Weekly Market Update Highlights
• 2022 began with rising yields, dragging on equity performance due to the impact on growth and technology stocks.

• The Fed continues to walk a fine line, but unlike 2021, there is little margin for policy error around wage inflation and interest rates.

• We expect Omicron to have relatively limited economic impact, benefiting the reopening trade.

• Earnings should drive stock prices in 2022. Moderate earnings growth will equate to positive, yet volatile, equity returns this year.

Global equities struggled to find their footing in the first week of 2022, as most major indexes lost ground. Within the U.S., more value and cyclically oriented benchmarks fared better. The DJIA fell a modest -0.3%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq lost 1.8% and 4.5%, respectively, due in large part to their heavy weightings in technology. Broad-based, non-U.S. benchmarks fell more modestly. The MSCI EAFE (-0.3%), ACWI ex-USA (-0.4%) and EM (-0.5%) indexes lost no more than -0.5%, each.

Market Drivers And Risks
• Non-farm payrolls missed expectations (again) in December, but underlying data and positive revisions to prior months’ job numbers tell a healthier employment story.
• The BLS establishment survey showed an increase of 199,000 jobs in December, far below an expected 400,000. However, October and November totals were revised upward by a combined 141,000. The household survey was more upbeat, tallying up more than 650,000 new jobs for December and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, approaching its 3.5% pre-pandemic bottom. Underlying employment metrics, in tandem with other mostly positive economic data, give us confidence in the health of the overall economy. Our focus remains on average hourly earnings, as sustained above-average wage growth is far more likely to disrupt current central bank policy goals.

Last week’s surge in bond yields was fueled by hawkish Fed takeaways and expectations of less severe economic impacts from the Omicron variant.
• The bellwether 10-year U.S. Treasury yield leapt from 1.52% at year-end to close at 1.76% on January 7. The Fed’s accelerated pace of tapering and a more aggressive dot plot, along with the market’s relatively sanguine view of the risks Omicron poses to the economy, were the main culprits, keeping expectations intact for three rate hikes in 2022.

• The market is rotating on its value axis, for now.
• Last week’s 24-basis-point jump in the 10-year Treasury yield brought with it a corresponding rotation out of growth and technology stocks in favor of value and cyclicals. This could represent a more sustained shift in the factor landscape as prospects improve for rate-sensitive industries (such as banks) and reopening trades (airlines, hotels), but we do not expect last week’s degree of outperformance by value and cyclicals to be sustainable. With nearly 40% of Nasdaq constituents down by about 50% from their 52-week highs, oversold conditions should present valuable buying opportunities for select technology and growth names—especially those tied to reopening, such as front-office software providers.

Weekly Overview
• From a sector perspective, the S&P 500 experienced significant return dispersion last week. Expectations for limited economic impact from Omicron sparked a rally in the price of oil that led to a 10.6% return for energy, while the backup in rates provided a lift for financials, which gained 5.4%. Conversely, higher rates created a stiff headwind for growth-oriented stocks. Real estate (-4.9%) information technology (-4.7%) and communication services (-2.5%) ranked among the worst performing sectors.

• According to Bank of America, global equities garnered nearly $1 trillion ($949 billion) in inflows in 2021, exceeding the cumulative inflows of the previous two decades combined. And equities took in another $26 billion to start the new year, despite last week’s growth/tech-driven losses. Even as bond yields continue to climb, equities will likely provide strong total return potential in 2022.

Risks To Our Outlook
Inflation and its impact on central bank policy will continue to exert outsized influence on equity market volatility. The Fed’s hawkish tone has become more aggressive, causing investors to grow wary of a potential misstep in timing or magnitude of contractionary measures.

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