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Economists Anxious About Financial Markets
World Economy

Economists Anxious About Financial Markets

The Brexit bounce back that lifted stocks in July is unlikely to carry into August, and markets will be put to the test early on—by global manufacturing data Monday, Friday's US jobs report and another big earnings wave.
The S&P 500 closed out the month of July on Friday at 2,173, within points of its all-time high, CNBC reported.
But August is not a great time for stocks historically, and over the past 20 years, the Dow has performed worse on average than during any other month. According to Bespoke, the Dow averaged an August decline of 1.3% but was positive 55% of the time.
Stocks were sharply higher for the month of July, rallying with world equities, which had sold off after the UK vote to leave the European Union in late June. The S&P 500 was up 3.6%, while the Dow was up 2.8% for the month to 18,432. The Nasdaq rose nearly 7% to 5,162.
There is a heavy data calendar coming up, as well as more than 100 S&P 500 companies reporting earnings, including Dow components Procter & Gamble and Pfizer.
"I think the GDP raised the impact value of every new piece of data," noted Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS.
Key to global financial markets are PMI reports from China to the UK, the eurozone and US on Monday. There is also US ISM manufacturing data Monday, which should show a continued pickup in expansion in that sector. Economists expect car sales at a near 17 million annual pace when they are reported Tuesday.

Monetary Policy
Central banks could continue to stoke risk markets, and the Bank of England is expected to cut rates when it meets Thursday. That follows the Bank of Japan's announcement Friday of a smaller than expected stimulus package. That sent the yen flying, and the dollar tanked, falling even more after the weak GDP.
The Bank of England has signaled it could ease monetary policy in order to soften the impact of Brexit on the UK economy. "The consensus now is a 25 basis-point cut, no change in asset purchases, but the expectations are all over the place," said Win Thin, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.
Even with a choppy August, Don Townswick, director of equities at Conning, said, the stock market should do OK for now. "I think that the current level of interest rates and the current level of economic growth are enough to justify the market at this level and the multiples that we see. With interest rates so low, it's difficult to justify multiple contraction if there's even a hint of economic growth," he said.
But if the economy stays in a slow growth rut for much longer, there could be trouble ahead for stocks.
"The biggest headwind the markets are going to face is they're not going to be able to squeeze earnings growth out of a slow-growth economy," Townswick said, adding that companies "have gone through sales growth four or five years ago. They've gone through buy backs. If companies want to continue to buy back shares because they can borrow money at such ridiculously low rates, that has to end at some point, and finally they've gone through corporate restructurings." But still there's no pickup in productivity, he said.
"I'd say two quarters and out, if the growth picture doesn't change, we're looking at a market that can't keep going up," said Townswick.
Treasury yields did a stunning about-face when the weak GDP hit on Friday, with the 10-year sliding to 1.45% in late trading. The dollar index was down more than 1% on the day, as of Friday afternoon, and the greenback was off 2.5% against the yen.
Economists expect GDP to grow at more than 2% in the second half of the year.

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