Inflationary pressures are easing, with average hourly earnings growth declining to 3.35% in June, for Production and Non-Supervisory Employees, and 3.14% for Total Private sector.
But this warns that economic growth is slowing. Annual growth in hours worked has slowed to 1.25%, suggesting a similar decline in GDP growth for the second quarter.
Jobs growth held steady at 1.5% for the 12 months ended June 2019, after a decline from 2.0% in January.
Further decline in jobs growth is likely in the months ahead and a fall below 1.0% would warn that recession is imminent.
The Case Shiller index warns that growth in housing prices is slowing.
Growth in construction expenditure (adjusted for inflation) has stalled.
Retail sales growth is faltering.
Units of light vehicle sales has stalled.
And capital goods orders (adjusted for inflation) are faltering.
One of the few bright spots is corporate bond spreads — the difference between lowest investment grade (Baa) and equivalent Treasury yields — still low at 2.3%, indicating that credit risk is benign.
The S&P 500 broke through 2950 and is testing 3000. The 3000 level is an important watershed, double the 2000 and 2007 highs at 1500 (1552 and 1576 to be exact), and I expect strong resistance.
A rising Trend Index indicates buying pressure but this seems to be mainly stock repurchases and institutional buying. Retail money, as indicated by investment flows into ETFs, favors fixed income over equities despite the low yields.
It’s still a good time to be cautious.
The prevailing wisdom is that markets are always right. I take the opposite position. I assume that markets are always wrong……I watch out for telltale signs that a trend may be exhausted. Then I disengage from the herd and look for a different investment thesis. Or, if I think the trend has been carried to excess, I may probe going against it. Most of the time we are punished if we go against the trend. Only at an inflection point are we rewarded.
~ George Soros