January 2024 MARKET LOOKBACK
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
It was an eventful start to the new year for stocks and the economy. Here’s what went down in January. Some would say it has been a long time coming, but the S&P 500 finally hit new all-time highs in January. Economic growth was strong in the fourth quarter of 2023, with gross domestic product growing at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 3.3%. Inflation data continued to be promising, with six-month annualized core PCE, one of the Fed’s preferred gauges of inflation, running at their target of 2%. However, tough talk from the Fed at the end of the month pushed back on March rate cut expectations, and fresh regional bank jitters also served to weigh on Treasury yields.
- Q4 GDP grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.3%, which was higher than every single economist estimate submitted to Bloomberg.
- The FOMC held the federal funds target rate unchanged in a range of 5.25%-5.50%, with Chair Jerome Powell indicating that it was unlikely the committee would have enough certainty to cut in March.
- December CPI came in at 3.9% y/y, just above the consensus estimate of 3.8%, while PPI came in at 1.0% y/y, below the estimate of 1.3%.
- January consumer sentiment rose sharply according to both the University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers (78.8 versus the prior month’s 69.7) and Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index (114.8 versus the prior month’s 108.0).
- November home prices rose a little over 0.1% m/m, missing expectations of a 0.5% gain.
Source: SoFi, Bloomberg
- The S&P 500 reached a new all-time closing high for the first time since Jan 2022.
- Bottom-up 2024 EPS estimates for the S&P 500 moved down to $242 in January from $244 previously, while top-down strategist estimates remained at $240.
- Growth stocks outperformed value stocks by 2.4 percentage points, the second-most since May.
- Buoyed by the semiconductors industry group and some of the Magnificent Seven, Communications and Info Tech were the best performing sectors.
- Though 10-year Treasury yields began the month at 3.88% and rose to 4.15% on January 24, yields finished the month at 3.91% as regional bank jitters roiled fixed income markets.
- Similarly, fed funds futures swung between as many as seven rate cuts in 2024 on January 12 and as few as five cuts on January 30.
- U.S. investment grade corporates issued $188 billion in bonds in January, surpassing the $175 billion in January 2017 and setting a new record for the biggest issuance month ever.
- Option-adjusted spreads for U.S. investment grade corporate bonds fell to 96bps, the lowest levels since January 2022.
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