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We've Been Here Before?

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Sometimes, history does repeat itself. However, three years in front of 2015, the economy faces the triple threat of high valuations, rising rates, and geopolitical trade tensions. First Trust Portfolio's comparison suggests the pattern could be bullish. After all, a correction happens every 18 months shedding on average 10-19%. A little deja vu might help to calm things down, but this time fundamental pressure feels heavier. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Breakdown

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The jobs report came out for July 2018, and the numbers disappointed expectations. Employment rose by 157,000, below the consensus estimates of about 190,000 for the month of July. Despite lower gains, the unemployment rate continued to fall to 3.9 percent. Total unemployed individuals fell by 284,000 and about 9,000 joined the civilian labor force for the month.

More specific breakdowns include a slightly higher reduction in the unemployment of older males than the rest of the demographics. Adult males (ages 20+) saw their unemployment fall by 0.3 percent while adult women (ages 20+) saw no change in their unemployment. Teenagers (ages 16-19) saw unemployment rise by 0.5 percent being on the weaker end of the report.




Broken down by ethnicity, every category saw unemployment tick downward except for Black which saw a slight increase. The Black category is known for having a higher unemployment rate, but it has fallen at the same rate as other ethnicities. This is true even though the…

MAGNA: Digital Advertising Takes Center Stage

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Alphabet (GOOGL) released on Monday, July 23rd and surprised the world with a significant beat over earnings estimates. Reported earnings per share was $11.75 beating the Wall St estimate of $9.45 and representing a year-over-year growth in income of 32 percent. Revenue came in much higher as well beating estimates of $25.6 billion by about $600 million. Many thought Google, the main arm of Alphabet, had beat the digital advertising business model to death, and therefore, the company would start to see some slowing in growth. However, that was not the case.

MAGNA Global releases data on the global advertising industry and, in particular, releases its seasonal updates of its “MAGNA Advertising Forecasts” that feature many key findings. The latest report was released on June 18th and would have prompted an optimistic view on Alphabet earnings if it had been read before the event.

In its latest report, MAGNA forecasted net advertising revenues to be 6.4 percent higher at $551 billion aft…

FTR Trucking: The Economic Engine Keeps its Pace

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Freight and trucking conditions are known for being good barometers of the overall economic health of a country. Freight Transportation Research Associates provides data and reports on the conditions for the trucking and shipping industries. The company provides its Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) which combines analysis on “load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation” to give an overall opinion on the industry.


The most recent monthly report reports an optimistic picture for the month of May. In 2018, the TCI has suggested that truckers have maintained full capacity utilization with ratings well above the same month a year ago. As the freight season enters its peak, FTR sees “the TCI reading growing further through the calendar year and likely into 2019.” Overall, the reading suggests a continued sense of optimism in the industry despite fuel costs rising. FTR’s truckload rate forecast for the year is reported at 13 percent.

The trend in order…

Big Banks Report Earnings

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Four big banks kicked off earnings season last Friday and this Monday. J.P Morgan (JPM), Citibank (C), Bank of America (BAC), and Wells Fargo (WFC) were all part of the fun that lead to sizeable gains in Monday's trading session. Banks tackled issues such as rising interest rates and trade tensions in conference calls while discussing earnings numbers with investors. Overall, the data show one clear loser and mixed strength from the other three.

The clear loser was, and continues to be, Wells Fargo. The bank saw a contraction in all key indicators. An drop of 3 percent in revenue was accompanied by an 8 percent drop in debit and credit card spend, a 2 percent drop in deposits, and a 1 percent drop in loan growth. The only inkling of positivity came from a large drop in nonperforming loans of -19 percent. Despite a poor earnings report, shares of WFC still jumped almost 3 percent on strength in the sector.

The remaining three banks each saw their share price grow more than WFC by …

Bracing for Impact: How the Tariffs Affect the States

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The hot-button issue of tariffs has everyone on the edge of their seat including some disgruntled government agencies. In opposition to the tariffs, the Chamber of Commerce published data showing the impact of tariffs on the different states in the country. The original data was broken down into very specific categories which have been manually grouped for convenience. The source of the raw data can be found here.

2018 Q2 Manufacturers' Outlook Survey: Positive Sentiment Before Trade War Begins

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Manufacturers in the United States continue to be on edge as trade tensions materialize into established policies. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is one organization that represents the industry and publishes data reflecting the outlook of manufacturing companies. In NAM’s “2018 Second Quarter Manufacturers' Outlook Survey,” the most recent industry outlook is provided for the second quarter of 2018. The survey was conducted from May 22nd to June 5th and included 568 participants.


Based on an overall outlook, NAM determined that 95.1 percent of respondents saw a positive outlook for their companies in the next 12 months. Included in this statistic were 97.9 percent of large manufacturers having a positive outlook and 89.5 percent of small manufacturers having a positive outlook. Interestingly, this disparity was reversed in the first quarter where 93.8 percent of large manufacturers had a positive outlook and 94.5 percent of small manufacturers had a positive outl…