Last week was a bit of a flashback to 2022 with bond yields weighing on stocks...getty
Despite the overall earnings picture improving, the S&P 500 fell by 1.1% for the week. There was little economic data, but rising yields weighed on stocks, especially growth stocks that had performed well year-to-date. According to FactSet, 69% of companies have exceeded earnings estimates, below the 10-year average of 73%. This week earnings season starts to ease, with only 60 S&P 500 companies scheduled to report.
Blended earnings, which combine actual with estimates of companies yet to report, are lower than forecasts at the end of the quarter but improved last week. The high earnings growth rate for the industrials is misleading since the airlines reported a loss in the fourth quarter of 2021 and posted a profit this quarter.
Consumer staples, real estate, health care, and materials remain the four sectors expected to post higher earnings than forecasted on December 30th. The energy sector earnings estimates held steady and retained the crown with the highest expected growth rate driven by increased energy prices, with expected earnings slated to increase by 58% year-over-year.
Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B+0.9% continued to buy shares of Occidental Petroleum OXY+3.8% (OXY) in 2022 and now owns over 20% of the company. A previous piece discussed why Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway likes its holdings in Occidental Petroleum.
Blended revenues improved again last week and are well above the expected level at the end of the quarter. Energy, industrials, real estate, consumer staples, health care, utilities, and consumer discretionary have better estimates than at the end of the quarter. Sales in the energy sector illustrate the robust increase in energy commodity prices.
With 69% of the earnings season complete, the blended earnings performance remains below expectations at the end of the quarter. Combining actual results with consensus estimates for companies yet to report, the blended earnings growth rate for the quarter strengthened to -4.9% year-over-year, below the expectation of -3.2% at the end of the quarter.
Despite the improvement in fourth-quarter earnings expectations, expected earnings growth for the calendar year 2023 declined again this week and now stands at 2.5% year-over-year.
The communications services sector was the most significant contributor to the improvement in blended earnings for the S&P 500. Earnings beats by Walt Disney DIS-2.1% (DIS) and Activision Blizzard ATVI+0.3% (ATVI) positively impacted the communications services sector. As discussed previously, margin pressures have become more evident, with sales coming in as expected but earnings disappointing during this fourth-quarter earnings season.
Outside of earnings season, comments by Federal Reserve Chair Powell left the path of future hikes as data-dependent. Fed statement combined with recent data pointing to a stronger-than-expected economy, including the breathtakingly robust jobs report, have boosted bond yields relatively rapidly. Since last year, rising bond yields have generally weighed on stocks; last week was no exception.
After the better economic data and Fedspeak, markets are pricing in two more short-term interest rate hikes of 25 basis points (0.25%) in March and May hikes, with one possible cut by January 2024. This week holds some meaningful reports for financial markets and rate hike expectations, January consumer inflation (CPI), and retail sales.
Though the more economically sensitive cyclical stocks underperformed last week, they have trounced staples since the beginning of the year. This market action in 2023 points to fewer worries about the recession currently being priced into the market.
Headline earnings improved last week but remained below estimates at the end of the quarter. Still, stocks have focused more on macroeconomic factors like higher bond yields and the rising odds that the U.S. might avoid recession.
Companies will remain particularly sensitive to forward guidance from companies while the threat of recession in 2023 remains. This week’s consumer inflation (CPI) and retail sales reports will be crucial as markets try to divine the path of interest rates and the economy.
Small business owners should do these four tasks as soon as possible in the new year...getty
Owning a small business is daunting, even for people with loads of management experience. Suddenly finding oneself “where the buck stops” can be anxiety inducing. The consequences of failure for some mistakes can affect more than just you (e.g., your staff or even your family) and can be expensive and time consuming to fix.
Whether you are a brand new business owner or someone who has had their business for a while but is constantly gobsmacked by the amount of administrative work that piles up when you are working on other tasks, Ronnie Goode—CPA-owner of Rhythm Accounting in Richmond, Virginia— says that taking some time in January to mark the following four items off of your “to do” list will reap rewards when it’s time to file your tax return.
1) Close Your Books For 2022
One of the first tasks small business owners should do (especially those who manage their own books) is to close their business books:
Categorize Transactions: Sort expenses into the proper accounts. It’s OK if you aren’t sure to use the “Ask My Accountant” option but try not to overuse it. If you have multiple income streams make sure that bank deposits are also coded by income stream so you can determine your business’ most profitable income sources.
Reconcile Bank Accounts: This task is often skipped by business owners who don’t have outside bookkeeping or accounting help but it is one of the most important year-end tasks to ensure balance sheets and other financial reports are accurate.
Generate Financial Reports: At a minimum your tax preparer (even if that is you) needs a detailed profit and loss statement (P&L) and, ideally, a balance sheet. If you have a CPA they will help you interpret your financial results. If you provide them with the necessary information early enough in tax season, they may even be able to help you with some last-minute, after year end tax planning.
2) Issue Forms 1099-NEC To Contractors And Subcontractors
If you paid more than $600 to a contractor or a subcontractor you have until January 31, 2023 to issue them a Form 1099-NEC. If you haven’t already received Form W9 from your contractors you will need to contact them to have them provide you with the form or the necessary information. Adopt the best practice of having new contractors complete their W9 before they begin work.
Make it a requirement for accepting the contract! It’s even a good idea to ask your regular contractors to complete a new Form W9 at the beginning of each calendar year just to make sure their business and contact information is up to date. Goode reminds business owners that the W9 is not necessary if the payments were issued to a corporation (e.g., the big box store from which you purchase your office supplies).
3) Issue Forms W2 To Employees
If you had any employees in 2022 you must issue their W2 on or before January 31, 2023. Goode notes that the simplest way to accomplish this is to use payroll-specific software or a payroll provider. Now is also a good time to check and make sure all payroll tax forms (Forms 941 and Form 940) have been or will be filed promptly and that all payroll taxes have been or will be paid.
4) Make Your Final Estimated Tax Payment
Goode reminds business owners that their final estimated tax payment for 2022 is due on January 17, 2023. He notes that the amount of estimated taxes you are required to pay is based on last year’s numbers. Sometimes, however, those numbers aren’t accurate. Adjusting quarterly estimates is one area where hiring an outside tax and accounting professional can really help taxpayers avoid problems.
For example, if a taxpayer has a bad quarter, the professional can help determine a lower estimate or if the business had an exceptionally good quarter the professional can determine if making a larger estimated payment will help avoid a nasty surprise come filing time.
Even if you are managing your own books, resolve to learn how estimated payment calculations are made and to look at your profit and loss quarterly to ensure you are not overpaying or grossly underpaying your estimated taxes. Finally, Goode reminds small business owners that “From a financial perspective, businesses have cycles that dictate not only how to move, but when to move.
Understanding these cycles can help [business owners] create a routine and a [financial] system for their business” that helps the business maximize profits while planning for the taxes. Remember, it’s never a good idea to spend money to save money on taxes. Spend money to make more money and plan for the taxes as you go!
LGBTQ rights have come a long way in the U.S. But the community still faces threats in the form of legalization, discrimination and even violence.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
After Lisa Smith, 60, was rejected for a Paycheck Protection Program loan that would have helped pay the utility bills at her business, she decidedto sell her house and move into the back storeroom of Compass Tea Room. The business is the only designated safe space for LGBTQ people in the small mountain town of Luray, Virginia, Smith said.....Claire Thornton
Paycheck Protection Program loan applications included a section where businesses could report being woman-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned. But the Small Business Administration, which administered PPP loans, did not include a section “for business owners to distinguish their businesses as LGBTQ-owned,” the SBA told USA TODAY in a statement.
“The lack of visibility of queer people really does mean that our concerns are overlooked,” said Spencer Watson, executive director of CLEAR. After 60 years of queer political activism, they said, “It’s time for our government institutions to wake up and realize that they need to support queer communities.”
Even if loan providers weren’t discriminating against businesses because of their LGBTQ ties, the percentage of businesses rejected for loans indicates underlying systemic economic discrimination, said Logan Casey, a policy researcher at MAP.
The report, published this summer, found a greater share of LGBTQ-owned small businesses (57%) applied for PPP loans during the pandemic, compared to non-LGBTQ-owned businesses (47%). But only 54% of LGBTQ-owned businesses got the funds they applied for, compared to 68% of non-LGBTQ-owned small businesses.
How Small Business Administration rule may ease LGBTQ biases in lending
In addition to being in poorer financial health, LGBTQ-owned small businesses were more likely to report they thought they were rejected for loans because “lenders do not approve financing for businesses like mine,” according to the report.
Historically, lenders have been prohibited from making loans to LGBTQ-related businesses, and that precedent is still affecting loan application decisions, Watson said. They pointed to a rule still on the books of the SBA that says businesses that get revenue from products or displays with a “prurient sexual nature” are not eligible for loans.
“You can imagine all these different scenarios where, if a person doesn’t approve of whatever it is, these broadly categorized and poorly defined restrictions give them a venue for covering the discrimination behind that decision,” Watson said.
If a loan provider is not familiar with LGBTQ culture or the LGBTQ community, they may also be less likely to grasp a business concept and more likely to reject a loan application, Watson said.
The Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives in 2021, would enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in credit and banking. The bill’s future in the equally-divided Senate is uncertain, even a year after it passed the House.
How financial discrimination can become ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’
When Lisa Smith, who owns Compass Tea Room in Luray, Virginia, was rejected in fall 2020 for a $2,500 PPP loan that would have helped pay utility bills, her best remaining option was to sell her home and move into the back storeroom of her business with her dog, Loki.
She was rejected by the SBA because she is her only employee and doesn’t have documentation of paychecks, she said. “Basically, my register is my ATM,” Smith said.
Money from the Paycheck Protection Program could have been used for “mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations,” according to the SBA‘s website.
“Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons” were eligible for the loans, as well as bigger companies, according to the SBA. But experts told USA TODAY that people who didn’t have much experience getting their businesses financed before the pandemic were at a disadvantage.
So when Smith, who identifies as queer, dipped into personal funds to keep her business open, she became part of a larger trend.
“Economic insecurity at higher levels in our community to start with, that makes for businesses being on rockier footing to start with. And then continuing to face that discrimination in financing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Casey said.
LGBTQ-owned small businesses that participated in the Federal Reserve Banks’ survey said they thought they were rejected because they had profitability issues, poor credit ora lack of paycheck documentation – like Smith, according to the report.
In general, banks were more willing to lend to more established and profitable businesses, which perpetuates the financial shakiness of businesses in marginalized communities, Watson said.
Banks “trusted their large partners” during the pandemic, leading to many loans being given to “large businesses that didn’t really need it but were probably good bets,” Watson said.
That’s one reason why “we’re seeing that these smaller LGBTQ-owned businesses didn’t maybe get as much,” Watson said.
Businesses that were able to get PPP loans are still eligible to have the loans forgiven, according to the SBA. But LGBTQ-owned small businesses also fared worse than their non-LGBTQ counterparts on forgiveness.
The report from CLEAR and MAP found 78% of LGBTQ-owned businesses got full forgiveness for the loans, compared to 88% of non-LGBTQ-owned businesses.
Because they didn’t get the financial support “they were owed,” Watson said, “LGBTQ-owned businesses are going to recover much more slowly from the pandemic and continue to suffer scars from this period.”
We’re all targeted by scam calls and spam emails, but one virtual vigilante decided to turn the tables by hacking the hackers. Jim Browning is not his real name, rather a secret identity. Working in IT by day, by night he’s a virtual vigilante hunting cyber criminals.
In response to endless spam emails and robocalls telling us we’re experiencing difficulties with an online banking or shopping account, Browning decided fight back. He lets himself be scammed then turns the tables.
If they’ve hacked into his machine, he can hack into theirs; find out where they’re from, call them by their real name – even have pictures of them displayed as his desktop background to give them a shock when they try to take control of his computer.
Browning makes videos of his crime fighting exploits and has hundreds of thousands of followers on YouTube. They are bizarrely gripping. The scams are often ingenious, easy to see why anyone could fall victim. Then just as a scammer thinks they’ve gotten away with a con, the power shifts as Browning has them on the ropes.
Cybercrime has escalated through the pandemic now that people, tech savvy or not, have to rely on the internet for almost everything. In 2021, 45 million people were targeted by scam calls and texts. Which? reported a 33 per cent rise in incidents with consumers conned out of £2.3 billion during that (largely locked down) year.
So The Big Issue meets Browning on Zoom, to delve into the dark world of cybercrime to understand how we can protect ourselves.
The Big Issue: Just who are you?
Jim Browning: I do have a proper day job. It’s in IT as you can probably imagine. I know about computers and networks and so on. My night time job is going after scammers and I put YouTube videos online about my exploits.
What’s the what’s the origin story of this superhero?
So unfortunately, it’s not like a Batman type story. I find scams fascinating, full stop. I work from home a fair bit, particularly over the last couple of years like a lot of people. I was getting of scam phone calls. The advice is usually, ignore them and hang up. But I thought with my background in IT, surely I could do something about these calls. They do have a weakness, which is the fact that they will try to connect to my computer. And when they do I can find out who these people are.
Do you get excited when you come across a new scam?Oh yeah, for sure. A lot of this scams are very scripted. So anytime I come across something new it’s definitely fascinating. I like different sorts of scams. I’m looking at a couple at the moment. You know, those letters you get from people who say you’ve won a fortune. It’s rare to get an insight into those types of scams, because normally, someone does all of this offline.
How long does it take to break a scam? How many hours does each video represent?
A lot of my evenings are taken up with this. In some ways, I’m fortunate because a lot of the scams are aimed at people in the USA, and their daytime is when they’re targeted so that is our evening. I probably spend too much time. But it’s a hobby so for me it’s time well spent.
Some scammers I’ve been watching for at least six months before I would put a video out about them. Whenever I do find relevant details about who’s running scams, I pass information to police in the hope that they will do something. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. All in all, it can take months and months of work to even get a video live.
Why is it difficult for police to take any action?
Most of the scams I uncover are from outside the UK. A lot of these call centres are based in India, there’s very little happens in that country. Anytime I do report it, it seems to be swept under the carpet. It can be quite frustrating.
The scams and the people behind them are clearly very intelligent, what sense do you have of perpetrators?
You get the odd one or two who will be open and honest with you. If you ask, look why are you doing this, it’s a scam, they will give you loads of different reasons. The main one is, India’s a poor country, high unemployment, low wages. If you get into a scam call centre, compared a legitimate business, you will be paid so much more. Now, you maybe get a fraction of what you scam but you earn an awful lot of money very quickly. And you can convince yourself that you’re stealing money from a very rich western country, I can see people doing that.
Everybody has their own story about why they got into it. But at the end of the day, it is really just greed. I can see what they do on their computers and there’s very few people who seem to be on the breadline.
What affect has the pandemic had on scams as more older and vulnerable people are using the internet with little experience?
Certainly older people are the prime target for most of these scam calls. I’ve seen scammers take lists and filter them for people over 60. That’s because they are the demographic most likely to fall for it. It is really just a numbers game for them. The vast majority of the day is people hanging up on them. But they will eventually get someone who’s vulnerable.
In the UK and US people are so used to receiving these calls, they know just to hang up immediately. Scammers are moving to other countries. I’m monitoring a group at the moment who are targeting the Czech Republic and Norway. And although they can’t speak Czech or Norwegian, they are still attempting the same scam in English in the hope that they can get people who are unaware.
The biggest scam call seems to be from people impersonating Amazon. Why can’t one of the richest companies do anything?
It used to be Microsoft a few years ago, now it is Amazon. They’re so prevalent. And I’m a little surprised Amazon aren’t trying the legal route to try and do something. I hear these phone calls all the time. Even if [a victim] doesn’t use Amazon what they’ll immediately say is, well someone has registered an Amazon account in your name using your details. Eventually they’ll want access to your computer.
You were recently victim of a scam yourself, does that show it really can happen to anyone?
Anyone can be scammed, the circumstances have to be right. Someone tried to take over my YouTube channel, basically to steal the revenue that you get. What this particular person did was impersonate Google, who own YouTube, and they were quite convincing. They’d found was a flaw in the chat services that Google offer and were able to make it look like a legitimate email. So initially, I did fall for this.
So the person was just trying to steal money, they weren’t someone out for revenge?
They didn’t even know who I was. I sent them a couple of links when I figured out it was a scam, said could you click on this and they did. I was able to find out where the scammer was based, in Turkey, but when he figured out that he wasn’t getting any money out of me, he disappeared.
Are you quite famous within this scammer community? In some videos you disguise your voice to sound like an old woman.
Yeah, I have to use that because scammers do recognize me. I can get access to scammers’ computers, see what they’re looking at on their screen, what they’re typing and some of them have been watching my videos. I have to change my voice. As the scammer is concerned, I’ll sound like an old woman. That helps me out quite a bit.
You’re taking part in a new BBC One show, Scam Interceptors.
I find it difficult to get the message through to the right people. I’ve been working with the BBC and there’s an organisation called the American Association of Retired People. For me, it’s never good enough to say do this, don’t do this. I think you actually have to see the scams running. And this programme shows it in intricate detail. You can see and hear the language that they use, the techniques they use, what people typically say and how the scammers respond. When you see it first-hand, it’s far more likely to sink in. The scams themselves will change over time but if something triggers in the back of your head, at least gives you a bit of doubt, it can only be a good thing.
If in doubt…?
That’s it. If you’re in any way doubtful, a real organisation will have no problem assuring you that they are who they say they are. They have to be able to tell you more than your name, address and phone number because that’ll be on the screen of every scammer. If they can’t give you a customer ID or a recent transaction I would always treat it with a lot of scepticism. If they want to keep you on the phone for any reason or if there’s a sense of urgency, it’s almost bound to be a scam. The best thing to do is hang up.
Could you have been hacking this computer as we were speaking?
I’m not as good as people could make out. Honestly, the only way that I can really get access to scammers is if they connect to my computer. Without that I’m just no good at all.
The stock market tanked on Friday despite the August jobs report coming in slightly lower than expected and dropping significantly from last month, which did little to ease investor concerns about more aggressive interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve plunging the economy into a recession.
Stocks gave up gains in the afternoon and turned negative: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.1%, over 300 points, while the S&P 500 lost 1.1% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite 1.3%.
Stocks initially opened higher after the U.S. economy added 315,000 jobs in August—slightly under the 318,000 expected by analysts and far lower than the 526,000 new jobs added in July, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday.
Though unemployment ticked up to 3.7% from 3.5%, the jobs market has remained strong despite slowing economic growth this year, which Fed officials have pointed to as evidence that the economy can withstand more aggressive rate hikes without falling into a recession.
The labor market is “less tight than it was in July” and “moving in the right direction for policymakers,” meaning that overall this is a “good report for those concerned about inflationary impacts of a tight labor market,” says Jeffrey Roach, chief economist for LPL Financial.
Despite the solid jobs data, stocks added to losses this week and continued to fall amid hawkish comments from Fed officials that the central bank will continue to raise interest rates well into next year and it would take some time before a reversal in monetary policy.
Many Wall Street experts now warn that the prospect of the Fed raising rates “higher for longer” could well spook markets into retesting their June lows, especially as September is historically the market’s worst month on record.
“The market is in a bad place in general – rising interest rates and too high inflation,” says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance. “The Fed is somewhat on autopilot for the near future – they will be hiking rates no matter what – but to the extent that the economic data comes in like this, it could take some pressure off of them in future meetings.”
Stocks finished higher on Thursday to kick off the month of September, which has historically been a rough one for markets. Still, all three major averages are set to post their third negative week in a row, continuing a slump that began in mid-August. Optimism about a potential Fed pivot, which was driving the rally earlier this summer, has faded—especially after comments from Fed chair Jerome Powell last week, who reiterated aggressive rate hikes for the foreseeable future.
Investors parsed through the latest jobs report showing U.S. hiring remained elevated in May. Nonfarm payrolls added 390,000 jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Economists expected 328,000 jobs added, according to Dow Jones. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3% in May, according to the BLS, slightly less than the consensus estimate of 0.4% and in line with April’s pace.
“Good news is bad news. … It reminds us that the Fed is still the swing factor, at least in investor emotion,” Mark Hackett, Nationwide’s chief of investment research, said. Traders selling stocks likely reacted to the move higher in rates with fears of the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy at the forefront. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield climbed after the report, above the 2.9% level.
“Numbers this strong would likely reverse any hopes the Fed would consider a pause in rate hikes after the June/July increases, because it would signal the labor market remains very tight,” Tom Essaye of the Sevens Report said. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester later Friday said she supports aggressive rate hikes ahead, as she has not seen enough evidence that inflation has peaked.
“I don’t want to declare victory on inflation before I see really compelling evidence that our actions are beginning to do the work in bringing down demand in better balance with aggregate supply,” Mester said on CNBC’s “The Exchange.” Investors fear higher rates could slow the economy too much and tip it into a recession. Higher yields also discount the value of future earnings, which can make stocks look less attractive, especially growth and tech names.
Technology shares retreated Friday amid the rising rates. Micron Technology fell 7.2%, and Nvidia lost about 4.5%. Mega-cap tech names Google-parent Alphabet and Meta Platforms declined roughly 2.6% and 4.1%, respectively. Apple pulled back about 3.9% after a cautious research note from Morgan Stanley. The firm said slowing App Store growth could hurt the company in the near-term.
Tesla shares fell 9.2% after Reuters reported, citing an internal email, that CEO Elon Musk wants to cut 10% of jobs at the car maker. According to Reuters’ report, Musk also said in the email that he has a “super bad” feeling about the economy. The comments from Musk come after warnings from other bellwether companies this week. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Wednesday said he expects an economic “hurricane” ahead amid the war in Ukraine and the Fed’s tightening regime.
On Thursday, Microsoft cut its earnings and revenue guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter, citing unfavorable foreign exchange rates. This week’s decline comes in spite of a strong session Thursday and after a winning prior week. “We have transitioned pretty demonstrably from a ‘buy the dip’ world last year to a ‘sell the rally.’ Last week was a rally, this week is a bit of a pullback. Yesterday was a rally, today’s a pullback,” Nationwide’s Hackett said. “It’s very hard to have consecutive weeks or consecutive days of strength because there’s so much worry that people use any piece of good news as a chance to sell,” he added.
Companies in focus
Tesla Inc.TSLA, -2.51% Chief Executive Elon Musk said Monday he is aiming to get the electric-vehicle maker’s self-driving technology ready by year-end, and said he hopes it could quickly be in wide release in the U.S. and even Europe depending on regulatory approval, Reuters reported. Shares finished down by 1.1%.
Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.BBBY, -0.92% closed 25% higher and bucked the broader market’s selloff as meme-stock investors expressed optimism ahead of the home-goods retailer’s strategic update.
On Monday, Boeing Co.BA, -1.20% announced an order from United Parcel Service Inc.UPS, -0.28% for eight more 767 Freighters. That would bring package delivery giant UPS’s fleet of 767 Freighters to 108. Boeing shares ended 0.5% higher.
Oil futures rallied, with October WTI crude CLV22, +0.44% rising $3.95, or 4.2%, to settle at $97.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, gold futures for December delivery lost a dime to settle at $1,749.70 an ounce.