More Americans Own Stocks. That’s Great for Their Financial Future.
By Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post, 6/7/2023
MarketMinder’s View: A Gallup poll recently showed “Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults say they have money in the stock market, either as an individual stock, a mutual fund, or a self-directed 401(k) or IRA plan. It’s the highest level since 2008. ‘While it’s hard to generalize about what investors are doing as a group, I think a huge factor is that performance has been so strong,’ said Christine Benz, director of personal finance and retirement planning for Morningstar, a financial services firm. Benz pointed out that the U.S. market has gained about 12 percent on an annualized basis over the past decade and about 10 percent over the past 15 years, which includes 2008, the worst of the global financial crisis. ‘No other major asset class came close,’ Benz said. ‘Bonds returned a little more than 1 percent over the past decade and 3 percent over the past 15 years.’ Stocks’ head-turning results are the key factor in the increase in market participation, Benz said. Another reason is company retirement plans.” This is a good thing! More people getting involved, directly or indirectly, in stock investing likely brightens the financial future for them, much as the author argues it has hers early on. And the counsel included later here is also sound: “[T]here are two trouble spots for investors overall and, in particular, for young adults with less experience — trading too often and speculative investing. On actively trading: It’s dicey trying to time the market’s ups and downs. ‘Very few professional investors have had any luck with that sort of market timing, casting doubt on new investors’ ability to get it right,’ Benz said. On speculative investing: Don’t risk too much of your portfolio with cryptocurrencies, speculative stocks or narrowly defined exchange-traded funds, she said.”
Here’s What Refining Margins Say About the State of the Oil Market
By Sharon Cho, Bloomberg, 6/7/2023
MarketMinder’s View: With energy price swings looming large over the last year, this article documents analysts looking ahead—and seeing signs of global supply and demand stabilizing. In brief, despite Saudi Arabia’s unilateral announcement of a crude oil production cut Sunday, “Oil futures initially rose, then fell again because the market is dogged by uncertainty about demand. But the profits refineries make from turning crude into fuels like gasoline and diesel have been creeping up for the past several weeks, suggesting end-user consumption is at least holding up.” For some added detail on some key moving parts: “This year is ‘distinctly different’ from 2022, according to Wood Mackenzie. Last year, Western nations feared a loss of Russian diesel supply in the fallout over the war in Ukraine. Now, gasoline demand is setting the tone for refineries. Margins have started to recover after slumping below last year’s levels in mid-March amid weak distillate demand growth, high exports from Russia and China, and new supply, said Mark Williams, the firm’s director for short-term oils. Demand growth for jet fuel is also set to be strong in the coming months, he added. Margins are set to ease in the fourth quarter, following the US driving season and as new refineries such as Nigeria’s Dangote plant boost supply, according to Alan Gelder, WoodMac vice president for refining, chemicals and oil markets.” Energy fundamentals appear to be coming into better balance, which we think markets reflect.
Is This ‘Recession’ in the Room With Us Now?
By Justin Lahart, The Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2023
MarketMinder’s View: With headlines screaming recession at hand for more than a year, it makes sense for investors to continually monitor broad conditions. This article weighs the now-familiar evidence for and against: yield-curve inversion, credit conditions and earnings’ decline versus resilient consumer demand and labor markets. This is, quite obviously, far from a complete view that doesn’t factor in an array of data points on both sides. Regardless, while data are no doubt mixed, the global economy appears to be overall growing—and exceeding dire recession expectations. Here, the article helpfully delves into why sentiment seems so sour despite signs otherwise. “Some recession signals started flashing more than a year ago and now look like false alarms. Take the so-called Anxious Index: In each quarter since the late 1960s the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has asked forecasters what they think the chances are that gross domestic product will decline in the following quarter. Before the pandemic, if it got to 20%, the chances a recession was coming soon were high. If it got to 40%, a recession was probably there. It hit 20% in the second quarter last year and cleared 40% in the fourth quarter. So far, no recession.” The article goes on to argue forecasters are often overconfident in their outlooks, which may or may not be true. But what we do think investors ought to consider here is simpler: that the widespread recession expectations this documents suggest strongly that if one does materialize, it is highly likely markets moved in advance of it—perhaps explaining last year’s decline.