Stocks Are at Record Highs, but Things Will Only Get Harder From Here
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,599,192 (-0.51%)       Melbourne $986,501 (-0.24%)       Brisbane $938,846 (+0.04%)       Adelaide $864,470 (+0.79%)       Perth $822,991 (-0.13%)       Hobart $755,620 (-0.26%)       Darwin $665,693 (-0.13%)       Canberra $994,740 (+0.67%)       National $1,027,820 (-0.13%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $746,448 (+0.19%)       Melbourne $495,247 (+0.53%)       Brisbane $534,081 (+1.16%)       Adelaide $409,697 (-2.19%)       Perth $437,258 (+0.97%)       Hobart $531,961 (+0.68%)       Darwin $367,399 (0%)       Canberra $499,766 (0%)       National $525,746 (+0.31%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,586 (+169)       Melbourne 15,093 (+456)       Brisbane 7,795 (+246)       Adelaide 2,488 (+77)       Perth 6,274 (+65)       Hobart 1,315 (+13)       Darwin 255 (+4)       Canberra 1,037 (+17)       National 44,843 (+1,047)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,675 (+47)       Melbourne 7,961 (+171)       Brisbane 1,636 (+24)       Adelaide 462 (+20)       Perth 1,749 (+2)       Hobart 206 (+4)       Darwin 384 (+2)       Canberra 914 (+19)       National 21,987 (+289)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $770 (-$10)       Melbourne $590 (-$5)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $595 (-$5)       Perth $650 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 ($0)       Canberra $700 ($0)       National $654 (-$3)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $730 (+$10)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $620 ($0)       Adelaide $470 ($0)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $460 (-$10)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $560 (-$5)       National $583 (+$1)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,253 (-65)       Melbourne 5,429 (+1)       Brisbane 3,933 (-4)       Adelaide 1,178 (+17)       Perth 1,685 ($0)       Hobart 393 (+25)       Darwin 144 (+6)       Canberra 575 (-22)       National 18,590 (-42)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,894 (-176)       Melbourne 4,572 (-79)       Brisbane 1,991 (+1)       Adelaide 377 (+6)       Perth 590 (+3)       Hobart 152 (+6)       Darwin 266 (+10)       Canberra 525 (+8)       National 15,367 (-221)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.50% (↓)       Melbourne 3.11% (↓)       Brisbane 3.43% (↓)       Adelaide 3.58% (↓)     Perth 4.11% (↑)      Hobart 3.78% (↑)      Darwin 5.47% (↑)        Canberra 3.66% (↓)       National 3.31% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.09% (↑)        Melbourne 6.09% (↓)       Brisbane 6.04% (↓)     Adelaide 5.97% (↑)        Perth 7.14% (↓)       Hobart 4.50% (↓)       Darwin 7.78% (↓)       Canberra 5.83% (↓)       National 5.76% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.7% (↑)      Melbourne 0.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.4% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 1.2% (↑)      Hobart 0.6% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.7% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.4% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.3% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 1.5% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)        National 0.9% (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.7 (↓)       Brisbane 31.0 (↓)       Adelaide 25.4 (↓)       Perth 34.0 (↓)       Hobart 34.8 (↓)       Darwin 35.1 (↓)       Canberra 28.5 (↓)       National 31.0 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 25.8 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)       Brisbane 27.6 (↓)       Adelaide 21.8 (↓)       Perth 37.8 (↓)       Hobart 25.2 (↓)       Darwin 24.8 (↓)       Canberra 41.1 (↓)       National 29.3 (↓)           
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Stocks Are at Record Highs, but Things Will Only Get Harder From Here

Expectations for interest-rate cuts are waning. Some investors say stock gains might be hard-won as a result.

By ERIC WALLERSTEIN
Mon, Jan 22, 2024 9:18amGrey Clock 4 min

Wall Street entered 2024 betting the year would go perfectly, but an up-and-down start for stocks and bonds suggests the going won’t be easy.

Stocks have climbed to records, driven by cooling inflation that has spurred investors to anticipate as many as six interest-rate cuts. Falling rates often boost share prices by reducing the relative appeal of bonds and making it cheaper for companies and consumers to borrow, lifting corporate profits.

But despite Friday’s record close in the S&P 500, the rally in major indexes has stalled in recent weeks—the benchmark index is up less than 2% from where it was a month ago—while the labour market and economy show few signs of slowing. Bond yields have ticked up in the new year after falling sharply at the end of 2023.

This dynamic is prompting some analysts and portfolio managers to warn that further stock gains might be halting because the rate cuts that are widely expected to power the market higher might not arrive as quickly as bullish investors had wagered.

“Clearly, the consensus is that inflation is under control and we’re heading for a soft landing,” said Doug Fincher, a portfolio manager at New York City-based hedge fund Ionic Capital Management. “It’s certainly possible—but a lot of that is priced in.”

The S&P 500 is up 1.5% this year, but analysts see more signs of caution under the hood.

Investors have retreated this year from shares of banks, smaller companies and real-estate firms that posted big gains during the fourth-quarter rally, which was kicked off by investor belief that the Federal Reserve had pivoted in November to a rate-cutting stance. Bond yields, which rise when prices fall, have climbed as traders have pared back bets that Fed officials will start cutting rates in March.

There is a greater than 50% chance the central bank keeps rates where they are at its March meeting, according to the CME FedWatch tool. At the start of the year, traders expected rates to end December around 3.85%. Now they expect closer to 4.1%, per futures contracts tied to the fed-funds rate.

Behind those moves: data showing persistent economic strength that could lift inflation. Treasury yields, a benchmark for borrowing costs, surged last week after Fed governor Christopher Waller cautioned against rushing to cut rates. Yields’ climb continued after data on retail sales, housing starts and unemployment filings all beat economists’ projections. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield finished the week at 4.145% after starting the year at 3.860%.

Traders are now betting inflation will average above 2.4% over the next five years, the highest level since November, based on swap contracts tied to the consumer-price index.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks—which gained 22% in the last two months of the year—is down 4.1% in January. Speculative stocks have taken a beating; both Rivian and Coinbase have lost more than 25% after rising during the Fed-pivot rally. A KBW index of regional banks, which added 31% in November and December, has slid more than 3%. Shares of real-estate and utility companies are down even more, also having surged in those months.

The Bloomberg Barclays aggregate bond index, which soared in the final months of last year, is down 1.4% to start 2024.

“People tried to front-run the rate cuts by buying long-duration assets, like tech stocks and bonds,” said Nancy Davis, founder of asset management firm Quadratic Capital Management. “What if the Fed doesn’t cut that much or that quickly? Those people get hung out to dry.”

The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model shows the economy likely grew at a 2.4% inflation-adjusted pace in the fourth quarter. That is nowhere near the conditions that have historically necessitated rates coming down 1.5 percentage points—which traders were betting on heading into 2024.

The extra compensation investors receive for buying high-quality corporate bonds over Treasurys is slimmer than before the Fed began raising rates, now around a percentage point. Credit spreads on junk bonds are similarly tight, signalling little concern over company defaults. Leveraged loans—used to fund private-equity buyouts or finance poorly rated companies—are in such high demand that companies are slashing their borrowing costs.

Some investors believe a strong economy could still boost stocks.

Sophia Drossos, an economist and strategist at Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund Point72, expects robust consumer spending—and a proactive Fed—to help avert a recession and prop up corporate profits. The strong underlying U.S. economy “means risky assets can benefit,” Drossos said.

Not everyone is optimistic. Some fear new sources of inflationary pressure, such as trade disruptions from the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and a drought in the Panama Canal.

And technical factors also could undermine the market gains. Interest-rate bets often represent investors protecting their portfolios against the risk of a recession or crisis that requires sudden rate cuts. Without a major slowdown, investors might remove those hedges, raising market rates. That could tighten financial conditions and disrupt stocks without any fundamental changes to the economic outlook.

But considering the strength of the economy, many doubt rate cuts will be as aggressive as investors hoped just a few weeks ago, threatening one of the rally’s biggest pillars of support.

“You’d think the wheels would have to come off to see that number of cuts,” said Fincher.



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Call to cut corporate carbon footprints is loudest from inside organizations, outweighing demand from customers and regulators, survey finds

By YUSUF KHAN
Sun, Mar 3, 2024 2 min

The pressure on companies to cut their carbon footprint is coming more from within the organisations themselves than from customers and regulators, according to a new report.

Three-quarters of business leaders from across the Group of 20 nations said the push to invest in renewable energy is being driven mainly by their own corporate boards, with 77% of U.S. business leaders saying the pressure was extreme or significant, according to a new survey conducted by law firm Ashurst.

The corporate call to decarbonise is intensifying, Ashurst said, with 30% of business leaders saying the pressure from their own boards was extreme, up from 25% in 2022.

“We’re seeing that the energy transition is an area that is firmly embedded in the thinking of investors, corporates, governments and others, so there is a real emphasis on setting and acting on these plans now,” said Michael Burns, global co-head of energy at Ashurst. “That said, the pace of transition and the stage of the journey very much depends from business to business.”

The shift in sentiment comes as companies ramp up investment in renewable spending to meet their net-zero goals. Ashurst found that 71% of the more than 2,000 respondents to its survey had committed to a net-zero target, while 26% of respondents said their targets were under development.

Ashurst also found that solar was the most popular method to decarbonise, with 72% of respondents currently investing in or committed to investing in the clean energy technology. The law firm also found that companies tended to be the most active when it comes to renewable investments, with 52% of the respondents falling into this category. The average turnover of those companies was $15.1 billion.

Meanwhile, 81% of energy-sector respondents to the survey said they see investment in renewables as essential to the organisation’s strategic growth.

Burns said the 2030 timeline to reach net zero was very important to the companies it surveyed. “We are increasingly seeing corporate and other stakeholders actively setting and embracing trajectories to achieve net zero. However, greater clarity and transparency on the standards for measuring and managing these net-zero commitments is needed to ensure consistency in approach and, importantly, outcome,” he said.

Legal battles over climate change and renewable investing are also likely to rise, with 68% of respondents saying they expect to see an increase in legal disputes over the next five years, while only 16% anticipate a decrease, the report said.

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