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Economic Data Deluge

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The stock market’s first half 2020 rollercoaster ride finally puts on the brakes today. Whether that means another harrowing journey awaits in the second half — with a potential second wave of coronavirus, expiring relief programs backstopping the American consumer and the 2020 General Election, just to name a few — is literally anyone’s guess.

The Case Shiller Home Price Index for the month of April has hit the tape ahead of today’s opening bell, up 4% year over year to 224.8. This is slightly below consensus, but definitely within the ballpark of the expected +4.4%. Month over month grew 90 basis points and continue to build on all-time highs (going back to the year 2000). These numbers are “old” in terms of economic data, but have a very good reputation for accuracy.

Leaders for the month are again among the usual suspects: Phoenix +8.8%, Seattle +7.3% and Charlotte +5.8%. Again, due to a lack of data from Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit), the normal 20-City index has been reduced to 19 cities. These numbers are just starting to see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on regional housing prices.

Nationwide food supplier Conagra Foods (CAG - Free Report)  reported its fiscal Q4 (ended May) earnings results before the bell, beating on the bottom line by 7 cents to 75 cents per share. Current-year earnings came in at $2.28 per share, outperforming estimates by 8 cents, up 13.4% year over year. Revenues for the full fiscal year also beat expectations, to $11.1 billion from $10.9 billion in the Zacks consensus.

Earnings guidance for next quarter between 54 and 59 cents per share is still within the realm of our estimates. Today’s report is the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold)-based Conagra’s third earnings beat in the last five quarters. Shares are up 3.3% in early trading.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will be back on Capitol Hill today for a new round of questioning from lawmakers. The Fed, as early as March, flooded the market with liquidity in order to keep the economy from seizing up as the “shelter in place” orders stifled growth. Now, with expirations imminent on congressional relief funds, finance committee reps will be looking for new direction from the Fed for 2H 2020 and beyond. Powell will be joined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Pre-markets are modestly in the red this morning. Currently, the Nasdaq is on pace for its strongest quarter since Q4 2001, while the Dow and S&P 500 anticipate their biggest quarterly gains since Q4 1998. These figures, of course, are off deep lows established in the last month of Q1, when the pandemic-led shutdown took hold.


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