Robert Krueger

Alexander Randolph Advisory Inc.

1902 Campus Commons Drive, Suite 410

Reston, VA 20191

703.734.1507

www.alexanderrandolph.com

Market Update
(all values as of 02.26.2021)

Stock Indices:

Dow Jones 30,932
S&P 500 3,811
Nasdaq 13,192

Bond Sector Yields:

2 Yr Treasury 0.14%
10 Yr Treasury 1.44%
10 Yr Municipal 1.12%
High Yield 4.37%

YTD Market Returns:

Dow Jones 1.06%
S&P 500 1.47%
Nasdaq 2.36%
MSCI-EAFE 0.99%
MSCI-Europe 0.78%
MSCI-Pacific 1.36%
MSCI-Emg Mkt 3.72%
 
US Agg Bond -2.17%
US Corp Bond -2.98%
US Gov’t Bond -2.80%

Commodity Prices:

Gold 1,733
Silver 26.70
Oil (WTI) 61.66

Currencies:

Dollar / Euro 1.21
Dollar / Pound 1.41
Yen / Dollar 106.10
Dollar / Canadian 0.79
 

January 2021

Macro Overview 


COVID-19 reshaped markets, trade, retail, and consumer behavior globally in 2020 with lingering effects heading into 2021. Markets shrugged off pandemic concerns throughout the year, with all major equity indices reaching new highs in December. The anticipation of vaccinations along with the hope of a resurgence in consumer demand may eventually elevate economic activity to where it was before the emergence of COVID-19.

Passage of the $900 billion Coronavirus Relief Bill will place checks into the hands of millions of Americans as well as extend unemployment benefits and provide renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Other provisions included in the relief bill include deductions for business meals in 2021 & 2022 and a ban on surprise medical billing.

Vaccinations across the United States and internationally are expected to take months, as distribution efforts pose a challenge. The CDC estimates that at least 70% to 80% of the 330 million U.S. population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. Guidelines issued by the CDC suggest that healthcare and essential workers should receive vaccinations first, then offered to the general public. The CDC is delegating the distribution of vaccines as well as the prioritization of inoculations to the individual states.

Optimism surrounding vaccinations is expected to propel consumer confidence higher, possibly leading to elevated spending levels. Employment and wages, which were hindered for most of 2020, are also critical factors in determining consumer expenditures.

The onset of inflation is becoming a reality for millions of Americans, as the cost of services and products has gradually been increasing since the pandemic began. Consumer inflation expectations rose in 2020 with the anticipation of lasting inflationary pressures heading into 2021.

The Federal Reserve communicated in December that it would continue to keep the federal funds rate near zero and buy $120 billion worth of bonds monthly until the employment situation improves. Rates held at historic lows in 2020 as ambitious efforts by the central bank facilitated liquidity and borrowing to maintain economic stability.

Behavioral consumer changes brought about by the pandemic shifted spending from restaurants, travel and movies to grocery stores and online shopping. Some economists expect the trend to stick even in a post pandemic environment.

Sources: Federal Reserve, CDC, Treasury, Tax Foundation

 

 

The Economy versus the Stock Market: 2020


To people off Wall Street, one seemingly cruel twist of 2020 was the market’s rebound even as the overall economy languished: Nearly 5 million more Americans are unemployed now compared with February, and the end of the U.S. recession that began in February has not been officially determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which is tasked with tracking economic cycles.

That’s not altogether unusual, however. Past bull markets, including the prior one that began in March 2009, kicked off while the U.S. economy still was in a recession.

A big takeaway from what happened this year is that market performance is not always tied to economic performance. The market was willing to look at this as a one-time event rather than something fundamentally wrong with the economy.

However, there were some fundamental changes this year that are likely to be long-lasting. For example, many employees may start to fight back on the notion of returning to the office five days a week if they’ve enjoyed working from home.

And the “wholesale change” in how work gets done could affect the pace of economic growth in the future. That’s because of the cumulative effect from small changes (time freed up from commutes and money saved from eating lunches out) to big ones (commercial real estate deals). This shift is going to change things.

Source: Forbes Advisor, Anna-Louise Jackson, Benjamin Curry

 

Value Stocks Will Outperform


Although some analysts feel the stock market will continue to go up in 2021, that doesn’t mean that all stocks will be winners. For many years in a row, so-called growth stocks like Netflix, Tesla and Amazon have led the market higher. However, some analysts feel that 2021 is the year that value stocks will take over.

Value stocks include most utility, financial, healthcare and energy stocks. Usually, companies like this are slow growers that pay high dividends, but they don’t generally attract the attention that growth stocks can. According to some analysts, this may change in 2021. Instead, three V’s may drive the markets forward. Volatility is expected to decline, a vaccine will accelerate economic recovery, and value and cyclical stocks will outperform.

Source: GoBankingRates, John Csiszar

 

 

 

2021 Market Outlook: International Equities


The global economy and cyclical stocks could have a big comeback in 2021, spurred by the distribution of coronavirus vaccines. Therefore, investors should look outside of the U.S. to take full advantage of the recovery.  International markets tend to perform better with a cyclical recovery like the one that is expected in 2021

Tech shares in the U.S. have dominated returns this past year, with the S&P 500 Information Tech Index up more than 35%. That momentum has shifted over the past three months, with financials and industrials taking the lead.

There are other factors that could give international stocks a leg up over U.S. equities. One is their relatively attractive valuations. Whereas some analysts expect 4.1% annualized returns from U.S. stocks because price-to-earnings ratios are historically high, they expect international equities to be able to pick up between 200 and 300 basis points of extra annualized returns from developed and emerging equity markets.

In terms of where, specifically, investors should look, analysts believe the expected outperformance to continue for Europe, Japan and Emerging Markets ex-Asia.

Source: YahooFinance, Julie Hyman

Rates Held Steady Throughout 2020 – Fixed Income Update


Rates remained near historic lows throughout 2020 as ambitious efforts by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury ensured critical liquidity in the fixed income markets. The FED has rolled out a number of programs to support the economy, such as buying corporate debt, supporting foreign central banks and municipalities through special facilities and programs.

Key rates fell across the board in 2020, as injected liquidity and active monetary and fiscal policy initiatives contributed to a low rate environment. Mortgage rates fell to new lows in 2020 a dozen times according to Freddie Mac weekly data, triggering a flurry of refinance activity throughout the year.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve steepened towards the end of 2020, an indication to economists that inflation is expected to become more profound. The yield on the 2-year Treasury fell to 0.13% as the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.93 % in December, pushing short-term yields lower and sending longer term yields higher. Economists and market analysis also view a steepening yield curve as a validation that economic expansion is becoming a more promising possibility.

For investors, that suggests that returns in 2021 will likely come from the coupon income earned on their holdings rather than price appreciation. In fact, long-term bonds could experience price declines if interest rates rise too much.

The expectation is that there not be any major policy changes from the Fed for at least the first half of 2021. Even under an optimistic scenario for the distribution of a vaccine, the economy will take time to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. There is a lot of lost ground to make up. The economy has only recovered about two-thirds of the GDP growth that it lost in the downturn and is still growing at a rate well below its potential.

Sources: Treasury, Freddie Mac, Federal Reserve

 

Consumers Expect Inflation To Rise – Inflationary Pressures


Even though traditional government data has current inflation at 1.2%, consumers have a different perspective with higher inflation expectations. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York tracks and maintains consumer inflation expectations every month, separate from traditional inflation data tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The median one-year inflation expectation by consumers is 2.96% as of November 2020, nearly 2 1/2 times what the current inflation rate is. Unlike the traditional prices of goods and services translated into an inflation rate, as represented by the

Consumer Price Index (CPI), actual consumer expectations are gathered and measured. Many economists view consumer expectations as a more accurate reading on inflation versus the CPI, since it tends to mimic consumer sentiment rather than a basket of stagnant goods and services.

Recent inflation expectations did rise during the pandemic, as consumers witnessed first hand price increases with groceries and essential items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Consumers Using Credit To Spend – Consumer Credit


Spending at stores essentially stalled in late March and April, as restrictions imposed to confront the spread of COVID-19 took it’s toll on the retail sector. The inability of consumers to spend freely also took a toll on the U.S. economy, since consumer expenditures make up over 70% of GDP. So when consumers were halted from spending, GDP fell an unprecedented amount of over 31% in the 2nd quarter.

The gradual reopening of stores in the 3rd quarter and increased online shopping options gave consumers the chance to regain their spending habits. Unfortunately, many of the same consumers that were spending freely before the pandemic had since lost their job or suffered a blow to their income. Millions of consumers have since resorted to tapping unused credit cards and lines of credit in order to meet ongoing living expenses.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis