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CPI Numbers In-Line, Q4 Earnings Ramp Up Next Week

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Pre-market futures this morning are down again, although when we’ve woken up to red indexes ahead of the opening bell in past days this week, we’ve managed to finish in the green each time. The markets are currently riding a 5-day winning streak, as astutely pointed out by Zacks Exec VP Kevin Matras this morning, and you can read his account here: Winning Streak at Day 5, Could It Be 6?

It’s quite the run, frankly, considering the lack of major economic data this week, a downturn in retail sales expectations when Q4 earnings are reported, and the partial government shutdown now three full weeks old with no light yet at the end of the tunnel. We’ll see a heavier rate of Q4 earnings reports hit the tape starting early next week, including the all-important big banks, including JPMorgan (JPM - Free Report) , Citigroup (C - Free Report) was and Wells Fargo (WFC - Free Report) . For an analysis on what to expect from this sector, check out Tracey Ryniec’s latest Earnings All-Starts presentation: 5 Big-Bank Charts to Start Off Earnings Season

I say lack of economic data, but we do see one important report this morning: Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December. Headline reads were in-line with analyst estimates, with -0.1% matching projections and no revision to the previous month’s 0.0%. The ex-food & energy (core) reached +0.2%, also in-line with expectations. Year over year, we see +1.9% on the headline and +2.2% core — again, results as expected.

Where we get into some modest surprises in on things like December earnings, which rose 1.2% weekly and 1.1% hourly — notably better than the +0.6% weekly in November and +0.8% hourly. We also saw a 7 1/2% drop in gas prices last month, although we expect this to evaporate on future reads based on oil prices having gained over the past couple weeks. Softness in airline fares — down 2.4% in November and -1.5% in December — speak to lowered guidance from companies like American Airlines (AAL - Free Report) . Commodities overall were down 0.7% last month, and prescription drugs -0.4%.

We don’t expect any market depression based on these figures, and we certainly don’t see a noteworthy increase in the rate of inflation. If anything, we can take away that tariffs have not (yet) come home to roost domestically, which is good news. The longer our economy can absorb these challenges without seeing a spike in data points, the better.
Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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