lpl economic & market commentary 2011-10-17

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"Hard data versus soft sentiment: The Sequel" & "A More Durable Rally"

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  • 1. LP L FINANCIAL R E S E AR C HWeekly Economic Commentary October 17, 2011 Hard Data Versus Soft Sentiment: The SequelJohn Canally, CFA This week is a busy one for financial market participants, with corporateEconomist earnings reports, economic data and policy all competing for the marketsLPL Financial attention. The European fiscal situation remains at the top of the list of worries for markets, as policymakers scramble to hit a self-imposed early November deadline to have a grand plan in place to address Greece and Highlights European banks exposure to Greek and other troubled sovereign debt. As A busy week for financial market we have noted in several of our recent commentaries, markets are still participants lies ahead, with Europe and crying out for bold, coordinated policy actions here and abroad. Markets in corporate earnings data competing with the past week or so have become increasingly confident that such actions economic and policy events. will be taken although the devil is in the details. The tug of war between the soft But this week, a barrage of third-quarter corporate results (including readings on sentiment-based data and guidance for the fourth quarter and next year), key data on housing, inflation the solid readings on the hard data and manufacturing in the United States, as well as several speeches from continues this week. Federal Reserve officials (including Ben Bernanke) will all also compete for the markets attention. The most closely watched report of the week is likely to be the Feds Beige Book, a qualitative assessment of business and banking conditions in each of the 12 Federal Reserve districts (Boston, Richmond, Dallas, Kansas City, Cleveland, etc.), compiled eight times a year prior to each of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings.Economic Calendar China completes the release of its September and third-quarter data early in the week, with the third-quarter report on gross domestic product, as well Monday, October 17 Wednesday, October 19 as the September reports on industrial production and retail sales. NY Fed Empire State Mfg MBA Mortgage Oct Applications Index wk 10/14 The Sentiment Data Versus the Hard Data: Capacity Utilization Sep Housing Starts The Debate Continues Sep Industrial Production We have written extensively over the past several months about the Sep CPI conflicting messages being sent by the hard data on the economy, and the Sep Tuesday, October 18 soft, or sentiment, data on the economy. Hard data statistically measures PPI Feds Beige Book what consumers or businesses are doing, for example: Sep Thursday, October 20 NAHB Housing Survey Initial Claims How many homes were sold? Oct wk 10/08 How much revenue did a company generate? Ben Bernanke speaks in Trade Balance What were a companys earnings after expenses? Boston Aug Treasury Statement How much did consumers spend on groceries, or computers or television sets? Sep How many cars were produced and sold? Member FINRA/SIPC Page 1 of 4
  • 2. W E E KLY E CONOMIC CO MME N TAR Y How many jet engines were exported overseas? How many new orders for business equipment were placed? How many jobs were created (or lost)? How much oil or gasoline was produced and/or consumed? On the other hand, the soft data are reports that measure sentiment, and do not actually measure anything other than how people or businesses feel. The mood of consumers or businesses is, of course, greatly influenced by what they see around them every day. It is also impacted by what they see on television, in newspapers, on the Internet, on talk radio or from friends, neighbors and colleagues. And of course, lately, the media has been full of bad news on virtually every topic. However, the media itself is thriving on the bad news with some of the highest ratings, readers and listeners in history.We have not seen that yet, but those in In recent months, the hard data has painted a stronger picture of the U.S.the marketplace calling for a recession economy than that reflected by the sentiment data. But at times, thebelieve that the transition from poor opposite is true, and the sentiment runs far ahead of the actual data, as wassentiment to poor data is inevitable. We the case in 1999 and 2000 at the peak of the tech bubble and in the mid- 2000s as the housing bubble was just about to burst.do not and continue to place the odds ofrecession in the near term at about one We expect, however, that the trend of the hard data painting a better picturein three. of the economy than the soft data will continue this week. Ultimately, it is the hard data not the sentiment (or soft) data that will tell us whether or not we have re-entered a recession, have started to shed jobs again, or seen an uptick in inflation. However, poor sentiment (in both the consumer and business oriented segments of the economy) can feed on itself, and lead to a pullback in spending, which would then begin to negatively impact the hard data. We have not seen that yet, but those in the marketplace calling for a recession believe that the transition from poor sentiment to poor data is inevitable. We do not and continue to place the odds of recession in the near term at about one in three.1 Sentiment Based Empire State Manufacturing As this report was being prepared, we received hard data for September Index Shows Contraction, While Hard Data Based (industrial production) and sentiment for October (the Empire State Industrial Production Shows Moderate Growth Manufacturing Index). Often, the sentiment data has the benefit (from the markets perspective) of being timelier. For example, for the most part, this Industrial Production: Manufacturing % Change - Year to Yea

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