Faster And Faster But No Liftoff

DOW – 2 = 17,814
SPX – 2 = 2067
NAS+ 3 = 4758
10 YR YLD – .05 = 2.26%
OIL – 1.95 = 74.22
GOLD + 2.90 = 1202.20
SILV + .20 = 16.77

The major stock indices couldn’t close at records, but Apple reached a milestone today. Apple’s market capitalization hit a record $700 billion; that’s double from 3 years ago when Tim Cook became CEO. Apple is the first S&P 500 company to ever reach a $700 billion market cap. Yet, on an inflation-adjusted basis, it still has way to go to be the most valuable company of all time. Microsoft’s market cap peak of $613 billion in 1999 translates to nearly $874 billion in 2014 dollars. When Microsoft was at the top, it was trading at 72 times earnings. Apple’s price-to-earnings ratio is currently 18, in line with the overall S&P. It’s a little tough to imagine what Apple will do in the future to match the growth they’ve experienced in the past.

The economy is better than you thought. The Commerce Department revised its estimate of third quarter gross domestic product from 3.5% up to 3.9%. There will be another revision before settling on a final number. Second quarter GDP came in at a 4.6% growth rate; combined second and third quarter GDP was the strongest back to back growth since 2003. Let’s break down the data.

A couple of key factors behind the increase include more consumer spending along with a little more business investment. Falling gas prices meant that people could go to the gas station and still have cash for other purchases. A separate report from the New York Fed show household debt balances also increased $78 billion in the third quarter at $11.7 trillion. Overall household debt still remains 7.6% below the 2008 peak of $12.7 trillion, but the increase was enough for the NY Fed to conclude that household deleveraging is over. Not so fast. The Conference Board reported that consumer confidence declined in November. The Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 88.7 from 94.1 in October. Consumers lowered their opinions on business conditions and the labor market. Maybe consumers are finished with deleveraging, or maybe they took on debt because wages haven’t kept pace with a growing economy.

Growth in domestic demand was revised up to a 3.2% pace in the third quarter instead of the previously reported 2.7% pace. Consumer spending grew at a 2.2% pace instead of the previously reported 1.8% rate.

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