Market Perspective for July 7, 2014

Stocks powered to new highs last week as strong economic data boosted the outlook for growth in the second half of the year. Most important was the manufacturing data in the purchasing managers index, or PMI, which showed continued expansion. Motor vehicle sales were strong and home sales for May ticked up.

Commodities were strong as well, with copper being a leader. Copper mining shares have started to breakout to the upside this week thanks to the strong manufacturing data around the globe. Even China showed some positive data from the manufacturing sector.

Stocks look strong heading into the second half of the year, and economic data should be supportive over the coming quarters. Earnings season kicks off in the second week of July, and it will be important to keep a close eye on the financial sector. FactSet reported in late June that second half earnings growth estimates for the S&P 500 are based on a big turnaround in financial earnings. The sector is projected to see first half earnings decline 2.7 percent (which includes the second quarter reports that will come in July). Moving forward, the sector is estimated to see 15.5 percent growth in the second half of 2014.  How financials perform over the coming months will be a reflection on the broader economy.

After a solid first half of the year, it would not be surprising to see a modest correction over the coming weeks.  With the indexes near or at all-time highs, some profit taking is to be expected over the short term. This should not be too concerning but may warrant a review of your portfolio allocations. The next six months should continue to be good for stocks, and at this point, worries concerning a broader market sell-off are overstated.  The potential for the markets to return between 9 and 11 percent in 2014 remains reasonable.  Given the improvement in stocks over the past two years, including 30 percent in 2013, investors should be very pleased with a bit more modest return this year.

Earnings Reports: Alcoa (AA) and Wells Fargo (WFC) will be the major names reporting this week.

Economic Reports: It will be a relatively light week for economic data. The minutes from the last Fed meeting will be released, along with Chinese CPI and trade data from June.

Earnings:  Alcoa (AA) and Wells Fargo (WFC) will highlight the week’s earnings reports. Family Dollar (FDO) also reports.

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