MACRO NEWS

 

US GDP rebounds from sluggish start to year
US economic growth accelerated in the second quarter, rising 2.6%, up from the first quarter’s 1.2% pace. Economists had expected a slightly stronger rebound, and the bounce is well short of expectations from earlier in the quarter. Wage pressures remain muted as hopes for sustained faster growth fade, given that pro-growth policies from Washington are looking less likely by the day. Modest growth averaging around 2% looks to be in the cards again in 2017. This should keep the US Federal Reserve on a gradual rate-hiking path.

 

Fed signals it’s ready to cut balance sheet soon
In a statement released after Wednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the Fed indicated it is ready to begin trimming its balance sheet, which mushroomed in the wake of the global financial crisis. In a statement, the Fed said it expects to begin allowing some of its bond holdings to mature “relatively soon.” This is a shift from earlier language, released after the June FOMC meeting, that indicated a move by the end of the year. Many expect an announcement to come at the September FOMC meeting. The Fed held rates steady while acknowledging that inflation is running below its 2% target.

 

IMF affirms global growth view
In a midyear review, the International Monetary Fund maintained its forecast for 3.5% growth in gross domestic product this year. The fund lowered its outlook for US growth to 2.1% from a previous reading of 2.3% while raising its outlook for the eurozone and Japan. It downgraded its outlook for UK growth.

 

US health care push fizzles
Despite their effort being pronounced dead on several occasions, US Senate Republicans took up health care reform again this week after a dramatic return to the Capitol by Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50–50 tie to allow the Senate to begin debate on several Republican-sponsored legislative options. Ironically, McCain helped scuttle the final alternative, a “skinny repeal” bill that would have ended Obamacare’s individual mandate, among other provisions. Now that the health care bill has been defeated, Senate leaders hope to move on to tax reform and to passing a spending bill in order to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September.

 

Japan’s defense minister forced to step down
While much of the world has been focused on goings on in Washington, Japan has had to deal with a series of scandals that have undermined Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe has been accused of cronyism, having helped a friend secure a license to open a veterinary school. Meanwhile, defense minister Tomomi Inada was forced to resign this week over an alleged cover-up of military documents from UN peacekeeping operations in South Sudan. Inada’s ministry is accused of concealing logs which show that Japanese troops were in increasing danger during their mission. The departure comes as support for Abe hovers near 20% in opinion polls. Despite Abe’s slide in popularity, the opposition Democratic Party has been unable to gain support, prompting the resignation this week of party leader Renho Murata after 10 months at the helm.

 

Trump talks taxes
Amid a swirl of controversy, US president Donald Trump, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, reiterated his desire to slash the US corporate tax rate to 15% from 35% while lowering the tax burden on the middle class. Additionally, Trump kept open the option of raising taxes on upper-income earners. The president did not rule out reappointing Fed chair Janet Yellen, but said that economic advisor Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs, is also under consideration for the post. In a press release on tax reform on Thursday, congressional leaders and administration officials agreed to table the border-adjustment tax that would have taxed US imports.  

 

Moody’s sees less China bank risk
Credit rating agency Moody’s has upgraded its outlook on the Chinese banking system to stable from negative. Moody's sees receding concerns over China’s massive shadow banking sector following action from regulators to curb systemic imbalances. It also expects nonperforming loans to stabilize near current levels.

 

Greece returns to bond market after three-year hiatus
Having recently secured another bailout tranche from European creditors, Greece returned to the bond markets with a €3 billion five-year offering, which was more than two times oversubscribed. Greece is the rare sovereign that issues sovereign debt at a higher yield than some Greek corporates. The new issue yields 4.65% versus some recently issued corporate debt with a 3.1% yield. The extra yield reflects the political risk posed by Greece’s relatively market-unfriendly Syriza government.

 

EARNINGS NEWS

 

According to Thomson Reuters I/E/B/S, with 48% of the members of the S&P 500 Index reporting, second-quarter earnings are expected to rise 10.7% versus Q2 2016. Excluding the energy sector, the rise is 8%. Revenues are expected to climb 4.9%. Excluding energy, a 4.1% earnings rise is expected.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

 

Date

Country/Area

Release/Event

Mon, 31 Jul

Japan

Industrial production

Mon, 31 Jul

China

Nonmanufacturing purchasing managers’ index

Mon, 31 Jul

eurozone

Unemployment report, consumer price index

Tue, 1 Aug

global

Manufacturing PMIs

Tue, 1 Aug

eurozone

Q2 preliminary gross domestic product

Tue, 1 Aug

United States

Personal income, spending, personal consumption expenditures

Thu, 3 Aug

global

Nonmanufacturing PMIs

Thu, 3 Aug

eurozone

Retail sales

Thu, 3 Aug

United Kingdom

Bank of England rate-setting meeting

Fri, 4 Aug

US

Employment report

 

 

Stay focused and diversified
In any market environment, we strongly believe that investors should stay diversified across a variety of asset classes. By working closely with your financial advisor, you can help ensure that your portfolio is properly diversified and that your financial plan supports your long-term goals, time horizon and tolerance for risk. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss.

 

The information included above as well as individual companies and/or securities mentioned should not be construed as investment advice, a recommendation to buy or sell or an indication of trading intent on behalf of any MFS product.

 

Securities discussed may or may not be holdings in any of the MFS funds. For a complete list of holdings for any MFS portfolio, please see the most recent annual, semiannual or quarterly report. Full holdings are also available on the individual Fund Summary tab in the Products section of mfs.com.

 

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

Sources: MFS research; The Wall Street Journal; The Wall Street Journal Online; Bloomberg New; Financial Times; Forbes.com; CNNMoney.com; NBCNews.com.

 

This content is directed at investment professionals only.


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