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The AM Call: Markets Gain Even as Uncertainty Rules

  • We enter late January filled with more questions than answers. Macro-economic data last week was mixed, with CPI slightly higher than estimates, while PPI was weaker. Questions remain about the pace and timing of the Fed’s likely cuts in 2024. Markets are also awaiting more clarity from 4Q23 earnings, as big banks kicked off earnings season by reporting solid results last Friday. Away from markets, geopolitics remain in focus with elevated risks in the Red Sea, a Trump triumph in the Iowa caucus, and China reportedly weighing a large stimulus package for its economy. Yet, financial markets took all of it in stride ending the week slightly higher.
  • December CPI and PPI were somewhat mixed. Headline CPI YoY bumped up slightly to 3.4%, higher than the estimate of 3.2% and prior of 3.1%. Core CPI YoY declined to 3.9% from 4.0%. On a MoM basis, headline and core CPI came in 0.3%, compared to 0.1% and 0.3% in November, respectively.
  • On Friday, PPI figures came in softer than expected, giving markets hope that a March rate cut is still on track. PPI YoY was 1.0%, vs. estimate for 1.3%. PPI YoY excluding food and energy was up 1.8%, below the 2.0% estimate. PPI MoM figures were also lower than expected.
  • Markets are pricing in a 69% chance that the Fed cuts by -25 bps at its March meeting, up from a 60% chance last week. We continue to view the timing as somewhat optimistic, but agree with markets that the next Fed move will be down.
  • Equity markets rallied last week. Earnings seasons kicked-off as Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), CitiGroup (C), JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and BlackRock (BLK) reported on Friday. In corporate news, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) reached an agreement to pay US$ 700m to end a decade-long litigation involving talc-based products, Nvidia (NVDA) announced 3 new retail market AI-focused chips for personal computers, Microchip Tech (MCHP) reduced its previous sales guidance on weakening environment, Hertz (HTZ) announced plans to reduce its EV fleet by 1/3, and Tesla (TSLA) issued pay hikes for all factory employees at a time United Auto Workers has been pressuring its workforce to unionize. In M&A, Juniper Networks (JNPR) will be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE).
  • The SEC approved exchange traded funds (ETFs) to directly own Bitcoin leading to an initial surge for brokers Robinhood (HOOD) and Coinbase (COIN).

The Week Ahead

  • A relatively week ahead for macro data. This week we get December advance retail sales which are expected to be up by 0.4%, and up 0.3% excluding the volatile auto and gas categories.
  • We also get preliminary consumer sentiment for January, which includes an update to inflation expectations. 
  • This week, earnings season kicks into high gear. Morgan Stanley (MS), Goldman Sachs (GS), US Bancorp (USB), Charles Schwab (SCHW), Discover Financial (DFS), State Street (STT), Ally Financial (ALLY), Kinder Morgan (KMI) and Fastenal (FAST) are among companies set to report Q4 Earnings.

Market Summary – Returns and Yields

  • The table below is through January 12. Both equities and fixed income recovered last week, after starting off 2024 weaker. The month-to-date and year-to-date figures will remain identical through January.
  • Equity market leadership through the first two weeks of the year is in Consumer Staples and Consumer Discretionary. Tech led last week.

Definitions, sources, and disclaimers


  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP): A comprehensive measure of U.S. economic activity. GDP is the value of the goods and services produced in the United States. The growth rate of GDP is the most popular indicator of the nation’s overall economic health. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
  • GDPNow is not an official forecast of the Atlanta Fed. Rather, it is best viewed as a running estimate of real GDP growth based on available economic data for the current measured quarter. There are no subjective adjustments made to GDPNow—the estimate is based solely on the mathematical results of the model. In particular, it does not capture the impact of COVID-19 and social mobility beyond their impact on GDP source data and relevant economic reports that have already been released. It does not anticipate their impact on forthcoming economic reports beyond the standard internal dynamics of the model.
  • The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program produces detailed industry estimates of nonfarm employmenthours, and earnings of workers on payrolls. CES National Estimates produces data for the nation, and CES State and Metro Area produces estimates for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and about 450 metropolitan areas and divisions. Each month, CES surveys approximately 142,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 689,000 individual worksites. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Initial Claims: An initial claim is a claim filed by an unemployed individual after a separation from an employer. The claimant requests a determination of basic eligibility for the UI program. When an initial claim is filed with a state, certain programmatic activities take place and these result in activity counts including the count of initial claims. The count of U.S. initial claims for unemployment insurance is a leading economic indicator because it is an indication of emerging labor market conditions in the country. However, these are weekly administrative data which are difficult to seasonally adjust, making the series subject to some volatility. Source: US Department of Labor (DOL).
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI): Is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. Indexes are available for the U.S. and various geographic areas. Average price data for select utility, automotive fuel, and food items are also available. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • The national unemployment rate: Perhaps the most widely known labor market indicator, this statistic reflects the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • The number of people in the labor force. This measure is the sum of the employed and the unemployed. In other words, the labor force level is the number of people who are either working or actively seeking work.Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services: Estimated monthly sales for retail and food services, adjusted and unadjusted for seasonal variations. Source: United States Census Bureau.
  • Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC): Responsible for implementing Open market Operations (OMOs)–the purchase and sale of securities in the open market by a central bank—which are a key tool used by the US Federal Reserve in the implementation of monetary policy. Source: Federal Reserve.
  • The Federal Funds Rate: Is the interest rate at which depository institutions trade federal funds (balances held at Federal Reserve Banks) with each other overnight. When a depository institution has surplus balances in its reserve account, it lends to other banks in need of larger balances. In simpler terms, a bank with excess cash, which is often referred to as liquidity, will lend to another bank that needs to quickly raise liquidity. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • The “core” PCE price index: Is defined as personal consumption expenditures (PCE) prices excluding food and energy prices. The core PCE price index measures the prices paid by consumers for goods and services without the volatility caused by movements in food and energy prices to reveal underlying inflation trends. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve Economic Database (FRED), Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Housing and Human Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U..S Department of the Treasury, Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), U.S. Department of Commerce, data.gov, investor.gov, usa.gov, congress.gov, whitehouse.gov, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Morningstar, The International Monetary Funds (IMF), The World Bank (WB), European Central bank (ECB), Bank of Japan (BOJ), European Parliament, Eurostats, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), World health organization (WHO).

Financial Markets – Recent Prices and Yields, and Weekly, Monthly, and YTD (Table): Bloomberg, Weekly Market Data is in USD and refers to the following indices: Macro & Market Indicators: Volatility (VIX); Oil (WTI); Dollar Index (DXA); Inflation (CPI YoY); Fixed Income: All U.S. Bonds (Bloomberg Aggregate Index); Investment Grade Corporates (Bloomberg US Corporate Index); US High Yield (Bloomberg High Yield Index), Treasuries (ICE BofA Treasury Indices); Equities: U.S. Industrials (Dow Jones Industrial Average); U.S. Large Caps (S&P 500); U.S Tech Equities (Nasdaq Composite); European (MSCI Euope), Asia Pacific (MSCI AP), and Latin America Equities (MSCI LA); Sectors (S&P 500 GICS Sectors) Source: Bloomberg. Fed Funds Rate probabilities, Source: CME FedWatch Tool.  

Important Disclosures:

The views contained herein are not to be taken as advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any investment in any jurisdiction, nor is it a commitment from Amerant Investments, Inc. or any of its affiliates to participate in any of the transactions mentioned herein. Any forecasts, figures, opinions or investment techniques and strategies set out are for information purposes only, based on certain assumptions and current market conditions and are subject to change without prior notice. All information presented herein is considered to be accurate at the time of production. This material does not contain sufficient information to support an investment decision and it should not be relied upon by you in evaluating the merits of investing in any securities or products. In addition, users should make an independent assessment of the legal, regulatory, tax, credit and accounting implications and determine, together with their own professional advisers, if any investment mentioned herein is believed to be suitable to their personal goals. Investors should ensure that they obtain all available relevant information before making any investment. It should be noted that investment involves risks, the value of investments and the income from them may fluctuate in accordance with market conditions and taxation agreements and investors may not get back the full amount invested. Both past performance and yields are not reliable indicators of current and future results.

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