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Market scorecard

US markets were slightly down on Friday, but last week was a good one for long-term investors. Inflation fears are finally calming, so the growth-oriented Nasdaq Composite was up 3.3% over the last five trading days. The broader S&P 500 was up 2.4% for the week and is now hovering near its highest close since April 2022.

In company news, JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) beat analysts' expectations, with profits jumping 67% and 57% respectively. JPMorgan shares rose 0.6% on Friday, but Wells Fargo slipped 0.3%. Elsewhere, UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH ) gained 7.2%, leading the S&P 500, after the healthcare and insurance company lifted its earnings guidance for the financial year.

On Friday, the JSE All-share closed up 0.56%, the S&P 500 fell 0.10%, and the Nasdaq was a mere 0.18% lower.

One thing, from Paul

What's in a name? A lot, actually. Humans love a strong narrative, so companies with simple, memorable names are additionally attractive to investors.

That's why Blue Ribbon Sports was better off renaming itself to Nike (NYSE: NKE ). Sandwich-maker Pete's Super Submarines shortened its name to Subway. Accenture (NYSE: ACN ) emerged from Andersen Consulting. Larry Page and Sergey Brin first called their search engine BackRub, before deciding to go with Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ).

International companies need to pay attention to this stuff too. Anton Rupert originally established a local tobacco company called Voorbrand in the 1940s, but renamed it Rembrandt when he sought outside investors. I've previously suggested that EssilorLuxottica should change its name to RayBan.

There's a leading listed Swedish property company with this astonishing name: Samhallsbyggnadsbolaget. They have a market capitalisation of almost $1 billion, but I can't imagine they've attracted much investor interest outside of Scandinavia.

Byron's beats

I've writing about the component parts of the monthly US CPI data often, because inflation has been one of the main market drivers over the last year. As you know by now, macro-economic cycles don't inform our investment thesis one bit, but they are interesting to follow nonetheless.

Last month's very muted (only 3%) increase was pleasing. It's incredible that CPI has come down so quickly from 9.1% in June 2022. But if you look at why inflation went up so quickly in the first place and what the biggest moving parts were, it starts to make sense.

Covid bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine catapulted the price of things like energy, food and cars at the beginning of 2022. Thanks to an incredibly efficient US economy, these issues have unwound quite quickly. As they say, the best cure for inflation is inflation (assuming the economy is efficient).

Take a look at the image below which compares last June's price movements to those in June 2023. Shelter is still stubbornly high due to lag effects of leases. Once that starts coming down, the US should be out the woods completely.

Michael's musings

Cricket is trying to establish itself in the US. Major League Cricket (MLC) kicked off on Thursday night in a converted baseball stadium. The league is similar to South Africa's new SA20 tournament, where most of the teams are offshoots from popular Indian IPL franchises.

The new league is starting small, taking place over a two-week period with just six teams playing in two stadiums. The hope is that the base built this year can be used to expand in years to come. There are some big guns in the background helping to drive success, including Satya Nadella, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) CEO, and H Ross Perot Jr, grandson of the late influential Texan billionaire best remembered for his attempted US presidential run against George Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992.

As a cricket lover, I hope that Americans embrace cricket in a similar manner to their recent love for F1 and 'soccer'.

Bright's banter

The Emmy Awards nominations have been announced, with HBO's "Succession" leading the pack with 27. HBO's "The Last of Us" and "The White Lotus" also received multiple nominations.

HBO dominated the overall lineup with 127 nominations, followed by Netflix with 103. Apple TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and FX also received significant recognition with their respective series.

The Emmy Awards celebrate excellence in television and recognise outstanding performances and productions.

Signing off

Asian markets declined after China's GDP data came in below forecasts, fuelling concerns about the recovery in the world's second-largest economy. Benchmarks fell in Japan, mainland China and South Korea. Trading in Hong Kong has been suspended because of Typhoon Salim.

US equity futures are flat so far this morning. The Rand is trading at R18.13 to the US Dollar after the greenback snapped a 5-day losing streak against all major currencies.

Earnings season in the US continues this week. We are especially looking forward to numbers out from Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) and Netflix, on Wednesday.

Have a good start to the week.

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