Independent Strategy

Macro Matters

A deeper look at data

Independent Strategy Blog: Macro Matters

Macro Matters is the Independent Strategy high frequency research area.  We aim to try and offer a glimpse into our analytical process by making available some of the files and data we use to analyse macro developments and financial markets.  It also includes some supplemental weekly technical analysis, which helps us measure shifts in sentiment and bigger changes in trends, complementing the work we do on the macro side. If you’d like to discuss anything in more detail, please reach out.

UK Boris seems to be responding quite well to treatment, which is encouraging.  The media debate that his temporary removal created a power vacuum and compromised decision making just misunderstands how Cabinet government works and was just a complete non-story chased by journalists fatigued by the Covid echo-chamber. Real question is how do we exit the current lockdown situation?  Cabinet is discussing this today and it’s expected we’ll see the initial three week period extended through to the end of the month.

Bleak payrolls report.  While the median survey was always going to be a short in the dark, the -701k decline in jobs was significantly more troubling than the mkts -100k guess.  That’s the worst number since March 2009, a period of losses that saw five consecutive payrolls figures below the -700k mark starting from November 2008.  Looking at the past fortnights jobless claims figures the April number and revisions to this release will paint an even bleaker picture of the labour market.  In the household survey nearly 2.987mn jobs were recorded lost.

ADP reported fewer than expected job losses for March, with a modest -24k drop (mkt -150k), which compares to the 3.3mn jump in initial jobless claims last week.  Partly this is due to the survey dates (it tallies responses up to the 12th of the month).  So we will see catch up next month.  Prior month was revised down to 179k from 183k.

The rapid and devastating effect of Covid-19 on the labour market is unprecedented based on this week’s jobless claims.  Initial claims in week ending came in at 3,283k which looks like a data error rather than an actual real data point.  But real it is, and further increases look likely in the coming weeks as the economic stop continues to push people out of employment.

Trying to look beyond to what the day after looks like is important, particularly at a political level.  Will it be a blow or a boost to the populists? In the US, France and Germany it looks like it will be a reminder to voters of the damage populists can do.  There is a broad feeling that serious government is required.

US household income growth looked pretty solid with a 0.6% m/m gain during January, which tends seasonally, to be a weaker month.  That lifts the y/y rate back to a shade under 4.0%, although the near-term trend remains one of moderation.  On the spending side the increase surprised on the downside at +0.2% m/m and that pulled y/y growth back to 4.5%

Global

25th February, 2020 » Corporate earnings health check

In recent years equity markets have been driven more by central bank largesse than by corporate profit performance. With bond yields close to record lows — in both real and nominal terms — investors have charged into higher-yielding risk assets with gusto. Still it behoves us to keep an eye on the underlying earnings picture.

China looks to have the Coronavirus (COVID-19) under control. The rate of daily infections has been on a clear downward trend since the start of the month, suggesting the initial measures to quarantine areas were largely effective. As knowledge and understanding improves, it seems highly unlikely this is a temporary lull, even if economic disruptions surrounding the outbreak become more prolonged.

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