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S&P 500 record: How much higher can US stocks go?


Happy Tuesday. A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here.

The S&P 500 notched a new closing record on Monday, jumping above 3,039 as hopes for progress on a US-China trade deal sent markets higher.

But fresh highs raise the question: How much longer can the bull market for US stocks go on?

UBS, in a report out Monday, said it believes the US business cycle has transitioned to its late stage, as characterized by decelerating economic growth and Fed monetary policy that’s “roughly neutral.” The bank reduced the proportion of stocks it recommends wealthy clients hold in their portfolios earlier this year.

From UBS senior economist Brian Rose: “Last year, our main concern was that the economy would overheat, forcing the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy and causing the cycle to end. More recently, growth has slowed and the Fed has been cutting rates. The main risk now appears to be that the economy will simply continue slowing until a recession begins.”

The good news? UBS points out that the economy can be “late cycle” for a long time.

JPMorgan, meanwhile, is bullish on global equities, but recently moved out of some US stock holdings in favor of international shares. The bank thinks that a resolution to Brexit uncertainty could boost European stocks down the line, and believes it’s a good moment to get in on stocks in Japan, which Mislav Matejka, JPMorgan’s head of global equity strategy, has called “underowned” and “cheap.”

Worth watching: Investors have the money to pump into US stocks, should they desire. US equity funds have seen $96 billion in outflows so far this year, in favor of bond and cash funds, Goldman Sachs pointed out in a recent note to clients.

Their outlook: The investment bank thinks equity allocations will “remain relatively stable” in 2020 as economic growth stabilizes and interest rates start to rise again.

Google’s business has gotten complicated

Recent regulatory scrutiny hasn’t hit the growth of Google’s core advertising business. But the company missed Wall Street’s targets when it reported earnings on Monday — raising the question of whether diversification is weighing the company down.

Google parent Alphabet said that revenue for July through September topped $40 billion, an increase of 20%, my CNN Business colleague Clare Duffy reports. But the company missed expectations by a wide margin.

That’s due in part to a roughly $1.5 billion knock from equity investments. The company didn’t identify any holdings in particular, but its various venture arms have backed companies like Uber and Slack, which have struggled since going public earlier this year. (A report that Alphabet could buy Fitbit sent shares of the fitness tracker up 30% on Monday.)

Ad revenues, meanwhile, grew 17% to nearly $34 billion. That comes even as the company faces an antitrust investigation by attorneys general from 48 states and large antitrust fines from the European Union tied to its dominance in online advertising.

Markets react: Investors aren’t thrilled, but also don’t seem overly concerned. Shares of the company are down a little more than 1% in premarket trading. Attention now turns to Apple and Facebook, which report earnings later this week.

Earnings watch: We’re about halfway through earnings season. Third quarter results have come in 2% above consensus, while fourth quarter estimates have dropped 2% since the beginning of October, per Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Beyond Meat can’t satisfy investors

Beyond Meat posted strong earnings on Monday, eking out its first quarterly profit. But investors were unimpressed, my CNN Business colleague Paul R. La Monica reports. Shares of the fake meat company are down nearly 12% in premarket trading.

What gives? The company’s lockup period ends Tuesday, allowing corporate insiders to cash out of their positions.

Beyond Meat executives have tried to assure investors that this won’t mark the end of the company’s public market success. Beyond stock debuted in May at $25 a share. It soared close to $240 before pulling back to its current price, around $105.

But there’s obviously some concern, especially amid the ongoing counter-narrative that the company is grossly overvalued. And competition is getting tight, with products from competitor Impossible Foods scoring big wins.

Up next

More earnings. BP, GM, Kellogg, Pfizer and Xerox report results before US markets open. Denny’s, Mattel and Mondelez will follow after the close.

Also today:

  • US consumer confidence for October arrives at 10 a.m. ET.
  • Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testifies about the company’s 737 MAX crisis before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, also at 10 a.m. ET.
  • AT&T, CNN’s parent company, holds an HBO Max presentation for investors on the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, California at 6 p.m. ET.

Coming tomorrow: How is Facebook’s business holding up amid growing political pressure?

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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