Being plugged into the latest economic trends is crucial when it comes to making sound investments. Julie Jason speaks with Simon Constable, co-author of a new guide to help smart investors make sound decisions using economic trends.
FINRA foundation offers tools for understanding investment issues
If you are an investor, do you watch economic trends?
Some economists believe that being aware of economic trends gives investors an edge. I spoke with economist Simon Constable a few weeks ago to discern how his work might provide some insights and guidance to today’s investors. Constable is co-author of “The Wall Street Journal Guide to the 50 Economic Indicators That Really Matter: From Big Macs to ‘Zombie Banks,’ the Indicators Smart Investors Watch to Beat the Market.”
Constable and his co-author, Robert E. Wright, made a provocative statement in the book, which was written in 2011, a few years after the market bottomed on March 9, 2009: “The financial crisis of 2008-09 and its aftermath suggest that most investors were insufficiently nimble because they were looking at what the economy was rather than what it would become.”
They observed: “Discerning the economy’s direction — whether it will soar, plummet, or stagnate — may sound difficult, and it certainly isn’t easy, but the economy can’t help but constantly provide statistical clues about its health.”
And they provided a tool chest of 50 indicators for investors to follow.
I asked Constable the obvious question: What do the economic indicators tell us about today? Is there a bear market on the horizon?
Constable advised: “The stock market and economy are related like cousins. They are related, but can be estranged for many years.” So, there won’t be simple answers to my questions. That is, the 50 indicators will not provide a clearly defined stock market forecast. Reviewing them will provide insights, however, by watching trends as they develop.
Now, that’s quite a bit of work for the everyday investor. Being pragmatic, I asked Constable for a shortcut:
Could he identify one, two or three of the most important indicators to follow?
He offered this starting point: The Weekly Leading Index (WLI), developed in the 1980s to take an accurate read “on the future of the entire economy,” is published by the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI). The WLI “is a composite leading index that anticipates cyclical turning points in U.S. economic activity by 2-3 quarters,” according to ECRI. The inputs include measures of money supply, housing activity, the labor market, and equity and bond market prices.
For this indicator to be meaningful in calling a recession, trend changes need to be “pronounced, persistent and pervasive,” explained Constable.
As it says in Constable’s book: If “there is a turn in the WLI growth rate that satisfies the three P’s, then a recession (or the end of one) can be expected seven to eight months later.” When the WLI growth rate is trending up, the economy is growing.
The best way to look at trends is graphically. ECRI provides access to free graphs (with underlying data) online at. When you visit this site, look at different time frames.
For an example of this indicator at work, change the dates at the bottom of the graph. Take a look at the end of 2005 through the end of 2009 to pick up economic trends before the financial crisis up to the year the stock market bottomed (March 2009). Zoom out to pick up 1970 through 2017.
Look for warnings as well. At the height of the 2007 market, the November-December 2007 ECRI Outlook cautioned: “The growing weakness in the growth rates of ECRI’s leading indexes is a warning that recessionary weakness could develop. One key danger is a sustained credit crunch because the credit crisis is clearly not over. … [Our] Leading Index[es are] now approaching [their] worst reading[s] since the 2001 recession. … Also, the breadth of deterioration evident in the latest data on the components of ECRI’s many leading indexes has rarely been seen except near the cusp of a recession.”
Returning to today, we are not in a 2007 market, based on economic trends. However, the economy is not the sole arbiter of stock market movements — for one, consider rare but impactful “black swan” events.
In the end, following indicators can help investors evaluate their investments in the context of the broader economic picture.
* * *
Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager (Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn.) and award-winning author, welcomes your questions/comments ([email protected]). To hear Julie speak, visit here.
(c) 2018 Julie Jason.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.
7 Blockbuster Drugs Expected To Be Launched In 2020
Biotech stocks had a fairly decent run in 2019, thanks to record deal flow, several path-breaking innovation in drug research & development and the positive broader market sentiment. New molecular entity approvals totaled 48 in 2019, less than the 59 NME approvals in 2018.
The new year is expected to be risk fraught, as lawmakers are expected to step up their rhetoric on drug pricing. Even as the outlook for drug companies remains not-so-promising, some key drug approvals could still impart some momentum to the sector.
The FDA could expedite the review of some drugs, Evaluate Pharma said, citing some approvals in 2019 that came about well ahead of the scheduled PDUFA date such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated’s (NASDAQ: VRTX) Trikafta. Trikafta, a treatment option for cystic fibrosis, was approved five months ahead of the PDUFA date.
The following are the drugs with blockbuster potential that could make their way from lab to the shelves, according to Evaluate Pharma.
- Sponsor: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited (OTC: DSNKY) & AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN)
- Indication: Her2 positive breast cancer
- Status: BLA accepted with priority review status in October and the PDUFA date has been fixed for second quarter of 2020
- Sponsor: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: AIMT)
- Indication: Peanut allergy
- Status: PDUFA date of January; A FDA panel, which met in September, voted 7 to 2 that the efficacy data and 8 to 1 that the safety data in conjunction with additional safeguards are adequate to support the use of Palforzia
- Sponsor: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY) (came into the company’s stable through its Celgene buy)
- Indication: relapsing form of multiple sclerosis
- Status: The FDA accepted for review the BLA in June and has set a PDUFA date of March 25
- Sponsor: Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS)(came into the company’s stable through its Medicines Company buy)
- Indication: LDL-cholesterol lowering therapy
- Status: NDA submitted in December for use in secondary prevention patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and familial hypercholesterolemia
- Sponsor: AstraZeneca/FibroGen Inc (NASDAQ: FGEN)
- Indication: treating anemia associated with chronic kidney disease
- Status: FibroGen, AstraZeneca’s partner in developing roxadustat, said it has submitted the NDA to the FDA in late December
- Sponsor: Immunomedics, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMMU)
- Indication: treating metastatic triple-negative breast cancer
- Status: After an initial snub, the company resubmitted the BLA and the FDA accepted the application for review Dec. 26, 2019, fixing a PDUFA action date of June 2
Dow Jones Industrial Average Breaks 29,000 For The First Time in History
Slight gains send Dow Jones Industrial Average above 29,000!
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 29,000 points for the first time and the S&P 500 index hit its second record high in three days Wednesday.
The milestones came on a day when the market traded in a narrow range as investors weighed the latest batch of corporate earnings reports and the widely anticipated signing of an initial trade deal between the U.S. and China.
President Donald Trump and China’s chief negotiator, Liu He, signed the “Phase 1″ deal before a group of corporate executives and reporters at the White House. The pact eases some sanctions on China. In return, Beijing has agreed to step up its purchases of U.S. farm products and other goods.
“This was telegraphed well enough that the market is kind of looking through it and toward the next phase and what that means,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments.
Health care stocks accounted for much of the market’s gains. Utilities and makers of household goods also rose. Those gains outweighed losses in financial stocks, companies that rely on consumer spending and the energy sector.
The S&P 500 index rose 6.14 points, or 0.2%, to 3,289.29. The index also climbed to an all-time high on Monday.
The Dow gained 90.55 points, or 0.3%, to 29,030.22. The Nasdaq composite added 7.37 points, or 0.1%, to 9,258.70.
Smaller-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 picked up 6.66 points, or 0-4%, to 1,682.40.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is on track for its second straight weekly gain.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.78% from 1.81% late Tuesday.
While limited in its scope, investors have welcomed the U.S.-China deal in hopes that it will prevent further escalation in the 18-month long trade conflict that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy. The world’s two largest economies will now have to deal with more contentious trade issues as they move ahead with negotiations. And punitive tariffs will remain on about $360 billion in Chinese goods as talks continue.
With the “Phase 1” agreement now a done deal, investors have more reason to focus on the rollout of corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks. Earnings have been flat to down for the last three quarters, and if the fourth quarter meets expectations, it should be around the same.
However, analysts are projecting 2020 corporate earnings growth to jump around 9.5%, which is why traders will be listening this earnings reporting season for any clues management teams give about their business prospects in coming months.
“We’re expecting a reacceleration in the back end of the year, so any (company) guidance that brings any type of skepticism to that could threaten the recent rally we’ve had and the gains that we’ve accrued in the past few months,” Buchanan said.
Health care stocks powered much of the market’s gains Wednesday. Several health insurers climbed as investors cheered a solid fourth-quarter earnings report from UnitedHealth Group.
The nation’s largest health insurer, which covers more than 49 million people, said its revenue rose 4% on a mix of insurance premiums and growth from urgent care and surgery centers. Its stock rose 2.8%. Other health insurers also moved higher. Anthem gained 1.6%, Cigna added 1.5% and Humana climbed 1.9%.
Technology companies also rose. The sector is reliant on China for sales and supply chains and benefits from better trade relations. Microsoft gained 0.7% and Advanced Micro Devices gained 0.8%.
Utilities and consumer staples sector stocks also notched gains. Edison International climbed 2.5% and PepsiCo rose 1.7%.
Financial stocks fell the most. Bank of America slid 1.8% after reporting weaker profits due to the rapid decline of interest rates in late 2019.
Energy stocks also fell along with the price of crude oil. Valero Energy dropped 3.3%.
Homebuilders marched broadly higher on news that U.S. home loan applications surged 30.2% last week from a week earlier. The pickup in mortgage applications reflects heightened demand for homes and suggests many buyers are eager to purchase a home now, rather than waiting for the traditional late-February start of the spring homebuying season. Hovnanian Enterprises jumped 6.4%.
Target slumped 6.6% after a disappointing holiday shopping season prompted the retailer to cut its forecast for a key sales measure in the fourth quarter. The company said weak sales of electronics, toys and home goods crimped sales growth to just 1.4% in November and December.
Benchmark crude oil fell 42 cents to settle at $57.81 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, dropped 49 cents to close at $64 a barrel.
Wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.64 per gallon. Heating oil declined 3 cents to $1.88 per gallon. Natural gas fell 7 cents to $2.12 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $9.70 to $1,552.10 per ounce, silver rose 25 cents to $17.92 per ounce and copper fell 1 cent to $2.87 per pound.
The dollar fell to 109.91 Japanese yen from 110.00 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1150 from $1.1128.
Markets in Europe closed mostly lower.
20 Stocks Every Investor Should Add to Their Watch List in 2020
Interested in what stocks to look out for this year? Then you’ll love this list of the best stocks to watch in 2020.
These funds purchase multiple stocks and spread risk appropriately across the top companies. This is the advice of Warren Buffett, who once said,
“By periodically investing in an index fund, for example, the know-nothing investor can actually outperform most investment professionals.”
If you’re looking for a stock index fund, check out Vanguard’s 500 Index Fund.
With that aside, here are the most promising stocks going in to 2020:
1. Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle is an international chain of restaurants specializing in tacos, burritos, and other Mexican style cuisines. They have establishments all over the world from the United States to Germany and France.
This beloved food joint performed very well in the first two quarters of 2020 and are expected to continue to grow.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 87.81
2. Constellation Brands, Inc.
Constellation is an international beer and wine producer. They are the largest importer of beer in the United States and command 7.4% of the market share.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 17.00
3. Lululemon Athletica
Lululemon Athletica creates athletic apparel such as performance shirts, shorts, and pants, as well as yoga accessories. They’ve built a brand over the years that millions recognize and love.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 47.51
4. Coty Inc.
Coty Incorporated is a multinational company that specializes in beauty products and services such as cosmetics, fragrances, skincare, and nail care.
Coty owns over 70 brands, such as CoverGirl, Clairol, and Bourjois. In 2018, the company’s revenue was over $9.4 billion.
As of August 2019, Coty Inc. stock is valued at 10.42 USD. Their P/E ratio is not yet available.
5. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Anadarko is in the natural gas and petroleum industry. This entails everything from gathering resources to treating and transporting gas. The company is also in the hard mineral business.
In early 2019, Anadarko had an estimated 1.47 billion barrels of oil in reserve, making it one of the biggest players in the industry.
As of August 2019, Anadarko’s stock is valued at 73.48 USD. Their P/E ratio is not available yet.
6. Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P.
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners acquires and manages infrastructure assets all over the world. They specialize in utilities, energy, and transportation infrastructure.
The company invests in ports, toll roads, pipelines, and telecommunication lines. In other words, things that people will always need and use.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 75.27
7. ONEOK Inc.
ONEOK (pronounced “one – oak”) Incorporated is in the natural gas industry and is a key leader in the gathering, storing, processing, and transporting natural gas in the United States.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 22.62
TerraForm Power Inc.
TerraForm Power specializes in renewable energy, particularly solar and wind power. There is an ever-growing trend that demands less damage to the environment.
As the world values green innovations, companies like TerraForm are expected to be favored in the coming years.
P/E ratio as of August 2020: 227.44
Netflix is a service provider and production company with their main product being a subscription-based streaming service.
Streaming TV and movies have largely replaced traditional television. With no commercials and instant access to thousands of products, Netflix is suspected to continue to grow.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 120.23
iRobot is an advanced technology company that specializes in military and domestic robots. They designed the Roomba, which is an autonomous vacuum cleaner.
The U.S. military has purchased and uses thousands of robots from iRobot and are contracted to make more.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 22.24
Amazon is a multinational company that specializes in e-commerce and cloud computing. It’s considered one of the big four technology companies along with Apple, Google (Alphabet, Inc.), and Facebook.
Amazon is well known for distributing goods through technological innovation and on a massive scale. Some estimate that Amazon commands 50% of all goods sold online.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 73.65
11. Apple Inc.
Apple is a multinational tech company that develops and sells computer software, electronics, and online services. They designed some of the world’s greatest tech products including the iPhone and Apple Watch.
Being a leader in tech devices, many analysts believe Apple is one of the most promising stocks to invest in.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 16.61
12. Alphabet Inc.
Alphabet Inc. is a multinational conglomerate founded in 2015. It’s the parent company of Google, which is the dominating search engine on the internet.
Google performs 90% of all searches on the internet. Alphabet has additional subsidiaries such as Calico, Capital G, and Deep Mind.
These subsidiaries have their hands in industries such as autonomous cars, biotechnology, video game software, and internet tech.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 23.87
13. Facebook Inc.
Facebook is the popular American social media site founded by Mark Zuckerberg. In 2018, Facebook had a net income of $22.11 billion and its total assets were $97.33 billion.
Facebook has subsidiaries such as Instagram and WhatsApp, which are also very popular social media outlets.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 31.00
14. MarketAxess Holdings Inc.
MarketAxess is an international company that specializes in financial technology, also known as fintech.
They operate an electronic trading platform for various credit markets such as corporate bonds and income products.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 70.82
15. AT&T Inc.
AT&T is a multinational conglomerate holding company and is the world’s largest company in telecommunications.
AT&T is the parent company of Warren Media, which makes it the largest entertainment company in the world in terms of revenue.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 14.17
16. Verizon Communications Inc.
Verizon is a multinational telecommunications conglomerate. They are well known for their subsidiary Verizon Wireless, which is its mobile network.
Together with AT&T, these two companies dominate the mobile and landline market. Since our needs for communications will develop, these two stocks are poised to grow.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 14.49
17. Axon Enterprise Inc.
Axon Enterprise Inc. is a U.S.-based company that develops weapon products and technology for civilians and law enforcement. This company developed the Taser, a line of electric shock weapons.
Since then, Axon developed other technologies including body cameras and a cloud-based management system that empowers police departments to manage and review evidence.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 129.55
18. Intuitive Surgical Inc.
Intuitive Surgical Inc. develops and manufactures surgical equipment to make surgeries less invasive. As of 2017, they had 4,271 bases worldwide.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 48.51
19. Ford Motor Company
Despite the localized recession in Detroit, the automotive giant is doing very well.
The market continues to demand their SUVs and commercial vehicles, not to mention their luxury vehicles, which are usually created under their Lincoln brand.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 16.90
20. General Motors Company
General Motors is a multinational manufacturer of vehicles and own automotive brands like Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet. They have nearly 400 facilities on six different continents.
P/E ratio as of August 2019: 6.19
Let’s point out two trends from this list:
- Tech and software companies are dominating
- Utility-related companies are tried and true
About half of the world still doesn’t have internet access. And a large portion still doesn’t have access to common devices like cell phones and laptops. That means these industries are set up to grow significantly for years to come.
Of course, that doesn’t mean other industries will simply disappear. As you’ve seen in the list, there are still key industries that our society relies on, such as energy and infrastructure companies.
Some of the most promising stocks are in tech and software, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
Nevertheless, the wisest investment is still a stock index fund, which bets on the collective market rather than individual companies.
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