October 12, 2017// Boston, MA – Equity markets expressed persistent optimism in the third quarter, climbing steadily in the face of geopolitical tension and policy uncertainty. Even amid two of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history, many market participants seemed to focus only on the stimulatory potential of rebuilding activity. While recognizing the economic opportunities posed by recent events, we believe that a close scrutiny of current and historical data trends justifies a more moderate outlook.
U.S. GDP growth in the second quarter captured some of the delayed activity that caused weak first quarter growth, jumping from 1.2% to 3.1%. While growth in the third quarter, and the overall trend, is likely to come in between these two numbers, other economic data has been harder to interpret. A record-breaking hurricane season, by both interrupting businesses and prompting rebuilding and restocking activity, has been amplifying the noise in unemployment, inventory, shipping, and other data.