Big Gains in Global Equities

April
13

Written by: Jon McGraw

How much is 1 trillion?

  • If you waited 1 trillion seconds, it would take 31,688 years.
  • If you had a trillion dollars and spent $10 million a day, it would take 273 years to go broke.
  • If you taped $100 bills end to end, you could wrap the earth 41 times with $1 trillion.
  • Alternatively, you could paper over Delaware in $100 bills—twice.

Last week, the value of global equities surpassed not $1 trillion, but $70 trillion, according to Bloomberg Business, which credited central banks’ stimulus programs for soaring stock values. Of the 24 national stock indices covered by Barron’s, 10 have delivered double-digit returns year-to-date. They are Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China and the Philippines in the Asia Pacific region, and France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden in Europe. The Standard & Poor’s 500, Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial indices all remained in single-digit territory. Barron’s reported:

“The market could bounce higher if first-quarter results come in above reduced targets. So far, 20 of the 24 companies releasing earnings have topped expectations, FactSet reports. The Dow Jones industrials were propelled above 18,000 again last week, and the S&P 500 climbed north of 2100.

“But those who look beyond the first quarter see a number of head winds facing U.S. equities. The Federal Reserve appears ready to start raising interest rates, for one. The strong dollar looks to be a drag on trade and earnings, and profit margins could be about to peak. Add to this widespread investor optimism and above-average earnings multiples and the market could be vulnerable.”

Experts are uncertain about the direction of stock markets, and so are investors. Last week’s AAII (American Association of Individual Investors) Investor Sentiment Survey showed that both bullish and bearish sentiments were below long-term averages (and lower than the previous week) while neutral sentiment was relatively high (and up 14.5 percent over the previous week).

Data as of 4/10/15 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) 1.7% 2.1% 14.7% 15.7% 11.9% 5.9%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. 2.1 6.7 0.3 6.8 2.8 3.3
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.0 NA 2.6 2.0 3.9 4.5
Gold (per ounce) 0.7 0.7 -8.6 -9.8 0.8 10.9
Bloomberg Commodity Index -0.2 -4.7 -27.4 -10.6 -5.9 -4.5
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -2.5 2.2 20.3 14.9 14.1 9.3

It’s a Millennial Thing

Sure, you know China surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest economy, but did you know the millennial generation surpassed the baby boomers to become the largest generation here in America? According to Pew Research, there were about 75.3 million millennials (born from 1981 to 1997) at the end of 2014 and about 74.9 million baby boomers (born from 1946 to 1964).

It’s no secret baby boomers have had a profound effect on the American economy. History.com reported:

“Baby boomers bought mouse-ear hats to wear while they watched ‘The Mickey Mouse Club’ and coonskin caps to wear while they watched Walt Disney’s TV specials about Davy Crockett. They bought rock and roll records, danced along with ‘American Bandstand,’ and swooned over Elvis Presley. They collected hula hoops, Frisbees, and Barbie dolls. A 1958 story in Life magazine declared ‘kids’ were a ‘built-in recession cure.’”

As they retire, the baby boomers are expected to have a profound influence on health and wellness providers, pharmaceutical companies and others in markets that serve the needs of retired Americans.

The boomer generation has been the focus of investors for so many years it can be easy to forget about the influence of millennials. They’ve come of age during the Great Recession, which curbed their appetite for consumption. Millennials’ preference for access rather than ownership sparked the “sharing economy,” which includes online companies that facilitate the sharing of unused goods. The New York Times reported, “Millions of people are using social media sites, redistribution networks, rentals and cooperatives to share not only cars but also homes, clothes, tools, toys, and other items at low or near zero marginal cost. The sharing economy had projected revenues of $3.5 billion in 2013.”

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on demographic change. It can have a profound impact on economies, industries and companies.

Weekly Fun—Think About It

“When your mother asks ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”

-Erma Bombeck, advice columnist