC teams won.
2021 kicks off the first year of a new four-year presidential cycle. One of the most popular questions we’ve received lately is how have stocks performed historically during this political year.
Treasury yields hit two key levels the first week of 2021. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the 10-year Treasury yield moved above 1% for the first time since March 2020, and the 10-year breakeven inflation rate, a measure of Treasury market-implied inflation expectations, climbed above 2% for the first time since November 2018.
Brexit, the United Kingdom’s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU), is making news again as it stumbles toward its apparent conclusion on December 31, 2020. The major sticking point now: fish.