Sep 30, 2019

An inflection point for the market

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The market's ebullient mood has soured as September comes to a close and stock traders seem to have lost the risk appetite that had been pushing equities back toward all-time highs.

Why it matters: This week will likely provide an inflection point that will drive the market through the Q3 earnings season, which picks up in mid-October, and could last through the Fed's meeting on Oct. 30.

  • The market was in a similar position last September and ended up having its worst year in a decade as concern grew about the Fed's rate tightening cycle.

Between the lines: After 2 weeks of strong inflows to stocks, high yield bonds and other risky assets, investors sold both this past week, rotating back into safe-haven government bonds and money market funds, Bank of America Securities chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett pointed out in a note to clients.

The intrigue: This year has been what analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch called "The Miracle on Wall Street" in a recent note. (I called it "The Twilight Zone.")

  • The analysts point out the S&P 500 is up 17% this year and on pace to gain 30% despite the fact that investors have been net sellers of equities in every single month, driving a total of $201 billion out of stocks year to date.

What to watch: The all-important U.S. nonfarm payrolls report will be released on Friday, but investors also will get key data on manufacturing from the U.S., China and the eurozone before the end of the week.

  • Then there's the political fireworks: Democrats in the House look poised to push forward their impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
  • And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing forward with his quest to pull the U.K. out of the EU with or without an agreement on goods and trade.

The big picture: With good news on politics in short supply and earnings expected to be negative for the second straight quarter, continued solid readings on jobs and consumer spending will be paramount.

  • The GM strike could impact September's jobs numbers, which are already slowing, notes Bannockburn Global Forex chief market strategist Marc Chandler.
  • The 12-month average of nonfarm payroll growth peaked in February 2015 at 260,000 and has slowed to 158,000 this year.
  • "The quarterly average has steadily fallen this year, and it will again if the jobs growth reported on October 4 is less than 178,000," Chandler said.

Go deeper: No telling what impeachment could do to the stock market

Editor's note: The image credit on the top image was corrected to show it was designed by Aïda Amer.

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