Market Brief May 11 2020

The markets finished up last week. Surprising to some investors as the unemployment numbers for April hit a record setting 20 million. This equates to an unemployment figure of 14.7%! To put the job loss in perspective, from October 2010 to February 2020, the economy added 22.1 million jobs. Last Thursday, 3.1m former workers filed for unemployment benefits. However, it was the 5th straight week when the number of applicants fell. For some, this is a signal of improvement. This also may point to the fact that the worst is behind us. The forward looking market is ready for a turnaround.

Last Week

States are re-opening and sharing their blueprints with others to follow. Companies reporting earnings last week continued to withdraw guidance. Companies are sharing less than optimistic commentary. Economic reports have met the ugly reality, but have not exceeded those benchmarks. This has helped prop up the markets for now. Along with positive news regarding potential vaccine for Covid. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week – Dow up 2.6%, S&P 3.5%, and Nasdaq 6.0%.

During the earnings came the release of dividend status. The number of dividends increased in April totaled 19, down from 30 a year ago. Year-to-date, dividend increases totaled 144, down from 148 over the same period a year ago. Twelve dividends were cut in April, compared to one cut a year ago. Twelve dividends were suspended in April, bringing the total to 22 for 2020. This is a sign of uncertainty and caution among companies. Instead of paying a dividend, these companies are raising cash on hand, paying down debt, or using for day-to-day operating expenses until “normal” returns.

Week Ahead

Investors are currently looking at the bright side and trying to figure out when normal is back. Closely watching how states are re-opening and if Covid cases begin to increase in those states. The retail sales report on Friday will tell us one of two things. Is the consumer completely locked down, including their wallets? Or, has the quarantine led to regular or even higher spending with people sitting around their house all day? Other economic news, CPI and PPI will both be released next week as investors digest the impact of the slowdown on both the economy and the stock market.

Continued U.S. and China tension is back on the front burner. Similar to the back-and-forth in 2019, market swill ebb and flow with the latest tweet, response, and action taken by each side. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down -14.7%, S&P down -9.3%, and Nasdaq up 1.7%.

Have a safe week!

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