This blog will serve as follow up to our previously released Q2 Investment Themes and is intended to provide an update on what we are seeing as well as our current outlook.
Here are the top three things we are covering in this week’s blog:
- Equities dropped back to the lows in April amongst disappointing earnings misses and the ongoing concerns of elevated inflation.
- Downtrends in economic data continues to suggest the Fed will be forced to raise rates into a slowdown.
- After a historically strong quarter for economic data in Q2 of 2021, the economy is now facing significant YoY comparables.
Despite a promising rally to end Q1, the market was clobbered throughout the first month of Q2. April began promising, with the market appearing to be headed for another bounce, but those hopes quickly faded and instead gave way to a steep downtrend. Largely fueling the selling was ongoing poor economic data and worse than expected earnings reports. Beyond the carnage in equities, bonds and precious metals struggled alongside a rapid rise in interest rates and a surge in the US dollar. In spite of hope for a bounce from big tech earnings, the market broke down to close one of the worst months of the decade. For the month, the S&P 500 finished down -9.11%.
Hit hardest by the turmoil was the Nasdaq. After a massive bear-market rally off the previous lows, the Nasdaq suffered its worth month since 2008, falling by -13.51%.
The outperformance in the Dow Jones continued in April, with the index remaining in the positive for most on the month. Nonetheless, immense selling pressures from the other major indexes brought the Dow down to a close of -5.29%.
Falling in line with the trend, the Small Caps came crashing down -10.86% during April. While many of the smaller companies thrived in the post-COVID/retail trading frenzy, they are now coming back down to earth and have seen significant losses.
Driven by the volatility in US equities and escalating political tensions, the World index dropped by -8.55%.
Commodities inflated further in April alongside ongoing global sanctions and fears over runaway inflation. After a historic period of inflation in 2021, unforeseen events have pushed commodities higher to begin 2022. Additionally, Commodity Trend Advisers posted another positive month in April. Historically, this asset class has performed well during inflationary periods. Nonetheless, we could see inflation linked equities begin to fall as the YoY data begins to support a disinflationary period.
Precious metals have performed well throughout the year with a combination of inflation fears and the outbreak of war in Ukraine. However, the recent volatility paired with strength in the US dollar brought Gold down slightly to a close of -1.63%.
Yields advanced in April with the 10-year breaching its highest level since 2018. The sizeable move in yields has put extensive pressure on mortgage rates and has shown no signs of slowing. Year to date the 10-year yield has nearly doubled and now sits near 2.85%.
Oil remained elevated as concerns persist over the long-term outcome of the Russian sanctions. After falling slightly off the highs, Oil rallied to a close up 2.81%.
GDP contracted on a QoQ basis for the first time since the second quarter of 2020. The -1.4% contraction came as a surprise to economists who were expecting an increase of 1.0%. Furthermore, our third-party research expects YoY GDP to come down over the next four quarters. Coming off a historically positive year of economic data in 2021, we are now facing substantial headwinds amidst a worsening global economy and fears of significant Fed rate hikes.
After jumping higher on a rally in Oil, inflation is now expected to remain elevated for the majority of 2022. Data from our third-party research group suggests that YoY CPI will stay near 8% for the Q1 before dropping in subsequent quarters. While the anticipated drop would be helpful for consumers, it is important to realize that the economy would switch to disinflation, not deflation. Simply put, prices are still expected to rise, just at a slower pace.
One major catalyst for investor concerns over the past quarter has been the consequences of Fed intervention. Despite claiming for months that inflation is transitory, the Fed has now altered their position and has made it clear that they are willing to take drastic steps to combat rising prices. Since inflation has already spiked to historic levels, many are concerned that any Fed intervention will be too little too late. Regardless, the Fed has remained determined on raising rates and shrinking the size of their balance sheet. As a result, the market’s expected number of rate hikes by Dec 2022 has increased from 3 to nearly 10 since the beginning of the year. Additionally, economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect a multi trillion-dollar reduction in the Fed balance sheet over the nest two years.
Further concerns remain in the US housing market. Following a spike in the 30-year mortgage rate from nearly 3% at the beginning of 2022 to over 5% now, the housing market has begun to show signs of a slowdown. This significant increase has put extensive pressure on buyers to finance home purchases. Since February, existing home sales have fallen from over 6.4 million to 5.77 million. This is a number that we could see continue to drop in future months if rates remain elevated.
On a positive note, consumer sentiment rose for the first time since the beginning of 2022. While this rise was favorable, consumer sentiment remains well below pre-pandemic levels and just above the decade lows. With the market continuing to crash and the economy on the brink of substantial headwinds in Q2, we could see consumer sentiment fall further in the months ahead.
- The market fell further in April on concerns of slowing earnings growth and Fed rate hikes.
- Concerns persist with many year over year economic data readings beginning to slow, inflation remaining high, and the further spike in interest rates.
- Challenges to start 2022 highlights the importance of combining a good offense with a good defense in your portfolio.
We hope you have enjoyed getting a deeper look into our investment research and look forward to providing this to you each quarter going forward. Thank you from the entire Konvergent Team!
 Slide 3: Major Indexes Fall Back to Lows
 Nasdaq Posts Worst Month Since 2008 And Dow Plunges 900 Points: Market Sell-Off Continues (forbes.com)
 Slide 4: NASDAQ 100 Drops Further
 Slide 5: Dow Jones Slips
 Slide 6: Small Caps Crash
 Slide 7: World Stock Market Index Falls
 Slide 8: Commodities Rise as Inflation Grinds Higher
 Slide 9: Gold Slides
 Slide 10: Yields Move Higher
 Slide 11: Oil Spikes Further
 US GDP unexpectedly contracted at a 1.4% annualized rate in Q1 (yahoo.com)
 Slide 13: QoQ GDP Falls
 Slide 14: Inflation
 From recession to inflation, how the US Fed has dealt with crises (yahoo.com)
 Slide 15: Fed Action
 Slide 16: US Housing Market
 Slide 17: Consumer Sentiment