Is the economy heating up? Scott Wren, the Managing Director and Senior Global Equity Strategist for Wells Fargo thinks it’s starting to. At the January 30th Pasco County Economic Development Council’s Business Development Week Luncheon, Scott Wren gave a presentation on major macro themes, consumer spending trends, building permit trends, leading economic indicators, and expectations for equity performance this year. In case you weren’t able to make it to the presentation, we’ve summarized a few of Mr. Wren’s key points below.
- Major macro indicators are making modest gains in 2015. Indicators such as GDP, the consumer price index, earnings growth, and the S&P all appear to be making modest gains this year but nothing to get too excited about. Although our 3.0% GDP growth estimate for 2015 is considered average, we should be a little thankful that we’re not experiencing the deflation that Europe is.
- Consumer spending reached a 7.5 year high. Consumer spending and retail sales are good indicators of how much confidence consumers have in the market place. When economic times are rough, and people begin tightening their spending, retail takes a hit. The fact that consumer confidence is higher than it has been in years is a good indication that people are feeling better about the economy and their retail spending proves it.
- The number of building permits is increasing. As consumer spending has been increasing, so have the amount of building permits obtained. Although housing is not back to the levels reached in 2004-2005, the amount of building permits has slowly risen since 2010 and looks to be improving even more in 2015.
- Firms are investing in infrastructure. When the economy was struggling, many companies put large infrastructure projects on hold until the economy showed signs of improvement. Companies are now going forward with the infrastructure projects they put on hold several years ago and market sectors such as software and communications are poised to see a big improvement this year.
Mr. Wren wrapped up his presentation describing a few indicators which could affect equity performance in a positive way this year. These included:
- The Chinese economy does better than we expect.
- The European economy improves more than expected.
- Business and consumer confidence continue to improve more than estimated projections.
The economy is showing signs of slow and steady growth in 2015. Although the growth is not as much as some people in the A/E/C industry would like, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.