Monthly Market Insights | September 2021
Signs of an improving labor market, strong corporate earnings, and more clarity from the Fed on its tapering plans propelled stocks to multiple record highs during August.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.22 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.90 percent. The Nasdaq Composite led, picking up 4.00 percent.1
Corporate profits in the second quarter were, by all measures, exceptional. With 98 percent of companies in the S&P 500 index reporting, 89 percent beat Wall Street consensus estimates, by an average of 17.7 percent. The companies posted an earnings-per-share growth of nearly 92 percent over the second quarter of 2020.2
The labor market also showed signs of improving health, providing evidence that the economic recovery remained intact. In August, jobless claims reached pandemic lows, while employers added 953,000 jobs in July, and job openings reached record levels.3
The Fed at Center Stage
In the final days of trading, Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that the Fed might begin to pare back its monthly bond purchases before year-end. Powell’s update followed multiple comments from regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents indicating their support for reducing bond purchasing. It’s important to note that Powell said that tapering should not be seen as an indicator of future changes in interest rates.4
The month was not without its worries. The global spread of the Delta variant resulted in flashes of investor anxiety that led to temporary pullbacks in stock prices. New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose throughout August, raising concerns that spreading infections could derail the economic recovery.5
In Asia, outbreaks closed some shipping ports. Vietnam partially halted manufacturing, and Japan extended its lockdown protocols. These actions raised concerns about their supply chain impact and what it may mean for inflation and economic growth.
For the second straight month, energy was the only industry sector under pressure. Energy lost 1.34 percent in August. Otherwise, gains were posted in Communication Services (+3.52 percent), Consumer Discretionary (+1.54 percent), Consumer Staples (+0.83 percent), Financials (+5.28 percent), Health Care (+2.45 percent), Industrials (+1.39 percent), Materials (+2.19 percent), Real Estate (+2.20 percent), Technology (+4.1 percent), and Utilities (+4.02 percent).6
What Investors May Be Talking About in September
Since the early days of the pandemic, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has maintained that accommodative monetary policies would remain unchanged until the economy recovered. He’s been clear that the Fed would be very transparent in communicating monetary policy changes well ahead of implementing them to allow the capital markets sufficient time to digest any change.
Comments by a number of Federal Reserve Bank regional presidents last month may have heralded the beginning of a communication plan.
Is the Fed Changing Course?
First, the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and Richmond made comments suggesting that the time to begin tapering was nearing. This was followed days later by remarks from the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and Kansas City, indicating that the economy had progressed enough to commence tapering as early as October.7,8
September 22 Meeting
Talk of tapering grew louder with the August 18th release of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes, suggesting that the Fed may be ready to scale back its bond purchases before year-end.
Finally, a speech by Fed Chair Jerome Powell near the end of the month confirmed that the Fed was getting closer to the start of tapering. Powell indicated that tapering could begin before year-end in his prepared comments, though he cautioned against connecting tapering with an interest rate hike.9
For many market observers, the Fed appears to be signaling that its September meeting may lead to changes in language and policy. The two-day meeting ends on September 22nd.
A strong U.S. equity market helped push international stocks higher, with the MSCI-EAFE Index advancing 1.60 percent in August.10
In Europe, Germany tacked on 1.87 percent, the U.K. added 1.24 percent, and France picked up 1.02 percent.11
The Pacific Rim markets were mixed. Japan rose 2.95 percent, and Australia rose 1.92 percent. However, China’s Hang Seng index and Korea’s KOSPI edged lower.12
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
TThe pace of economic growth in the second quarter was revised upward slightly, from 6.5 percent to a 6.6 percent annualized rate.13
Employers added 943,000 new jobs in July—the biggest jump since August 2020. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, down from June’s 5.9 percent rate.14
Retail sales cooled in July, falling 1.1 percent, led by a decline in auto purchases. Retailers attributed the weakness to the spread of the Delta variant.15
Output at the nation’s factories, mines, and utilities rose 0.9 percent, led by a 1.4 percent rise in manufacturing production. July’s result topped the consensus estimate of a 0.5 percent increase.16
Housing starts slid 7.0 percent as challenges with land, labor, and materials persisted.17
Existing home sales rose 2.0 percent as limited inventory and strong demand drove the median price higher by nearly 18 percent from July 2020, to $359,900.18
For the first time in four months, new home sales rose, increasing 1.0 percent as the median sales price jumped 18.4 percent to a record level of $390,500.19
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Consumer prices climbed at their fastest rate since 2008, rising 0.5 percent in July and by 5.4 percent year-over-year.20
Durable Goods Orders
NNew orders of goods designed to last three years or more declined 0.1 percent in July, dragged down by a nearly 50 percent drop in nondefense aircraft and parts.21
Minutes from the July 27–28 FOMC meeting revealed that some appeared ready to slow the pace of monthly bond purchases by the end of the year.22
"Various participants commented that economic and financial conditions would likely warrant a reduction in coming months," according to the minutes.
"Several others indicated, however, that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases was more likely to become appropriate early next year because they saw prevailing conditions in the labor market as not being close to meeting the Committee’s ‘substantial further progress’ standard or because of uncertainty about the degree of progress toward the price-stability goal."23
By the Numbers: National Grandparents Day
The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite, LLC, is not affiliated with the named representative, broker-dealer, or state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.
Investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon and tolerance for risk. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost.
Any companies mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Any investment should be consistent with your objectives, timeframe, and risk tolerance.
The forecasts or forward-looking statements are based on assumptions, subject to revision without notice, and may not materialize.
The market indexes discussed are unmanaged and generally considered representative of their respective markets. Individuals cannot directly invest in unmanaged indexes. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of large-capitalization companies on the U.S. stock market. The S&P 500 Composite Index is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the Nasdaq stock market and considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology and growth companies. The Russell 1000 Index is an index that measures the performance of the highest-ranking 1,000 stocks in the Russell 3000 Index, which is comprised of 3,000 of the largest U.S. stocks. The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) and serves as a benchmark for the performance in major international equity markets, as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Index performance is not indicative of the past performance of a particular investment. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index. The return and principal value of stock prices will fluctuate as market conditions change. And shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost.
International investments carry additional risks, which include differences in financial reporting standards, currency exchange rates, political risks unique to a specific country, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. These factors may result in greater share price volatility.
The Hang Seng Index is a benchmark index for the blue-chip stocks traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The KOSPI is an index of all stocks traded on the Korean Stock Exchange. The Nikkei 225 is a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The SENSEX is a stock market index of 30 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The Jakarta Composite Index is an index of all stocks that are traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange. The Bovespa Index tracks 50 stocks traded on the Sao Paulo Stock, Mercantile, & Futures Exchange. The IPC Index measures the companies listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange. The MERVAL tracks the performance of large companies based in Argentina. The ASX 200 Index is an index of stocks listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. The DAX is a market index consisting of the 30 German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The CAC 40 is a benchmark for the 40 most significant companies on the French Stock Market Exchange. The Dow Jones Russia Index measures the performance of leading Russian Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) that trade on the London Stock Exchange. The FTSE 100 Index is an index of the 100 companies with the highest market capitalization listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Please consult your financial professional for additional information.
Copyright 2021 FMG Suite.
1. WSJ.com, August 31, 2021
2. Twitter.com/EarningsScout, August 26, 2021. 490 companies S&P 500 companies reported through August 26
3. WSJ.com, August 26, 2021
4. WSJ.com, August 27, 2021
5. CDC.gov, August 27, 2021
6. Sectorspdr.com, August 31, 2021
7. Reuters.com, August 9, 2021
8. WSJ.com, August 11, 2021
9. WSJ.com, August 27, 2021
10. MSCI.com, August 31, 2021
11. MSCI.com, August 31, 2021
12. MSCI.com, August 31, 2021
13. CNBC.com, August 26, 2021
14. WSJ.com, August 6, 2021
15. WSJ.com, August 17, 2021
16. MarketWatch.com, August 17, 2021
17. Bloomberg.com, August 18, 2021
18. WSJ.com, August 23, 2021
19. Bloomberg.com, August 24, 2021
20. WSJ.com, August 11, 2021
21. WSJ.com, August 25, 2021
22. WSJ.com, August 18, 2021
23. FederalReserve.gov, July 28, 2021
24. Legacy.com, 2021
25. Census.gov, 2021
26. USNews.com, August 4, 2020
27. GreaterGood.Berkeley.edu, April 22, 2019
28. Encore.org, November 15, 2017