The MarketsCOVID-19 strikes again.Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Europe, climbing from about 700,000 new cases a week in September to 2.6 million a week in November, reported Richard Pérez-Peña and Jason Horowitz of the New York Times. As Thanksgiving approached, there was concern that travel and togetherness could increase the number of cases in the United States, too, creating stress on already taxed healthcare systems. Jamie Smyth and Caitlin Gilbert of the Financial Times explained:“…what was expected to be a celebration has become fraught with danger in some Midwestern states, where vaccination rates are low and COVID-19 [...]
The Markets Thinking about the possibilities. The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index finished last week slightly higher and has gained about 6 percent during the past 25 days; however, investors have curbed their enthusiasm. The S&P 500 hasn’t experienced a move of one percent or more in 25 trading days. That’s the longest period without a move of that size in about two years, according to a source cited by Avi Salzman of Barron’s. It’s possible investors are taking time to think about the current mix of conditions and how the economy and financial markets may be affected. For [...]
Weekly Market Commentary – Economists like to joke that inflation is just right when no one notices it.
The Markets Economists like to joke that inflation is just right when no one notices it. Last week, investors noticed it. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measure of inflation, rose 0.9 percent in October and 6.2 percent over the last 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (When volatile food and energy prices were excluded, the CPI was 4.6 percent for the period.) That’s the highest level for inflation in 30 years, according to The Economist, and well above the United States Federal Reserve’s policy goal of two percent inflation over the longer term. Uncertainty [...]
The Markets Feeling bullish… Investor bullishness ticked higher last week on all four investor sentiment gauges tracked by Barron’s. Investor optimism may have been fanned by positive financial and economic news. For example, last week: The jobs report was better than expected. Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 531,000 new jobs were added in October, lowering the unemployment rate to 4.6%. In addition, the employment numbers for August and September were better than previously reported. The BLS Employment Diffusion Index measures the breadth of employment gains across the economy. It rose from 63.6 in September to [...]
The Markets The road to recovery is slow and bumpy. Last week, we learned that economic growth slowed in the third quarter as a new wave of COVID-19 surged across the United States, reported The Bureau of Economic Analysis. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the value of all goods and services produced in the United States, increased by 2 percent annualized in the third quarter. Consumer spending dropped sharply during the period. The change may reflect the limited availability of goods due to supply-chain issues, a reluctance to pay higher prices, or a drop in disposable personal income. Jeff [...]
The Markets It’s MESSI! No, this commentary is not about Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer phenom who is widely regarded one of the greatest footballers of all time. However, it is about something that economists say may be as rare as Messi’s talent: Moderating Expansion with Sticky Supply-driven Inflation (MESSI). You can see why we prefer the acronym. MESSI is a type of inflation that occurs when “strong, but cooling demand is met by constrained, but accelerating supply, leading to transitory, yet sticky inflation.”1 The coronavirus pandemic may have produced just the right circumstances, according to Gregory Daco of [...]
The Markets Don’t get spooked! Barron’s Big Money Poll is an exclusive survey of market sentiment among professional investors. Last week, Nicholas Jasinski reported on 2021’s findings: “America’s money managers are optimistic about the long-term outlook for the economy, the financial markets, and the recovery from the [COVID-19] pandemic. It’s the short-term prognosis that concerns them. Monetary and fiscal policies are in flux. Supply-chain bottlenecks and labor shortages are igniting inflation and threatening corporate profit margins, and the economic recovery from 2020’s recession –so robust until now – is decelerating. Add pricey stock valuations and rising bond yields, and the [...]
Weekly Market Commentary – The word “jouncy” may have started life as a combination of bouncy and jolting – and it’s a pretty good way to describe what happened to stock markets last week.
The Markets The word “jouncy” may have started life as a combination of bouncy and jolting – and it’s a pretty good way to describe what happened to stock markets last week. The week started with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index experiencing daily gains and losses of about one percent. Other major U.S. indices saw sizeable daily swings in value, too. Lu Wang of Bloomberg reported: “The harrowing reversals reflect a particularly stark divide between bull and bear cases in markets right now. On one side, risk appetites are being constricted by lingering uncertainty over the government debt [...]
The Markets September strikes again… If you look back over the last 20 years, September has been the worst performing month for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to Nasdaq. This year, the S&P 500 dropped 4.8 percent in September. That wasn’t enough to wipe out gains from earlier in the third quarter, and the Index finished the quarter slightly higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index also tumbled in September. Their losses erased the previous two month’s gains, so the Dow and Nasdaq finished the quarter lower than they started it, reported Caitlin McCabe [...]
Weekly Market Commentary – Central banks have a lot of influence on investors, markets and economies.
The Markets Central banks have a lot of influence on investors, markets and economies. For the last year or so, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing $120 billion of bonds every month to ensure United States markets remained liquid and interest rates remained low during the pandemic. Last Wednesday, the Fed announced that it is ready to begin to buy fewer bonds, a process known as tapering. The Fed’s taper is expected to begin before year-end. The Fed is not expected to push interest rates higher for some time so, overall, monetary policy will continue to support economic growth. [...]