May jobs report supports the idea of an economic soft landing, but will the market buy into it?
The market wants a soft landing in the economy, and the early read on the May jobs report is supportive. To get a soft landing, the market wants to see data that shows the economy is cooling, but not too much. Too hot, and there are fears the Federal Reserve will keep hiking. Too cool, and there are fears the economy is going into a recession. So Goldilocks is what everyone wants, and it is proving very elusive. On that basis, the May jobs report passes the test, coming in at 390,000, higher than the 328,000 expected but still below the 428,000 from April. What a rally, but nobody believes it yet. The S & P 500 is up 350 points or 10% in 10 ten days. You’d think most market observers would believe some type of bottom has been put in, but no. Skepticism remains the order of the day. Typical is this comment from Piper Sandler’s technical analyst, Craig Johnson: “Overall, we remain skeptical of the sustainability of this recovery due to the lack of evidence of a bottom being set. Under a worst-case scenario, we see 3,500 as a downside target…” That would be better than 16% below where we are now. Nobody believes a bottom because volatility is so high. Dan Wiener, who runs “The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors,” notes that historically the S & P 500 has moved in an 0.7% swing on a daily basis, but this year it has averaged a 1.2% swing. He writes about what he calls the “Negative 3.5% Solution,” which notes that when the S & P 500 falls more than 3.5% on a single day or series of days, they are more often than not buying opportunities. Between June 1983 and the end of March 2022, the S & P fell 3.5% or more on 65 separate days. Buying the index on the day of the drop produced average returns of 25.6% over the next year. It was positive 55 out of 65 times, the average 12-month gain was 12.4%. These 3.5% down days have happened three times recently: April 29, May 5, and May 18. Wiener is not calling a bottom, just noting “buying on those big one-day price declines has been profitable more often than not if you’re willing to look out just one year.” His advice: “Stick with it. You won’t be disappointed.” Dan Wiener will be on ETF Edge on Monday, June 6 at 1 p.m. ET. No hope for lower airline prices. This morning, American Airlines became the latest to notify that their revenues were higher. “The company expects an increase in Q2 revenue versus prior guidance, driven by continued strength in the demand and pricing environment,” they said in a statement. Alaska Air did the same Thursday night. “We continue to experience sustained strong demand for air travel throughout our network…. Stronger revenue is offsetting increases in oil prices,” the company said in a statement.