Inflation Expectations Rising

inflation

U.S. equities fell into the weekend despite strong manufacturing data, as inflation expectations weighed. Stocks dropped for a second straight week. Last week all indexes finished down. The Dow down 0.05%, S&P 0.55%, and Nasdaq 0.46%.

Last Week

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished down less than 1%. Volatility rose with the VIX closing at a 1-month high. U.S. manufacturing numbers surged, and optimism for the next 6 months remained high. The Empire State index leapt 16 points to 34.3 in September. The Philly Fed index rose 11 points to 30.7, above estimates. Industrial production increased 0.4% in August after a revised 0.8% gain the prior month. The miss was largely due to Hurricane Ida and supply chain inefficiencies. Capacity utilization climbed to 76.4%, the highest rate since December 2019. U.S. retail sales surprised with a 0.7% gain in August despite supply chain issues and escalating Covid-19 cases.

Consumer inflation still showed a significant bump but came in less than feared. A New York Fed household survey showed inflation expectations continued to ramp up in August. Internationally, August wholesale prices sustained gains in Germany and Japan on solid global demand. CPIs in Canada and the UK surged to multi-decade highs. Weak Chinese data also contributed to the market’s choppiness. Retail sales only grew 2.5% in August versus forecasts of 7%. Industrial production came in slightly below predictions at 5.3%. British retail sales fell for a fourth straight month in August, even as payrolls increased by a record 241,000. Australia’s employment dropped more than expected, supporting the Reserve Bank’s decision to delay a review of weekly bond purchases.

Week Ahead – Inflation Expectations

All eyes will be on the FOMC as they wrap up their two-day meeting on Wednesday. Pressure is mounting for more specifics on tapering given recent U.S. economic data. According to a Bloomberg survey of economists, tapering is expected to begin in November 2021. Chairman Powell has indicated the decision to taper is independent of any decision to raise interest rates. With unemployment still above 2019 levels, the Federal Reserve is expected to be patient with increasing rates.

U.S. housing reports will also drop this week. The NAHB Index reported positive numbers. Housing start data reports on Tuesday, existing home sales on Wednesday, and new home sales on Friday. The S&P 500 is only down about 2% this month. More volatility may be on the horizon if issues like the debt ceiling gain momentum. Treasury Secretary Yellen has urged Congress to increase the debt limit as soon as possible to avoid any economic turmoil. The debate could influence the Fed’s actions as well.

Investors will focus on next week’s Fed meeting and the timing of tapering. Tapering is often viewed as a potential negative catalyst in the near term. However, strong economic growth coupled with record corporate profits can potentially keep the market moving higher. Investors will also be watching to see if Evergrande, the Chinese real estate company with a mountain of debt, poses any systemic risks to global markets. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 13.00%, S&P up 18.02%, and Nasdaq up 16.73% through the close on Friday.

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Impact of a Slowing September

slowing

Stocks pulled back, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq still sit firmly above their respective 50-day moving averages. U.S. equities eased off record highs as slowing growth prospects and persistent inflation led to some profit taking. With all the global central bank commentary last week, anticipation is building for the Fed’s next meeting on September 21-22. In the meantime, this week presents plenty of additional data for consideration. Last week, all indexes finished lower. The Dow finished down 2.1%, S&P down 1.7%, and Nasdaq down 1.6%.

Last Week – Slowing Data

U.S. equities eased off record highs as slowing growth prospects and persistent inflation led to some profit taking. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both slipped 1.5%+. Market breadth was quite weak, as all 11 S&P 500 sectors finished in the red, with consumer discretionary the outperformer. The S&P 500 Index returned -1.68% last week, with all four days in the shortened holiday week posting declines. Including the previous Friday, the index has marked five consecutive losing days after hitting an all-time closing high. Equity markets have followed an upward trend most of the year.

Goldman Sachs downgraded its 2021 U.S. growth estimate to a 5.7% annual rate, below the 6.2% consensus. The Fed’s Beige Book noted that growth had “downshifted slightly to a moderate pace”, slowing led by escalating inflation and a shortage of goods. On the labor front, U.S. job openings hit record highs for the fifth straight month, climbing to 10.9 million in July and exceeding total unemployed by 2.5 million. Workers continued to quit jobs at historically high rates, and new unemployment claims fell to another pandemic low of 310,000. The four-week moving average of 339,500 was also a pandemic low, indicating there has not been a rise in layoffs due to the Delta variant.

Producer prices in the U.S. surged 0.7% in August, above estimates but below July’s 1% pace. Excluding food and energy, core PPI only increased 0.3% Month-over-Month, but still 6.3% higher Year-over-Year. August’s year-over-year increase in producer prices is the largest on record. Labor and materials
shortages and supply chain bottlenecks contributed to the price increases. Regarding inflation, the CEO of Union Pacific said in an interview last week that “it doesn’t look like it’s temporary,” and that cargo congestion will likely continue well into next year.

Week Ahead

With all the global central bank commentary last week, anticipation is building for the Fed’s next meeting on September 21-22. This week presents plenty of additional data. U.S. CPI is reported on Tuesday, and consumer inflation updates from Germany, the UK, and Canada will also filter in this week. U.S. manufacturing numbers are expected to decline, with updates coming in the Empire State and Philly Fed indexes along with the industrial production report. U.S. retail sales have stalled over the past 3 months, and Thursday’s August report is anticipated to show a continued drop. China’s retail sales are likely to weaken considerably Year-over-year. The week finishes up with UK retail sales and U.S. consumer sentiment.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 13.07%, S&P up 18.7%, and Nasdaq up 17.28% through the close on Friday.

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Job Data Disappoints, How did Markets React

job data

U.S. equity indexes managed to close mostly higher despite disappointing job data. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq established new weekly closing highs. Investors weighed the impact of rising Covid-19 cases on the recovery. Growth outpaced value as the Nasdaq (+1.5%) led the advance last week. A holiday-shortened week is here and the economic calendar will be more focused on events abroad. The U.S. economic data is light. The most anticipated announcement will come from the ECB on Thursday.

Last Week Highlighted by Job Data

The S&P 500 finished August with its 7th straight monthly gain. Financial stocks dropped 2.3%. The dollar continued its slide after the economy added just 235,000 jobs in August. This number was far below expectations of 720,000. The ADP report showed that private payrolls also increased much less than forecast. The labor numbers cast doubt on the Fed’s next move on tapering. Manufacturing jobs rose, but services hiring slowed as the market braces for several jobless aid programs expiring this week. On the positive side, the unemployment rate fell to 5.2%. The underemployment rate dropped sharply to 8.9% from 9.6%, and jobless claims hit 340,000, a new pandemic low.

Other U.S. data reflected a still expanding economy that nonetheless is showing some cracks. Consumer confidence fell in August to the lowest level since February. Chicago PMI deteriorated more than expected to 66.8 from 73.4. Factory orders and the ISM Manufacturing PMI picked up in August. However, the services PMI fell from its July all-time high reading, consistent with the jobs report. U.S. home prices rose 18.6% Year-over-Year in June. The largest annual gain in history. Crude oil saw little volatility despite shutdowns from Hurricane Ida. OPEC decided to keep its modest production increases in place. China’s August manufacturing activity fell to 50.1 from 50.4. But a rebound in Chinese stocks lifted the emerging markets index by 3.4%. Canada’s economy unexpectedly contracted by 1.1% in Q2 as pandemic restrictions weighed.

Week Ahead

A holiday-shortened week and the economic calendar will be more focused on events abroad. The most anticipated announcement will come from the ECB on Thursday. Despite hot inflation data, the committee is expected to wait several more months before deciding on tapering pandemic-related asset purchases, which are due to end in March 2022. Additional monetary policy updates will come from Australia tonight and Canada on Wednesday.

In the U.S. more job data, the JOLTS Job Openings report comes out on Wednesday. Producer prices are expected to ease in Friday’s PPI report. In Asia, China will deliver trade balance and inflation numbers. Japan’s final Q2 GDP reading is released late on today. The Eurozone will present revised Q2 GDP and the UK’s monthly GDP update comes in Friday. The week also closes with Canada’s employment account.

Equity markets will look at the Covid case and death rates for how bad this variant will be, and how much economic activity will be slowed by it. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 15.56%, S&P up 20.7%, and Nasdaq up 19.2% through the close on Friday.

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Markets Reach All-Time Highs

all-time highs

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Indexes closed at all-time highs after the Fed Chair reassured markets. Equity indexes rallied as investors weighed the tragic events in Afghanistan against more transparency from the Fed’s monetary policy timeline. The Nasdaq rose nearly 3% and the Dow and S&P 500 added 1-1.5%.

Last Week All-Time Highs

U.S. equity indexes rallied as investors weighed the tragic events in Afghanistan against more transparency from the Fed. Crude oil rebounded with an 11%+ jump, and gold prices rose modestly. Treasury yields held their weekly gains. The U.S. dollar dropped after Fed Chair Powell calmed markets with his comments on inflation and tapering. PCE Core Price Index data show annual price increases at a 30-year high of 3.6%. However, Powell reiterated that higher prices are not broad-based. Surge-price categories are moderating, and that both wages and long-term expectations do not suggest “excessive inflation”. Powell affirmed that asset purchase tapering is likely to begin later this year. (Tapering is the central bank’s plan to start gradually reducing bond purchases by the end of the year.) He also said that interest rate hikes aren’t on the table until the more stringent maximum employment test is met.

In other U.S. economic news, August Flash PMIs showed continued expansion. However, this reading is at a slower pace than July and slightly below expectations. Existing home sales rose 2% in July. All the annual gains in homes priced above $500K, while new home sales ticked up 1% in July. Durable goods orders for July fell 0.1% Month-over-month. These numbers did exceed forecasts, while the second Q2 GDP estimate came in slightly higher at 6.6%. Corporate profits increased at a 9.2% quarterly rate to a record $2.8 trillion, supported by historically tight credit spreads. Overseas, Germany’s August PMIs fell from July but remained solidly in expansion as Q2 GDP grew more than expected at 1.6%. Finally, minutes from the ECB’s latest policy meeting showed some concern of understating inflation risks that may or may not be durable.

Week Ahead

Based on the market’s reaction to Powell’s Jackson Hole speech, investors seem to feel they have more clarity around the Fed’s intended path and can avoid another “taper tantrum”. Geopolitical tensions and coronavirus variants may affect economic growth or dent consumer sentiment. Powell made it clear how strong the link is between jobs and potential rate hikes, and this week will bring several updates on the labor front, with the ADP report on
Wednesday followed by non-farm payroll report on Friday.

China’s Manufacturing PMI arrives Monday, where the government continues regulatory crackdowns that keep Chinese stocks under pressure. Tuesday is busy with German employment numbers, Canadian and Australian GDP updates, and U.S. consumer confidence. Oil’s recent volatility will focus traders on Wednesday’s OPEC meetings. Global growth concerns have eased somewhat, and increased crude production is expected. Lastly, U.S. ISM manufacturing and services PMIs are anticipated to fall Month-over-Month while remaining firmly in growth mode.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 15.84%, S&P 500 up 20.06%, and Nasdaq up 17.39% through the close on Friday.

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School is Back In Session

school

Just like that, it’s back-to-school season. Tell me, where did the summer go?

As kids of all ages go back to school, with all of the apprehension and excitement that may bring in these turbulent times, it’s also a great reminder that in life, summer ends but the learning never does. We are always presented with challenges and opportunities to expand our knowledge and grow.

It appears, though, that Americans are slipping in that regard. According to recent Forbes survey, the U.S. is experiencing a steep decline in financial literacy in recent years – especially when dealing with more complex topics like inflation, financial risk, and mortgage rates.

How is your financial IQ? Are there some topics you could use some brushing up on?

The easiest way to fix any gap in knowledge is to ask a question. I can be a great resource for you, and we can discuss how your strategy is positioned to face these complex times. The market brief below gives current insight as well. Feel free to connect with me and keep the financial literacy conversation going to ensure your circle has the same potential for wealth and wellness.

Last Week

U.S. equities posted mixed results as volatility plummeted towards the lowest levels of the year. The Dow and S&P 500 indexes managed modest gains to once again close at record highs, while the Nasdaq Composite fell slightly. Fed officials commented that while the labor market still has room for improvement, inflation is already at levels that would justify interest rate hikes. U.S. job openings surged in June to a record 10.1 million, but businesses are still struggling to find qualified labor for the rebounding economy. Jobless claims fell to 375,000 and continuing claims dropped to a pandemic-era low of 2.8 million.

U.S. productivity grew less than expected at 2.3% for Q2, igniting stagflation fears. Sentiment numbers also disappointed, as small business optimism reversed in July to 99.7 from 102.5. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment also fell to 70.2 in early August, a 10-year low. Americans are more concerned about the economy, inflation, and the delta variant. Crude oil gained as the Biden administration pressured OPEC to increase output. For the week, the Dow finished up 0.94%, S&P up 0.75%, and Nasdaq down 0.07%.

This Week

Despite concerns about sentiment, market breadth, and seasonal weakness, stocks continue to climb the wall of worry. Many pundits are calling for a correction, but there seems to be lack of a legitimate catalyst to create that scenario. This week the economic calendar is rather light. Given recent economic data and a policy committee that is growing impatient on tapering, Fed Chair Powell’s town hall event today will be scrutinized along with the July FOMC meeting minutes on Wednesday.

The July U.S. Retail Sales report this morning showed a contraction based on slumping services spending. Where is all the school spending? Regional manufacturing updates came with the Empire State Index declining on Monday followed by the Philly Fed Index on Thursday. The U.S. calendar rounds out with industrial production numbers today and housing starts on Wednesday. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 16.04%, S&P up 18.96%, and Nasdaq up 15.01% through the close on Friday.

Happy back-to-school week!

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Summer Tug of War Drags On

tug of war

U.S. equities survived a tumultuous week largely intact. Investors weighed mixed earnings reports, inflation figures, and rising COVID-19 cases attributed to the Delta variant. Labor market headlines will remain in focus after the Fed’s comments, and with jobless claims stubbornly stuck at the 400,000 level, investors will welcome additional data this week with the U.S. ADP employment report on Wednesday, followed by the monthly non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Last Week

U.S. equities survived a tumultuous week largely intact. Investors weighed mixed earnings reports, inflation figures, and rising COVID-19 cases attributed to the Delta variant. The Nasdaq slipped 1% after Amazon’s first EPS miss in 3 years. The Dow and S&P 500 finished slightly lower. The S&P 500
Equal-Weight Index gained ground as value outperformed growth. U.S. Treasury yields fell after the Federal Reserve indicated it is in no hurry to tighten monetary policy.

The Fed’s accommodative stance sent the dollar tumbling, lifting gold prices and sending crude oil higher by 2%. Fed Chair Powell also indicated that asset purchase tapering would likely be tied to labor market improvements as opposed to consumer price data. The U.S. GDP report highlighted how much the economy is struggling to readjust to the new normal. Second quarter growth accelerated by a robust 6.5%, but well below estimates of 8.4%. Some sectors continue to be held back by supply constraints, while others stress to recover from the pandemic.

U.S. home prices continue to break records, but new home sales stumbled in June, dropping 6.6%. Pending sales of existing homes dropped 1.9%. Consumer confidence remained high, as the Conference board’s index improved for a 6th straight month in July. U.S. durable goods saw continued growth in June, but the 0.8% increase fell short of the 2.1% expected. Chicago PMI surged to 73.4 in July, just shy of a record high. Inflation persisted in June, with the Core PCE Price Index rising 3.5% YoY, the biggest move since 1991. Finally, Chinese stocks remained under pressure as the SEC has stopped processing U.S. IPO registrations of Chinese companies while it considers new disclosures.

Week Ahead – Tug of War continues…

Labor market headlines will remain in focus after the Fed’s comments, and with jobless claims stubbornly stuck at the 400,000 level, investors will welcome additional data this week. The U.S. ADP employment report comes out on Wednesday, followed by the monthly non-farm payrolls report on Friday. U.S. ISM PMIs will also refresh, with services on Wednesday. Two more global central bank meetings await. The RBA may reverse its recent tapering plans amid continued lockdowns in Australia, while the BOE will consider hot inflation figures and a surprise drop in new UK coronavirus cases. Although many of the big names have already reported, Q2 earnings season is only halfway over. S&P 500 Y/Y revenues are up a record 21% and earnings up 86%, expectations for Q3 and Q4 are building.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 14.14%, S&P up 17.02%, and Nasdaq up 13.85% through the close last Friday.

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Massive Earnings Week – Market Brief July 26, 2021

earnings

U.S. stocks shook off a Monday selloff sparked by coronavirus variant concerns to finish positive for the week. The Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq finished at all-time closing highs. Large-cap growth stocks lifted the Nasdaq Composite by nearly 3% and the S&P500 by 2%. Plenty of potential market-moving events this week, from tech earnings to the Fed meeting and key economic releases.

Last Week

On the positive side, continuing claims declined by 126,000 to a pandemic-era low of 3.24 million. Housing starts increased more than expected in June, despite labor and land shortages which are weighing on homebuilder confidence. Existing home sales rose 1.4% in June after 4 straight months of decline. The median price reached an all-time high of $363,000, up 23.4% compared to a year ago. After Q2’s growth, signs of cooling emerged as the IHS Markit Composite PMI slid to 59.7 in July from 63.7. Finally, shares of many U.S.-listed Chinese companies fell sharply on Friday. This was a result of authorities stepping up restrictions on the private education industry and increased scrutiny on overseas listings.

U.S. economic data was mixed, headlined by a surprise jump in unemployment claims, which totaled 419,000 versus estimates of 350,000. The decline in Treasury yields last week shows investors believe inflation is not the biggest problem facing the U.S. economy. Instead, investors worry about slowing growth. Even though Federal Reserve officials have signaled that they will hold off raising interest rates until after inflation climbed above their 2% target rate, eroding job growth has shown investors that the economy may not run as fast as anticipated.

Week Ahead

Expect discussions to accelerate amongst Fed officials as to when to start reducing asset purchases and how quickly to taper them, although a final decision is not expected until later in the summer. Their remarks will come ahead of the first look at Q2 GDP on Thursday where 8.5% growth is anticipated, the second-fastest pace since 1983 and exceeded only by last summer’s strong rebound. U.S. consumer confidence and durable goods reports will drop on Tuesday. Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, PayPal, and Amazon all report earnings this week. The week and the month close on Friday.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 14.56%, S&P down 17.46%, and Nasdaq up 15.12% through the close on Friday.

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Delta Variant Ignites Volatility

delta variant

Fears of the spreading delta variant ignited a selloff today. Last week’s weakening under the hood as some areas experience significant drawdowns relative to the broad indexes. Concerns about deteriorating market breadth pushed equity indexes lower. With a light calendar of economic news to start the week, the focus will shift to Q2 earnings announcements.

Last Week

Concerns about deteriorating market breadth pushed equity indexes lower. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5-1.0%, while the Nasdaq slipped 2%. Energy stocks plunged 8%, with the materials, industrials and discretionary sectors also suffering losses. Consumer prices jumped 5.4% from a year ago. The largest increase since August 2008, and rose 0.9% on a monthly basis. Producer prices increased 1% from May and jumped 7.3% Year-over-Year. Most of the increases continued to come from sectors influenced by the shutdown, which Fed Chair Powell reiterated in his Congressional testimony. Powell also noted that the Fed’s benchmarks for tightening monetary policy remain “a ways off”. Crude oil fell 4.5% after Saudi Arabia and the UAE reached a compromise on increasing output, offsetting declining U.S. stockpiles.

Jobless claims reached a new pandemic-era low of 360,000, with continuing claims falling sharply to 3.24 million. U.S. manufacturing reports came in mixed, the New York region rose to a record 43 reading for July. While the Philly Fed said progress was slowing with a decline from 30.7 to 21.9. U.S. industrial production missed estimates in June, posted a 0.4% increase as supply shortages still plagued output. Prospects for Q2 U.S. economic growth were bolstered by a surprising jump in retail sales. Transactions climbed 0.6% Month-over-Month and 18% Year-over-Year, well above pre-pandemic levels. China, the world’s second largest economy expanded 7.9% in the first three months of the year, still strong but down from 18.3% the previous quarter. In Europe Germany’s CPI was in-line at 2.3% Year-over-Year while the UK’s 2.5% outpaced estimates.

Delta Variant and the Week Ahead

With a light calendar of economic news to start the week, the focus will shift to Q2 earnings announcements. Large cap mainstays IBM, Travelers, Netflix, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, AT&T, Intel and American Express will all provide updates. On Wednesday, the ECB will deliver its monetary policy statement with an eye towards recent inflation dynamics and the difficult-to-assess risk of the coronavirus delta variant. U.S. unemployment claims are expected to fall to another pandemic-era low. Housing starts will highlight the state of the complicated homebuilder market.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 13.3%, S&P up 15.2%, and Nasdaq up 11.9% through the close on Friday.

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Summer is here – will stocks melt up or cool off?

stocks

Last week, stocks finished higher after mostly solid economic data, including labor numbers that showed steady progress. Since the 10-year Treasury yield rally began in August 2020, there have been two main consolidation periods. What might be the next catalyst for a move in interest rates? The S&P 500 Index closed within 3 points of its all-time closing high of 4,232.60. Last week all indexes finished up slightly; Dow up 0.69%, S&P 0.64%, and Nasdaq 0.49%.

Last Week

The S&P 500 Index gained 0.64% last week, closing within 3 points of its all-time closing high of 4,232.60. The index has steadily climbed back after hitting its mid-May lows as inflation fears weighed on the index with consumer discretionary and information technology taking the biggest hits. Investors have continued to digest inflation concerns against their expectations for the equities markets. Stocks levitated higher by less than 1% for the week after mostly solid economic data, including labor numbers that showed steady, if not overwhelming, progress. Treasury yields fell after the May non-farm payrolls report came in at a solid gain of 559,000. This was much higher than the 266K the previous month, but lower than the expected 675K.

This led to Friday’s rally with data conveying an improving employment picture in the U.S. recovery. The recovery may be slower than expected. Leading markets to assume the Federal Reserve will continue in its accommodative monetary policies. Nearly half the states have cut overly generous jobless benefits, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.8% in May versus 6.1% in April, and average hourly earnings are up 2.0% versus a year ago. Initial jobless claims fell for the 5th week in a row to 385,000.

The expectation of a quicker recovery in global demand for crude oil helped it advance 4.98% last week, closing at $69.62 per barrel on Friday. This propelled the energy sector be the top performer of the week. OPEC agreed to continue gradually easing production cuts.

The Week Ahead

Since the 10-year Treasury yield rally began in August 2020, there have been two main consolidation periods. The first came just below 1%, beginning in November 2020 to January 2021. The second began in April 2021 and continues today, with the yield currently near 1.56%. The next catalyst? Last week the Federal Reserve said that it plans to start selling its portfolio of corporate bonds and exchange-traded funds that it bought during the pandemic. This is not expected to influence the market much. Recent economic data has been encouraging. But not so strong that the Fed would consider tapering its bond buying just yet.

The next Fed meeting is scheduled for June 15-16. This week offers an update on U.S. inflation along with 10-year and 30-year bond auctions, all of which could produce interest rate volatility. The U.S. trade balance came out today, and consumer sentiment on Friday. The week closes with day 1 of the G7 meetings in London, where Treasury Secretary Yellen looks for support to rewrite international tax rules. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 13.56%, S&P up 12.62% 6.8%, and Nasdaq up 7.19% through the close on Friday.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Summer Road Trips and Stock Market Near Highs

road trip

Summer is the time to hit the open road and explore this big country. But with long road trips can come high expenses – make sure you don’t let unexpected costs creep in while planning the perfect trip. Managing finances is a lot like taking a road trip: You’re setting your sights on a goal and planning the best route to get there. Keep in mind it’s optimal to get an early start (saving), stay on the right roads (budget), and arrive safely at your destination (retirement).

Last week, stocks posted slight gains of 1-2%+ to close out the month of May. Overall, the rapidly expanding U.S. economy continued to forge ahead, with jobless claims hitting another pandemic-era low of 406,000. Inflation is still running hot. Oil prices jumped 4% after an inventory draw of 1.7 million barrels. Bitcoin finished with a small gain but remained volatile, and several Fed governors commented on the benefits of a digital dollar backed by the central bank.

This short week kicks off with inflation updates from the Europe. Last Friday, President Biden laid out a $6 trillion fiscal 2022 budget proposal. Likely to stir up debates lasting through the summer and possibly longer. The end of the week is busy with labor reports. Might we see jobless claims fall under 400,000 for the first time in 14 months? After last month’s surprise drop in non-farm payrolls, analysts anticipate 670,000 jobs to have been created in May. The U.S. unemployment rate is expected to tick down under 6%, steady progress but still a long way away from where the Fed would consider any major monetary policy changes. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 12.8%, S&P up 11.9%, and Nasdaq up 6.6% through the close on Friday.

If you have any questions on your road trip journey, please reach out – I’m here to help guide you. And don’t forget, I’m happy to assist as your automatic blind spot detection for things you may not see that could put you at risk. Just ask! So rest easy, enjoy the ride, and let’s make this one of the best summers ever. Take care, be safe, and post a picture or two of your road trip.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Crypto Freefall and Your Portfolio

crypto

Markets ended flat after an up and down week and crypto fell across the board. The growth-oriented Nasdaq outperformed the Dow, S&P 500, and Russell 2000. The economic calendar is light until Thursday, when we get a second look at U.S. Q1 GDP. Monthly durable goods report should offer a glimpse into how supply chains are holding up. The Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX) came crashing back to earth last week. The Dow down 0.43%, S&P 0.39%, and Nasdaq 0.33%.

Last Week

Markets survived another bout of volatility in a roller coaster week. Turbulence in risk assets was partially sparked by a huge selloff in Bitcoin and other crypto currencies. China banned financial institutions from providing services related to the digital transactions. Crypto Bitcoin plunged from $45,000 to near $30,000 before recovering to $36,000.

Treasury yields briefly spiked after the April Fed meeting minutes released. The minutes mentioned that a strong pickup in economic activity would warrant discussions about tightening monetary policy. Chairman Powell reiterated that the recovery remains “uneven and far from complete” and hasn’t shown enough progress for policy change. Housing data cooled a bit. New construction dropped 9.5% in April and existing sales off 2.7%. Builder confidence remains strong due to lack of inventory, low interest rates, and plenty of home buyers. U.S. manufacturing stayed robust even as the Empire State and Philly Fed Manufacturing Indexes came in slightly below expectations.

Week Ahead

The economic calendar is light until Thursday, when we’ll get a second look at U.S. Q1 GDP, no change expected from the +6.4% estimate. The monthly durable goods report should offer a glimpse into how supply chains dealing with material shortages and consumer demand. Housing reports in focus with new home sales and mortgage applications are released. Pending home sales may follow last week’s cooling trend. Unemployment claims expected to fall again. On Friday, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the PCE Price Index, will provide another check on spending behavior. Chicago PMI rounds out the month ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The Ethereum Liquid Index (ELX), a crypto currency index, came crashing back to earth last week. It had been on a steady climb for the previous 12 months. Posting more than a 2,000% gain at the highs. From those highs, it took 6 days to cut the price in half. A 50% cut isn’t nearly as unusual in crypto as in equity markets, the increased volatility may stick around longer.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 11.77%, S&P up 10.65%, and Nasdaq up 4.52% through the close on Friday. Have a fun and safe upcoming holiday weekend!

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Proposed Capital Gains Tax Rate Increase and Your Money

captial gains

Stocks ended mostly flat on the week, with an abrupt tremor on Thursday after President Biden proposed a sharp increase in the capital gains tax rate. Housing market and job reports remain strong. The Nasdaq-100 sits just below all-time highs. Indexes for the week; the Dow down 0.42%, S&P down 0.11%, and Nasdaq down 0.25%.

Last Week

Government stimulus, monetary policy, and vaccinations have led indexes to reach near all time highs. President Biden’s proposal to increase capital gains tax rates to 39.6%, led to a severe drop on Thursday afternoon. The markets quickly recovered on Friday. Housing data continued to grab headlines, with the median selling price for existing U.S. homes up 17.2% year-over-year to $329,100 in March. Existing home sales actually dropped 3.7% last month due to supply being so limited, while new home sales in March increased 20.7% month-over-month and 66.8% year-over-year. The average sales price of new homes also increased 6% from the prior year. Jobless claims fell to a pandemic era low of 547,000. This is the lowest weekly level since March 2020.

Week Ahead

The Federal Reserve likely will not be changing monetary policy at Wednesday’s meeting. However, with economic data improving and inflation perhaps moving towards 4%, investors will be listening closely for clues about a shift in strategy. On Thursday, we will get our first look at Q1 GDP, with strong growth of 6.6% expected. The other main event this week is a slew of earnings reports. This includes a third of S&P500 companies and many of the important names in the Nasdaq, such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google.

The week will close out with U.S. pending home sales and several GDP reports from Europe and Canada. Before getting up in arms regarding the increased capital gains tax, consider this news was a reaction to the proposal. Also, this proposal only impacts individuals earning more than $1m. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 11.23%, S&P up 11.29%, and Nasdaq up 8.76% through the close on Friday.

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Earnings Boom or Bust – Market Brief April 19, 2021

market

A mix of good economic news and concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine hit the market last week. The major indices finished with modest gains around +1% for the week. Fed chair Powell remarked last week that most officials do not see interest rates rising until 2024.

Last Week

Economic data was strong. Retails sales advanced 9.8% in March, fueled by stimulus checks, the best results since May 2020. Jobless claims fell to 576,000, well below estimates of 710,000. The Philadelphia Fed factory index jumped to 50.2 from 44.5. The highest reading in 50 years. Housing starts reached a 15 year high despite soaring lumber prices. Overseas, China’s Q1 GDP came in at +18.3% versus estimates of +19%, and trade data slightly missed lofty expectations but continued to show impressive growth. Tensions between the U.S. and China are beginning again, so we’ll see if that starts to grab more headlines in the months ahead.

Week Ahead

Fed chair Powell remarked last week that most officials do not see interest rates rising until 2024. The U.S. NFIB Small Business Optimism report showed that small businesses are struggling to find qualified workers. This may put upward pressure on wages and spark more inflation (and higher interest rate) concerns. Fed officials continue to push expectations of inflationary pressures being temporary. However, with commodity prices rising, and squeezes on the supply chain and labor markets due to the accelerating vaccination pace, how long will it be until the market forces the Fed’s hand?

Meanwhile, earnings season continues this week. Expect to hear comments about higher costs and customer demand in conference calls this week. Because the U.S. economy is emerging from the Covid-19 crisis, most analysts thought first-quarter numbers would be good. So far, they have been much better than good: By the end of Friday, S&P 500 companies that had already reported had beaten profit expectations by a combined 30%, according to FactSet, compared with a five-year average of 7%. Optimism is reinforced by the latest economic data. In the U.S., retail sales for March were the strongest in 10 months. Even in Europe, where there has been less fiscal support for the economy, figures are coming in strong.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 11.75%, S&P up 11.44%, and Nasdaq up 9.03% through the close on Friday.

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Impact of Upcoming Earnings and Economic Data

earnings and economic data

Last week, investors’ expanding risk propelled U.S. equity indices 1-3% higher, driven by large-cap technology bursting out of consolidations. The Nasdaq paced the advance, while the S&P 500 scored its 22nd record high of the year. The S&P 500 roared past the 4000 level returning over 2.75%. The index is on its longest weekly winning streak since October of last year.

The VIX, a measure of volatility, slid below 17 to its lowest level since before the pandemic. U.S. Treasury yields were flat as investors weighed better than expected producer inflation versus dovish commentary from Fed. Economic data impressed once again. Producer prices increased well ahead of expectations in March, rising 1% over the prior month. Year over year, producer prices increased 4.2%, which was the largest yearly increase since 2011.

Continued claims, or the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, continued to slowly improve, falling to a one-year low of 3.73 million in the week ending on March 27. That represents a significant improvement from the high of over 23 million reached in May 2020. Another sign housing is affected by the rise in yields, mortgage applications fell 20%.

Earnings and Economic Data Ahead

Earnings season has arrived, and so has critical economic data. The largest financial institutions like J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America will report later in the week. Also this week, investors will weigh the latest consumer inflation data on Tuesday and retail sales on Thursday. Fed chair Powell has repeatedly stated the FOMC believes rising price pressures will only be transitory and the labor market still has significant slack. Thereby they are nowhere close to removing support or changing their dovish stance. Thursday offers plenty of market-moving potential with U.S. retail sales. Retail sales are expected to rebound sharply, as well as weekly unemployment claims. Lastly, Friday’s building permits and housing data will be closely watched. The key is whether the recent weakness tied to rising yields continues to filter through the sector.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 10.9%, S&P up 9.9%, and Nasdaq up 7.8% through the close on Friday.

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Ripple Effect of the Blocked Suez Canal

suez

Despite the Suez Canal blockage, disrupting global trade, U.S. equity indices fluctuated between gains and losses throughout a volatile week. Month- and quarter-end flows hang over the market, but J.P. Morgan’s head quant expects flows to be net positive for equities, opposite of consensus. Also, the monthly jobs report is Friday.

Last Week

U.S. equity indices fluctuated between gains and losses throughout a volatile week but surged in the final hour of Friday’s trade. The Treasury yield rally consolidated amid technical headwinds and dovish Fed comments. The re-opening trade took a deep breath but is still +35% since the November 9 Pfizer vaccine announcement. The Nasdaq Composite failed to finish higher, but it did close notably off the lows. Energy dropped precipitously early on but sharply retraced losses after a cargo ship completely blocked passage in the Suez Canal.

Fed Chair Powell’s testimony reiterated the FOMC’s belief that inflationary pressures would only be temporary. Treasury yields began the week dropping significantly on Monday and Tuesday, as Fed Chairman Powell confirmed the Fed’s commitment to loose monetary policy. He insisted that the he does not believe a surge in inflation this year will be persistent or large. Powell believes that the Federal Reserve has the tools necessary to deal with higher inflation.

Existing home sales fell 6% in February, and new home sales dropped 18% Month-over-Month. However, new home sales are up +8.2% Year-over-Year. Durable goods orders fell for the first time in 10 months. Services activity came in at an 80-month high, supported by the steepest increase in new business in 3 years. Backlogs increased though, while prices surged on unprecedented supply chain disruptions. European PMIs came in much better than expected as well, returning to manufacturing growth for the first time in 6-months. The services sector remains in contraction, hampered by the COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Week Ahead

Month- and quarter-end flows hang over the market this week. The shortened holiday week features a docket full of Tier 1 economic data. Revisiting Friday’s bewildering market movement is critical. Shares of some media and technology companies were cut down significantly. Weekend reports tie this to an over-levered fund’s liquidation. The technology-heavy Nasdaq’s ability to rally sharply in the face of higher yields seems notable too. As the calendar turns, April offers investors a potential seasonal tailwind. Historically, it’s been the strongest month for the S&P500, higher 74% of the time since 1964 by an average +1.7%. Rebalancing could create a few speedbumps though.

Over the last 3 months, 10-year yields have risen 74 basis points, while the major U.S. equity indices have climbed modestly. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are +5.82% and +1.92% respectively, but equal weight S&P500 is +11.52% as the median stock has performed better than the market-cap behemoths. The monthly jobs report is on Friday, but markets will be closed in observance of Good Friday. Next Sunday’s futures opening could be chaotic as global investors react to our labor market situation, but they also may place more weight on the ADP report mid-week. Both are expected to show solid job creation, but the Fed remains focused on the slack in the labor sector, which is illustrated through the underemployment rate. Tuesday’s consumer confidence is poised to jump sharply given the stimulus deployment and vaccine progress.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 8.06%, S&P up 5.82%, and Nasdaq up 1.94% through the close on Friday.

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Which way will the Fed move rates and when?

Fed

Risk returned for investors, pushing U.S. equity indices 2-4% higher last week. The Fed meeting this week is priority for rate concerns. U.S. Treasury yields continued their rally on the heels of positive economic developments. President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and announced an expedited vaccination schedule, stating all adults would be eligible to receive one by May 1. The Nasdaq rebounded from a 3-week slide, advancing 3.09% last week. The S&P finished 2.64% higher on the week, and sitting at an all-time high. And the Dow Jones index finished up 4.17% on the week.

Last Week

Positive consumer inflation data slowed the speed of the rising yields, with headline CPI coming in at +1.7% YoY. The yield curve steepened to a 5.5 year high. The Treasury sell-off continued last week as President Biden signed the latest coronavirus relief bill into law. This raised the yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury to the highest levels since before the pandemic.

At $1.9 trillion, this is the largest of the coronavirus stimulus bills. President Biden’s urging of states to make the vaccine available to all adults by May 1 has further boosted economic growth prospects. High growth and inflation have contributed to the increase in long-term yields. Initial jobless claims were better than expected. This was the lowest level of initial claims this year, 712,000. More states have eased covid restrictions. And the Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine increases the shot distribution to the masses. A clearer path to full recovery is well within sight.

The Week Ahead and the Fed

The Fed meets today and tomorrow. Will Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and the FOMC flap their dovish wings, or will hawkish commentary fly over financial markets? It is widely expected that the Fed will leave rates unchanged. Short-term rate markets are pricing the first rate hike in late 2022 and markedly higher rates in 2023. While the Fed has pledged to keep rates at or near zero until at least the end of 2023.

After the European Central Bank pledged to ramp up its bond purchases last week, it seems likely that Powell could forcibly push back on rate investors’ hawkish expectations. Undoubtedly, Fed officials’ latest economic projections may show stronger growth estimates, but labor market figures could temper optimism. Many believe the rally in long-term government bond yields is most concerning to Fed officials, but they have said the rise in yields is likely transitory and tied to expectations of rapid growth in coming quarters.

The Fed Impact of Rates

The Fed’s well-anchored expectations allow for such temporary shocks. After all, the Fed isn’t a day-trader. In reality, the short-end of the curve remains notably disconnected from Fed guidance, which may likely merit a response from them this week. The rout in technology stocks has resulted in a positioning washout. So a dovish Fed response could ignite a push higher where the Nasdaq leads the pack. A hawkish tilt could spark volatility, sending equities lower and yields higher.

Markets hate uncertainty, but consensus is quickly growing for higher yields. Markets’ numbness to yields rising may only grow as the narrative changes. This is often how markets process new information. Initially, higher yields were viewed as detrimental to high valuation growth stocks, but now investors are seemingly viewing them as a signal the economy’s health is improving rapidly.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 7.10%, S&P up 5.99%, and Nasdaq up 3.35% through the close on Friday.

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Rising Yields and Impact for your Money

rising yields

Treasury yields rose significantly over the course of last week. The rising rates spooked equity investors, reaching the highest levels since February 2020. And the highest one month gain since November 2016. Yields ended the week down from the high on Covid-19 vaccine optimism, a recovering U.S. economy, and massive stimulus deal near completion. For the week, major indexes finished down; Dow down 1.9%, S&P down 2.41%, and Nasdaq down 4.9%.

Rising Yields

The high yields lead to concern for inflation. With inflation, comes demand for higher yields. Higher yields are passed down to corporations by way of borrowing. If companies have debt or increase their debt, than in return, they will pay higher interest payments. Higher interest payments cut into their profits, therefore, companies report lower earnings and their overall valuation declines. Rising rates are not all doom and gloom. Fed Chairman Powell made this statement regarding higher yields last week, “statement of confidence on the part of the markets that we will have a robust and ultimate complete recovery.” Regardless, interest rates remain the focus of market stress going forward.

Week Ahead

Last week, U.S. jobless claims of 730K were lower than expected, and lower than the previous week. The Johnson & Johnson vaccination news helped travel stocks jump. The J&J vaccine approval increases the push to vaccinate 100m people in the U.S. by the end of June. Further supporting the recovery and investor perception of a likely economic boom. Housing report data was strong. The House passed President Biden’s $1.9T relief package over the weekend. Despite the rising rates, this is all positive news to support the market. For the year, Dow is up 1.06%, S&P up 1.47%, and Nasdaq up 2.36%.

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How Quickly Will the Economy Recover

economic recovery

Now that the great short-squeeze has lost most of it’s air, it’s back to business as usual. The indexes shook off the weak job numbers and are looking ahead to the economy recovering and growing. Last week all indexes finished up.

Last Week

January jobs created less than 50,000 new jobs. On the positive side, unemployment fell from 6.7% to 6.3%. The number of Americans filing for unemployment also declined for the 3rd straight week. Most of the Nasdaq’s gains were attributed to good earnings reports, surpassing estimates. And the volatility index dropped back into the 20’s, calming the fears of an immediate 2021 correction. Readings from the ISM report were above 50, signaling expansion. This is good news when trying to grasp how quickly the economy will recover.

The Week Ahead

The economy is continuing to recover, both at home and abroad, as vaccination efforts spread. When a stumble comes, fiscal and monetary policy will undoubtedly offer an arm to stabilize or stand up. That remains supportive to equities, government bond yields, and credit markets. Roughly 59% of the S&P500 has reported earnings, and 81% have beaten EPS estimates. Per FactSet, the blended EPS growth rate is +1.7% y/y versus December 31’s estimate of -9.3%. For now, investors will continue economic implications of the race between widespread vaccination and virus mutation, the resumption of consumption, and the likelihood of higher prices or inflation across the economy.

Total after tax income was up 7.2% in 2020, the most in any year since 2000. Right now, there is plenty of demand for goods. Incomes and savings are up year-over-year. While production is not. It is supply that is hurting. The perfect recipe for inflation. A very real threat to the long-term health of the US economy. This we will keep an eye on. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 1.77%, S&P up 3.48%, and Nasdaq up 7.51% through the close on Friday.

Have a safe week!

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How high will the Santa Claus Rally Go

Santa Claus Rally

Is a Santa Claus Rally going to drive the market? Major indices logged modest gains for the week after the Federal Reserve signaled loose monetary policy was likely to stay until at least 2023. Digesting the developments over the latest coronavirus relief package will drive price action early in the shortened week. Markets are closed on Friday in observation for Christmas, and Thursday’s session will be abbreviated.

Past Week

Option trading volatility produced mild selling pressure into the weekend. However, major indices and government bond yields still logged modest gains for the week. Gains stem from the Federal Reserve signaling loose monetary policy was likely to stay until at least 2023. Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished higher, paced by technology, consumer discretionary, and materials. Energy was the lone sector in the red despite crude oil prices rising sharply. Whether it be the rising COVID-19 case count or profit-taking, the rotation from growth to value took a breather as the former outpaced the latter by around 4%.

On the economic data front, investors were disappointed by November U.S. retail sales falling 1.1%. To put things into perspective, Retail Sales are up 4.1% on a year-over-year basis. This illustrates the impressive strength of the U.S. consumer, especially during a pandemic. The latest domestic PMIs eased from multi-month highs but remained firmly in expansionary territory. New orders continued to rise, but inflationary tones are palpable as significant supply chain disruptions led to an unprecedented rise in prices. Output expectations reached a 32-month high, largely driven by vaccine optimism.

New relief is close. Indications are for a $900 Billion dollar package. Last Thursday’s unemployment claims increase to 885,000, higher than anticipated. Markets seemed to be anticipating that Congress would pass aid as more Americans are requesting unemployment benefits. Weekly initial unemployment claims peaked this March at nearly 7 million. While they steadily fell into the summer there has been a recent uptick in claims as 2020 draws to a close. The Fed left rates unchanged last week. The Fed purchasing bonds will stay the same.

This Week

Digesting the agreement reached over the latest $900 billion coronavirus relief package will drive price action in the shortened week. The contentious dispute over the Fed’s lending abilities is likely to make bipartisan efforts more difficult if the economic situation materially deteriorates at some point in the year ahead. Still, investors should be aware of a potentially friendly bout of seasonality. That aside, investors will dissect a few tier 1 economic reports amid expectations for lower levels of liquidity given the holiday. Reports on consumer confidence tomorrow are expected to improve. The durable goods report offers insight into firms’ demand for longer lasting goods.

According to the recent Bank of America survey, fund managers are looking for companies to expand their capex purchases in 2021. Unemployment claims are expected to remain flat. Economists expect personal spending to retreat slightly. Reports are circulating that a new strain of coronavirus is spreading across Europe, especially in the UK, prompting air travel restrictions from the country. Given the frothy sentiment across financial markets, this development warrants investors’ attention in case the situation deteriorates further.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 5.7%, S&P up 14.8%, and Nasdaq up 42.2% through the close on Friday.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

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Can Retail Shopping and Vaccines Save 2020?

vaccine

U.S. equity indices enjoyed broad based gains amid the shortened trading week. Vaccine optimism increased and political uncertainty declined. Despite mostly weaker economic data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly eclipsed 30,000 for the first time. According to the WSJ, the Nasdaq Composite scored its 45th record high close in 2020. All indexes finished higher on the week; Dow up 2.25%, S&P 500 up 2.3%, and Nasdaq up 2.97%.

Last Week

U.S. equity indices enjoyed broad based gains amid the shortened trading week. Vaccine optimism increased and political uncertainty dissipated. Despite mostly weaker economic data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly eclipsed 30,000 for the first time. and according to the WSJ, the Nasdaq Composite scored its 45th record high close in 2020. Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished higher. Real estate was the lone loser, falling less than 1%, despite positive housing news.

Last Monday, AstraZeneca Inc. released their COVID vaccine phase 3 trial data that showed a 70% efficacy. This is the third such vaccine announcement in as many weeks joining Pfizer and Monderna. The odds of shortening this COVID pandemic continues to grow with three extensive studies diversifying any potential vaccine data setbacks in the future. Economic data was generally disappointing and pointed to a slowing recovery. Dented by recent restrictions due to rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Consumer confidence missed expectations, falling flat in October. The number of Americans filing for unemployment rose to 778k from 748k last week. Durable goods orders expanded quicker than expected, rising 1.3%. October new home sales beat expectations. The VIX briefly dipped below 20 on Friday before closing the week above the key level.

Week Ahead

December is here and extreme greed is driving the market. At least according to the Fear & Greed Index which closed at 92 on Friday. Just a month ago, it was in fear territory at 35. The consensus seems to be for an end of year market melt-up, but first, we must get through Friday’s November jobs report. 

The current environment elicits déjà vu feelings of late 2017, early 2018 as risks cleared, equities levitated, and crypto surged. Consumption drives the economy, so investors will scrutinize Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for insight into what the holiday spending season may look like. The National Retail Federation estimates that it will be 3.6-5.2% higher than 2019 levels. Given the pandemic, it’s looking like it will be a far more digital spending season than normal. The November jobs report will be the week’s key risk event on Friday. Today’s ISM manufacturing PMI and Thursday’s ISM services PMI will be closely watched for insight into recent economic activity. Both are expected to decline.

Looking ahead as the year winds down, 2020 has been a year marked by a global pandemic and the steepest economic contraction since the Great Recession. Yet equity markets have proved resilient. Since 1950 there have been only five -30% drawdowns in the S&P 500 in a calendar year. If the gains in 2020 hold, it would mark the first time there was a full retracement of the drawdown in the same calendar year. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 4.81%, S&P up 12.62%, and Nasdaq up 40.37% through the close on Friday.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.