Economic Data Deluge

New preliminary Durable Goods Orders for July are out this morning, with results better than expected across the board, including gains in previous-month revisions. The headline number, 11.2%, more than doubled expectations of 4.8%, and easily surpassed the slightly upwardly revised 7.7% for June.

Core Capital Goods Orders (non-Defense, ex-aircraft — a proxy for business investment) came in at 1.9%, beating expectations by 60 basis points, with a previous-month revision blossoming from 3.4% to 4.3%.

Both Shipments and ex-Transportation rose 2.4% last month, and both posted roughly half-point upward revisions. This is all good news for the overall U.S. economy, bouncing back off deep lows this past spring. It helps discount the notion that the only gains we’re seeing are in the stock market, and with just a handful of stocks, at that.

In the past three months, Durable Goods headlines have grown 34.0% in aggregate, compared to the -34.8% registered in the previous two months combined. Meaning we’re nearly back to pre-pandemic levels on goods orders.

That said, we are looking in the rearview mirror here, with the month of August now up in the air. There are no relief packages for the tens of millions of Americans out of work since the pandemic began, and we’ve seen a sputtering reopening in the overall economy. Will these show up in Durable Goods data?

We also have a category 4 storm — Hurricane Laura — bearing down on the Gulf Coast between Houston and New Orleans, which may negatively affect lots of areas of the economy, but won’t likely show up in many economic reads coming out in September.

Much attention will be given to Fed Chair Jay Powell’s address at the open of tomorrow’s virtual summit at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Not just in the way he surmises the current U.S. economy, but what he plans to guide the Fed to do about it. Expectations are for another announcement that the Fed will keep interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future, perhaps inviting inflation to at last take hold in an economy still grasping for growth.

And if this speech transpires as expected, might we expect another short-term boost to major stock market indexes? Normally, the answer would be: “Of course! No brainer,” although we are operating at or near all-time highs already. Is the Fed’s generosity with keeping money cheap and available already baked into the cake?

The S&P 500 now looks for its 17th record-high close for the year. It’s already assuming a Covid-19 vaccine is imminent shortly, and a new U.S.-China trade deal is somewhere around the corner. These are the reasons many market participants are treading more cautiously in the face of an historic bull market.

There Are Almost No Suitable Headlines for Dick’s (DKS) Positive Q2 Earnings

Dick’s Sporting Goods DKS swung into positive territory year-to-date on its terrific Q2 earnings results this morning, up 15% in Wednesday’s pre-market. The specialty retailer outperformed expectations soundly — $3.21 per share pounded the $1.24 expected, for a nearly 160% beat — with online sales in the quarter surging 194% year over year. Revenues also grew solidly to $2.71 billion in the quarter, up 8.2% from consensus, and a big improvement over the year-ago $2.26 billion in sales. For more on DKS' earnings, click here.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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