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Bond Yields Break to New Highs
Equities were down on the week as bond yields finally broke out to cycle highs. The S&P 500 was down 1.4% on the week. The NASDAQ was weaker with a drop of 2.5% as higher beta names underperformed. Core bonds were down 0.6%. Core bonds have fallen more than 4% from their year-to-date high and are now underwater on the year. The S&P 500 currently sits about 5% below its year-to-date high, while the NASDAQ is about 7.5% lower. Small caps are more than 10% lower.
Over the last week, fixed income rose to the top regarding cross-asset performance, rising 0.3%. U.S. equities declined 0.1%, as U.S. small caps fell 1.0% while large caps were flat. Outside the U.S., emerging markets declined 0.6% while foreign developed eked out a modest 0.1% increase.
Equities Retreat as Bond Yields Approach Their Highs
Equities were down on the week amid mixed economic data and rising bond yields. The S&P 500 was down 1.1%, while foreign equities dropped 1.5%. Core bonds declined 1% as the 2-year Treasury revisited 5% and 10-year Treasury yields approached their highs. The 10-year Treasury finished the week at 4.28%, its third-highest daily closing level this year.
Will The Most Anticipated Week of the Quarter Push Equities Higher or Lower?
Equities stabilized this week following much weaker global Purchasing Managers’ Index numbers. The weak economic data was treated as good news due to a sharp drop in Treasury yields. The NASDAQ led with gains of 1.8% while small caps were down slightly. Foreign equities were also down on the week, taking their cues from persistently weak Chinese economic data. Core bonds were up 0.6% despite the 10-year Treasury trading at its highest yield since 2007.
Inflation data was at the forefront of this week’s economic data releases. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) readings came in at levels that were in line with, or better than, expectations. With its year-over-year reading of 3.2%, the CPI is just a little over one-third of the peak rate of 9.1% that occurred in June 2022. Producer prices came in a little stronger than anticipated, with a reading of 0.8% compared to an expected reading of 0.7%.
Growing Global Macro Risks Push Equities Lower
Markets are off to a weak start to begin August. The S&P 500 is down 2.6% to begin the month, but this masks deeper drawdowns for many names. Apple fell 4.8% after earnings, its worst drop in nearly a year and helped ignite a larger sell-off in the technology sector. The NASDAQ is down 4.3% in August, while more beta-driven technology indices are down more than 6%. Semiconductors have fallen nearly 7% from their highs, while the AI bellwether, Super Micro Computer, fell 23% after its earnings release this week. Small caps, foreign equities, and core fixed income are also down.
Over the last week, both bonds and equities exhibited negative returns. Bonds declined 1.2% while equities also retreated. Within the U.S., small caps declined 0.7% while large caps retraced 1.2%. Outside the U.S., emerging markets fell 1.1% while developed markets retreated 2.0%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average Ties Longest Win Streak
The S&P 500 finished the week unchanged amid a sector rotation. The NASDAQ was down 1.6% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.3%. The story of the week was the Dow Jones Industrial Average notching its 13th consecutive positive day. This was the longest streak since 1987, and should it be up today, will set the record for the longest winning streak in the 120+ year history of the Index.
Equity markets this past week continued to climb, up 1.9% for the MSCI USA Index which is a broad measure of domestic equity markets. In addition to the strong week, the index is up 3.9% for the month and 19.2% for the year. Gains from financial sector stocks helped the advance this week as second-quarter earnings for numerous sector members were better than expected. Weak sentiment for bank stocks remains despite stability in deposits, due to concerns about profitability, future regulatory pressure, and future credit losses. Overseas equity markets also advanced this week up 1.5%, and year-to-date 14.6% as reported by the MSCI EAFE Index. Markets in Japan were a key source of this gain after that nation’s central bank governor indicated a continuation of easy monetary policy.
American consumers continue to reflect their economic confidence and a willingness to spend, as evidenced by recent strong results from the automobile industry. Earlier this week it was announced that in the first half of 2023 auto sales increased approximately 13%. The most current estimate of light vehicle sales for the month of June indicates an annualized sales level of 15.7 million units. This compares to a level of 13.3 million units in June of last year. What makes this strength even more impressive is the fact that the average price paid for a new vehicle has reached approximately $46,000 and the average monthly payment is now $733.00.
NASDAQ Post Best First Half in 40 Years
Equities rallied back toward year-to-date highs to close out a strong first half performance. The S&P 500 was up 16.9% in the first two quarters of the year. The NASDAQ led the way with returns of 32.3%, its best first half since 1983. Small cap equities advanced 8.1%. Foreign development returned 12.2% while emerging markets lagged with a return of just 5.0%. Core fixed income posted gains of 2.1%.
Did Equities Already Price in the Recession?
Markets took a pause this week to digest recent gains. The S&P 500 was up 0.3% as modest gains in the NASDAQ were offset by modest gains in small-cap equities. Foreign equities were a little softer with both developed and emerging markets down a little over 1%. Core bond returns were flat as implied interest rate volatility finally returned to levels seen prior to the Silicon Valley Bank collapse.
Dog Days of Summer
We have formally entered the summer season, and one may expect markets to abate as vacation may now become the front-of-mind issue with investors. We’ve had a holiday-shortened week, but that did not restrain reports on the status of the economy.
Sector Dispersion Solved as Small Caps Surge
The S&P 500 tacked on another 2.1% this week as small caps staged a vicious rally following the Friday jobs numbers.
Small caps were up 8.0% this week and notched their largest five-day advance in more than two years. Weakness in
small caps had been a common talking point as a reason to be skeptical of the rally but is no longer true. Core fixed
income was down 0.7% as yields moved higher.
AI Frenzy Continues Amid Record Sector Dispersion
AI related stocks surged again this week. The big gains were Friday and Monday due to a keynote speech by NVIDIA’s CEO, Jensen Huang, at a technology
conference in Taipei over the weekend. Apparently even Uber drivers were asking passengers if they had watched the speech. AI mentions during earnings calls
have gone up from about 6,000 toward 25,000 this quarter.
NVIDIA gets most of the press, but the best performing stock has been Super Micro Computer, which is up more than 500% from its 52-week low. This is twice
NVIDIA’s advance of 250%. Semiconductor stocks were up about 11.5% on the week, which dragged the S&P 500 up 1.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up just 0.4% and small caps were down 0.9%. Foreign developed equities lost 2%.
The NASDAQ finished May with a gain of 5.9% whereas the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.2%. Going back to the creation of the NASDAQ in 1971,
there have only been eight other months where the spread was wider. Semiconductors were up more than 16% on the month. As AI related names surged, there
were seven S&P 500 sectors down more than 4% in the month of May. Somehow the S&P 500 was up 0.4% on the month when most sectors fell more than 4%.
Corporate earnings continue to be front-of-mind. Nvidia Corporation (NVDA) was the most recent example, beating expectations with revenue and earnings-per-share coming in better than consensus. NVDA was up +30% pre-market this morning, so much that it is on track to exceed $1 trillion in market capitalization. This would put NVDA in a unique club of companies whose market cap exceeds $1 trillion, joining Apple Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN).
Stocks Rally as Jobs Remain Strong and Big Tech Gets Bigger
Equities moved higher as a stronger than expected jobs report helped alleviate recession fears. The S&P 500 advanced 1.2% on the week. The NASDAQ continued its relative strength by posting gains of 2.4%. Core bonds were down 0.5% as interest rates moved up on the week.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers & Merchants Bank Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer Rob Horan has been named to the Arkansas Money & Politics 2023 class of C-Suite Executives. Each year the publication recognizes noteworthy, top-level professionals across various industries for their dedication to excellence, leadership, and professional impact.
The Board of Directors of Farmers & Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville announces the recent promotion of two employees to key leadership roles. Kim Tucker will serve as Corporate Security and BSA Director and Lydia Frizzell will serve as the organization’s General Counsel.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers and Merchants Bank is pleased to welcome Tracey Adams to the role of Commercial Loan Officer for the Mountain Home market. In her new role, Adams will build commercial relationships, work with strategic partners to support businesses in the North Central Arkansas region and manage a commercial lending portfolio.
This past week bond markets advanced 0.7%, led by treasury issues as declines across the yield curve boosted prices. This week’s advance
pushed the year-to-date return on the broader bond market to +3.46%. Contrary to this advance, stocks dropped this week by -2.0% to +5.4%, cutting the progress equity markets have made this year. Given recent earnings announcements it’s not surprising that financial and telecom companies led the downturn in which 10 of 11 sectors declined in value. The recession-proof consumer staples sector proved to be the only one to report an advance.
MOUNTAIN HOME, AR – Farmers and Merchants Bank is partnering with the Arkansas State University Mountain Home (ASUMH) Trailblazers on a new fundraising initiative for the athletics department.
For a limited time, the bank will have branded tumblers available at any of its Mountain Home area branches. In exchange for a $40 donation, supporters will receive a tumbler along with special discounts and free items at coffee shops around the Twin Lakes area.
The Arkansas Bankers Association (ABA), the largest and oldest banking industry organization in the state, revealed a new slate of officers for 2024 as well as its new Board of Directors, who were installed at the ABA annual convention on April 5.
Brad Chambless, Chief Executive Officer and President of Farmers and Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville, has been named as the 2023-2024 Chairman-Elect. Chambless joined Farmers and Merchants Bank in 2006 where his roles there included Executive Vice President and member of the Board of Directors. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, practicing law in Arkansas for 10 years before entering the banking industry.
Equities Hold up as Earnings Season Heats Up
Equities advanced on the week as better than expected economic data helped lift sentiment. Domestic indices continue to outpace foreign markets as the S&P 500 advanced 1.6% to notch its highest weekly close of the year. The NASDAQ continues to lead with a weekly advance of 1.9%. Bond yields moved higher on the week as core bonds lost 1.1%.
STUTTGART, AR –The Board of Directors of Farmers & Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville announces the promotion of two employees to key leadership roles. Blake Holzhauer will serve as Chief Credit Officer and Sammie Smith will serve as the organization’s Chief Analytics Officer.
Economic data was at the forefront this week as current readings of inflation and employment were released. On the employment front both continuing jobless claims and initial claims were higher than anticipated. While labor markets continue to exhibit resilience these readings along with the recently announced decline in the JOLTS measure of job openings are creating a narrative of moderating strength in the labor market. This moderation could prospectively ease inflationary pressure in terms of decreasing upward pressure on wages. Also, while the unemployment rate did decline slightly versus the prior month’s reading the increase in payrolls was less than forecast.
Everything is in the Green for the First Quarter
Equity indices remained resilient with gains above 1% on the week. Small caps remain the laggard as macro-economic data begins to show early cracks. The S&P 500 is up about 7% in three weeks from its March low but remains a little more than 2% below the year-to-date (YTD) high set on the first day of February.
Equity Markets Shrug Off Extraordinary Bond Market Volatility
The S&P 500 was up 1.2% on the week as strength in large cap technology overcame weakness in smaller cyclical stocks. Cyclical stocks have been weak of late as global bank failures raise concern about the future growth trajectory. Investors appear to be viewing large cap technology as better insulated and have bid up prices in recent days.
Farmers & Merchants Bank is pleased to announce that two employees have been promoted to officer positions in the Western Market. Leslie Self now serves as Vice President, Credit Administration Officer and Kathleen Miller has been named to the role of Consumer Loan Officer.
Bank Term Lending Program
Investor focus this week has been on actions taken by regulatory authorities to assure safety of deposits at U.S. banks. On Sunday, regulators put into place a new Bank Term Lending Program that provides an additional safety net under all U.S. banks. The new borrowing program increased a bank’s borrowing capacity with the Federal Reserve in case a bank experiences liquidity needs because of depositor withdrawals. Under this program those banks that were closed last week opened again allowing depositors to withdraw funds regardless of amount. A ripple effect regarding the banking system has also been seen overseas as European authorities took actions to pair a stronger balance sheet bank with a weaker one to assure liquidity is in place to address depositor concerns.
Bond Market now Favors a 50 Basis Point Hike after Powell Opens the Door
The S&P 500 was volatile on the week but managed to gain 1.1% amid a fair amount of dispersion under the surface. The NASDAQ was up 1.8% while small caps were down 1%. Small caps have been weak of late following strong performance to begin the year. Foreign developed has also lost relative strength in recent weeks. Core fixed income was unchanged.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers & Merchants Bank Mountain Home Market President Sally Gilbert has been named to the Arkansas Money & Politics 50 Over 50 class for 2023. Each year the publication recognizes professionals across Arkansas for commitment to their work and community. Gilbert has been recognized by the publication for the past two years for excellence in banking.
The second estimate of fourth quarter GDP was front and center this week as a slew of economic data releases took place. The revised result was weaker than expected with a reading of 2.7% compared to an expectation of 2.9%. One of the factors contributing to the weaker result relative to the initial estimate was a downward revision of consumer spending during the period. The revision took the original estimate down from 2.1% for the quarter to 1.4%. Other positive contributors included inventory investment and government spending. Housing continued to be a detractor.
Equities Fall as Rising Yields Finally Take a Toll
The S&P 500 was down 3.8% on the week. Small caps fared slightly better and the NASDAQ slightly worse. As has been customary in recent market corrections, foreign developed markets exhibited a smaller downside move. The MSCI EAFE Index was down 0.9% on the week.
This past week saw the release of several economic reports geared toward the consumer. On Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index (CPI) for January. CPI rose 0.5%, in-line with expectations while above its 0.1% increase in December.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers & Merchants Bank announced today that David Erstine of Fayetteville has joined the bank’s board of directors.
Erstine, SIOR, CCIM, is a Senior Vice President at CBRE, a global brokerage and commercial real estate management firm with local offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville. He brings more than 20 years of commercial real estate (CRE) market research and brokerage experience to his position on the bank’s board of directors.
Equities Whipsaw Around Conflicting Economic Data and Powell Comments
The S&P 500 was flat on the week but showed noticeable volatility intraday. A slight uptick in NASDAQ- related names was offset by slight weakness in value equities. This is a good sign that large January gains are holding. A modest rebound in the dollar sent emerging markets down 2.1%. Fixed income was down 1.4% on the week as a strong jobs report pushed yields higher.
STUTTGART, AR –The Board of Directors of Farmers & Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville announces the promotion of three employees to the role of Community President, where they will oversee retail and lending operations in growing markets across the state.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers and Merchants Bank is pleased to welcome Nesha Guest to the role of Community Development Officer for the Jonesboro market. In her new role, Nesha will build customer relationships, work with strategic partners to support the Northeast Arkansas business and nonprofit community and oversee local charitable donations for the bank.
U.S. equity markets as measured by the MSCI USA Index gained 0.6% this week finishing out January up 5.5%. This past month bond markets climbed 3.1% as interest rates continued to drop across the yield curve. This positive kickoff to 2023 comes as a relief after 2022 was the worst combined bond/stock return for several generations of investors.
STUTTGART, AR – The Board of Directors of Farmers & Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville has welcomed Matt Mason back to The Bank of Fayetteville as the Northwest Arkansas Market President, where he will oversee retail and lending operations for eight bank locations. This announcement follows the promotion of longtime employees Jennifer Hardin, who will now serve as Chief Operations Officer, and Tyler Morgan, who will serve as Chief Risk Officer for the financial institution.
The NASDAQ Index Surges to Best Calendar Start Since 2000
Positive equity momentum continued this week as the S&P 500 gained 2.2%. Despite yields moving higher, the NASDAQ fared even better with a 3.3% advance, which is a little bit of a character change. Fixed income indices were down as yields moved slightly higher. The NASDAQ is up 8.9% this month, its fastest start to a year since 2000.
Equities continued to rise last week as virtually all major market indices moved higher. For domestic markets, small cap stocks led the way as the Russell 2000 Index returned 1.8%. Large-cap and mid-cap stocks also moved higher with weekly returns of 0.5% and 0.8%, respectively. Developed foreign markets matched U.S. small-cap stocks with a return of 1.8%.
Equities Begin the Year with Strong Gains
After a weak ending in 2022, equity markets are off to a good start in 2023. The S&P 500 is up 3.4% to begin the year while the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 are both up about 4.5%. Emerging markets are up an even stronger 6.3% as a lower U.S. dollar and falling yields are viewed in a favorable fashion. Core bonds begin the year with a gain of 2.3%.
Happy New Year!
Asset class returns have exhibited a welcome respite from that of 2022. Bonds have rallied 1.1% over the last week as interest rates have declined. U.S. and foreign equities have also exhibited positive returns of 2.1% and 2.0%, respectively. Value continues to outperform growth. While some may attribute this to the Santa Claus rally, investor sentiment may reflect the opinion that peak inflation is in the past and the Fed may need to pivot
STUTTGART, AR –The Board of Directors of Farmers & Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville announces the promotion of three long-time employees to the role of Executive Vice President. Kelly Houghton will serve as EVP, Chief Operating Officer, Greg Connell will serve as EVP, Chief Revenue Officer and Christy Malahy will serve as EVP, Chief Financial Officer.
As traders turn off their screens and head for the doors for a long weekend, market data was full of mixed signals. Mister Market was more Krampus than Santa Claus this week sending both bonds and stocks lower -1.2% and -2.9% respectively. This drawback follows strong gains for the quarter that still list bonds ahead +2.9% return and stocks up +8.6%.
Inflation Drops – And Sets a Trap for the Bulls
Equities rallied on the week in anticipation of a better-than-expected Consumer Price Index (CPI) report and a dovish pivot from the Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 finished the week up 1.6% with core bonds flat. However, it was likely a more painful ride for investors than the return numbers would suggest.
Employment data was at the forefront of this week’s economic calendar. Despite concerns regarding an impending recession the employment picture continues to be resilient as the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7%. Non-farm payrolls rose by 263,000, higher than the forecasted increase of 200,000. In addition to the above expected level of job growth, hourly earnings also surpassed expectations registering 5.1% for November compared to an anticipated increase of 4.6%.
Stocks Surge on Lower Inflation
Equities surged last Thursday when the Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in lower than expected. The S&P 500 jumped 5.55% on the day, the largest single day gain since March 2020. The NASDAQ’s 7.4% gain was the 14th largest in the 50-year series history. The 13 larger daily moves all occurred during recessions and only one (March 24, 2020) did not result in new lows before the bear market was over. Yields plunged lower on the week with core bonds returning more than 3%. It was the largest five-day gain for core fixed income since 1988.
Consumer Focused Data Week
With consumers representing almost 70% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S., this week’s economic news gave us a picture of how they are doing. A
reading on the job outlook showed mixed signals. While headline nonfarm payroll (Current Employment Statistics) increased by 261,000 in October (vs. 315,000 in
September), the household survey (Current Population Survey) painted a vastly different picture.
The Fed Fails to Pivot, Sparking Reversal in Equities
The S&P 500 ended the week down 1.8% thanks to a 3.6% drop in the last 90 minutes of trading as Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Chair Jerome Powell extinguished hopes of a bullish Fed pivot. It was the largest percentage drop for the S&P 500 in the last 90 minutes of a FOMC press conference since they began in 1994. The NASDAQ was hit the hardest this week with a drop of 4.1% while small caps had a milder retreat. Fixed income returns were roughly flat.
Equities Stage Huge Reversal Off the Lows, But Will it Hold?
Volatility remains elevated as equity indices posted three consecutive 2% change days. The action started last week with a hotter than expected Consumer Price Index (CPI) report that led the S&P 500 to drop more than 2% to start trading on Thursday. It would finish the day up more than 2%. The index would then lose more than 2% on Friday only to gain 2.5% on Monday. For the week the S&P 500 finished up 3.3% with the energy sector coming to life and posting a gain of 5.2%. Emerging markets and foreign developed equities were positive on the week but lagged domestic indices. Core fixed income was down 1.4% as yields moved higher.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers & Merchants Bank President of Agriculture Division and Dewitt Market President Kirk Vansandt has been named to the Arkansas Money & Politics 2022 class of Top 100 Professionals.
Equities Retreat to New Lows Amid Rising Bond Yields
Equities traded lower this week with the S&P 500 trading at its lowest level of the year. The index finished down 1.9% on the week and is down 21.1% on the year. Emerging markets were down 6% on the week as global currency and bond market volatility spiked.
MOUNTAIN HOME, AR – The Baxter Healthy Foundation will benefit from a $5,000 sponsorship donation for the upcoming Buck-a-Roo Ball from Farmers and Merchants Bank.Members of the Farmers & Merchants team recently presented the check.
Farmers and Merchants Bank is proud to host a new Coffee Talk series at their main branch on Hickory Street in Mountain Home beginning Friday, September 2nd.
The free event series, which will provide an opportunity for Mountain Home neighbors to network, will feature community leaders and local projects. The first speaker will be Bomber Football Coach Steve Ary, who will forecast the upcoming season.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers and Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville, a division of The Farmers and Merchants Bank, are pleased to announce the promotion of Marcus Seward to the role of Assistant Vice President, Loan & Bankruptcy Officer. In his new role Seward will maintain a diverse loan portfolio and develop commercial relationships in the Northwest Arkansas area.
STUTTGART, AR – The Board of Directors of Farmers and Merchants Bank is pleased to announce the appointment of Randy Bearce to the position of Market President. In his new role, Bearce will oversee the retail and lending operations of the expanding Jonesboro market. Most recently, he served as a commercial lender.
Market President Named to 2022 Women in Business From Northwest Arkansas Business Journal
FAYETTEVILLE, AR – Northwest Arkansas Market President Jennifer Hardin has been recognized by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal as one of the 2022 Women in Business. In her role, Hardin oversees the retail and lending operations of nine bank locations in Northwest Arkansas.
STUTTGART, AR – Farmers and Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville are pleased to announce the promotion of Pepper Morrison to the role of Assistant Vice President, Treasury Management Manager. In her new position, Morrison will oversee specialized products and banking strategies for business and nonprofit customers statewide.
Mountain Home Native to Lead Community Development Efforts
Farmers and Merchants Bank is pleased to welcome Katie Shay Schneider to the role of Community Development Officer for the Mountain Home market. In her new role, Katie will build local relationships, work with strategic partners to support the business community and improve quality of life in the North Central Arkansas region while overseeing charitable donations for the bank.
Sally Gilbert, long-time Mountain Home resident and community banking leader, has joined Farmers & Merchants Bank as the new market president for Mountain Home and the surrounding communities. Gilbert will lead Farmers and Merchants Bank operations in the region with a focus on true community banking, ensuring the highest quality professional service and guiding the bank’s long-term investments and commitment to the Mountain Home community.
Farmers & Merchants Bank and The Bank of Fayetteville would like to introduce you to our new MVP Centers. These Integrated Teller Machines are a new and improved way to do banking on the go! Follow this link to see a quick video on how our MVP works.
January 9, 2021 (Stuttgart, Arkansas)- The Board of Directors of Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Bank of Fayetteville announces the appointment of Brad Chambless as Chief Executive Officer and President as of January 1, 2021.