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“He can’t have his own way, so he’s causing chaos” – John Lennon

Morning stock market summary

Below is a snippet of commentary from today’s Morning Lineup. Start a two-week trial to Bespoke Premium to view the full report.  

There’s little change in futures this morning ahead of the April release of PPI, and the only action seems to be in the meme stocks where the rally in GameStop (GME) from an X post of a guy sitting in a chair has that stock up more than 100% on the week.  The results of April’s PPI showed a hotter-than-expected m/m reading with the headline reading rising 0.5% versus forecasts for a 0.3% increase, while the core reading also increased 0.5% compared to estimates for a 0.2% increase.  That’s the bad news. On a y/y basis, though, the readings were much closer to expectations as March’s report was revised down to negative 0.1% on both a headline and core basis. The initial reaction from the market was for equities and bonds to both sell-off, but when you consider the revisions, the report was right around expectations.

Just when you think you have it all figured out, life has a way of changing.  A lead story in the Wall Street Journal highlighted how Walmart (WMT) is laying off hundreds of employees in its corporate unit and asking staff in remote jobs and small offices throughout the country to relocate to larger central hubs. If we didn’t all live through and experience it we wouldn’t believe it, but less than four years ago the centralized hub approach to work seemed like a bygone relic of the pre-Covid world and companies couldn’t find enough workers to fill open roles.  In June 2020, a story in Forbes titled “The Remote Office Is The New Normal” summed up the zeitgeist of the time. Some companies were even encouraging their employees to move wherever they wanted. That became awkward when the same companies ordered those workers back to California or Seattle (or wherever the corporate headquarters was). When times are good and the money’s flowing, the boss doesn’t care where you work, but when things start slowing down, that’s when it starts to get real.

We’ve all heard about complacency lately; investors are too bullish on the market and banking on a soft landing in the economy.  Both those outcomes certainly aren’t out of the question, but don’t tell that to the 1,300  households comprising April’s Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) from the New York Fed released yesterday.  We covered the report in more detail in yesterday’s Closer, but three charts are worth highlighting.

First, the stock market. Just 38.7% of those surveyed expect the stock market to be higher a year from now. That’s more than one percentage point below the survey’s historical average dating back to June 2013.

Sentiment towards the economy was even worse. Just over half of those surveyed said they could find a new job within three months if they lost their job. That reading hasn’t been this low since April 2021, and before Covid, you have to go back to 2014 to find a comparable reading.

While unemployment remains near historically low levels, consumers aren’t particularly confident regarding their finances. Just under 13% reported that they could not make the minimum payment required to keep current on their debts. It’s just one survey, but the results from this month’s SCE from the New York Fed didn’t show complacency towards the market or a ‘booming’ economy.

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