Category Archives: Business

April 2019 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook Survey – Notable Excerpts

On April 17, 2019 the April 2019 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook was released.  It contains a variety of statistics regarding how CFOs view business and economic conditions.

In this CFO survey press release, I found the following to be the most notable excerpts – although I don’t necessarily agree with them:

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. CFOs believe that the U.S. will be in recession by the third quarter of 2020, and 84 percent believe that a recession will have begun by the first quarter of 2021. The survey found 38 percent of CFOs predicting recession by the first quarter of 2020.

also:

The survey asked the CFOs which economic variables will provide the most accurate indication that their own firms are experiencing a slow-down. Almost half (47 percent) of CFOs said they consider GDP growth to be one of the three most important indicators of their own firm’s fortunes. Consumer spending (39 percent), commodity prices (31 percent) and interest rates (29 percent) were also highly ranked indicators.

also:

CFOs expect their capital spending and revenue to increase by 5 percent over the next 12 months. CFOs predict hiring to increase by 2 percent and wages to grow by 3 percent.

The CFO survey contains two Optimism Index charts, with the bottom chart showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 65, as seen below:

Duke CFO Optimism chart

It should be interesting to see how well the CFOs predict business and economic conditions going forward.   I discussed past various aspects of this, and the importance of these predictions, in the July 9, 2010 post titled “The Business Environment”.

(past posts on CEO and CFO surveys can be found under the “CFO and CEO Confidence” tag)

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2900.45 as this post is written

CEO Confidence Surveys 1Q 2019 – Notable Excerpts

On April 4, 2019, The Conference Board released the 1st Quarter Measure Of CEO Confidence.   The overall measure of CEO Confidence was at 43, up from 42 in the fourth quarter. [note:  a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses]

Notable excerpts from this April 4, 2019 Press Release include:

CEOs remain pessimistic about current economic conditions, with just 14 percent saying conditions are better compared to six months ago, down from 21 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, about 46 percent say conditions are worse, up from 39 percent in Q4 2018. CEOs were also more negative about current conditions in their own industries compared to six months ago. Currently, just 12 percent say conditions are better, down from 21 percent last quarter. However, those who say conditions have worsened rose moderately, from 35 percent last quarter to 37 percent.

Looking ahead, CEOs’ expectations regarding the economic outlook have improved slightly from last quarter. Some 14 percent now expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, up from 12 percent in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, about 42 percent expect economic conditions will worsen, down from 52 percent last quarter. CEOs’ expectations regarding short-term prospects in their own industries over the next six months were also moderately less pessimistic. Now, 19 percent anticipate an improvement in conditions, up from 14 percent last quarter. Moreover, 37 percent expect conditions will worsen, down from 44 percent in the fourth quarter.

Last month, the Business Roundtable also released its CEO Economic Outlook Survey for the 1st Quarter of 2019.   Notable excerpts from the March 19 release, titled “Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index Softens, Remains Above Historical Average“:

The CEO Economic Outlook Index decreased to 95.2 in the first quarter of 2019, a decrease of 9.2 points from the previous quarter. Despite this decrease, the Index surpassed its historical average of 82.4. This marks the ninth consecutive quarter where the Index has exceeded the historical average, signaling a continued positive direction for the U.S. economy.

also:

In their second estimate of 2019 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 2.5 percent growth for the year, down from their 2.7 percent estimate in the previous quarter.

Additional details can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2895.77 as this post is written

Corporate Profits As A Percentage Of GDP

In the last post (“4th Quarter 2018 Corporate Profits“) I displayed, for reference purposes, a long-term chart depicting Corporate Profits After Tax.

There are many ways to view this measure, both on an absolute as well as relative basis.

One relative measure is viewing Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP.  I feel that this metric is important for a variety of reasons.  As well, the measure is important to a variety of parties, including investors, businesses, and government policy makers.

As one can see from the long-term chart below (updated through the fourth quarter), (After Tax) Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP is at levels that can be seen as historically (very) high.  While there are many reasons as to why this is so, from a going-forward standpoint I think it is important to recognize both that such a notable condition exists, as well as contemplate and/or plan for such factors and conditions that would come about if (and in my opinion “when”) a more historically “normal” ratio of Corporate Profits as a Percentage of GDP occurs.  This topic can be very complex in nature, and depends upon myriad factors.  In my opinion it deserves far greater recognition.

(click on chart to enlarge image)

After-Tax Corporate Profits As A Percentage Of GDP

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed March 28, 2019

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2816.08 as this post is written

4th Quarter 2018 Corporate Profits

Today’s (March 28, 2019) GDP release (Q4 2018,Third Estimate) was accompanied by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Corporate Profits report (Preliminary Estimate) for the 4th Quarter.

Of course, there are many ways to adjust and depict overall Corporate Profits.  For reference purposes, here is a chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve (FRED) showing the Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj) (last updated March 28, 2019, with a value of $1946.013 Billion SAAR):

Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj) chart

Here is the Corporate Profits After Tax measure shown on a Percentage Change from a Year Ago perspective:

Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj) Percent Change From Year Ago chart

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Corporate Profits After Tax [CP]; U.S. Department of Commerce: Bureau of Economic Analysis; accessed March 28, 2019; https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CP

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2809.35 as this post is written

Deloitte “CFO Signals” Report Q1 2019 – Notable Aspects

Recently Deloitte released their “CFO Signals” “High-Level Summary” report for the 1st Quarter of 2019.

As seen in page 2 of the report, there were 158 survey respondents.  As stated:

“Each quarter (since 2Q10), CFO Signals has tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs representing many of North America’s largest and most influential companies.

All respondents are CFOs from the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the vast majority are from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. For a summary of this quarter’s response demographics, please see the sidebars and charts on this page. For other information about participation and methodology, please contact [email protected]

Here are some of the excerpts that I found notable:

from page 3:

Perceptions

How do you regard the status of the North American, European, and Chinese economies? Perceptions of North America declined, with 80% of CFOs rating current conditions as good (down from 88% last quarter), and 28% expecting better conditions in a year (even with last quarter). Perceptions of Europe declined to just 16% and 8%; China slid to 20% and 16%. Page 6.

What is your perception of the capital markets? Seventy percent of CFOs say debt financing is attractive (up from 62%). Equity financing attractiveness fell for both public (from 35% to 25%) and private (37% to 27%) company CFOs. Just 46% now say US equities are overvalued—a three-year low. Page 7.

Sentiment

Overall, what external/internal risks worry you the most? CFOs express even stronger concerns about trade policies/tariffs, economic risks/slowdowns, and US political turmoil. Talent is again the dominant internal concern. Page 8.

Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your company? The net optimism index rebounded from last quarter’s dismal +3 to +16 this quarter—better, but still the third-lowest reading in three years. Thirty-two percent of CFOs express rising optimism (26% last quarter), and 16% express declining optimism (23% last quarter). Page 9.

Expectations

What is your company’s business focus for the next year? CFOs indicate a bias toward revenue growth over cost reduction (51% vs. 25%); investing cash over returning it (46% vs. 19%); current offerings over new ones (40% vs. 36%); and current geographies over new ones (64% vs. 12%). Page 10.

How do you expect your key operating metrics to change over the next 12 months? YOY revenue growth expectations fell from 5.5% to 4.8%, earnings growth slid from 7.3% to 7.1%, capital spending rose from 5.0% to 5.9%, and hiring fell from 3.2% to 2.1% (all sit below their two-year averages). Dividend growth declined from 4.5% to 3.9%, the lowest level since 4Q17. Page 11.

Special topic: Downturn planning and Washington policy focus

Where does your company stand with respect to downturn planning? Nearly 85% of CFOs say they expect a US downturn by the end of 2020, and they overwhelmingly expect a slowdown rather than a recession. A minority say they have detailed defensive or opportunistic plans. Pages 12-13.

If you believe a downturn will occur, what is driving your belief? CFOs were most likely to cite US trade policy, business and credit cycles, and the impacts of slowing growth in China and Europe on the US economy. Page 12.

What defensive actions will your company take? The most common actions involve reducing spending and limiting or reducing headcount. Page 14.

In which policy areas would your company like to see Washington provide clarity/change first? CFOs overwhelmingly rate trade policy the most important policy area, with infrastructure investment a distant second. Page 15.

from page 9:

Sentiment

Optimism regarding own-companies’ prospects

Own-company optimism rebounded from last quarter’s 10-quarter low, but it remains at one of its lowest levels in three years. The proportion citing “no change” reached a new survey high— likely a negative sign given last quarter’s strong pessimism. 

Last quarter’s net optimism declined sharply to just +3—the lowest reading since 1Q16. This quarter it rose to +16, but it still represents the third-lowest reading in three years. Thirty-two percent of CFOs expressed rising optimism (up from 26%), and 16% cited declining optimism (down from 23%).

Net optimism for the US improved from last quarter’s +9 to +19—still its second-lowest level in more than two years. Canada rebounded from last quarter’s dismal -36 to +25. Mexico fell again and is at its lowest point since 1Q17 at -60.

Manufacturing, Retail/Wholesale, and Healthcare/Pharma were comparatively pessimistic (all at zero). Financial Services and Services were much stronger, with both above +30.

Please see the full report for industry-specific charts. Note that industry sample sizes vary markedly and that the means are most volatile for the least-represented. Due to a very small sample size, T/M/E was not used as a comparison point this quarter.

from page 11:

Expectations

Growth in key metrics, year-over-year

Expectations for revenue, earnings, dividends, hiring, and wages all declined (only capital spending rose), and all metrics sit below their two-year averages.

Revenue growth declined from 5.5% to 4.8%, one of its lowest levels in two years. The US fell to a two-year low. Canada rose, but is below its two year average. Mexico declined and is below its two-year average. Technology and Energy/Resources lead; Manufacturing and Retail/Wholesale trail.

Earnings growth declined from 7.3% to 7.1%, a two-year low. The US fell to a two-year low. Canada improved, but sits at its second-lowest level in three years. Mexico remained near its two-year average. Retail/Wholesale and Healthcare/ Pharma are highest; Manufacturing is lowest.

Capital spending growth rose from 5.0% to 5.9%, but is still the second lowest level in two years. The US rose, but sits at its second-lowest level in two years. Mexico rose sharply but remains below its two-year average. Canada rose above its two-year average. Healthcare/Pharma and Retail/ Wholesale are highest; Manufacturing is lowest.

Domestic personnel growth fell from 3.2% to 2.1%, the second-lowest level in two years. The US fell to its lowest level in more than a year. Canada declined to near its two-year average; Mexico fell to a five-year low. Services and Technology lead; Energy/Resources trails.

Dividend growth declined from 4.5% to 3.9%, the lowest level since 4Q17.

Please see the full report for industry-specific charts. Note that industry sample sizes vary markedly and that the means are most volatile for the least-represented. Due to a very small sample size, T/M/E was not used as a comparison point this quarter.

Among the various charts and graphics in the report are graphics depicting trends in “Own Company Optimism” on page 9 and “Economic Optimism” found on page 6.

_____

I post various business and economic surveys because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2805.37 as this post is written

NFIB Small Business Optimism – February 2019

The February NFIB Small Business Optimism report was released today, March 12, 2019. The headline of the Economic Trends report is “Optimism Stabilizes Among Small Business Owners.”

The Index of Small Business Optimism increased in February by .5 points to 101.7.

Here is an excerpt that I find particularly notable (but don’t necessarily agree with):

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index improved modestly in February, increasing 0.5 points to 101.7. Views about future business conditions and the current period as a good time to expand improved as did plans to make capital outlays.  Earnings trends weakened, as a million laid off workers and others affected by the shutdown cut back on spending. The loss of sales falls right to the bottom line. Worker compensation and selling prices were lower in February than they were in January, but job openings rebounded remaining at historically high levels. The Uncertainty Index fell 1 point to 85, a small decline but still showing a lot of residual uncertainty from the government shutdown.

Here is a chart of the NFIB Small Business Optimism chart, as seen in the March 12 post on the Doug Short site titled “NFIB Small Business Survey…“:

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

Further details regarding small business conditions can be seen in the full February 2019 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends (pdf) report.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2795.51 as this post is written

Deloitte “CFO Signals” Report Q4 2018 – Notable Aspects

Recently Deloitte released their “CFO Signals” “High-Level Summary” report for the 4th Quarter of 2018.

As seen in page 2 of the report, there were 147 survey respondents.  As stated:

“Each quarter (since 2Q10), CFO Signals has tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs representing many of North America’s largest and most influential companies.

All respondents are CFOs from the US, Canada, and Mexico, and the vast majority are from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. For a summary of this quarter’s response demographics, please see the sidebars and charts on this page. For other information about participation and methodology, please contact [email protected]

Here are some of the excerpts that I found notable:

from page 3:

Perceptions

How do you regard the status of the North American, European, and Chinese economies? Perceptions of North America declined, with 88% of CFOs rating current conditions as good (down from 89% last quarter), and 28% expecting better conditions in a year (down from 45%, and a five-year low). Perceptions of Europe declined markedly to 23% and 7% (from 32% and 23%), and China also declined sharply to 24% and 12% (from 37% and 27%). Page 6.

What is your perception of the capital markets? A four-year-low 62% of CFOs say debt financing is attractive (73% last quarter). Attractiveness of equity financing fell for public company CFOs (from 42% to 35%) and also for private company CFOs (53% to 37%). Sixty-five percent of CFOs now say US equities are overvalued—down from last quarter’s 71%. Page 7.

Sentiment

Overall, what risks worry you the most? Following the US midterm elections, external risks have become an even stronger focus. CFOs express concerns about trade policy and political turmoil, and rising worries about economic growth. Talent is again the top internal concern. Page 8.

Compared to three months ago, how do you feel about the financial prospects for your company? The net optimism index fell drastically from last quarter’s +36 to just +3 this quarter—the lowest reading in nearly three years. Just 26% of CFOs express rising optimism (48% last quarter), and 23% express declining optimism (12% last quarter). Page 9.

Expectations

What is your company’s business focus for the next year? CFOs indicate a smaller bias toward growth over cost reduction (50% vs. 21%) and a lower bias toward investing cash over returning it (48% vs. 18%). The bias toward current offerings over new ones shifted toward new (43% vs. 40%), and the bias toward current geographies over new ones decreased (60% vs. 17%). Page 10.

Compared to the past 12 months, how do you expect your key operating metrics to change over the next 12 months? Revenue growth expectations declined from 6.1% to 5.5%, and earnings growth declined from 8.1% to 7.3% (their lowest levels in one and two years, respectively). Capital investment slid from 9.4% to just 5.0% (the lowest level in two years). Domestic hiring rose from 2.7% to 3.2% (matching its survey high). Dividend growth fell from last quarter’s very high 7.4% back to 4.5% (the two-year average). Page 11.

Special topic: Economic, capital markets, and company expectations

What are your expectations for the macroeconomy in 2019? The vast majority of CFOs do not expect the US, Canadian, or Mexican economies to improve, and 55% expect a US recession by 2020. Expectations for business spending declined sharply, and those for labor costs rose. Page 12.

from page 9:

Sentiment

Optimism regarding own-companies’ prospects

Optimism plummeted to its lowest level in nearly three years, with all countries registering some of their lowest-ever readings. CFOs citing declining optimism nearly matched the proportion citing rising optimism.

Net optimism declined very sharply, from last quarter’s +36 to just +3—the lowest reading since 1Q16, and the third straight decline. Just 26% of CFOs expressed rising optimism (down from 48%), and 23% cited declining optimism (up from 12%).

Net optimism for the US reached its lowest point since 1Q16 at +9. Canada fell to a new survey low at -36, and Mexico fell to its lowest point since 1Q17 at -43. 

Sentiment declined for nearly all industries. The strongest gains were in Technology, which rose from +17 to +25 following last quarter’s sharp decline. Sentiment fell most sharply in Manufacturing (to a 7-year low), Healthcare/Pharma, and Services.

Please see the full report for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

from page 11:

Expectations

Growth in key metrics, year-over-year

Expectations for sales, earnings, and capital spending declined and are at or below their two-year averages. Expectations for hiring and wages rose. Retail/Wholesale and Technology are the relative bright spots.

Revenue growth declined from 6.1% to 5.5%, even with its two-year average. All three countries declined to their lowest levels in a year, with the US and Mexico still above their two-year averages and Canada below. Technology and Energy/Resources lead; Manufacturing and Healthcare/Pharma trail.

Earnings growth declined from 8.1% to 7.3%, its lowest level since 4Q16. The US fell below its two-year average. Canada fell to its lowest level since 3Q15, and Mexico rose slightly. T/M/E and Technology are highest; Financial Services and Healthcare/Pharma are lowest.

Capital spending growth declined sharply from 9.4% to 5.0%, a two-year low. The US and Mexico fell to their lowest levels since 4Q16; Canada declined sharply to its lowest level in a year. Retail/Wholesale and Services are highest; Energy/Resources and Manufacturing are lowest.

Domestic personnel growth rose from 2.7% to 3.2%, again above its two-year average. The US rose to just below its survey high. Canada rose to well above its two-year average; Mexico rose to an eight-year high. Retail/Wholesale and Technology lead; Financial Services and T/M/E trail.

Dividend growth declined sharply from 7.4% to 4.5%, erasing last quarter’s marked uptick.

Please see the full report for charts specific to individual industries and countries.

Among the various charts and graphics in the report are graphics depicting trends in “Own Company Optimism” on page 9 and “Economic Optimism” found on page 6.

_____

I post various business and economic surveys because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2596.64 as this post is written

CEO Confidence Surveys 4Q 2018 – Notable Excerpts

On January 3, 2019, The Conference Board released the 4th Quarter Measure Of CEO Confidence.   The overall measure of CEO Confidence was at 42, down from 55 in the third quarter. [note:  a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses]

Notable excerpts from this January 3, 2019 Press Release include:

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions turned pessimistic in the fourth quarter, with only 21 percent saying conditions are better compared to six months ago, down from 49 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, about 39 percent say conditions are worse, up from less than 8 percent in the prior quarter. CEOs were also much more negative about current conditions in their own industries compared to six months ago. Now, just 21 percent say conditions are better, down from 31 percent last quarter, while those who say conditions have worsened rose to 35 percent, up from 25 percent last quarter.

Looking ahead, CEOs’ expectations regarding the economic outlook have also turned negative. Now, just 12 percent expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months, down from 23 percent in the third quarter. Meanwhile, about 54 percent expect economic conditions will worsen, compared to 22 percent last quarter. CEOs’ expectations regarding short-term prospects in their own industries over the next six months were also more pessimistic. Now, only 14 percent anticipate an improvement in conditions, down from 22 percent last quarter, while 44 percent expect conditions to worsen, up from 19 percent in the third quarter.

Last month, the Business Roundtable also released its CEO Economic Outlook Survey for the 4th Quarter of 2018.   Notable excerpts from the December 7 release, titled “Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Remains Strong“:

Declining 4.9 points from 109.3 in the third quarter of 2018, the Q4 2018 CEO Economic Outlook Index of 104.4 ranks among the top 10 percent of all readings in the survey’s 16-year history and is well above the historical average of 82.1. This is the eighth straight quarter where the Index has exceeded its historical average, signaling a continued positive direction for the U.S. economy.

also:

In their first estimate of 2019 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 2.7 percent growth for the year ahead.

Additional details can be seen in the sources mentioned above.

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2584.96 as this post is written

December 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook Survey – Notable Excerpts

On December 12, 2018 the December 2018 Duke/CFO Global Business Outlook was released.  It contains a variety of statistics regarding how CFOs view business and economic conditions.

In this CFO survey press release, I found the following to be the most notable excerpts – although I don’t necessarily agree with them:

Nearly half (48.6 percent) of U.S. CFOs believe that the nation’s economy will be in recession by the end of 2019, and 82 percent believe that a recession will have begun by the end of 2020. 

also:

In 2019, CFOs expect sub-3% growth for the U.S. economy, with accompanying capital spending and employment growth of about 3 percent. 

also:

Moreover, their forecasts are skewed to the downside, with a one-in-ten chance that annual real growth will be a meager 0.6 percent. In this worst-case scenario, CFOs would expect their capital spending to fall by 1.3 percent and for hiring to remain flat.

The CFO survey contains two Optimism Index charts, with the bottom chart showing U.S. Optimism (with regard to the economy) at 66, as seen below:

CFO Optimism

It should be interesting to see how well the CFOs predict business and economic conditions going forward.   I discussed past various aspects of this, and the importance of these predictions, in the July 9, 2010 post titled “The Business Environment”.

(past posts on CEO and CFO surveys can be found under the “CFO and CEO Confidence” tag)

_____

I post various economic forecasts because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with many of the consensus estimates and much of the commentary in these forecast surveys.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2664.75 as this post is written

NFIB Small Business Optimism – November 2018

The November NFIB Small Business Optimism report was released today, December 11, 2018. The headline of the Economic Trends report is “Small Business Optimism Remains Historically HIgh In November.”

The Index of Small Business Optimism decreased in November by 2.6 points to 104.8.

Here is an excerpt that I find particularly notable (but don’t necessarily agree with):

Small business optimism posted a modest decline in November with a reading of 104.8, while continuing its exceptionally strong two-year trend, according to the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index. Slightly more than half of the decline was attributable to Expected Business Conditions and Expected Real Sales. Increases in compensation tied a near 30-year high as owners seek to attract more qualified candidates. An increasing percentage of owners reported capital outlays and higher sales.

Here is a chart of the NFIB Small Business Optimism chart, as seen in the December 11 Doug Short post titled “NFIB Small Business Survey…“:

NFIB Small Business Optimism Survey

Further details regarding small business conditions can be seen in the full November 2018 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends (pdf) report.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2646.95 as this post is written