August saw improving economic fundamentals and continuing geopolitical risks. Economic indicators were as follows:
- GDP up 4.2% for Q2 per BEA here
- CPI was up 0.1% in July versus up 0.3% for Q2 here
- PPI (early inflation indicator) up 0.1% for July versus up 0.4% for June.
- Consumer Confidence rose again to 92.4 here
- Housing starts improved here
- Nonfarm employment increased over 200,000 here
Overall a pretty good recipe for the US with better jobs, somewhat higher wages, a slight downtick in inflation risk, housing starts improved and consumer confidence rising. To add to this mix, retail showed some signs of improvement with back to school season considered solid leading into the distribution buying for the holidays.
Geopolitical risks continue to rise in Syria and Russia/Ukraine. The largest economic impact of these rising tensions continues to be in the EU.
US stocks continued to rally as did bonds, despite continued calls for a correction and higher interest rates. A correction continues to appear unlikely given the number of pundits calling for it and the improving US economic backdrop. Taper continues with only $25 billion in monthly bond purchases at present. That is down 70% from the peak level which is contrary to the expectation that this reduced stimulus would drive up interest rates and cause stocks to correct. The end of the Fed buying is expected in October which will start the interest rate watch for the first increase in the Fed Funds rate. Consensus today is that we will see this in the late spring of 2015.
My investment portfolio had the following performance through August 2014:
|Jan||0.17 %||0.22 %||(1.3)%||(0.9)%||(3.6)%||2.67%|
|Feb||0.25 %||0.27 %||3.0 %||3.5 %||4.3 %||2.66%|
|Mar||0.36 %||0.31 %||(1.0)%||(0.3)%||0.7 %||2.72%|
|Apr||0.10 %||0.46 %||0.8 %||1.3 %||0.6 %||2.65%|
|May||0.31 %||0.30 %||2.9 %||3.5 %||2.1 %||2.46%|
|Jun||0.25 %||0.33 %||6.0 %||6.6 %||1.9 %||2.52%|
|Jul||0.11 %||0.22 %||(1.9)%||(1.6)%||(1.4)%||2.56%|
|Aug||0.35 %||0.15 %||3.3%||3.8 %||3.7 %||2.34%|
|Total||1.9 %||2.3 %||12.3 %||17.0 %||8.4 %|
Sales: BIIB, HTZ, MS, TWTR (assigned)
Buys: CMBX, INSY, LGF, NPSP, PXLW
Covered calls open: BA, CLVS, EVEP, INSY, NPSP, PRU
August gains > 5%:
- INSY 30.7%
- KMR 27.0%
- SGEN 25.0%
- CLDX 21.5%
- PXLW 14.6%
- EVEP 14.0%
- WYY 9.5%
- NPSP 8.0%
- DAL 5.7%
- ABBV 5.6%
- C 5.6%
- BAC 5.5%
- MSFT 5.3%
- LINE 5.3%
- BA 5.2%
August losses > 5%:
- CLF 13.6%
- CTRL 11.6%
- TSYS 5.4%
My tax deferred portfolio rose 4.6% for August bringing the time-weighted annual return to 13.4%. The only changes to this portfolio in August was to sell HQP (valuation) and AMGN (assigned), and to buy AZN.
Cash balance at month end was 15% for the tax deferred account and 8% for the primary investment account.