One key difference between the current economic trends and last spring: this time slow growth seems most likely in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, while the rest of the world is holding up better, says BlackRock’s Bob Doll. Consumers are bringing down debt faster than expected in the United States and United Kingdom, while Japan is suffering from the aftermath of its earthquake.
The end of the Fed’s QE2 are largely priced into markets, Doll says. “QE2 has been a tailwind for stocks, but only one of many...It is possible that we will see a modest rise in bond yields when the program ends, but yields have moved lower in recent weeks anyway,” he wrote in Tuesday’s weekly report.
Anticipated U.S. government spending cuts are unlikely to occur before next year’s election. Meanwhile, corporate earnings remain strong, with companies beating expectations by over 6% on average in the first quarter. Compared to last year, earnings grew by more than 20%, with the strongest growth in healthcare, technology and materials. “Second-quarter earnings should also be healthy,” he reported, and industrial production should increase.
Doll counseled patience.
“It is important to note that stocks have only dropped by a few percentage points over the last month. We would attribute this result to the fact that several factors remain as important tailwinds, including still-easy monetary and fiscal policies, high levels of liquidity, strong profit growth and reasonable valuations. The recent easing of oil prices is also a positive factor. On balance, we expect these positive forces to win out, but that may take some time.”