Markets are lower this morning after weak economic data out of China. Bonds and MBS are up.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism index rose to 96.1 from 95.9 the prior week. Good news on the labor front – small businesses are hiring or trying to hire despite the volatility in the markets. This actually points to a bit of dichotomy we have seen since the financial crisis – a bifurcation of the “S&P 500 economy” and the “main street economy.” The S&P 500 economy has a lot of international exposure and this acted as a tailwind for the stock markets as the US economy began recovering. Many people were perplexed that the economy could feel so tepid yet the stock market was hitting new highs. Now the phenomenon seems to be reversing. Companies with big international exposure are feeling the effects of the commodity sell-off and emerging markets pain, while the small manufacturer who serves the local area is thinking about expanding and hiring.
Low oil prices are here to stay, at least through 2016, according to the IEA. You have a combination of decreasing demand as China slows combined with an additional million barrels of oil a day coming out of Iran. Rig count has already fallen and is at 5 year lows.
There were 36,000 completed foreclosures in August, according to CoreLogic. This is up 0.8% versus July, but down 20% year-over-year. The foreclosure rate of 1.2% is back to January 2008 levels. The non-judicial states have largely worked through their inventory, however the judicial states (especially in the Northeast) still have some wood to chop.
UBS has a piece out on hybrid funds – funds that hold stocks and high yield debt. If we continue to see a sell-off in junk bonds, these funds will face redemptions, and that meant that the stocks will get sold as well. This is an issue in particular for the energy patch.
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