Take heart: upward revisions to US growth on the way
Cheer up: upward revisions to second quarter U.S. growth are coming.
June trade balance figures showed the deficit narrowed considerably, to $34.2 billion from expectations of about $43 billion — the smallest since October 2009. It appears exports were much stronger than expected, along with a cut in oil imports.
This is a big positive for gross domestic product (GDP). Initial Q2 GDP, out last week, was up 1.7 percent. This number is likely to increase that early read, perhaps to as high as 2.2 percent. Can export growth be maintained? Is it the start of a trend of more positive export data for the U.S.? Much will depend on whether Europe and China will show improvement.
1) Is there a recovery building in Europe? Strong manufacturing numbers in the U.K., up 1.9 percent, were well above projections. Several recent UK data points have been stronger than expected. UK car sales were up 12.7 percent. House prices are rising at the fastest in nearly 3 years. Retail sales have also been stronger than expected.
2) Still, growth remains the big problem. Parker Hannifin CEO Don Washkewicz: "Our current outlook is that throughout fiscal 2014, global macro-economic conditions will remain relatively flat."
But some are more optimistic. Emerson CEO David Farr: The near-term is expected to remain slow, but orders growth has resumed, suggesting the economic environment is beginning to stabilize and improve."
4) Are analysts getting less bullish? Today, Credit Suisse downgraded IBM to underperform, noting weakening free cash flow. Like Qualcomm, IBM is a fan of analysts. Of 15 analysts who follow IBM, 8 have Buy or Overweight ratings, 7 have Hold, and none (until today) had either "Sell" or "Underperform."
Is this the start of a trend with big momentum stocks? Yesterday, Piper Jaffray downgraded QCOM to Neutral. That was also a rarity: of the 32 analysts who track the stock, there are only 5 others who had a "Hold" rating, and only one "Sell." All the others were either "Buy" or "Overweight."
5) NYSE-ICE deal update. Intercontinental Exchange reported earnings and revenues above expectations. CEO Jeff Sprecher said the New York Stock Exchange deal will likely close this fall, and they will introduce a $300 million dividend after the merger is finalized.
6) President Obama will give a speech on the mortgage business today. He will propose that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should eventually be dismantled. There are already plans in Congress to do exactly that, and replace them with an agency modeled after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani