If the year were to have ended last Friday, the broad U.S. stock and bond markets would both be down on the year, albeit slightly. Cash, in the form of three-month treasury bills, would be up, outperforming both stocks and bonds for the first time since 1994. Trade tensions, weakening global economic growth, and plunging oil prices are all potential drivers of weakness in risky assets. However, Ned Davis Research (NDR) offered another piece of the puzzle that they believe may be the driving force of this year’s investment difficulty – quantitative tightening.
S&P 500 earnings growth has been booming thus far in 2018. In Q1, earnings gained 14.8% year-over-year and are forecast to grow by 20.3% in Q2, as opposed to Q2 2017. Much of the boom in earnings is coming from the December tax cuts, however, the economy continues to expand, even accelerate. Based on their latest data, the Atlanta Fed reports a real-time estimate for Q2 GDP. They call it GDPNow.