Market Digest – Week Ending 5/1
The US economy stalled in Q1, setting the stage for a decline in stocks this week. The S&P 500 dropped a modest 0.4%, but the Russell 2000 Small Cap Index lost 3.1%. Q1 GDP growth was just 0.2%, driven by bad weather in the Northeast and headwinds from a stronger dollar. The dollar retreated on the news. Comments from the Fed suggested they view the slowdown as temporary and may still look to raise rates this year. US Bonds fell as a result.
S&P 500: 2,108 (-0.4%)
FTSE All-World ex-US: (-0.6%)
US 10 Year Treasury Yield: 2.11% (+0.20%)
Gold: $1,177 (-0.1%)
USD/EUR: $1.087 (+2.9%)
• Monday – ESPN filed a lawsuit against Verizon who is trying to unbundle cable TV packages.
• Monday – Generic drug maker Mylan rejected a $40 billion unsolicited bid from Teva.
• Monday – Apple again beat estimates for sales and revenue. High expectations led to a muted response in share price.
• Tuesday – Twitter issued disappointing earnings and user growth. Shares fell.
• Wednesday – The Fed attributed the slowdown in GDP to transitory factors, signaling short term rate increases may still occur in the summer months.
• Thursday – LinkedIn issued disappointing earnings. Shares fell.
• Thursday – Google, Microsoft and Amazon report strong earnings results.
• Thursday – Tesla unveiled new battery packs which could eventually lead to large changes in the utilities industry and the way energy is stored. They start at $5,000.
• Friday – A former ally of Chris Christy plead guilty to conspiracy regarding the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.
Shares of high profile social media companies Twitter and LinkedIn each lost more than 20% this week on slower than expected growth. Biotech stocks also fluctuated wildly. A rally Friday helped recoup some losses, but the NASDAQ Biotech index still lost over 5% for the week. Corporate earnings overall have been mixed, so there is no cause for panic, but market action this week served as a reminder that valuations in some favored parts of the market offer little room for forgiveness.
There are a lot of parallels between now and the late 90’s. There are also a lot of differences. The new crop of internet stocks represents real companies and many of them have real profits (Twitter doesn’t yet). Still, they are priced for strong growth for years to come. If the economy slows before then, it will be painful. This week’s soft GDP report was largely written off as an anomaly. If it happens again, it won’t be so easy. We see no problem with owning pieces of today’s glamour companies. But history shows those who become over-concentrated often take more risk than they may realize.