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Stocks’ volatility continued Thursday, sparked by a weak start to second-quarter earnings season and another sizzling inflation update.
On the earnings front, JPMorgan Chase (JPM, -3.5%) this morning said profit in the second quarter was down 28% from the year-ago period, while revenue rose a modest 1%. The financial firm also said it is suspending stock buybacks in order to boost its capital reserves. Fellow big bank Morgan Stanley (MS, -0.4%) also saw its profit sink â down 29% year-over-year â while revenue plunged 11%.Â
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Also in focus today was the latest reading of the producer price index (PPI), which confirmed what Wednesday’s scorching consumer price index (CPI) report already told us: Peak inflation was not reached last month. Data from the Labor Department showed that the PPI, which measures how much suppliers are charging businesses and their customers for their goods, surged 11.3% year-over-year in June, its seventh straight month of double-digit annual percentage gains. On a sequential basis, wholesale prices were 1.1% higher.
One positive from the report was that the core PPI, which excludes the volatile energy and food sectors, was up 0.3% over the prior month â or down slightly from May’s 0.4% increase.
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“Itâs clear that food and energy are driving PPI higher, as was the case in yesterday’s inflation print,” says Peter Essele, head of portfolio management for Commonwealth Financial Management. “When removing these volatile components, PPI appears to have peaked and is starting to roll over, a tell-tale sign that the economy is shifting into late-cycle territory. The probability of a 100-basis-point hike from the Fed in late July has greatly increased after the two price index releases.”
The one-two punch had stocks wallowing deep in negative territory for most of the morning, but the major benchmarks climbed well off their session lows by the close. The S&P 500 Index (-0.3% at 3,790) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.5% at 30,630) still suffered their fifth straight loss, however, while the Nasdaq Composite ended marginally higher at 11,251.
Other news in the stock market today:
- The small-cap Russell 2000Â slumped 1.1% to 1,707.
- U.S. crude futuresÂ shed 0.5% to finish at $95.78 per barrel.
- Gold futures slumped 1.7% to $1,705.80 an ounce, their lowest settlement since March 30, 2021.
- BitcoinÂ climbed 4.9% to $20,603.56.Â (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)Â
- Conagra BrandsÂ (CAG) fell 7.3% after the packaged food maker reported fiscal fourth-quarter revenue of $2.91 billion, below analysts’ consensus estimate for revenue of $2.93 billion. However, CAG’s adjusted earnings of 65 cents per share beat the average estimate by 2 cents. The company also said it plans to raise prices in the second quarter of fiscal 2023 in order to offset higher costs related to inflation. CFRA Research analyst Arun Sundaram maintained a Buy rating on the consumer staples stock after earnings. “We expect margins to improve in FY 23 with more pricing flowing through and cost inflation likely approaching its peak,” the analyst says. “Also, cost savings should be easier to realize in FY 23 as the overall supply chain stabilizes. Together, we see more upside than downside to CAG’s FY 23 bottom-line targets as the fiscal year progresses.”
- Energy stocksÂ suffered notable losses as crude futures continued to slide. APA (APA, -4.0%), Diamondback Energy (FANG, -3.5%) and EOG Resources (EOG, -3.6%) were just a few of the day’s biggest decliners.
Play Green Energy Stocks for Long-Term Growth Trends
Market volatility is likely to continue for the time being, which creates an especially uncertain environment for investors. “Inflation has taken a bite out of stock and bond markets â and the bite may not be over quite yet,” says Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi. “Before the end of the month, we could get negative earnings guidance, a 75-100 basis point hike from the Fed, and a negative Q2 GDP print. This scenario could prove to be bad news for markets, but good news for buyers.”Â
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Although Young suggests investors “don’t swing for the fences,” she does believe that “we have to start swinging the bat before summer is over.” And there’s certainly plenty good of pitches to hit for investors of all stripes.Â
Those wanting to boost the income-producing parts of their portfolios may want to consider these discounted Dividend Aristocrats.Â The best Dow dividend stocksÂ are another great place to find reliable and rising payouts.
Other investors might be keen on long-term growth trends. If that’s the case, green energy stocksÂ look like a fountain of opportunity. Indeed, the renewable energy market is forecast to grow to almost $2 trillion by the end of the decade. These top-rated picks are well-positioned to take a piece of that pie.
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Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Fla., was in dire need of repairs when the 40-year-old building partially collapsed in June 2021, killing 98 people. In 2018, an engineer’s report identified significant structural damage, and a tentatively settled class action lawsuit alleges that work on a nearby building destabilized the Champlain structure. But there’s another culprit: the inadequate funding for essential repairs at aging condo buildings — a national problem.
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More than half of an estimated 4.1 million condo units in the U.S. were built before 1990, according to the U.S. Census, and the reserve funds for a third of homeowner and condo associations have insufficient cash, estimates engineer and CEO Robert M. Nordlund. His firm, Association Reserves, has conducted more than 60,000 reserve studies. These detailed reports analyze the funding needed for condo repairs and improvements. Association Reserves studied Champlain Towers in 2020 and found both substantial deferred maintenance and inadequate reserves.
All condo owners contribute to their association’s reserve fund through their condo fee, but when the reserve fund isn’t enough to cover urgent work, owners are handed a big bill in the form of a special assessment, which is especially painful for retirees on fixed incomes. At Champlain Towers, homeowners had been hit with a $15 million assessment when the structure failed. “Many owners were shocked to face a huge special assessment and bank loan to pay for repairs and replacements that were predictable,” says Nordlund.
There’s no reason for condo owners to be blindsided. If you see something in your building that causes concern, say something, says Dawn Bauman, a senior vice president of the Community Associations Institute. Even better, she says, put your questions, concerns or requests for information in writing, addressed to the board.
If you’re not attending board meetings, read the meeting minutes, which are generally posted online or sent to owners. “Be concerned if there are no meeting minutes, some are missing, or the board has been preoccupied by minor issues at the expense of important decisions that affect home values,” says Nordlund. He publishes a free guide, “7 Tips That Will Turn You Into an Informed Owner or Buyer” atÂ reservestudy.com/older-condos-resources.
Some of the same benchmarks that Nordlund tells buyers to look for can also help condo owners determine if the association is prepared for future repair bills. Condo fees, for example, should have been raised at least three times in the past five years, but condo owners often pressure the board of directors to keep the fee low. Without adequate funding, maintenance and repairs are deferred only to become more expensive later, increasing the odds of a crisis and the need for a special assessment. Eric Glazer, a lawyer in Orlando, Fla., who specializes in condo law, says that retirees often like to brag about who has the cheapest condo fee. “The winner is actually the loser,” he says.
Another benchmark can be found in the reserve study, which should have been prepared by a credentialed specialist within the past few years. Owners should ask for a copy and check the percentage of anticipated needs met by current savings. This percentage “is the only way to link a condo’s financial and physical health,” says Nordlund. A condo is in good shape when the needs are more than 70% funded.
What if you want to sell and know that something is amiss in your building? By law, you need only disclose defects that you know about within your unit, not those in the building or common area. Still, if many of your neighbors also list their units for sale, that can alert buyers that something’s up.
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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have imposed new guidelines for lenders to ferret out buildings that are too risky for mortgage loans. Lenders who want to sell loans to Fannie and Freddie must determine if a building has significant deferred maintenance, special assessments that adversely affect the condo association, insufficient reserve funding or no reserve study. The guidelines are temporary and subject to revision, but Bauman expects they will become permanent, making it harder for sellers of units in troubled buildings to get out.