16 December 2019
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A big show and tell week for Wall Street

Peter Switzer
20 July 2015

By Peter Switzer

After a week when we got five out of five things that were all market-important — Greece’s bailout, China’s economic data, Iran’s nuclear deal, the US central bank’s strong hint that interest rates will rise this year and Australia’s very positive business confidence reading — this week it’s US company reporting.

Last week most companies did well with profits and about 50% even improved their revenue, which is important because a lot of companies have done well for five years based on cost-cutting. Rises in revenue are important as an economic indicator of good health for the US economy.

This week about a quarter of the companies in the S&P 500 reveal their latest results and there are some bellwether operations such as IBM, Amazon, Apple and American Express, which give us additional insight into how the US economy is going.

Don’t forget that the US is leading the global economy after pioneering quantitative easing or QE to rescue the economy from a potential Great Depression Mk II. The Yanks got, what they called, the Great Recession but now there’s a convincing case that their economy is progressing towards more normal times of falling unemployment, rising official interest rates — away from virtually zero! — and concerns about a too good economy rather than a really bad one.

Aside from the big company reports, market eyes will be on the latest Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index for the US and importantly Europe. This is a private sector survey that finds out what factories are ordering and it is a good indicator for where economic growth is heading. Following all of the Greek dramatics, seeing what’s been happening in Europe should be insightful.

After months of turmoil, I’m hoping US company reporting comes in to cheer optimists, and economic data confirms Europe is actually responding positively to the European Central Bank’s QE program. Then when we start seeing our companies report in late July, early August, we see more optimistic outlook statements that marry into the rising business confidence.

This year we saw a stock market sell-off in May. Let’s hope the old market maxim, which says “sell in May and go away, comeback on St. Ledger’s Day”, which is September, runs true to the script.

Sure I’m happy to see the comeback show up earlier than September but it certainly is time we had a period of optimism to offset the Greek and China created anxiety of recent weeks.

For my part, I’m praying for good US company reporting this week and a nice showing from the PMI readings in the US and Europe.

Locally we get to see the latest loan numbers, home prices, building approvals, tourist arrivals, trade figures and retail sales, so we should be able to work out how our economy is progressing. I’m still more focused on overseas because if QE fails to deliver real economic improvement, we could be in for a huge stock market sell off. And I’d pray to avoid that!

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