U.S. economic output reaches recorded breaking numbers, while self-driving cars break new ground and news of a potential new, hawkish Fed Chair candidate surface. How could these stories and others impact your investments? Get the answers in this week’s edition of the Steady Investor’s Week.
The U.S. Economy on Firm Footing – U.S. economic output grew at a 3.1% annual rate in the second quarter of 2017, the best quarterly rate of growth in two years. Based on market exchange rates, J.P. Morgan estimates that the global GDP growth rate for Q3 was 3.8%, which might be higher than the U.S. third quarter GDP estimates. This growth rate would be the highest recorded since mid-2010. On a more granular level, the Institute for Supply Management’s September Non-Manufacturing Index rose 4.5 to 59.8, its highest level since August 2005. Since readings over 50 imply expansion, 59.8 implies robust expansion. New Orders rose 5.9 points to 63.0, which is even stronger. With corporate earnings also positive and on the rise, our outlook for stocks remains optimistic. The U.S. economy has never had a recession with corporate profits rising.
Self-Driving Cars Reach New Milestone – for those readers who are still reluctant to believe in the electric car and self-driving car revolutions, we understand (but it’s time to start believing). Where the U.S. government is generally snail-pace slow in legislating in lockstep with technological change, they have passed a bill that creates a national framework of regulations for the industry. The bill includes amendments covering cybersecurity issues and allows automakers to sell up to 80,000 self-driving vehicles annually, assuming that safety standards are met. On the automakers front, it’s been an active week as Ford detailed a strategy for future investment of research and resources into self-driving cars. General Motors followed suit by indicating that its ‘Cruise Automation’ business is making rapid progress on fully autonomous driving capabilities.
Federal Reserve Watch – speculation is starting to grow over whether current Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen will be replaced by President Trump, and a new candidate has emerged as a potential favorite: former Fed governor Kevin Warsh. The reason Warsh’s candidacy is newsworthy is that he favors reduced regulation on banks, and he also notably cares less about inflation as a metric for interest rate policy. He appears more hawkish and could set about to normalize interest rate policy, i.e., raise rates faster, than Janet Yellen.
Eurozone Strength – part of what could keep the U.S.’s economic engine purring is foreign strength, particularly coming from Europe. While eurozone unemployment remained unchanged at 9.1% for August, it still marks its lowest level since early 2009. As new order growth accelerated, the eurozone factory PMI for September hit its highest since February 2011.
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