The Pulse – What’s happening in the Economy and the Capital Markets: 9/14/20 – 9/18/20


Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Pulse – What’s happening in the Economy and the Capital Markets: 9/14/20 – 9/18/20

Executive Summary

The economic recovery is still positive, but the pace is slowing. Friday’s Leading Economic Indicators index increased just 1.2%, below expectations and the lowest since April. Industrial and Retail Sales data told a similar story –below expectations and below the prior month’s reading.

The Stock Market – The financial markets were mixed as investors rotated into smaller and more economically cyclical stocks, signaling they see the US recovery maintaining strength past the election.

Economic Data – Jobless claims improved after last week’s bad reading, but still high by historical standards. PUA decreased and Consumer Confidence was up from August.

This Week’s Focus: Transportation – US ports are showing improvements, but gas demand has flatlined.

Top Headlines – The biggest software IPO ever, BP reports on oil demand and Lumber is COVIDs latest victim.

For greater analysis and our perspectives on last week’s economic data read on.

The Markets

The Market continues to rotate with small caps, industrials and materials doing best which is a vote of confidence for a US economic rebound. International and Emerging markets continue to perform.

Developed Emerging

This big news this week was the IPO of Snowflake, a cloud data platform company, which valued the company at $70 billion, a huge jump compared to its prior valuation of $12.5 billion earlier this year. Revenue for 2021 is estimated at $1 billion, putting the forward multiple on revenue at 70x.

Private Equity: US middle-market deal value dove 18.5% in 1H, however fundraising remained healthy, and deal volume started to pick up toward the end of the period. (link)

The Economic News

The Weekly Economic Index is showing moderation in the pace of the recovery.

The Leading Economic Indicators point to continued expansion (>0), but at a slower pace

High Frequency Data

 The high frequency data – a few highlights:

  1. Jobless claims (Initial and Continuing) improved after a bad reading last week. The overall levels are still exceedingly high by historical Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (not shown) also decreased.
  2. With school back in session, the rebound in travel is losing momentum – Hotel and Air travel are down week over week and month over month as business travel remains

Additionally, this week had the release of key economic data related to:


  • Consumer Confidence Index was better than expected and up compared to


  • Housing starts were below expectations and down vs
  • Building permits had similar economic data to housing starts.
  • Homebuilders’ Index was better than expected and increases August.


  • Industrial Production was weaker than expected and down significantly vs.
  • Capacity Utilization was in-line with expectations and better than

Focus of the Week – Transportation

Trends in Transportation can provide insight into the pace of the economy, as inventories and finished goods need to be shipped from manufacturing facilities and distribution centers, and increasingly, eCommerce warehouses.

Activity at US Ports are showing improvements off the May 2020 bottom. As trade with Asia increases, this activity should too.

US Ports Total Container Activity Year over Year

 Meanwhile, domestic shipping activity has rebounded strongly off the April bottom to the highest levels this year.

Cass Freight Index – Shipments

 Yet the recovery in overall miles driven and gas demand has flatlined after the core of the summer driving months.

Gas Demand – barrels per day

 A Few Stories that Caught My Eye

  • The Snowflake IPO – the biggest software IPO ever (link)
  • Where did the wood go? Lumber and building products are the latest COVID victims (link)
  • BP says we may have already reached “peak oil demand” and is shifting its strategy (link)


Investment advisory services are offered by Aprio Wealth Management, LLC, a Securities and Exchange Commission Registered Investment Advisor. Opinions expressed are as of the current date (February 26, 2020) and subject to change without notice. Aprio Wealth Management, LLC shall not be responsible for any trading decisions, damages, or other losses resulting from, or related to, the information, data, analyses or opinions contained herein or their use, which do not constitute investment advice, are provided as of the date written, are provided solely for informational purposes and therefore are not an offer to buy or sell a security. This commentary is for informational purposes only and has not been tailored to suit any individual. References to specific securities or investment options should not be considered an offer to purchase or sell that specific investment.

This commentary contains certain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results to differ materially and/or substantially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by those projected in the forward-looking statements for any reason.

No graph, chart, or formula in this presentation can be used in and of itself to determine which securities to buy or sell, when to buy or sell securities, whether to invest using this investment strategy, or whether to engage Aprio Wealth Management, LLC’s investment advisory services.

Investments in securities are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Prices of securities may fluctuate from time to time and may even become valueless. Any securities mentioned in this commentary are not FDIC-insured, may lose value, and are not guaranteed by a bank or other financial institution. Before making any investment decision, investors should read and consider all the relevant investment product information. Investors should seriously consider if the investment is suitable for them by referencing their own financial position, investment objectives, and risk profile before making any investment decision. There can be no assurance that any financial strategy will be successful.

Securities offered through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Aprio Wealth Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Aprio Wealth Management, LLC and the Aprio Group of Companies are not affiliated with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments.