Morning Report: Strong Chicago PMI 12/28/17

Vital Statistics:

Last Change
S&P Futures 2687.5 2.0
Eurostoxx Index 390.3 -0.2
Oil (WTI) 59.7 0.0
US dollar index 86.3 -0.3
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.43%
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 102.375
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 103.25
30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 3.97

Stocks are modestly higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat.

Very slow news day.

The Chicago PMI came in at a very strong 67.6 as production and new orders hit multi-year highs. Employment was disappointing however as businesses struggle to find qualified employees.

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 245k last week ahead of the Christmas holiday. Surprised it is that high.

Some the biggest fixed income managers lay out their trades for 2018. Blackrock says to move up in credit quality. Note that they are neutral on everything. U.S. municipal bonds, U.S. credit, emerging markets and Asian fixed income, and an underweight position on Treasuries, European sovereign debt and European corporate bonds. They don’t like anything, really. Fidelity says global growth is going to become inflationary, so buy TIPS (Treasury inflation protected securities) and emerging market debt. Goldman is betting against the crowd, favoring yield curve steepeners as opposed to the biggest trade on the Street, which is betting on a flatter yield curve. The theme seems to be inflation will return, and that means higher rates next year. The elephant in the room is the Fed, and the fear that increasing short term rates will torpedo the recovery.

Easy come, easy go. Bitcoin continues to give back gains after it hit a record last week. It is down 28% from its highs on fears that South Korea might close one of its exchanges. Here is the fundamental issue with Bitcoin: governments despise it, and while they might not be able to kill it directly, they can attack everything that supports it. While there are a few retailers that accept Bitcoin, understand that they don’t hold it. They immediately exchange it into dollars.

Tax reform has some people in high tax jurisdictions rushing to pre-pay their property taxes ahead of the change in 2018. Note the IRS will only allow this if they are assessed and paid in 2017. So if your local government can’t get the assessments out in time, it doesn’t matter if you prepay.

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