Financial Market Breakdown – Week of July 11, 2022


Quick Highlights

  • Futures are modestly lower following new COVID-related shutdowns in China.
  • Macau will close most businesses, including casinos, for one week following a COVID outbreak, while Shanghai will continue with massive testing, in what is a signal that the “Zero COVID” policy is at least partially still in effect.
  • Geo-politically, Canada released a turbine to Gazprom, and the hope is that it will result in increased natural gas flows to Europe, putting more pressure on commodity prices.

What’s Happening in the Financial Market?

Stocks continued to stabilize last week as lingering recession fears were offset by rising optimism that the Fed has reached peak hawkishness and a “soft landing” may be possible. The S&P 500 rallied 1.94% on the week and is now down 18.19% YTD.
Current Situation
First, 2023 earnings expectations have declined sharply, thanks to a growing number of companies cutting guidance. At the start of 2022, the consensus 2023 S&P 500 EPS was $250. We thought that was too optimistic, so we penciled in $240. Well, now expectations are declining to somewhere between $220- $230 with downside risks.
Second, the two most significant influences on the markets right now, inflation and Fed rate hikes, got worse in June via the 8.6% CPI report and the 75-basis-point rate hike.
Third, economic growth is rolling over, which means we had to drop the multiple range for the market because even if we avoid a recession, economic growth will stall—it’s just a question of how soon and how bad it gets.
Finally, COVID-19 cases declined in China, and the economy has reopened, but “Zero COVID” remains the policy, so investors are constantly operating under the threat of a lockdown.
While the spike lows of June at 3,636 were likely a bit too negative, this recent bounce in stocks isn’t being driven by anything fundamental— and that’s why we are skeptical. Instead, this bounce, like the one in March and May, is driven by the idea that rates may have peaked, inflation may have peaked, and Fed hawkishness may have peaked. For the current levels of the S&P 500 to be fundamentally supported, we’ll need some proof that’s happening, and if we don’t get that proof, don’t be surprised if we see another 5%-10% drop in the S&P 500.
Things Get Better If:
  • CPI declines from the 8.6% June reading.
  • The Fed hikes 50 bps and opens the door to a pause late in 2022.
  • China distances itself from “Zero COVID.”
  • Russia/Ukraine has a ceasefire, and economic growth slowly moderates but doesn’t collapse.
Things Get Worse If:
  • July CPI rises above the June reading.
  • The Fed hikes 75 bps in July and threatens more to come.
  • China locks down again.
  • Economic growth collapses, increasing the chances of a material contraction.

Bottom Line

The reality is that the fundamentals got worse for this market in June. While we’ve enjoyed the rally of the past few weeks, it’s not based on the actual fundamental situation—it’s based on the idea that we could be close to peak hawkishness and peak inflation. Those hopes were dashed in June, and if we get more of the same via next week’s CPI and the July Fed meeting, a drop-through of the June lows in the S&P 500 should not surprise anyone. Conversely, suppose we do get real progress towards peak hawkishness and peak inflation. That will help put in a bottom—but don’t expect a material, sustainable rally because earnings are still declining while economic growth is rolling over.

Near-Term General U.S. Stock Market Outlook

Near-Term (1 month) Stock Market Outlook: Neutral
Stocks climbed last week to start the new quarter as yields rose as economic data remained solid, likely emboldening the Fed to continue hiking aggressively to tame inflation.

By The Numbers



Bane O'Leary