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Markets Shrug Off White House Tremors

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Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Ahead of today’s opening bell, stock futures are once again up, even as domestic news cycles deliver drama and tension regarding the recent words and actions of President Trump. An impromptu press conference yesterday saw the President double-down on his initial comments on the weekend tragedy in Charlottesville, which were heavily criticized by people on both the Left and the Right. Nevertheless, the Dow is enjoying a 3-day winning streak, although the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are down 4 of the last 6 sessions.

Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said he was “disgusted and upset” by the President’s latest address. Even still, he is quoted as expecting tax reform to be on track for passage before Thanksgiving. As far as healthcare reform, Cohn said he’s “not sure where that will wind up.”

More leaders from Trump’s manufacturing council are leaving in response to this continuing public relations development. Further, PayPal (PYPL - Free Report) has announced it will no longer process payments to fun “alt-right” groups, and privately-held GoDaddy has already booted alt-right website Daily Stormer from its server. However, work-arounds are already occurring among groups protesting the removal of Confederate statues, among others things (nine more such protests are reportedly scheduled for the upcoming weekend). These groups are finding the Bitcoin trade useful in this regard.

Housing Starts & Permits

Housing Starts posted a disappointing headline number of -4.8% for the month of July; +0.4% had been expected. A total of 1.155 million seasonally adjusted, annualized new starts is below the 1.23 million expected, and June results were revised slightly downward as well. Consider that we’re still in the zone of warmer seasonal months, and a big negative result in new starts does demonstrate a real cooling of the new home market, near-term.

Permits fell 4.1% to 1.223 million, also a disappointment; June results were revised down to 1.227 million, and these numbers represent the weakest permits data since May. These figures overall represent the topsy-turvy world of spending and consumer confidence — for every better-than-expected Retail Sales number, like yesterday, we see a headwind with the next domestic growth metric, like Starts & Permits.

Target, Urban Outfitters Outperform

Big-box retailer Target (TGT - Free Report) posted a 3-cent beat on the bottom line ahead of the opening bell this morning to $1.23 per share. Revenues, however, missed the Zacks consensus of $16.82 billion in the quarter, reporting $16.42 billion. Nevertheless, this represents 1.6% growth in sales year over year, on 1.3% comps. The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)-rated company was trading as high as +6% in today’s pre-market, but shares are now roughly +3.3%.

Urban Outfitters (URBN - Free Report) , however, is trading way up — more than 21% at this hour — following a fiscal Q2 2018 beat on both top and bottom lines. The company’s 44 cents per share outperformed the 37 cents expected, and revenues of $873 million topped the Zacks consensus estimate of $834 million. Same-store sales were also up in the quarter, and URBN shares — which had been down nearly 41% year-to-date — look to be making a nice bounce off multi-year bottoms.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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