Adults of a certain age remember the Saturday morning cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, who, in frantic pursuit of the Road Runner, would run straight off a cliff and continue to pump his legs in midair ... until he glanced around, gulped, and plunged straight down.
Likewise, the overvalued stock market, which has been running on fumes all year, continues to defy gravity. But for how long? Below, we highlight the events in the coming week that could provide answers. We also reveal an investment method that makes money regardless of whether the market is moving up, down or sideways.
The U.S. government reported on Friday that employers added only 38,000 workers to their payrolls in May, a dramatic slowdown in hiring that will probably delay a decision by the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates. This latest snapshot of employment indicates that the economic recovery might have lost steam this spring.
Despite the unexpectedly weak job gains, the official unemployment rate dropped to 4.7%, its lowest level in almost a decade. However, the decline largely stemmed from more Americans dropping out of the labor force.
A few bright spots are providing sufficient momentum to keep the economy from plummeting into the canyon, at least for now. Average hourly earnings rose again, 0.2% for May, bringing wage gains to 2.5% for the past 12 months. In addition, consumer spending grew by 1% in April, compared to March, the largest increase in nearly seven years.
The global picture is mixed as well. In its twice-yearly global assessment, the OECD stated that "the global economy is stuck in a low-growth trap." The organization said governments should start using fiscal tools to stimulate demand because monetary tinkering alone was not enough to jump-start growth.
The conflicting signals have spawned a meandering equity market that's in search of a catalyst for a new upward surge. The S&P 500 (SPY) - Get SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust Report year to date has only gained about 3.14%; over the past five days it has remained roughly flat. Investors continue to look for growth opportunities, but they're getting harder to find.
Wall Street seems to be ignoring the fact that corporate America is suffering an earnings recession. With most companies in the S&P 500 reporting earnings to date for the first quarter of 2016, the blended earnings decline is nearly 7%. Weighing on the broader market are the latest quarterly operating results from Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report , which missed expectations and spread gloom throughout the tech sector.
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And yet, stocks are overbought. The forward 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is 16.7, which is above the five-year average (14.5) and the 10-year average (14.3).
Here are the major corporate operating results to watch this week, including the consensus estimates for earnings per share and how that stacks up to the same quarter a year ago:
Thor Industries (THO) - Get Thor Industries, Inc. Report ($1.43 vs. $1.19); Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) ($1.38 vs. $2.36); Dave & Busters (PLAY) - Get Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc. Report (59 cents vs. 46 cents): Verint Systems (VRNT) - Get Verint Systems Inc. Report (41 cents vs. 66 cents); VeriFone (PAY) (52 cents vs. 44 cents); Brown-Forman (BF.B) (72 cents vs. 66 cents); Lululemon Athletica (LULU) - Get Lululemon Athletica Inc (LULU) Report (31 cents vs. 34 cents); Restoration Hardware (RH) - Get RH (Restoration Hardware) Report (5 cents vs. 23 cents); Penn West Energy (PWE) (-26 cents vs. -49 cents); H&R Block (HRB) - Get H&R Block, Inc. (HRB) Report ($3.21 vs. $2.73); and Korn Ferry (KFY) - Get Korn Ferry Report (54 cents vs. 51 cents).
The important economic reports to watch in the week ahead are as follows:
Monday: Janet Yellen Speaks, Gallup U.S. Consumer Spending Measure, Labor Market Conditions Index. Tuesday: Consumer Credit. Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, EIA Petroleum Status Report. Thursday: Jobless Claims, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, EIA Natural Gas Report. Friday: Consumer Sentiment, Baker-Hughes Rig Count.
Today's mixed economic picture might tempt you to swear off stocks altogether. If that's the case, there are still other ways to make robust, regular income. In fact, I know a genius trader who turned $50,000 into $5 million using one simple technique. For a limited time, he's guaranteeing you at least $67,548 per year in profitable trades if you follow his easy, step-by-step process. Click here now for details.
John Persinos is an editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, Persinos held stock in Apple.