On Thursday, right in the middle of last week’s market chaos, an important bit of news came out that you may missed.
Here’s the news: The U.S. Commerce Department sharply revised upward its second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) estimate. The agency now says the value of all goods and services in the nation for the second quarter grew at a seasonally adjusted 3.7% – that’s 61% higher than its earlier forecast.
That revised number proves something I’ve been sharing with you all for months now: Despite the turbulent stock market we’ve seen all year, the U.S. economy remains on solid ground six years into the recovery.
And that means, as long as you stay disciplined and keep using your Choppy Market Tools, now is great time to take advantage of all the buying opportunities this chaos has created. We’re still in the midst of what I think is a generational bull market – and you can invest with confidence for the long haul.
Moreover, as impressive as GDP growth is right now, I believe Commerce’s report understates the strength of the nation’s economy.
Today I going to break it all down. And I’ll show you how the indicators I follow tell me that now is a good time to keep investing in tech stocks.
Getting Revved Up
I wasn’t surprised that growth was higher than what the government earlier believed.
That’s because I’m constantly on the hunt for hard empirical data upon which to base the investment recommendations I make to you. And that data tells me there are plenty of reasons for tech investors to remain optimistic.
Let’s start with what’s happening in the nation’s auto industry. Simply stated, sales here are just off the charts.
For the month of July, the last month for full data, new car sales rose 5.3%. The increase brought the annualized sales rate to 17.6 million units, roughly 18% higher than the 14.9 million average over the last six years.
Even more impressive is the fact that consumers accounted for virtually all of the sales. Analysts say fleet buyers, like car rental firms, were largely absent and that consumers focused heavily on high-margin SUVs and pickup trucks now that oil prices are so low.
This is good news for the economy as we near the end of the third quarter. It shows that consumers are willing to borrow to finance new vehicles, meaning they are confident about the economy and voting with their wallets.
Even better, it’s a particularly good sign for tech investors. The vehicles now running off the assembly lines are glitzy high-tech showpieces. Many are equipped with backup cameras, integrated Bluetooth wireless tech and dashboard infotainment systems that include advanced audio and onboard navigation.
In other words, new cars and trucks are equipped with a bevy of digital products that require numerous cutting-edge sensors and semiconductors.
And we see the impact the auto industry is having on the tech ecosystem reflected in global semiconductor sales data.
The trade group SEMI that serves the chip industry’s supply chain says global semiconductor sales in July sales came in at $1.59 billion. That’s a healthy 12.5% increase from the year-ago period.
And sales for the rest of the year look strong. SEMI says the closely watched book-to-bill ratio for July stood at 1.02. That means the industry is booking $102 in new sales for every $100 it bills clients.
When Housing Wins
Autos aren’t the only big-ticket items that consumers are rushing out to buy. The nation’s housing industry also has hit a high-water mark.
The National Association of Realtors says existing home sales for July hit 5.59 million units. That was the highest sales level since early 2007.
Within that bullish report, two facts jumped out at me. First, sales for July rose 10.3% from the year-ago level. Second, sales of existing homes have now increased on an annual basis for 10 consecutive months.
At the same time, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are reporting robust sales of new single-family homes. The agencies said 507,000 new homes were sold in July, a 22.6% increase from the year-ago level.
And these days, just like cars, homes are part of the global tech landscape. Many are being outfitted with such smart appliances as programmable thermostats, refrigerators and other appliances.
Millions of consumers also are buying home-theater systems and installing or upgrading their Wi-Fi systems in order to speed up their Web surfing and media streaming.
The broadband experts at the Leichtman Research Group say the top 17 cable and telecommunication companies representing 94% of the market added nearly 1.2 million net additional high-speed Web subscribers in this year’s first quarter. That brought the number of high-speed households to 88.5 million.
No wonder electronics retailer Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) beat the Street’s second-quarter forecasts by 3% with sales of $8.53 billion. Best Buy said it saw strong sales of large-screen TVs and major home appliances.
Meantime, reflecting the sales increase for big-ticket items, consumers are feeling very bullish about the future.
Consumer confidence in August jumped 10.5 points to 101.5, according to data compiled by the Conference Board, a leading economic forecaster. That’s the second-highest level in eight years.
Let’s not forget the U.S. Labor Department says new jobless claims remain near a 15-year low. This proxy for layoffs decreased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 for the week ended Aug. 22.
You can see why I keep saying that now is the time to buy into – not flee – the market. Yes, concerns about China’s growth or the Federal Reserve raising interest rates could cause another sell-off.
But with the U.S. economy still showing solid growth, you should look at such dips as great buying opportunities.
And that’s why, in our next conversation, I plan to show you the three plays you should make right now.
These are stocks that will not only protect your portfolio from whipsawed markets, but also build your net worth for the long haul.
Until next time…
- Strategic Tech Investor: How to Beat Choppy Markets.
- Strategic Tech Investor: We’re Staying Disciplined – and Still Making Profits.
- Strategic Tech Investor: The Second Rule for Grabbing Massive Tech Profits.