The economy moves into the homestretch of 2016 in fairly good shape. True, we are unlikely to see a repeat of the 2.9% rate of gain tallied in the third quarter, as the recent lift from inventory stockpiling may not be sustainable.
Last Friday the yield on the benchmark ten-year US Treasury reached an 11-month high of 2.15%. This morning the yield scaled 2.34% although it has now dropped back to 2.29%.
The jobs picture continues to brighten. The improvement is not coming in dramatic fashion, to be sure, but it is evolving in a stable enough way to suggest that the long business upturn will remain on track. As to the latest report, October saw the nation add 161,000 jobs—or just below the average monthly increase so far this year.
If you would have told me that 2 days after an upset Trump victory the Dow Jones Industrial Average would sit at an all-time high, I would asked: "What are you smoking?" But that is indeed the case. Is it rational? Yes, if you put on your rose-colored glasses and believe that Trump will be a much different president than he was on the campaign trail.
The economy’s third-quarter turnaround arrived on schedule, with the 2.9% gain in the U.S. gross domestic product, in fact, surpassing expectations. Encouragingly, this was the first time in a number of quarters that results had exceeded consensus views. It also was the economy’s best showing in two years.
As I predicted last week, the Fed used this week’s FOMC meeting to tee up a December rate hike, and the data we received from the labor department this morning did nothing to change that forecast.
The housing recovery continues to show impressive resilience. To be sure, housing starts did suffer some in September, as multifamily building contracted. But building permits—a more forward-looking metric—gained nicely, on strength, ironically, in the multifamily category.
If there were any doubt that equity investors prefer Clinton to Trump, it should have been erased early this afternoon after stocks fell quickly after FBI Director James Comey said that new evidence has prompted him to re-open the investigation of whether Hillary’s emails contained classified information.
The consumer is back in the game, with U.S. shoppers picking up their spending in September. In all, retail sales jumped 0.6% during the month, on gains at furniture dealers, building materials stores, restaurants, and over the Internet. The upswing also is taking in the auto industry, a sector that continues to hold its own after years of steady gains.
Risk markets are worried about a December rate increase. The immediate manifestation is the strength of the US dollar, which has risen about 4% against developed economies currencies in the last 30 days to the highest level since last January.