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INITIAL CLAIMS: ON THIS MEASURE, LABOR CONTINUES TO LOOK QUITE STRONG

Takeaway: Sub-300k initial claims takes us back to 1999 / 2006, for better or worse. It'll be interesting to see if and when wage inflation engages.

Party Like It's 1999 ...

The labor market is heading very much in the right direction again. This morning's data marked just the second time since 2007 that the SA print came in below 300k. As the chart below shows, 300k is a Rubicon of sorts in that it has historically coincided with levels of near-peak employment such as 1999 and 2006. It's interesting to look at the contrast between then and now as the unemployment rate and NFP reports remain well off the levels seen in those respective timeframes. The disconnect has largely to do with the long-term unemployed, both those being counted in the data and those who've dropped out of the work force, either due to disability or otherwise. If one excludes those in the long-term unemployed category one finds that the labor market today is functionally similar to that last seen in the '99 and '06 periods, albeit with much more modest wage inflation. We would reiterate the question, however, that if claims are a measure of slack in the labor force and slack is tight it would seem reasonable to assume that wage inflation should be coming in the near future. The one wrinkle here remains housing, which is showing plenty of signs of ongoing deceleration.

 

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The Data

Prior to revision, initial jobless claims fell 22k to 297k from 319k WoW, as the prior week's number was revised up by 2k to 321k.

 

The headline (unrevised) number shows claims were lower by 24k WoW. Meanwhile, the 4-week rolling average of seasonally-adjusted claims fell -2k WoW to 323k.

 

The 4-week rolling average of NSA claims, which we consider a more accurate representation of the underlying labor market trend, was -6.2% lower YoY, which is a sequential improvement versus the previous week's YoY change of -5.2%

 

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Yield Spreads

The 2-10 spread fell -1 basis points WoW to 218 bps. 2Q14TD, the 2-10 spread is averaging 226 bps, which is lower by -13 bps relative to 1Q14.

 

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Joshua Steiner, CFA

 

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT

 


VIDEO | Keith's Macro Notebook 5/15: EUROPE RUSSELL UST10YR


Consensus Is Way Wrong

Client Talking Points

EUROPE

ECB President Mario Draghi’s impact on the FX market = lower-highs for the European Equity market? Nope, that wasn’t what he was looking for – so we’ll see if he backs off on getting easier, when it’s been getting tighter (on the margin) that’s worked for both GDP and Eurostoxx.

RUT

The Russell2000 smoked for another -1.6% down day yesterday as CNBC trumpets the “all-time-highs” in their style factor ignorance. RUT is now down -8.7% from its bubbled up March top and remains bearish TREND at Hedgeye. 

10YR

Big day for the inflation slows-growth, long bonds theme yesterday (PPI up +2.1% year-over-year for April). At 2.54% 10-year this morning, (fresh year-to-date lows) bonds are signaling overbought within a very bullish TREND. Consensus on #RatesRising in 2014 is way wrong.

Asset Allocation

CASH 20% US EQUITIES 6%
INTL EQUITIES 8% COMMODITIES 22%
FIXED INCOME 22% INTL CURRENCIES 22%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
HOLX

Hologic is emerging from an extremely tough period which has left investors wary of further missteps. In our view, Hologic and its new management are set to show solid growth over the next several years. We have built two survey tools to track and forecast the two critical elements that will drive this acceleration.  The first survey tool measures 3-D Mammography placements every month.  Recently we have detected acceleration in month over month placements.  When Hologic finally receives a reimbursement code from Medicare, placements will accelerate further, perhaps even sooner.  With our survey, we'll see it real time. In addition to our mammography survey. We've been running a monthly survey of OB/GYNs asking them questions to help us forecast the rest of Hologic's businesses, some of which have been faced with significant headwinds. Based on our survey, we think those headwinds are fading. If the Affordable Care Act actually manages to reduce the number of uninsured, Hologic is one of the best positioned companies.

 

OC

Construction activity remains cyclically depressed, but has likely begun the long process of recovery.  A large multi-year rebound in construction should provide a tailwind to OC shares that the market appears to be underestimating.  Both residential and nonresidential construction in the U.S. would need to roughly double to reach post-war demographic norms.  As credit returns to the market and government funded construction begins to rebound, construction markets should make steady gains in coming years, quarterly weather aside, supporting OC’s revenue and capacity utilization.

DRI

Darden is the world’s largest full service restaurant company. The company operates +2000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn and Capital Grille. Management has been under a firestorm of criticism for poor performance. Hedgeye's Howard Penney has been at the forefront of this activist movement since early 2013, when he first identified the potential for unleashing significant value creation for Darden shareholders. Less than a year later, it looks like Penney’s plan is coming to fruition. Penney (who thinks DRI is grossly mismanaged and in need of a major overhaul) believes activists will drive material change at Darden. This would obviously be extremely bullish for shareholders and could happen fairly soon driving shares materially higher.

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

TREASURIES: big time payday for #ConsumerSlowing Bond Bulls yesterday @KeithMcCullough

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things." - Albert Einstein

STAT OF THE DAY

29, the number of saves Montreal goalie Casey Price made in the Canadiens’ 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins last night to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.


Hedgeye Statistics

The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.

  • LONG SIGNALS 80.30%
  • SHORT SIGNALS 78.51%

Cute NYC Rats

“A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.”

-Sarah Jessica Parker

 

“So”, Obama and I were in NYC yesterday talking about inequality (at separate events, using separate explanations on the why – a 1500 sq/ft apt in midtown going for $3.47M has nothing to do with his Policy To Inflate – eat your ripping rents, and like it)…

 

And I came across an exhibition of sorts from some of de Blasio’s new city tenants. These dudes had few teeth and stunk to high-heaven, but still appeared to have the American Capitalist spirit. They’d spray painted a shopping cart full of rats and were selling pics to tourists.

 

I thought the pink ones with the fluorescent blue were cute. And evidently the high school girl who was posing for her Mom (with two live ones on her shoulders), thought so too. Everyone smiles until someone gets bit.

 

Cute NYC Rats - rat

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

With the Russell 2000 down another -1.6% yesterday, US Growth Style Factors got bit again yesterday. Bond yields crashed to fresh YTD lows too. It was a great day for risk management. The CNBC “we’re at all-time highs” thing is cute and all, but still reeks like a rat.

 

As Detroit’s very own Lily Tomlin once said, “the problem with the rat race is that you’re still a rat.” And having been called more than a few names of this nature on the ice, I can sympathize with those who are forced to chase Wall Street’s performance bogeys.

 

But that doesn’t mean we have to be brain dead about it…

 

To review a very basic if, if, then statement in the Hedgeye Macro Playbook:

 

  1. If inflation is accelerating (you buy inflation)
  2. If growth is slowing (you buy bonds and anything slow-growth-yield-chasing that looks like a bond)
  3. Then, you will win the relative performance rat race of 2014

 

So easy a Mucker can do it, eh?

 

Congrats to the Montreal Canadians for keeping all the Canadian rink rat hopes alive by knocking the Boston Bruins out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last night. Canadian Olympic Gold medal winning goaltender Carey Price proved that the best offense is a great defense.

 

I’m not sure why some people I talk to get so defensive about being long the defensive slow-growth playbook. Maybe it’s because they are losing. Maybe because it just doesn’t make sense. But maybe it does, and consensus is simply not positioned for it.

 

When people ask me where the proof is of inflation slowing US consumption growth, at this point I simply refer to the data. Don’t forget that US GDP growth was 0.1% in Q1, Retail Sales for April (Q2) missed this week, and US inflation (PPI yesterday) “surprised” to the upside.

 

Looking ahead at the calendar:

 

  1. Post the+2.1% y/y Producer Price (PPI) report for April (versus +1.4% y/y in March)
  2. Today you’ll get another “surprise” to the upside in CPI (Consumer Prices)
  3. Then on Friday, you’ll get more data on US #HousingSlowdown

 

It wasn’t just the Russell Growth Index that got crushed yesterday. US Housing stocks (ITB) got sold to YTD lows too. For 2014 YTD:

 

  1. US Housing Stocks (ITB) are now -6.7% YTD
  2. US Consumer Discretionary stocks (XLY) are now -4.6% YTD
  3. Slow-growth #YieldChasing Utilities (XLU) was UP +0.5% yesterday to +11.1% YTD

 

But you already know that. And you know that I know that almost everyone I talk to says “well, I get it, but I can’t buy Utilities up here after this move.” Why not?  I’m not trying to be a Kenny Linesman rat about this. I’m just trying to make and/or save you money by calling out Sector and Style Factors for what they are – huge competitive advantages in a performance chasing rat race that eventually forces everyone to buy what’s working.

 

We all make mistakes. But the biggest ones I have ever made in this game were doubling and tripling down on losers that kept going down. The Russell 2000 and Bond Yields are going down because consensus US growth expectations are – not because it’s different this time.

 

Don’t let your daughters pose with live pink rats and a toothless guy in NYC. That’s not different this time either.

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.54-2.61%

RUT 1089-1121

USD 79.11-80.29

EUR/USD 1.36-1.38

Brent Oil 108.41-110.36

Gold 1

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Cute NYC Rats - Chart of the Day


Buy In May, And Pray?

This note was originally published at 8am on May 01, 2014 for Hedgeye subscribers.

“Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack.”

-Frank Sinatra

 

Sinatra was a beauty, but he wasn’t a risk manager. And prayer isn’t a risk management process either.

 

I get it. There’s no need to bring our respective religions into this discussion…

 

So every time you hear a consensus Old Wall economist tell you to ignore the 0.11% US GDP bomb for Q1 (and that this sucker is going to magically accelerate to 3-4% growth from here), drink.

 

Buy In May, And Pray? - sinatra

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind

 

Imagine being me for a second… This morning I’ll be doing Institutional Investor meetings in my 4th state in 4 days (IN, MN, CT, and NY), and I get to hear all of it. I’ll hear about what all of our competitors selling macro research think. I’ll hear how all these sell side economists knew it was “all about the weather” (but they didn’t know the number would be so bad)… and how everything is really ramping (even though the data isn’t) …

 

On and on and on it goes…

 

Empathize with me people! I’ll be like the US Dollar (on its YTD lows post Q1 GDP disaster) and get down on my bloody knees and pray for your forgiveness for having my team think for itself. I must repent!

 

Serious question - should I, like the bond market (yields falling to 2.66% on the 10yr as growth slows), beg thy overlord at The Fed for an un-taper too? Or will that have to wait until the weather stops being the weather in Alabama this morning?

 

Enough questions already. Time to show you the wood (US GDP data for Q114):

  1. As inflation accelerated in Q114, US GDP growth slowed, big time, to 0.11% (from 4.12% in Q3 of 2013 – that’s not just weather)
  2. Consumer Growth (focus of our bear #ConsumerSlowing call) slowed from 1.03% in Q313 to 0.08% in Q114
  3. Retail Sales Growth slowed from 2.45% in Q313 (when we were bullish on US growth) to 0.68% in Q114
  4. Fixed Investment (capex) got smoked back into its hole of negative -0.44% (vs +0.89% in Q313)
  5. Exports (which are supposed to magically rise when you burn your currency) dropped -1.07% (vs. +0.52% in Q313)

Pardon? (says the ragingly linear economist who missed last year’s US #GrowthAccelerating as both the US Dollar and rates rose too). Pardon the data, I guess – because it’s not cooperating with Keynesian academic dogma!

 

Before I get into more of the good stuff (data), consider the following relationships that are driving David (Blanchflower) @Dartmouth right batty right now:

  1. As the UK currency rips to new highs, UK manufacturing PMI (57.3 in APR vs 55.2 MAR) is accelerating
  2. As the US currency gets devalued to YTD lows, US Export demand is falling

Oh, and there’s this other thing going on in US Housing that Janet refuses to address:

  1. As rates fall, US Housing Demand is falling to fresh YTD lows (MBA weekly mortgage demand down another -5.9% this past week)
  2. But let’s not talk or write about that any further, because that’s a Q2 reality and it doesn’t fit the February weather excuse

Back to the tasty data that is both the US government and Fed’s definition of “inflation”:

  1. Allegedly, the GDP Deflator for Q1 was 1.3% (you subtract that from nominal GDP to get a real GDP #)
  2. But MIT’s Billion Prices Project read on inflation (much closer to ours) ripped to +3.9%

So, do the math. If America was using anything in the area code of a real world cost of living proxy (let’s say MIT academic thought is acceptable to a Princeton or Yale economist) US GDP for Q1 of 2014 would have been DOWN over 2%.

 

But since we’re not going to play a game of gotcha with conflicted and compromised US government data, let’s pretend for a second that it’s the 16th century again and we haven’t learned a damn thing about economic gravity.

 

Yep, let’s go all Copernicus on the Catholics of Wall Street forecasting, and suggest there is a solar system!

  1. Even if we use the Fed’s definition of CPI or PCE, inflation is going to accelerate against the easiest comps of the last 3 years (Q2 and Q3)
  2. When #inflationAccelerating happens in the data series, there’s a structural headwind to reported GDP (its math)
  3. So, there’s pretty much no way on this side of hell that 2014 GDP is going to be 3-4%, real

To get real, or nominal, remains the question. And as long as we can monitor all of our proxy baskets for US inflation (food, rents, energy, education, wages, etc.) in real-time, even a Mucker can model this in the 21st century.

 

Buy In May, And Pray? - Chart of the Day

 

But you don’t need to take my or a dead Polish dude’s (Nicholas Copernicus died in 1543) word for it. You can ask Mr. Macro Market:

  1. Currency market (USD Dollar) says growth continues to slow
  2. Bond market (long-end of the curve) says growth continues to slow
  3. Stock market (Russell 2000 as a proxy for growth expectations) remains down YTD

If you’re going to buy in May, please do more of what you should have been doing since January 1st – be it inflation protection (TIP), food commodities (DBA), or slow-growth-yield-chasers (XLU), it’s all working. If you have been buying Twitter (TWTR) the whole way down on the weather thing, drink.

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now as follows:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.63-2.73%

Russell 1109-1155

USD 79.47-79.95

Pound 1.67-1.69

Natural Gas 4.61-4.85

Corn 5.06-5.20

 

Best of luck out there today,

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer


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