The past week in markets was all about things getting bigger.
Apple. The U.S. labor market. The U.S. trade deficit.
Apple (AAPL) became the first U.S. company to eclipse $1 trillion in market value on Thursday, the U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in July, and the trade deficit grew in June on account of a decline in exports.
But all in, it was a strong week for markets and the economy.
Each of the major indexes finished the week with gains, led by the Nasdaq which added more than 1%. And with the July jobs report and the Fed’s latest policy statement, the economic calendar essentially runs into autopilot until September, when investors will prep for another Fed rate hike and a busy fall with midterm elections less than 100 days away.
In the week ahead, investors will also see an earnings calendar that is winding down as 45 members of the S&P 500 will report results. As a point of comparison, 48 members of the benchmark index reported earnings in a single day on Thursday.
Leading the earnings flow this week will be Disney (DIS), set to report earnings after the close on Tuesday, while Papa John’s (PZZA) results will be closely watched as that company has been engulfed in controversy over the use of a racial slur by its founder and now former CEO back in the spring.
Other companies set to report quarterly results in the week ahead include Discovery (DISCA), Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA), Viacom (VIAB), News Corp. (NWSA), Marriott (MAR), Michael Kors (KORS), Mylan (MYL), Booking Holdings (BKNG), Match Group (MTCH), Twilio (TWLO), Yelp (YELP), and Roku (ROKU).
And the economic data schedule this coming week will be light, with the monthly reading on job openings and the July report on inflation set to highlight the economic calendar. Friday’s inflation data should show that “core” consumer prices — which strip out the impacts of food and energy — remain slightly above the Fed’s 2% inflation target. “Core PCE,” another measure of inflation which the Fed prefers, is currently indicating that prices are rising less than the Fed’s target.
- Monday: No major economic data scheduled.
- Tuesday: Job openings and labor turnover survey, June (6.638 million jobs open previously); Consumer credit balances, June ($16 billion expected; $24.6 billion previously
- Wednesday: No major economic data scheduled.
- Thursday: Initial jobless claims (218,000 previously); Producer prices, July (+0.3% expected; +0.3% previously)
- Friday: Consumer price index, month-on-month, July (+0.2% expected; +0.1% previously); “Core” consumer prices, year-on-year, July (+2.3% expected; +2.3% previously)
The U.S. economy passes mid-summer test with flying colors
The U.S. economy’s mid-summer test has come and gone. And the economy passed with flying colors.
There was also a Federal Reserve policy statement, which offered a ringing endorsement of the current economic situation, and a series of survey readings on the manufacturing sector, the services sector, and consumer confidence.
Most all of this data came up roses.
On July 27, the first estimate of second quarter GDP showed the economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.1%, the fastest since 2014 and the source of considerable excitement from the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump boasted about the GDP numbers last week, saying that his administration has “accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.”
“The most important thing,” Trump added, “is these [GDP numbers] are sustainable. This isn’t a one-time shot. I happen to think we’re going to do extraordinarily well in our next report…I think the numbers are going to be outstanding.”
And this past week’s jobs report showed that although overall job gains of 157,000 in July were below headline expectations, the labor market remains in very solid shape. The headline unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9% in July while the broader underemployment rate — which includes both people out of work and those who want full-time work but are working part-time — fell to 7.5%, a new post-crisis low.
Additionally, hiring in the manufacturing sector remains strong, with that sector adding 37,000 new jobs in July and 192,000 so far this year. And backing out the impact that the closure of Toys ‘R’ Us had on the sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores sub-industry — the industry lost 31,800 jobs from this closure and only employs 600,000 people in total — the jobs report pointed to a labor market that is accelerating.
“Nonfarm payrolls rose by less than expected in July, but given the combination of large upward revisions and a sharp decline in the retail subindustry containing Toys ’R’ Us, we believe the report actually indicates a faster underlying pace of job growth,” said economists at Goldman Sachs following Friday’s report.
Michael Feroli, an economist at JP Morgan, added, “Overall the report paints a favorably benign picture of the economy. Economic activity looks to be expanding at a solid pace, unused labor market resources are all but non-existent, and while wages growth is generally edging higher it’s not doing so in a way that would add to worries that the Fed is behind the curve.”
The Fed’s latest policy statement, released on Wednesday, also highlighted one word that sums up the central bank’s assessment of the economy right now — strong.
“Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a strong rate,” the statement said.
“Job gains have been strong, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low. Household spending and business fixed investment have grown strongly.”
No mentions of tariffs or other specific risks to the economic outlook were mentioned.
And when it comes to tariffs, tracking the major impact on markets and the economy has been, to say the least, a moving target. On Friday, for example, Beijing announced it would slap tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, news that sent stock futures lower ahead of the jobs report, a move that was eventually shaken off by markets.
More qualitative readings of how tariffs could be altering the economic landscape were, however, found in the latest manufacturing activity survey from the Institute for Supply Management. That report, released Tuesday, showed executives in at least 8 industries mentioned tariffs as impacting business in some way.
“The so-called trade war is now taking its toll on business activity, resulting in substantial reductions to new export orders,” said one executive in the wood products industry. “China has all but stopped taking orders, causing inventories to build up in the U.S.”
Additionally, trade data released Friday showed the trade balance widened in July after having declined month-over-month for the last three months, with economists at Barclays indicating that this trend is likely to continue as both the impacts of tax cuts and the trade war are working together to increase import demand and lower export demand. Imports subtract from GDP while exports add to the calculation.
Even with this overhang in the background of the economic and markets outlook, expect things to remain fairly calm until we get through August and start approaching the Fed’s next policy decision. The central bank is expected to raise rates in September, clarity on tariffs might increase, the midterm elections will draw.
But as we start to see the end of summer in the U.S., the backward-looking check on the economic health of the country has been strong all around.
Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland