Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported the U.S. economy grew at a 6.4 percent annualized rate for the first three months of 2021. While that’s good news for companies and workers, asset managers are checking their expectations.
The stock market reflects what investors think may happen in the future. During the past year, major U.S. stock indices moved higher as investors anticipated vaccines and economic recovery, reported Patti Domm of CNBC. Since its March 2020 low, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 88 percent.
Amidst strong signs of recovery in the United States, some asset managers are positioning for “inflation and tapering,” according to a source cited by Naomi Rovnick of Financial Times. “Investors have topped up their cash holdings at the fastest rate since March 2020 as debate intensifies over whether stock markets will continue rallying now the U.S. economic recovery from the pandemic is firmly under way.”
Last week, as investors weighed the news, strong corporate earnings were offset by higher grocery prices and rising numbers of global coronavirus cases.
Solid corporate earnings weighed favorably.
So far, 25 percent of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index have reported first quarter earnings, and 84 percent said profits grew faster than expected, reported John Butters of FactSet. The blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 (which includes estimated earnings for companies that have not yet reported and actual earnings for companies that have) was 33.8 percent last week. For context, the 5-year average earnings growth rate (actual earnings) for the S&P 500 was 6.9 percent as of last week.
The direction of bond yields is influenced by investors’ expectations for economic growth, among other factors. When economic growth is expected to weaken, bond yields tend to move lower. When economic growth is expected to strengthen, bond yields tend to move higher.
Last year, U.S. Treasury yields began to climb higher on optimism that vaccines, in tandem with fiscal and monetary stimulus, would strengthen economic growth. The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose more than 1 percent in just a few months, from 0.54 percent at the end of July 2020 to 1.75 percent at the end of March 2021.
Last week, Treasury yields moved lower. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s explained it’s “…possible that after yields nearly doubled to start the year, investors were simply waiting to see that the move higher was over before buying again. Of course, nearly everyone was predicting a 2 percent yield on the 10-year, while often forgetting that rarely does anything in financial markets move in a straight line.”
12 Tax Angles For Investors: What Will Survive The Democratic Congress?
Democrats are equipped to undo parts of the 2017 Trump tax cut and, perhaps, to attack some of the long-standing tax lowering schemes that investors use. But most tax-wise investing strategies will probably survive.
Financial advisers discourage people from letting political news cycles influence their retirement planning strategies. Political winds can shift in a short period, sometimes drastically, whereas saving and investing for retirement are a process that takes place over decades.