Market Commentary August 24, 2020

Market Commentary August 24, 2020

How Are Your Investments Doing Lately?  Receive A Free, No-Obligation 2nd Opinion On Your Investment Portfolio >

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

The shortest bear market in history is over.

 The Nasdaq Composite and Standard & Poor’s 500 Indices finished at new highs last week. The stock market is considered to be a leading economic indicator, so strong stock market performance suggests economic improvement ahead.

There was a caveat to last week’s gains, though. One large technology company was responsible for 60 percent of the S&P’s weekly gains (0.7 percent), reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s. The same large company is also a component of the Dow Jones Industrials Index, which finished the week flat. Without that stock, the Dow would have finished the week lower. Levisohn wrote:

 “The S&P 500 might have hit a record last week, but most stocks have been having bad days. On Friday, for instance, just 220 stocks in the S&P 500 closed higher for the day, and that was far from an anomaly. The S&P 500’s cumulative advance/decline line – a measure of the number of stocks finishing higher versus those finishing lower that technicians use to gauge the market’s underlying strength – has been falling even as the S&P 500 progressed to a record.”

 One reason for the U.S. stock market’s rise to date may be dividends, reported Lawrence Strauss of Barron’s. “…equities remain attractive relative to 10-year U.S. Treasuries. The yield on that bond was recently at 0.67 percent, about one percentage point below the S&P 500’s yield.”

The story told by last week’s jobs data was as uncertain as the one told by the U.S. stock market. The Department of Labor reported jobless claims moved higher with 1.1 million people filing new claims for the week of August 15. During the previous week, new claims had fallen below one million. The four-week moving average for new claims continued to trend lower.

The unemployment rate dropped from 10.6 percent to 10.2 percent. That’s an improvement over April’s 14.4 percent, but the rate remains historically high. As a point for comparison, during the Great Recession, the unemployment rate peaked at 10.6 percent in January 2010, according to Rakesh Kochhar of Pew Research Center.

There was also a decline in the number of jobs posted. (Job postings provide insight to labor market activity in real time.) The Indeed Hiring Lab reported postings were down more than 20 percent year-over-year as of August 14, 2020. It was the first decline in the number of job listings since April 2020. Fewer jobs were available in hospitality, tourism, childcare, banking, finance, and software development.

improbable research. The Annals of Improbable Research publishes “…research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK. Real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere – research that’s maybe good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless.” In that spirit, here are a few notable scientific studies that may inspire awe and/or skepticism:

  • Coffee improves longevity. There has been a lot of research exploring whether coffee helps people live longer or shortens their life spans. A metastudy published in the European Journal of Epidemiology found people who drank two to four cups of coffee a day were likely to live longer than those who drank no coffee.
  • People don’t know what they don’t know – and they don’t know it. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. “Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.” Notably, when the unskilled are trained and develop skills, they recognize the limits of their abilities.
  • Insights about alligators on treadmills. Researchers at the University of Utah found, “…alligators, unlike lizards, are able to walk and breathe at the same time by using a rocking pubic bone – part of the pelvis – to help them inhale and exhale,” reported Science Daily. A study published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology reported alligators that trained on treadmills for 15 months improved their peak oxygen rate by 27 percent.
  • Arachnids fly the friendly skies. Venomous pseudoscorpions, which are tiny predatory arachnids, have perfected the art of hitchhiking. They attach to flying insects, such as beetles, when they want to travel to new hunting grounds, reported National Museum Publications.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“All sorts of things can happen when you’re open to new ideas and playing around with things.”
–Stephanie Kwolek, Chemist and inventor of Kevlar

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

Sources:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/18/stocks-record-high-sp-500/ (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-24-20_TheWashingtonPost-US_Stocks_Hit_Record_High_Ending_Shortest_Bear_Market_in_History-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/articles/apple-stock-gets-the-credit-for-pushing-the-stock-market-to-a-record-high-51598055728?refsec=the-trader (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-24-20_Barrons-Apple_is_Unstoppable_and_It_Carried_the_Stock_Market_to_a_Record_High-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/articles/high-yielding-stocks-have-faltered-in-2020but-some-see-value-51597845610 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-24-20_Barrons-High-Yielding_Stocks_have_Faltered_in_2020_but_Some_See_Value-Footnote_3.pdf)
https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/11/unemployment-rose-higher-in-three-months-of-covid-19-than-it-did-in-two-years-of-the-great-recession/
https://www.hiringlab.org/2020/08/18/job-postings-through-august-14/
https://www.improbable.com/publications/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31055709/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/dunning-kruger-effect
https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/1999-15054-002
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/11/011119070351.htm
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2768110/
https://nationalmuseumpublications.co.za/pseudoscorpions-arachnid-hitchhikers/
https://interestingengineering.com/25-quotes-from-powerful-women-in-stem-who-will-inspire-you

Forgotten 401Ks

Forgotten 401Ks

Zombies
They’ll eat you alive!

Failure to Rebalance – Zombie Sign #1

When was the last time you rebalanced your 401(k) or other retirement account? When you set it up, you took a fairly conservative approach and bought 60% stock mutual funds and 40% bond mutual funds. Over time, the values of those funds have changed, perhaps significantly. Right now, your stock funds might comprise 85% of your account. Great. Excellent gain. But . . . . you are now subjecting yourself to greater risk. You need to rebalance. Now. And at least every six months.

If you’re sitting on an out-of-balance retirement account—or several different retirement accounts—then you are sitting on a Zombie Account. That’s right. That’s what investment advisors call it: an account left for dead, an account that might just rise up (at night, of course) and devour your net worth.

Not a pretty sight, these Zombie accounts . . . .

iStock by Getty Images

Failure to Increase Contributions to Retirement Accounts – Zombie Sign #2

When was the last time you increased your contributions to your retirement account? You’re making more money now. Shouldn’t you be saving more? Yet many people set up retirement accounts in their youth and establish relatively small automatic contributions. But as your income increases, so should your retirement allocations. Under current federal tax law, you can contribute $19,500 to your 401(k) or similar workplace plan; that’s up from $19,000 in 2019. If you’re 50 or older, the catch-up contribution limit is $6,500, up from $6,000 in 2019. “If your employer allows after-tax contributions or you’re self-employed, you can save even more. The overall defined contribution plan limit moves up to $57,000 [in 2020], from $56,000 [in 2019].”[i]

Ask any rich person, “What’s your secret?” One answer they always give: “Save as much as you can. Compounding investment amounts in tax-free accounts can result in large returns when you reach your 60s.”

So any retirement account you have sitting around growing with contributions you made when you were young . . . . Well, that’s a Zombie Account.

Failure to Move Old Retirement Accounts – Zombie Sign #3

Oops, what about that account you set up when you worked for Acme Widgets? Great job, that was. But your current position pays a boatload more. Did you have a retirement account at Acme? The stats should make any working American sit up and take notice. Get this:

A 2013 survey by ING Direct USA showed half of American adults who participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), have left an account at a previous employer. These “orphaned” accounts represented more than $1 trillion in investment dollars in 2010.[ii] (emphasis added)

You need to launch a search for any Zombie accounts sitting around with previous employers. You can call the Human Resource people at those companies for assistance. You might also get in touch with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Or you can check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits at unclaimedretirementbenefits.com. According to the website, “The National Registry is a nationwide, secure database listing of retirement plan account balances that have been left unclaimed by former participants of retirement plans.”

Once you locate these Zombie accounts, you need to roll them over into your current 401(k) or IRA. You should check with an investment advisor or your CPA to make sure you’re performing a tax-free rollover and not a taxable distribution.

Act Now

Anyone with Zombie accounts needs to take the steps we’ve outlined above.

Beating the Zombies

There is a better way. No Zombies can arise in the dark of night from funds we manage at Research Financial Advisors. Check us out here: rfsadvisors.com. When you establish an account with us, we ascertain your comfort level of risk. If you’re relatively young, you should probably use our Aggressive Growth Model where we automatically invest your funds in a variety of ETFs we think show the best chance of growth. Right now, as of August 14, 2020, our Aggressive portfolios are up 23.02% year-to-date, net-of-fees. Yes, you read that right. We’re up 23.02%.

Our more conservative portfolio, consisting of 100% bonds, is designed for those who want to reduce risk and increase income. But the market value of our Bond Model is up 1.62% year-to-date, net-of-fees. And that doesn’t count the income the Bond Model has produced.

Many of our clients choose a mix between the Aggressive Model and the Bond Model. The returns on those accounts are less than the Aggressive results but more than the Bond.

Worried about current market volatility? Afraid of another crash just around the corner? Not a problem here at RFS. We know how to play defense. Consider the recent crash. The all-time high of the S&P 500 Index was February 19th. By March 23, the S&P declined 33.92%. Just 8 days after the S&P all-time high, on February 27, 2020, just before the close at 3:56 p.m., we purchased SPXS for all our accounts (larger amounts in the aggressive funds, smaller amounts in the conservative ones). The SPXS ETF produces three times the inverse of drops in the S&P Index. If the S&P goes down 10%, this ETF goes up 30%.

Our purchase price for SPXS: $16.1189 per ETF.

It’s a risky ETF, and we watch it carefully. After all, when the S&P goes up 10%, this ETF drops 30%. But it performed beautifully in March of this year, and shielded our accounts from gut-wrenching market drops. At 1:06 p.m., on March 23, 2020, the exact date of the S&P 33.92% decline, we sold the SPXS positions, banking a significant profit.

Our selling price for SPXS: $26.28 per ETF.

Today, the SPXS is trading at $5.86 or so. The following chart of SPXS shows how we entered our positions at $16.1189 as the rise started to accelerate Notice that we exited our position on March 23 at $26.28, right near the very top of the spike in price.

Each day, we study charts like the one above. We stay alert, ready for the next market rise or the next market plunge. Will the market go down again? Yes. Absolutely. How much? No one knows. When? No one knows. But we’re ready. We’re nimble. We’ll act and play defense when our indicators tell us a drop is about to morph into a plunge.

So say good-bye to Zombies. At RFS, you’ll never experience a failure to rebalance (Zombie Sign #1), for we constantly review your account and make certain it continues to hold those ETFs best suited to your level of risk. Further, we’ll encourage you to increase your contributions to your account as your salary and other remuneration grow (Zombie Sign #2), making sure you comply with all applicable IRS regulations. And we sure as heck won’t let you forget us (Zombie Sign #3), because we stay in touch with you weekly . . . sometimes daily.

In fact, if you need to get in touch with us quickly, we give out our cell phone numbers: There’s no elevator music on our phone system.

Give Us a Call

So look around your financial world and see if some of your accounts qualify as Zombies. Look for the three signs: accounts not rebalanced, retirement accounts receiving low and out-of-date contributions, and accounts sitting at former employers. Or look at your nonretirement accounts. Do any of them qualify as Zombies?

You may call my cell number right now: (240) 401-2355. We can talk about your situation and look at your various accounts.

After all, doing it yourself can sometimes result in doing yourself in.

Best regards,

Jack Reutemann

 

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2019/11/06/irs-announces-higher-2020-retirement-plan-contribution-limits-for-401ks-and-more/#7ecdb4e333bb
[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/zombie-401-k-131547647.html

Market Commentary August 24, 2020

Weekly Market Commentary 8/17/2020

How Are Your Investments Doing Lately?  Receive A Free, No-Obligation 2nd Opinion On Your Investment Portfolio >

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

August 17, 2020

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

he Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index finished the week within a whisker of its February high, reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s.

It’s a remarkable feat. The stock market has recovered in just 175 days. Historically, comparable recoveries (those following market drops of 20 percent or more) have taken about four years, reported Vildana Hajric, Lu Wang, and Claire Ballentine of Bloomberg Quint.

“The sharpness and speed of the downturn – and the immediacy of the overwhelming liquidity and fiscal response from the Federal Reserve and Congress – forestalled the kind of grinding, purgative action of typical bear markets, which wrings out excesses and resets valuations lower. There was also not the shift in market leadership that usually occurs in the crucible of a bear market,” reported Michael Santoli of CNBC.

The recovery is also remarkable because it occurred in the midst of a recession (that some have labeled a depression) and during a period of extraordinarily weak corporate earnings. It’s possible investors are focusing on the fact economic and earnings data has been ‘better-than-expected.’ For instance:

·         The U.S. economy shrank by -32.9 percent during the second quarter. While that was better than the -34.7 percent forecast, the U.S. economy still lost about one-third of its value.

 ·         The blended earnings of companies in the S&P 500 Index were -33.8 percent during the second quarter, as of August 7, which is the latest FactSet Insight report available. While most companies have performed better than anticipated, their profits had fallen significantly.

Last week, in a paper titled Reasons (Not) To Be Cheerful: Certainty, Absurdity, and Fallacious NarrativesGMO’s James Montier wrote, “Never before have I seen a market so highly valued in the face of overwhelming uncertainty. Yet today the U.S. stock market stands at nosebleed-inducing levels of multiple, whilst the fundamentals seem more uncertain than ever before.”

The bottom line is the economy and company profits have contracted sharply while stock market valuations have rocketed higher. The sonic boom of performance startled many market professionals. Strategists tracked by Bloomberg expected the S&P 500 to finish December at 3,117 or about 8 percent lower than it started. They may be wrong, but they may be right. No one is certain what lies ahead.

Life: Pandemic style. The pandemic has changed the ways people all over the world think and interact with one another. It has also inspired artists and designers to find solutions to pressing problems, such as the need for social distancing. Here are a few inventions that may help us cope with pandemic life and help us find a new normal:

·         Glass lamps to dispel loneliness. Imagine you turn on a light in your home and it turns on a light in your parent’s home or your grandparent’s nursing home to let them know you’re thinking about them. Video artist Alexander Lervik’s website describes his invention like this:

“…a set of glass lamps shaped as rocks, which have been given the capacity of apprehending human touch and communicating with other rocks to express community and closeness. Perhaps you own one rock, and an older relative owns another so that they can sense when you touch your stone, thinking of them. The work offers a chance to think about all those old people who are lonely and in need of human touch.”

·         Devices to deliver anxiety-free dining. In the Netherlands, a restaurant has installed glass cabins on its patio that can accommodate two or three diners. Reuters reported, “Waiters wear gloves and transparent face shields, and use a long board to bring dishes into the glass cabins to ensure minimal physical contact with customers.”

Travel and Leisure reported some restaurants may make indoor dining more palatable by installing plexiglass cylinders that hang from the ceiling like lampshades. Diners settle inside the cylinders as they are seated.

·         Hands-free door handles in grocery stores. To overcome pervasive reluctance to touch doorknobs and door handles in public places, a Finnish supermarket installed curved handles that allow shoppers to pull open cooler doors with their forearms, reported the World Economic Forum.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
​“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
–Louis L’Amour, Novelist

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

Sources:
https://www.barrons.com/articles/time-to-build-cash-to-take-advantage-of-stocks-coming-slump-51597451678?mod=hp_LEAD_1 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-17-20_Barrons-Its_Time_to_Build_Cash_to_Take_Advantage_of_Stocks_Coming_Slump-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.bloombergquint.com/markets/to-the-brink-and-back-in-175-days-the-s-p-500-rallies-to-record (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-17-20_Bloomberg-To_Brink_and_Back_in_175_Days-S_and_P_500_Briefly_Tops_Record_Close-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/15/the-2020-comeback-to-record-highs-resembles-storied-market-revivals-of-the-past.html
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-08-06/coronavirus-depression-global-economy (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-17_20_Foreign_Affairs-The_Pandemic_Depression-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/us-gdp-q2-2020-first-reading.html
https://www.factset.com/hubfs/Resources%20Section/Research%20Desk/Earnings%20Insight/EarningsInsight_080720A.pdf (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/08-17-20_Factset-Key_Metrics-Footnote_6.pdf)
https://www.gmo.com/americas/research-library/reasons-not-to-be-cheerful/
http://lervik.se/tactus-lamps/
https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-netherlands-restau/dutch-restaurant-trials-glass-booths-for-dining-amid-coronavirus-idUKKBN22I1HI
https://www.travelandleisure.com/food-drink/restaurants/restaurants-reopening-coronavirus-protective-shields-plexiglass
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/inventions-coronavirus-covid19-innovation/
http://www.louislamour.com/firstchapt/lonelyonmountain1st.htm

Forgotten 401Ks

Navigating Bear Market 17 & Covid19 Webinar

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This Webinar zeroes in on Technical Analysis and Active Management—two strategies that protect your assets in times of trouble. Our equity portfolio shows positive results year-to-date. It currently leads the S&P 500 Index by double digits.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. We are always here for you.
Enjoy!​

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Market Commentary August 24, 2020

Weekly Market Commentary 8/10/2020

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Weekly Financial Market Commentary

August 8, 2020

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There was good news and bad news in last week’s employment report.

The good news was the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered better-than-expected data about employment. In July, the U.S. economy added about 1.8 million new jobs.

That’s about 300,000 more than the Wall Street consensus forecast, according to Jeff Cox of CNBC, who reported, “…there were wide variations around the estimates as the pandemic’s resurgence dented plans to get the shuttered U.S. economy completely back online. Forecasts ranged from a decline of half a million jobs to a rise of 3 million…”

The flip side of employment is unemployment. The U-3 unemployment rate, which reflects unemployed people who are actively seeking a job, declined in July. It has moved steadily lower during the last few months, from 14.7 percent in April to 10.2 percent in July. The U-6 rate, which includes unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers, has declined from 22.8 percent in April to 16.5 percent in July.

The bad news is that, despite declining unemployment numbers, the U.S. unemployment rate is now at 10.2 percent – a level that rivals unemployment during the 1981-82 recession and the Great Recession. On Friday, Matthew Klein of Barron’s explained:

 

“The July data were better than feared, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. economy is in good shape. The danger now is that the private sector’s slowing momentum will be exacerbated by ongoing state and local government retrenchment and the expiration of emergency unemployment benefits that had been supporting disposable income.”

It is possible emergency unemployment benefits will restart before Congress reaches agreement. On Saturday, President Trump issued an executive memo authorizing enhanced unemployment benefits of $400 a week. Three-fourths of the amount would be paid for with disaster relief funds. Regular unemployment benefits plus one-fourth of the emergency benefit would be paid by states.

It is also possible benefits won’t restart until Congress reaches agreement. “Although [President Trump] signed an order to provide enhanced unemployment benefits to millions of out-of-work Americans, it’s unclear if he has the authority to do so by executive order while side-stepping Congress. And, it could take months for states to implement,” reported Jessica Menton of USA Today.

Major U.S. stock indices finished higher for the week.

Uncrowded. As professional sports resume play in empty stadiums, teams are finding innovative ways to support and encourage players and, sometimes, viewers. For instance:

·         The U.S. National Women’s Soccer League was the first contact sports league to return to play. Its fans offer support and encouragement via social media. In July, “the nearly 20,000-member [social media] group, NWSL Supporters, raised over $5,000 to cover the players’ coffee orders at the tournament’s on-site coffee truck, reported Nicole Wetsman of The Verge.

·         Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball has robots that dance to the Fukuoka Hawks’ fight song before each game. Jack Tarrant of Reuters reported one humanoid robot and several four-legged robots, “…stamped and shimmied in a choreographed dance that is usually performed by the Hawks’ fans before games…”

·         U.S. Major League Baseball stadiums are filled with cardboard cutouts of fans. However, one broadcaster faked crowd noise and filled the stands with virtual fans in some shots, but not others. Overall, real fans were not impressed, reported USA Today.

·         The National Basketball Association is bringing basketball fans courtside through a virtual experience during live games. The ‘Together Mode for Teams’ uses artificial intelligence to segment fan’s faces and shoulders and show them in courtside seats. “This new experience…gives participating fans the feeling of sitting next to one another at a live game without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes,” reported Tom Warren of The Verge.

·         The Women’s National Basketball Association hosted the first ever live virtual draft by a professional league. Sports Illustrated reported, “…the WNBA draft recorded its best ratings in 16 years. While [WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert] noted fans may have been hungry for a live sporting event, she also acknowledged the importance of naming Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester, who died in a helicopter crash on January 26, as honorary draft picks.”

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
–Sam Walton, Businessman and entrepreneur

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