Despite Rising Yields, the Economy is Marching Forward

marching forward

Let’s do a reality check. With tax season in full swing, markets doing their day-to-day dance and winter weather still causing havoc, it’s sometimes hard to know what’s going to happen next. In light of the events of 2020, some may be carrying added anxiety into this time of year. Spring and brighter days are on the way as the nation continues marching forward.

Because anxiety can lead to irrational money decisions, the best way to fight it is to take a deep breath, focus on your goals and then take the next step forward — no matter how small. Before long, you’ll find yourself “marching” forward with momentum and greater confidence. 

Last week

Fed officials failed to settle concerns over rising yields. Major equity indices rallied sharply into the weekend after the positive February non-farm payrolls report. The Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine approval propelled the early week rally. The rally fell as Fed chair Powell reiterated the FOMC’s view that rising price pressures are likely transitory. The rates market viewed this “do nothing” attitude as a reason to dump bonds. The tech-heavy Nasdaq losses captivated investors’ attention. This mark the third consecutive weekly decline. The growth index markedly underperformed value as that reopening rotation continued.

Week Ahead

The U.S. Senate passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package, so the bill now will go to the House. That said, Friday’s plunge and reversal has elicited calls of surrender, but most technical metrics failed to reach such levels. The indices’ quick rebound should be a warning to the bears, but neither party seems to have the upper hand when looking at the technical charts. This fight is likely to continue, leading to elevated volatility levels. The darling high-growth names have not recovered anywhere near the extent that big tech companies have. And the easing of yields is likely needed to boost them. The weak Treasury auction two weeks ago sent yields sharply higher, so this week’s demand for government paper will be closely watched. The Federal Open Market Committee’s next policy meeting is on March 17 and will provide updated economic projections.

Despite what happens to the economy, you have the right to be confident — you have crafted a plan and I’m here for you each step of the way. As Warren Buffett famously said, “I don’t try and guess interest rates, I just buy businesses I like.” Maybe your next step is to set up some time to talk about your options for marching forward? I’d welcome that! Year-to-date the S&P 500 is up 2.29%, Dow Jones Index is up 2.91%, and the Nasdaq up 0.25%.

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.

Financial Advisor Erie CO focus on investments, wealth management, retirement in Boulder, Louisville, Niwot, Lafayette, Windsor, Berthoud, CO

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.

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!

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.

Can a robot really help you financially?

robo advisor

We’re hearing a lot about robo advisors these days. Are they right for you?

The financial services industry is no stranger to developing new products and innovations. Years ago, it was different types of stocks and bonds, then mutual funds were launched. More recently, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) that mimic indexes were launched. These days, robo advice is a hot topic. While having features that are certainly attractive to some investors, robo advisors aren’t right for everyone.

But first, the “what?”

What are robo advisors?

The term “robo advisor” is actually a bit misleading. Advisors generally guide their clients through the financial planning process to help these individuals achieve their life goals.

Robo advisors are automated portfolio managers. They take a limited amount of information about a client and create a portfolio of holdings. These holdings usually include a basket of ETFs. Robo advisors require little human involvement once their algorithm has been set.


robo advisor

Pros and cons

Robo advisors are programmed to automatically buy and sell holdings based on a desired risk-return profile. As there is little human involvement or management, they tend to be cheaper to invest in than actively managed portfolios. They also tend to be “set-it-and-forget-it” solutions that require very little effort by individual investors.

These portfolios rise and fall according to market and macroeconomic conditions, they typically don’t make adjustments to reflect the market. Conversely, as your advisor I’ve gained a deeper understanding of your financial picture, including your long-term needs and goals. Our work together means that your portfolio is suited specifically to you. Not just to a lot of people who may simply be your age and have a similar amount of savings.

Example of robots investing versus humans investing

During periods of rising markets, robo advisors will tend to perform quite nicely. As they reflect the performance of the wider markets in which they invest.

That said, markets don’t always go up. When markets are falling, portfolios run by robo advisors will tend to drop to the same degree as their corresponding markets. Meanwhile, active portfolio managers tend to rebalance or otherwise adjust their funds to reduce the downside impact of this market weakness. Possibly even taking advantage of it. By doing so, these portfolio managers are able to negate the losses that could result from market weakness. Which is something robo advisors can’t do.

Robo advisors are also not equipped to provide all of the other services that an advisor can provide. Including access to tax and estate planning, lawyers, accountants and other professionals who can help me ensure you have a complete financial plan that truly reflects your short- and long-term needs.

Please feel free to reach out to me to learn more about the benefits of a human vs. robo advisor.

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.

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!

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.

How to Tame Market Volatility through Diversification

diversification

It’s that time of the year again. Whether it’s in person or virtually, the holidays are an opportunity for more conversations with loved ones. This year, let’s strive to put some positivity into our conversations. There is a lot to gripe about, but there’s more to look forward to.  And the more we talk, the better we plan, prepare, and progress. Discussing your financial strategies with loved ones can help reinforce them or pivot according to new circumstances. And I’m ready to hear you! Knowing what may have changed this year will help us become more successful in pursuing your financial goals.

One topic that is front of mind is how to diversify your portfolio. One way to help investors reach long-term financial goals is through an investment technique known as diversification. Diversification basically means spreading out your invested money across different investments types, industries, countries, etc. Diversification can smooth out volatility of your portfolio and potentially lead to stronger returns over the long term. Helping you take advantage of the benefits of diversification is a central part of my job as your advisor.

One guiding factor behind diversification is that not all investment categories perform well at the same time. As some are increasing in value, others may be decreasing. Market volatility is the movement of investment categories going up and down.

Maintaining a well-balanced portfolio

As your advisor, I help maximize returns and reduce the risks associated with market volatility. Essentially, your portfolio represents a collection of different investments that work in harmony to help you reach your goals. One way you can achieve portfolio diversification is to divide your investments among the major asset classes. Such classes include equities, fixed income and cash.

Asset classes – A range of risks and rewards

Each asset class comes with varying degrees of risk and return characteristics. Typically, each class performs differently in certain market environments. Here’s a quick summary of each.

  • Equities (e.g., stocks)
    Equities refer to buying stocks or shares of a business, making you a part owner. This means the investor is subject to stock appreciation when the company outperforms. But also subject to the risks of declining stock value if companies underperform.
  • Fixed income (e.g., bonds, Treasury bills)
    Fixed income investors lend capital in exchange for interest. Considered as creditors, bondholders often have a priority claim in case of company bankruptcy. This makes the investments less risky. Fixed income typically provides income at regular intervals.
  • Cash (e.g., money market funds, bank accounts)
    Cash investments provide low returns versus other asset classes, in the form of interest payments. These investments typically come with very low levels of risk.

Investment funds – One-stop diversification

I can also help achieve diversification through the use of investment funds; namely, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These investment vehicles represent convenient and affordable ways to access a wide range of investments.

  • Mutual funds – These are made up of a pool of assets from many investors. Mutual funds are managed by a portfolio manager. The portfolio manager actively seeks to produce greater returns than a specific market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 Index. With the large scale of a mutual fund, you benefit from professional management and can get strong diversification by gaining access to investments that would normally be inaccessible or too expensive for most individuals.
  • ETFs – These are funds that track and seek to replicate the performance of select market indexes. ETFs represent a basket of securities based on the underlying index. This allows investors to gain broad diversification across entire markets, industries, regions or asset classes. ETFs are known to incur fewer administrative costs, therefore charging lower fees to investors.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions on the terms discussed in this article, or on how your investment portfolio is diversified.

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.

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.

How to Start Investing

How to start investing

So, you’ve landed your first “real” job! Now’s the perfect time to create your first investment plan and start investing.

First, let me congratulate you on getting through school and starting your first “real” job. You’ve worked hard to get here, and I’m sure there are many things you’ll want to spend your new paycheck on. An apartment of your own, some decent takeout (not from a student cafeteria), maybe a little traveling.

You should do those things, as long as they fit into your budget. You’ve earned a little breathing room. But now that you have some stability, you should also thinking about how to start investing for your future. Here are three ways to get the ball rolling.

1. Pay down debt

As a student, you may have accumulated a mix of debt, from student loans to credit cards. Create a debt-repayment plan that focuses on paying off your high-interest debt, like credit cards, first.

Student loans often carry lower interest rates, so these loans might not be your top priority. At the same time, many student loans require you to make a minimum monthly payment shortly after you graduate, and you only have so much time to repay the entire loan. You still need a loan-repayment plan to make sure you don’t default on these loans.

2. Build your emergency fund

Post-graduate life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of a heat wave or your car dies on the way to a meeting. I suggest putting 10% of your paycheck into an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. The goal is to eventually have enough money in your emergency fund to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, but it can take a while to get there.

Your emergency fund should be low risk and easy to access, like a regular savings account.

3. Think about retirement

This is the best time to take advantage of the power of compounding. If you start putting just $200 a month into a retirement savings account at age 25, and let it grow over the next 40 years at a 4% rate of return, you’ll have about $237,000 in that account when you turn 65.

Wait another 10 years to start investing the same amount at the same rate of return, and you’ll reach age 65 with about $140,000. That’s a big difference.

If your employer offers a 401(k), use it. With this tax-advantaged retirement account, you contribute pre-tax dollars directly from your paycheck. You employer will also match your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary.

If you don’t have a 401(k), look into a traditional IRA (individual retirement account) or Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you’ll get a tax break on your contributions, while with a Roth IRA, you won’t pay federal taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. With both types of IRAs, you won’t pay taxes on any investment income you earn within the plan until you start making withdrawals.

Ready to start investing? Contact me today and we’ll work on creating your first investment plan.

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.

Time To Be Thankful During Crazy Year

give thanks

Time to give thanks… U.S. equity indices ripped higher last week after Pfizer announced 90% effective rate in its COVID-19 vaccine. Major U.S. cities continue to tighten restrictions on activity as the holiday season approaches. The market continues to focus on vaccine optimism and in turn a “return to normal” for 2021. Last week’s cyclical rotation was huge. The question remains whether it can continue to drive the indices higher to the detriment of large-cap tech.

Last Week

U.S. equity indices finished higher after Pfizer announced 90% effective in its COVID-19 vaccine. Uncertainty created by the rotation from growth to value kept investors on edge. Despite record daily corona virus cases in the U.S., the S&P 500 led the advance, while the Nasdaq, or stay at home trade, fell slightly. According to EPFR Global, global stock funds tallied the largest inflows ($44.5 billion) in at least 20 years. Last week the indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 4.19%, S&P up 2.21%, and Nasdaq down 0.53%.

Week Ahead

Market movement has confined to two lanes. Strong yet narrow index gains, supported by large-cap tech. Or fairly flat indices, divided between surging cyclical’s and weak stay at home. Waves of fear seem to come and go. Major U.S. cities continue to tighten restrictions on activity as the holiday season approaches. So far, the market continues to focus on vaccine optimism and in turn a “return to normal” for 2021. Last week’s cyclical rotation was tectonic. The question remains whether it can continue to drive the indices higher to the detriment of large-cap tech. A lesson in index mythology might help investors’ insomnia. Stimulus expectations have dramatically tempered in recent weeks.

The improving labor market data and positive medical advancements on COVID-19 treatment provide a headwind to hopes for a new relief bill. Still, small businesses and millions of Americans are struggling dearly, so one might expect leaders to meet in the middle on some relief efforts in the coming weeks. On the data front, U.S. retail sales are a key event. Results this morning were down, but better than expected. Housing data is expected to remain robust. While unemployment claims are likely to come in steady around 700,000. As of last week, over 21 million Americans were claiming benefits across all U.S. programs.

So why should we give thanks? The US economy continues to heal. Payrolls keep growing, unemployment claims – though still elevated – are shrinking, key measures of the manufacturing and service sectors remain well into positive territory, and, as this week should show, both retail sales and industrial production remain on an upward trajectory. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 3.3%, S&P up 10.97%, and Nasdaq up 31.84% through the close last 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.

Elections And Strategy – Nothing To Fear – Focus on You

Elections and strategy nothing to fear

Halloween is right around the corner, and like everything else, it’s markedly different this year. Some people find it thrilling to dress up and decorate the house, others think it’s just plain scary. It’s the unknown that gives us that frisson of fear, and there are a lot of unknowns this year.

The U.S. election is days away, and we are being bombarded with predictions about the effects the winner will have on the economy. How concerned should we be? In balance, history shows that elections, just like daily market volatility, don’t affect long-term investors negatively. We have a long-term strategy in place to help you pursue your goals, so any uncertainty, whether market, political or otherwise, shouldn’t worry you. Simply tune out the noise, and turn your focus to your goals.

Taking a goals-based approach to investment risk

The real measure of risk is whether or not you reach your financial goals. While investors may view risk in a number of ways, the perspective you take should help guide you toward your long-term goals. Focus on you.

Typically, investors measure risk by comparing performance to a market index (or benchmark), such as the S&P 500 or NASDAQ. So, if it was a tough period and the benchmark was down 10% but your investment portfolio was down 8%, you “outperformed.”

Relatively speaking, that’s not bad. Yet the fact is you’ve experienced a considerable loss in capital, which may put one or more of your financial goals at risk. Especially for those fast approaching a major financial milestone, such as retirement, there’s not much comfort in that type of standard.

Goals-based investing keeps your future in sight – Focus on You

Another approach, likely to provide you with a more helpful long-term perspective, is to look at risk in a personal way. That is, risk can be based on your unique life goals, rather than the market alone. And the probability of meeting or falling short of those goals. This is better known in investment terms as a goals-based approach. After all, investing should be about achieving the future you want. Whether it’s affording a satisfying retirement, your children’s education or a major home renovation.

As your advisor, I can help you integrate this approach. First, we review your financial profile and short- and long-term objectives. From there, we can build a portfolio that puts you on track by, perhaps, funding and investing in each goal independently. Each goal could work in aggregate as part of a whole portfolio, while having unique time horizons, asset allocations or risk profiles. This is one possible approach, among others, to goals-based investing that we could use.

Gauging portfolio risk and performance, then, is a matter of tracking the total returns of your portfolio. Not the relative returns compared to an index, and determining whether or not your goals are within reach.

Navigating market volatility to meet your goals

Achieving your financial goals, especially your long-term goals, through investing requires a highly disciplined approach. And flexibility to navigate the ups and downs of the market. I can help you maximize returns and minimize losses by integrating a number of important investment techniques. A few such techniques include:

  • Diversification – Certain investments, asset classes or market segments perform better at different times. It’s important to avoid concentrating your portfolio in one particular area only, since you will risk missing out on attractive investment opportunities in other markets.
  • Investing early – To reach your long-term financial goals, you need to begin investing as early as possible and for the long term. This will help you compound your earnings as you generate more returns on your asset’s reinvested earnings over time.
  • Systematic investing – Making regular investment contributions, instead of random ones, can help build your wealth in a disciplined manner. All while keeping you invested through all market conditions to enhance your long-term growth potential.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss taking a goals-based approach in your portfolio, or if you’d like to review your financial objectives for the future. And be sure to vote on November 3rd!

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.

Earnings Season is Here How will Markets React

Earnings season is here

U.S. indices logged modest gains after strong U.S. retail sales, building a week full of volatility. Investors juggled headlines on stimulus negotiations, the continuing COVID-19 crisis, and earnings season is here, kicking off this week. Last week all indexes finished slightly higher. The Dow up 0.07%, S&P up 0.21%, and Nasdaq up 0.79%.

Last Week

The tech titans propelled the Nasdaq higher, while the Dow and S&P 500 indexes sat flat. Bank earnings largely exceeded expectations. Banks were propelled by decent loan growth and dramatic decreases in loan loss provisions. The Philly Fed manufacturing index indicated activity picked up to its best level since February. Weekly unemployment claims rose to 898,000. Continuing unemployment claims fell sharply. Analysts note it is because many exhausted the 26-week limit. This strengthens the argument for U.S. lawmakers to act swiftly to provide relief from COVID-19’s lingering economic effects.

Markets struggled for direction last week as global COVID-19 cases rose to their highest levels since summer. The U.S. reported its highest daily infection count in two months and worldwide cases topped 39 million. Limited lock-downs in Europe are being called for amid the increases. Concerns surrounding the use of lock-downs and their impact, coupled with stalled stimulus talks domestically, made for choppy equity markets. September retail sales were seen rising by 1.9% last week as auto sales v-roomed ahead as they continue rebounding from second quarter lows.

The Week Ahead

While back-and-forth trade may persist, longer-term technical indicators look constructive. Earnings season will likely play second fiddle to stimulus negotiations, election polls, and vaccine progress. Eighty S&P 500 names report earnings this week, highlighted by Procter and Gamble, Verizon, Netflix, Southwest Airlines, and Coca-Cola. Given recent consumer data, upside surprises for many names seem plausible. Economic data to watch will be Tuesday’s housing starts and building permits. Thursday’s unemployment claims, will also be watched closely, to see if the negative trend build. As election uncertainty continues, focusing on events that are likely to occur can add some investing clarity. The U.S. should have a vaccine sometime in the next few months. There will likely be another large round of federal stimulus in the next few months. The Fed will likely keep rates near zero for as long as the economy needs it.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 0.24%, S&P up 7.83%, and Nasdaq up 30.08% through the close on Friday.

Have a fun and safe week!

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.

Presidential Virus Case and Impact on the Markets

Presidential Virus

Happy fall y’ll! The President has contracted the virus. Lawmakers are working on a coronavirus relief bill. Jobs continue to recover, but at a slower than expected rate. Last week all indexes finished up. The Dow up 1.9%, S&P 1.5%, and Nasdaq 1.5%. The markets fell mid last week as news of the Presidential virus emerged, before rallying by the weeks end.

Last Week

Despite President Trump testing positive for coronavirus, equities ended a volatile week higher. Investors became more upbeat about a potential stimulus package. The positive test for the President does creates near term uncertainty. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump’s prognosis changed the shape of talks over a new stimulus package. In economic news, non-farm payrolls continued to improve with 661,000 jobs added in September. These numbers are below the consensus of 859,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. The pace of growth in the manufacturing sector slowed in September. But still expanded with an ISM Manufacturing Index reading of 55.4.

Consumer spending was up 1% over the prior month. This is the 4th straight monthly increase, and is now down roughly 2% compared to a year ago. Initial jobless claims for the week ended September 26 were 837,000. Marking the 5th consecutive week between 800,000 and 900,0000. Continued claims, or the number of people already receiving unemployment benefits, fell by nearly 1 million. This marks the lowest level since March. The jobs report released Friday showed the U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs in September. This data was below expectations, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9%. The economy has now recovered about half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. Adding 11.4 million jobs from May through September.

The Week Ahead

Looking ahead, the path of COVID-19 and the presidential election will remain at the forefront of investors’ minds. In addition, the major banks will report results starting in less than two weeks. This will provide a good barometer of the health of the overall economy. President Trump’s health is a huge macro risk with far reaching financial market implications. Just weeks away from the Presidential election, it is clear anything can happen. The base case is for a full recovery. However, polls could move in the coming weeks as voters assess his health and his tone on the virus. Furthermore, the Supreme Court nomination and the battle over fiscal stimulus remain key topics. Neither of which look to be resolved easily. Fed chair Powell will offer insights into the economic outlook today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been on the attack for over seven months now. We are still anxiously awaiting a medical breakthrough that will help us better coexist with this virus. There is a good chance the virus may never go away, according to experts. In late September, Dr. Anthony Fauci, commented that COVID-19 vaccinations could begin as early as November or December. In all likelihood, a vaccine will not be available prior to election day on 11/3/20. As a result, things could get a bit bumpy in the markets in October based on the daily news feed. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.0%, S&P up 3.6%, and Nasdaq up 28.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a great 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. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Historical performance figures for the indices are for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any actual investment.

Markets Retreat after the Fed Chairman Said This

Fed Chairman

Welcome to fall 2020! Stocks rallied early last week, then fell after the Fed meeting on Wednesday. Last week all indexes finished flat or down. The Dow barely dropped 0.03%, S&P was down 0.64%, and Nasdaq down 0.56%. Tech stocks continued to sell off, leading to the Nasdaq’s 3rd straight weekly decline.

Last Week

The markets see-sawed through the week before finishing lower. Stalemate in Washington over any kind of relief bill continued. The Fed meeting on Wednesday was highlighted by projections to keep interest rates near zero through 2023. Economic data missed the mark too. Retail sales came in lower than expected. The weekly unemployment claims came in higher than expectations of 860,000. Housing starts and building permit data came in lower than expected. The decline of housing data compared to July is likely attributed to higher lumber prices.

More on the Fed. Low interest rates enhance the value of all equities. The Fed indicated this past week that it intends to keep its overnight federal funds rate target at 0-0.25% until 2023. They also said they would continue purchasing Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities. Chairman Powell said they will keep this stance until the labor market returns to full employment. Pre-covid unemployment rates were 3.5%.

The Week Ahead

The Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, speaks on Tuesday. Many agree the recovery has slowed, so to what degree that slowing has occurred will be seen in the latest reports. Fed chair Powell’s testimony on the CARES Act could contain market-moving morsels on Tuesday and Wednesday, as could treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s testimony on Thursday. Another week of high unemployment claims looms, but so far, the market remains relatively content with the labor market’s status. Friday’s durable goods orders offers insight into capital expenditure intentions among companies, and it’s poised to decline slightly. The elephant in the room for the market is the Presidential election, now roughly 6 weeks away.

Looking ahead to October. October is a peculiarly dangerous month to speculate in stocks. According to the Trader’s Almanac, that is especially true in presidential-election years. Since 1952, the Dow industrial averaged a 0.8% decline in those years. The S&P 500 index averaged a 0.7% drop. In Octobers of election years, the market was generally up when the incumbent party won. Not surprising as bull markets tend to favor the party in power. Clarity on the next 4 years will be here soon! Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.09%, S&P up 2.75%, and Nasdaq up 20.29% through the close on Friday.

Have a great week!

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How the Markets are Moving – Market Brief September 14, 2020

How the Markets are Moving

With school back in session, the markets have slumped for two weeks now. Last week all indexes finished down. The Dow down 3.3%, S&P 2.5%, and Nasdaq 4.0%. Following the long weekend, the markets fell right from the start. Technology stocks led the free fall, as investors continue to selloff the big winners. Continue reading for the latest Market Brief and insight into how the markets are moving.

Last Week

The S&P 500 index finished last week with the worst performance since June. The next coronavirus relief package hangs in limbo as Senate Democrats and Republicans remain miles apart. Investors continue to fear lasting volatility from the looming Presidential election. According to Predict-It, Democratic candidate Biden has a 17% lead over the incumbent. The Fed recently said it would no longer preemptively raise interest rates to prevent higher inflation. Instead, the Fed will wait to tighten monetary policy until there is clear evidence of inflation running above its target of 2%.

Counter intuitively, volatility indices finished much softer despite turbulence in equities. The weekly unemployment claims figured held steady at 884k, above estimates. 884K is the lowest level of initial unemployment claims since broad economic shutdowns took effect in March, suggesting the labor market continues to make progress in its recovery. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs rose 380,000 to 29.6 million.

The Week Ahead

Technical levels may be a primary driver of flows, but a busy data slate awaits investors this week. Chinese growth rates will be released today. On Wednesday, U.S. retail sales figures are published and the Federal Reserve is meeting to update economic projections. If passed, probability is rising that any stimulus package is going to be underwhelming. The Fed’s updated projections may show slower growth, hotter inflation, and stationary policy for longer.

On the data front, Chinese growth figures are poised for a modest increase, while U.S. retail sales are expected to slip slightly. Thursday’s unemployment claims will be closely watch for any reversal higher, while housing data is expected to remain robust. Lastly, an updated look at consumer sentiment will close out what looks to be a busy and pivotal week for global financial markets.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.06%, S&P up 3.41%, and Nasdaq up 20.96% through the close on Friday.

Have a great week!

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The Great Divide – Economy and Markets

The Great Divide - Economy and Markets

The Dog Days are here! School is back in session, some in-person, some virtual. The virus continues to be present and the economy slowly is rebuilding while the markets continue to climb. Last week indexes finished slightly up. The Dow up 1.8%, S&P up 0.64%, and Nasdaq up 0.08%. The S&P began the week rising for it’s 7th straight session in the green and briefly passed the all-time high on Wednesday. The flat performance was a result of uncertainty with economic data, the latest virus patterns, and a second fiscal stimulus package that never was.

Last Week

The S&P 500 index is close to record territory once again. The economy and the stock market seem far off. Thursday marked the 100th day since the market lows on March 23. The markets have rebounded 50% since then. A strong recovery for investors, while millions have lost jobs and over 160,000 Americans have lost their lives. Management reports on earnings calls have been surprised at the speed and scale of the demand rebound. Many companies expected a short lived drop, followed by a gradual recovery. Not so much the “snap-back” experienced.

It is encouraging that the U.S. has added back millions of jobs lost during the first wave. Last Thursday marked the first jobless claims report under 1 million since March. Also, from earnings calls, consensus views are pointing towards record breaking earnings next year. Strongly supported by interest rates, which continue to be favorable for the foreseeable future. Investor fears over companies falling into financial distress are offset by the Feds support of buying bonds and Congress spending on relief. Retail sales also rose in July 1.2% higher than June, setting a new all-time high, and another sign of recovery.

The Week Ahead

The equity markets will have their eyes on Washington in hopes of a new stimulus. On Thursday, unemployment claims will be reported and the hope is that a under 1 million trend goes on. Continuing unemployment claims are still above 15 million, however, this is much lower than the 25 million in May. Stress for parents remains as school openings have created more unrest than security. How the school year unfolds for parents will no doubt impact the workforce productivity. Some areas of the country have already started so watching closely for signs that reopening in person can be done safely is key.

At the end of the day, it is clear the markets and the economy are not one in the same. Very different directions, as reflected in year-to-date index performance; Dow down 2.1%, S&P up 4.4%, and Nasdaq up 22.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a safe 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.

Market Brief – 2020 Mid-Year Review

Market Brief 2020 Mid-Year Review

Dog days of summer have arrived. For 2020, it feels like the dog days arrived in March. From the moment the pandemic began to spread, to stay-at-home orders, to lock-downs, to protest rallies, to reopening phases, and back to more restrictions… what a year, and we are only halfway home. Didn’t even mentions the murder hornets! Let’s take a minute to catch our breath and see where we have been, where we are, and where we will go. Currently, we are in the midst of earnings season. Big name stocks will report second quarter earnings this week. Last week the main indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 2.3%, S&P up 1.25%, and Nasdaq down 1.1%. The S&P 500 outperformed the Nasdaq index by the widest margin since February 2016. The markets were mainly buoyed by progress of a virus vaccine.

What Happened?

The year started off strong through mid-February. Early cases and the fast spread of the coronavirus took hold in Asia and quickly jumped country borders to become a worldwide pandemic. Just about a month from the market peak in February came the market lows in March, a 33.9% drop for the S&P index. In just a few weeks, the U.S. economy erased 7 years of employment gains. 30 million Americans lost jobs, driving unemployment as high as 22% in April. By June, the unemployment rate hovered around 14%. Still extremely high, but significantly lower from 2 months prior.

In March, the Fed stepped in and provided a backstop to the equity markets. Stabilizing and possibly adding turbo to the economy via stimulus for individuals and businesses. The pandemic accelerated tech disruption. It changed how companies reach consumers, how supply chains work, how to deal with remote employees, and still build their brands.

Where Are We Today?

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 6.54%, S&P down 0.2%, and Nasdaq up 17.0% through the close on Friday. Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the Trump administration and Senate leadership are discussing a new stimulus bill. The end of July is the target time frame as the previous stimulus benefits are ending. The housing market reports are exceeding expectation. Current metrics show a shortage of existing home inventory, limited housing labor to build new homes, and a shortage of entry level homes for the first time home buyer. Historically low mortgage rates help boost the housing demand. Labor income across the board is surging and consumer spending is rebounding.

The markets are in fairly good position today. Much of the strength is attributed to the Fed and swift implementation of monetary policy. With interest rates near zero, investors are willing to pay for future earnings. Growth stocks have done well, value stocks have lagged. When the economy improves and interest rates rise, growth stocks will be challenged by high valuations. Communities have begun to re-open. The U.S. seems to have chosen independence over lock-down. This has led to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. Deaths due to the virus have decreased as health care has gotten smarter about how to handle symptomatic cases. The resurgence of hiring and end of mass layoffs indicate the job market is recovering. While the decreasing layoffs and increasing hires offer hope, the reopening process has been trending in the wrong direction.

Where Are We Going?

It’s election season. From here on out, politics will headline media reports. Snippets and quotes from leadership on both sides will sway the markets. Bigger than the election is the Fed’s actions. Interest rates are low and likely to remain low for a very long time. This creates a scenario of easy lending and the opportunity for trillions of dollars to remain invested in the market. The future months will measured by the resurgence of the coronavirus, how quickly a vaccine can be developed, another round of monetary stimulus, and the upcoming election. If you thought the first half of 2020 was a roller coaster, the second half might be just as wild! Take care and be safe.

Market Brief’s are taking a summer hiatus, see you at the end of August!

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Market Brief July 6, 2020

Market Brief July 6 2020

Welcome back after the holiday weekend. The markets welcomed us back with a big day today, all indexes were in the green! This positive trend is a continuation from the previous week. Last week all indexes finished up. The Dow up 3.3%, S&P 4.0%, and Nasdaq 4.6%. The markets had a short week due to the holiday observance on Friday. Virus cases continue to rise. The Fed remains extremely helpful. And election season is right around the corner.

Last Week

The markets shrugged off the rising Covid cases. The S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq all finished their best quarters in decades. Manufacturing data was better than expected. June payroll was released last Thursday morning, and the positive report sent stocks soaring. The report indicated that 4.8 million jobs were added in the month of June. The U.S. reported a daily record of 52,000 new cases in a 24-hour period. The Fed continues to pump money into the economy. Chances of another round of stimulus are high. And progress for a Covid vaccine get better each day.

The Week Ahead

The markets are in a historically bullish time frame, June 26-July 11. Historically, the market gains 6.3% over this time frame. If history repeats, the indexes could hit all-time highs. On the flip side, it is an election year. The markets tend to fall prior to the election. The beginning of earnings season could help buck the trend as quarterly reports will be released in mid-July.

The U.S. labor market has recouped nearly 1/3 of March and April job losses, but employment fractures linger. Initial jobless claims have provided one of the most current pictures of the state of the economy and have stayed stubbornly high. Continuing claims came in at 19 million last week, so many Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits. This suggest s that either the first wave of job losses continues, or businesses that have re-opened are beg inning to shutter. With the increase of Covid cases, another lock-down is not likely, but delayed progression is inevitable.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 9.5%, S&P down 3.1%, and Nasdaq up 13.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a great week. Stay cool and safe!

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Market Brief June 29, 2020

Market Brief June 29 2020

Summer is full swing and so is the heat! The markets continue to sweat up and down. Last week all indexes finished down. The Dow down 3.3%, S&P 2.8%, and Nasdaq 1.9%. The markets fell mid last week as virus cases rose. More states delayed or paused reopening plans. Some small businesses chose to close their own stores.

Last Week

The V-shaped economic recovery is being challenged. Virus cases rose over 30% in some states last week. 33 states showed increases in cases. States, such as Texas and Florida, closed bars and reduced restaurant capacity. Bank shares fell as the Fed ordered them to stop share buyback programs and dividend payouts. The global economy shows signs of recovery based on PMI economic reports. The indexes fell for the second weekly loss in the past three weeks.

The Week Ahead

The markets are closed on Friday in observance of Independence Day holiday. Jobs data being released on Thursday morning will headline the reporting week. Pending home sales in May were expected to increase 18%, and the reading came in at 44.3% for May! That is good news for the economy. In fact, the coronavirus contraction could end up being the shortest U.S. recession ever. And the recession may already be over. Despite the worst part potentially behind us, recovery will take a long time. During 10 recessions since 1950, it took an average of 30 months for the lost jobs to finally return. Not to mention, the two previous recoveries took longer, 4 and 6 years respectively. Many more jobs were lost from the virus, so the rebound might be here now, but full recovery may take much longer.

To put the recession behind us two points are in focus. The first, improving health situation. Second, continued federal government support. The latter picture is more clear. The former, not so much. Federal unemployment benefits expire at the end of July. However, with the recent rise in cases, renewing these benefit programs may be a reality. Current discussion for another round of stimulus includes $1.5 trillion package. At the end of the day, the markets continue to worry about another outbreak. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 12.3%, S&P down 6.8%, and Nasdaq up 8.74% through the close on Friday.

Have a fun and safe 4th of July holiday!

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Market Brief May 18 2020

Market Brief May 18 2020

Fed Chair Powell reiterated the committee’s outlook for the economy was highly uncertain and that unemployment may peak in the coming month. Another 2.9 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the 8-week total to nearly 37 million. The bright side, continuing claims ‘only’ rose to 22.8 million from 22.4 million. This is another week of increasing claims at a decreasing rate. The markets all finished down for the week. It was the Dow and Nasdaq’s worst week since week ended April 3, and the S&P 500’s worst week since March 20.

Last Week

Volatility rose last week as confidence in the recovery and re-openings went back and forth. With some parts of the country slowly opening, there are glimmers of hope. Consumer confidence, measured by the University of Michigan, rose slightly in the May preliminary reading. Mortgage applications rose for the fourth straight week. Refinancing slowed, but it is still up 200% compared to the previous year, spurred by low interest rates.

At the same time, U.S and China are back at each other. The Trump administration ordered the federal employee retirement fund not to invest in Chinese companies. Specifically, companies that could be sanctioned for actions supporting the spread of the coronavirus. The unemployment total for the last two months has now reached 36.5 million Americans. For the week, the Dow fell 2.7%, the S&P 500 fell 2.3%, and the Nasdaq fell 1.2%.

This Week

As the economy goes through an unsynchronized reopening process, it seems apparent that any decline in unemployment is unlikely to match the pace of its ascent higher. Economists are projecting the U.S. economy to contract at 6.6% this year. The previous estimate was a contraction of 4.9%. The high unemployment, coupled with declining consumption and a fresh spat between U.S./China keeps everything on the rocks.

Politically, lawmakers are weighing a fresh stimulus. The House passed the $3 trillion spending plan. On the data watch, U.S. building permits will be released on Tuesday. This gauge indicates housing activity as some states edge back to “normal”. Thursday, weekly unemployment claims will be released, and Fed Chair Powell speaks. Wall Street investors will be very tuned into what he has to say.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 17.0%, S&P down 11.4%, and Nasdaq up 0.5%.

Have a fun and safe Halloween week!

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Market Brief May 11 2020

Market Brief May 11 2020

The markets finished up last week. Surprising to some investors as the unemployment numbers for April hit a record setting 20 million. This equates to an unemployment figure of 14.7%! To put the job loss in perspective, from October 2010 to February 2020, the economy added 22.1 million jobs. Last Thursday, 3.1m former workers filed for unemployment benefits. However, it was the 5th straight week when the number of applicants fell. For some, this is a signal of improvement. This also may point to the fact that the worst is behind us. The forward looking market is ready for a turnaround.

Last Week

States are re-opening and sharing their blueprints with others to follow. Companies reporting earnings last week continued to withdraw guidance. Companies are sharing less than optimistic commentary. Economic reports have met the ugly reality, but have not exceeded those benchmarks. This has helped prop up the markets for now. Along with positive news regarding potential vaccine for Covid. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week – Dow up 2.6%, S&P 3.5%, and Nasdaq 6.0%.

During the earnings came the release of dividend status. The number of dividends increased in April totaled 19, down from 30 a year ago. Year-to-date, dividend increases totaled 144, down from 148 over the same period a year ago. Twelve dividends were cut in April, compared to one cut a year ago. Twelve dividends were suspended in April, bringing the total to 22 for 2020. This is a sign of uncertainty and caution among companies. Instead of paying a dividend, these companies are raising cash on hand, paying down debt, or using for day-to-day operating expenses until “normal” returns.

Week Ahead

Investors are currently looking at the bright side and trying to figure out when normal is back. Closely watching how states are re-opening and if Covid cases begin to increase in those states. The retail sales report on Friday will tell us one of two things. Is the consumer completely locked down, including their wallets? Or, has the quarantine led to regular or even higher spending with people sitting around their house all day? Other economic news, CPI and PPI will both be released next week as investors digest the impact of the slowdown on both the economy and the stock market.

Continued U.S. and China tension is back on the front burner. Similar to the back-and-forth in 2019, market swill ebb and flow with the latest tweet, response, and action taken by each side. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down -14.7%, S&P down -9.3%, and Nasdaq up 1.7%.

Have a safe week!

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