Week in Review: US Retail Sales Disappoint

For the week ending 13 January 2017

  • December US core retail sales flat
  • China reports 2016 export drop
  • US small business optimism soars
  • World Bank projects modest 2017 growth uptick

Global equities extended gains this week as US financial firms kicked off the Q4 earning season with solid results. US 10-year Treasury note yields were steady at 2.42%. West Texas Intermediate crude dipped to $53 a barrel from $53.90 a week ago, and Global Brent crude dropped to $56 a barrel from $56.90. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) was steady at 11.20.

GLOBAL MACRO NEWS

US holiday sales disappoint
US retail sales rose 0.6% in December, but were flat when excluding automobile and gasoline sales.

China’s 2016 exports fall
Exports from China fell for a second year amid persistent weakness in global trade. The possibility of disagreements with the United States over trade does not brighten the outlook for 2017. In 2016, exports fell 7.7% while imports slid 5.5%. There were some bright spots discernible, suggesting domestic demand is improving. Record amounts of oil, iron ore, copper and soybeans were imported in 2016.

Outlook upbeat for small businesses
The National Federation of Independent Businesses termed the jump in its small business optimism indicator “stratospheric” as the number of business owners who expect better business conditions jumped 38 points. The index rose to 105.8, its highest level since 2004. The increased optimism is leading to more business activity, such as capital investment, according to the group.

Global economy to expand 2.7% says World Bank
Despite stagnant global trade, subdued investment and heightened policy uncertainty, the World Bank expects global growth to expand at a 2.7% rate in 2017, up from 2.3% in 2016, a post-crisis low. Hoped- for fiscal stimulus from the US could generate fast growth, the bank said, though it cautioned that trade protection could have adverse effects.

Pace of US stimulus questioned
President-elect Donald Trump held a press conference this week but did not lay out a clear timeline or framework for the tax cuts and regulatory reforms he campaigned on. Markets are growing concerned that stimulus could come later than expected or be smaller in size than first envisioned. Trump did say that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed and replaced “essentially simultaneously.” The president-elect said that he would place his business interests in a trust and transfer control of his company to his two adult sons.

Germany sees 2016 growth uptick
The German economy expanded 1.9% in 2016, the fastest pace in five years, up from 2015’s 1.7% pace. The government ended the year with a €6.2 billion budget surplus. German exports hit a record in November, rising 2.5% versus a year earlier. Forecasts for 2017 call for a slight decline in the German growth rate, with estimates ranging from 1.1% to 1.7%.

BOE’s Carney: Brexit no longer biggest risk to stability
Bank of England governor Mark Carney said this week that Brexit is no longer the biggest single risk to financial stability in the United Kingdom. That’s a dramatic change in tune from the nation’s top central banker. Before the referendum in June, Carney warned of severe economic consequences if Britons voted to leave the European Union. Now, Carney says that the bank will very likely revise its economic forecast higher next month. The EU, Carney said, has more to lose from a “hard” Brexit than the UK.

THE WEEK AHEAD

  • US financial markets are closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, 16 January
  • The World Economic Forum in Davos begins on Tuesday, 17 January
  • The European Union reports consumer price data on Wednesday, 18 January
  • The United States reports consumer price data on Wednesday, 18 January
  • The European Central Bank holds a rate-setting meeting on Thursday, 19 January
  • China reports retail sales and gross domestic product figures on Friday, 20 January

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 News; Financial Times; Forbes.com; CNNMoney.com; NBCNews.com.

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