Market Commentary 10/19/2020

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

October 19, 2020

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

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

It was a turbulent week for investors.

Waves of positive and negative news buffeted financial markets last week:

The financial sector delivered upbeat earnings news
Currently, many financial companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have reported third quarter earnings and have done better than expected. Despite upbeat earnings, some companies’ shares declined because of uncertainty about the path of economic recovery. If recovery continues, some banks may have excess reserves; however, if recovery falters and a double-dip recession occurs, banks may need to add to reserves, reported Barron’s.

Coronavirus cases surged across the United States and Europe
A rapid rise in the number of COVID-19 cases worried investors at home and in Europe. New restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus were implemented in France and the United Kingdom. A source cited by Financial Times reported, “…economists and investors had not expected governments to allow the virus to reach the point it has now.”

Two treatment and vaccine trials paused
The surge of new cases was compounded by setbacks in the search for effective coronavirus treatments and vaccines. Two COVID-19 trials, one for a treatment and one for a vaccine, were temporarily put on hold because of safety concerns.

Retail sales were strong, but manufacturing and industrial production weren’t
Last week, economic data provided a mixed picture of the economy. On the plus side, September’s retail sales were stronger than expected despite the tapering of unemployment benefits. On the negative side, U.S. manufacturing and industrial production both came in below expectations, reported Financial Times.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased
The number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits was higher than expected, and higher than it had been for the past two weeks, even though California had temporarily stopped processing new claims. Almost 3 million people filed for extended benefits, meaning they’d been unemployed for 26 weeks or more­­­. Overall, more than 25 million people relied on unemployment benefits last week.

Major U.S. stock indices eked out gains last week.

One dollar is a lot like another, isn’t it?
In theory, we think of all money in the same way. In practice, we don’t.

Money is fungible. That means one dollar has the same value as another dollar or four quarters or ten dimes or 100 pennies. If you are buying something valued at $1.00, you can purchase it with $1.00 in bills or coins.

However, when making financial decisions, people tend to engage in something called mental accounting. One aspect of mental accounting is assigning labels that identify the intended purpose of money. Sometimes this decision-making shortcut can improve financial choices. Other times, it can produce a financial setback.

Mental accounting often guides spending and saving decisions
A common mental shortcut is budgeting. People and companies rely on budgets to help them make sound financial decisions. Typically, budgets allot specific amounts of income to spending and saving. For an individual:

·         Spendable money may go to housing, food, utilities, clothing, entertainment, and other expenses.

·         Saved money may go into emergency, vacation, retirement, or other savings accounts.

When people categorize money, they are reluctant to spend it on other things. Behavioral Economics reported, “When a resource [in this case, money] is divided into smaller units…consumers encounter additional decision points – a psychological hurdle encouraging them to stop and think…opening a partitioned pool of resources incurs a psychological transgression cost, such as feelings of guilt.”

In other words, your brain will be reluctant to spend your retirement savings on a vacation.

Some shortcuts lead to irrational financial decisions
Mental accounting is a double-edged sword. If people do not think flexibly then mental accounting can cost them. For instance, focusing too intensely on labels can result in decisions that hurt your financial position rather than help it. Kiplinger’s provided an example:

“Mental accounting leads us to hoard money in a savings account that earns 0.3 percent interest while keeping a high balance on a 15 percent-interest credit card. We like the psychological comfort we get from having money in the bank, even though transferring cash from savings to pay off a credit-card balance can essentially ‘earn’ us a quick 14.7 percent.”

Like many things, mental accounting can be helpful or hurtful, depending on how it’s applied.

Weekly Focus – Think About It 
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
–Thomas Paine, Author of ‘Common Sense’

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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://insight.factset.com/sp-500-earnings-season-update-october-16-2020
https://www.barrons.com/articles/jpmorgans-earnings-were-better-than-expected-heres-how-the-bank-did-51602589612 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-19-20_Barrons-JPMorgans_Earnings_were_Better_than_Expected-Heres_How_the_Bank_Did-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.ft.com/content/93cffd8f-84ce-4160-a22e-b7d168620875 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-19-20_FinancialTimes-US_and_European_Stocks_Fall_as_COVID_Cases_Climb-Footnote_3.pdf)
https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20201013/johnson-johnson-pauses-covid-19-vaccine-trial
https://www.ft.com/content/b28b3c3a-8745-47ab-964c-20e09334a62a (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-19-20_FinancialTimes-Global_Stocks_Regain_Ground_as_Earnings_Results_Provide_Cheer-Footnote_5.pdf)
https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf
https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-economy/persistently-high-u-s-weekly-jobless-claims-point-to-labor-market-scarring-idUSKBN2701S9
https://www.cbpp.org/research/economy/policy-basics-how-many-weeks-of-unemployment-compensation-are-available
https://www.barrons.com/articles/dow-jones-industrial-average-edges-higher-on-week-as-stock-market-navigates-mixes-messages-51602894380?mod=hp_INTERESTS_technology&refsec=hp_INTERESTS_technology (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-19-20_Barrons-Make_Up_Your_Mind_Already-Inside_the_Stock_Markets_Indecisive_Week-Footnote_9.pdf)
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fungible
https://www.kiplinger.com/article/investing/t031-c000-s002-mental-accounting-how-math-mind-games-bust-our-bud.html
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cfp2.1011
https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/partitioning/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/57639.Thomas_Paine

Weekly Market Commentary 10/12/2020

Weekly Market Commentary 10/12/2020

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

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

October 12, 2020

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

Yes. No. Maybe?

Markets were sharply focused on the status of stimulus last week. First, it was on. Then, it was off. Then, it might be on. Then, it was off again. There was a big bill. There was a smaller bill. There were stand-alone options.

‘Maybe’ was enough for investors
Major U.S. stock indices finished the week higher, per Barron’s, and global indices were bullish on Friday because of U.S. stimulus talks, reported Financial Times.

“Markets are dizzy from all the talk on both sides about what they want from a deal but believe that something will inevitably happen anyway…Markets are essentially drunk on massive government spending just as they are inebriated from all the Fed quantitative easing and zero-interest rate policy,” said an advisory group chief investment officer cited by Financial Times.

Earnings season is upon us
Another factor that influences investors is earnings season, which begins this week. During earnings season, companies communicate how profitable they were during the previous quarter.

Third-quarter earnings estimates for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index remain subdued. John Butters of FactSet reported, “For Q3 2020, the estimated earnings decline for the S& P 500 is -20.5 percent.”

While that is a significant decline, it is an improvement on -25.3 percent, which was the June 2020 estimate for third quarter earnings. It is also an improvement on second quarter’s -31.9 percent.

Some companies haven’t provided guidance
It’s notable one of four companies in the S&P 500 did not provide earnings per share (EPS) guidance for 2020 or 2021. (Guidance is a forward-looking statement that tells investors what the company expects will happen in the near future.) “Almost all of these companies cited the uncertainty of the future economic impacts of COVID-19 as the reason for not providing or withdrawing EPS guidance for the full year,” reported FactSet.

Certainty about earnings may improve when a treatment or vaccine for the virus becomes available. The Milken Institute reported there are 318 treatments for COVID-19 and 213 vaccines in the works. Thirty-five of the vaccines are in clinical trials.

Where is everyone going?
You may have read Americans are moving out of cities to escape the coronavirus or violent protests. During the past few months, pundits have said things like, “…the coronavirus pandemic has shifted attitudes about city living, altering the dynamics of the real estate market for years ahead.”

Marie Patino of Bloomberg CityLab decided to look at the data and see if it was true. She gathered information from moving companies, real estate aggregators, and real estate consultants.

As it turns out, people are leaving cities – two cities in particular.

Patino wrote, “According to [moving company] data, between May and August 2020, move requests out of New York City to any destination were up 45 percent, and in San Francisco, up 23 percent, compared to the same time last year.”

Where were people moving?

Some were moving to other cities, continuing trends that had been identified before the pandemic arrived. For instance, San Franciscans began to migrate to Seattle before 2020. Other top destinations for San Franciscans this year have included:

·         Austin, TX
·         Chicago, IL
·         New York, NY
·         Boston, MA

Likewise, New Yorkers had been moving to Los Angeles and the west coast prior to 2020. This year, they also have favored:

·         Atlanta, GA
·         Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
·         West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
·         Orlando, FL

One real estate aggregator’s 2020 Urban-Suburban Market Report found, “Both urban homes and suburban homes are selling more quickly now than they were in February, and the percent change in time on market has been nearly equal for both classifications. The share of homes selling above their list price in suburban areas vs. urban areas exhibit the same trend nationally.”

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.”
–Peter Sondergaard, Business executive

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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.ft.com/content/338035bb-dfea-4bea-97c1-be2bb74088a5 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-12-20_FinancialTimes-Wall_Street_has_Best_Week_Since_July_on_Stimulus_Hopes-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/white-houses-1-8-trillion-stimulus-bill-and-more-everything-in-it-including-a-1200-check/
https://www.barrons.com/market-data/stocks?mod=md_subnav (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-12-20_Barrons-Market_Data-Footnote_3.pdf)
https://www.factset.com/hubfs/Resources%20Section/Research%20Desk/Earnings%20Insight/EarningsInsight_100920.pdf
https://insight.factset.com/earnings-insight-q2-20-by-the-numbers-infographic (Scroll through the infographic)
https://insight.factset.com/more-than-one-in-four-sp-500-companies-are-still-not-providing-eps-guidance-for-2020-or-2021
https://covid-19tracker.milkeninstitute.org
https://www.covid-19vaccinetracker.org
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/09/shark-tank-investor-herjavec-were-about-to-see-biggest-exodus-from-cities-in-50-years.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/25/barry-sternlicht-hundreds-of-thousands-looking-for-suburban-homes.html
https://www.npr.org/transcripts/921769579
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-16/the-truth-about-american-migration-during-covid (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-12-20_BloombergCityLab-What_We_Actually_Know_About_How_Americans_are_Moving_During_COVID-Footnote_12.pdf)
https://www.zillow.com/research/2020-urb-suburb-market-report-27712/
https://www.springboard.com/blog/41-shareable-data-quotes/

How to Manage Your Money and Your Risk Exposure

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

Weekly Market Commentary 10/12/2020

Weekly Market Commentary 10/5/2020

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

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

October 5, 2020

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

Last week, the third quarter of 2020 came to an end – and the fourth quarter delivered a doozy of an October surprise.

President Trump has the coronavirus
On Friday Americans awoke to the news President Trump had contracted COVID-19. Financial markets responded with relative equanimity. After a brief sell-off on Friday, major U.S. indices finished the week, and the third quarter, higher.

Market enthusiasm cooled in September
U.S. stock markets moved higher in July and August. Then, in early September, investors became skittish and major U.S. indices recorded losses for several weeks. The surge of uncertainty may have resulted from changing vaccine expectations, concerns about earnings, fears of a disputed election, and lack of new stimulus, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.

The Federal Reserve committed to low rates for a long time
The Federal Reserve’s changing policies may have had an influence on markets, as well. The Fed intends to keep interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement provided a big picture explanation, “The path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus. The ongoing public health crisis will continue to weigh on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.”

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries moved in a narrow range during the quarter, finishing near where they started.

Stimulus talks resumed last week
Treasury yields rose and stock markets perked last week when Congress resumed stimulus talks. Investors expect $1.3 to $1.5 trillion in new stimulus, according to BCA Research cited by Kiplinger’s.

Additional stimulus measures were expected early in the third quarter, after CARES Act provisions ran dry in July. However, better-than-expected economic data and a reluctance to increase the burgeoning budget deficit made some in Congress adopt a wait-and-see approach, reported Victor Reklaitis of MarketWatch.

By last Friday, stimulus negotiations appeared to have stalled again. However, there were new calls for action over the weekend, following Friday’s weaker-than-expected employment report, according to Jacob Pramuk of CNBC.

The pace of recovery may be slowing
Throughout the third quarter, employment improved steadily. In July it was 10.2 percent. By September, it had fallen to 7.9 percent. While continued improvement is important, the pace of jobs creation slowed last month. Consensus estimates for September suggested the economy would produce 850,000 new jobs. It came up short at 661,000. That could be a sign economic growth is slowing.

Economic growth improved during the third quarter
During the second quarter (April through June), the U.S. economy shrank by about a third (-31.7 percent). Data for third quarter economic growth is not yet available, but it is expected to show a significant improvement. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow estimates third quarter growth could be as high as 34.6 percent.

While a double-digit rebound would be welcome news, Aaron Weitzman of The Bond Buyer pointed out a 34.6 percent rebound does not offset a 31.7 percent contraction. The economy needs to grow by 46 percent to get back to even.

Volatility is likely to continue
Global markets may be volatile through the end of 2020.

The very best wrong test answers.
Almost everyone has come across a test question they couldn’t answer. Some ingenious souls provide their teachers with some humor instead. British author Richard Benson asked teachers to share their favorite wrong test answers, and he shared a few with Business Insider:

Q: When did the founding fathers draft the Constitution?

A: It was a second round pick, right after LeBron James.

Q: Describe what is meant by “forgetting.”

A: I can’t remember.

Q: What is a nitrate?

A: It is much cheaper than a day rate.

Q: Upon ascending to the throne, the first thing Queen Elizabeth II did was to…

A: Sit down.

Q: Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?

A: At the bottom.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“You pay a very high price for a cheery consensus. It won’t be the economy that will do in investors; it will be the investors themselves. Uncertainty is actually the friend of the buyer of long-term values.”
-Warren Buffett, Investor and philanthropist

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* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

Sources:
https://www.barrons.com/articles/stocks-end-week-higher-after-president-donald-trump-tests-positive-for-covid-19-51601686754?refsec=the-trader (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-05-20_Barrons-Trumps_Positive_COVID_Test_Added_a_New_Wrinkle_for_the_Stock_Market-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/market-data/stocks?mod=md_subnav (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-05-20_Barrons-Market_Data-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/SP500#0
https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-stock-markets-august-gains-turned-to-september-pain-what-happens-next-51599266176 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-05-20_Barrons-Tech_Stocks_Finally_Got_Crushed-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/monetary20200916a.htm
https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/%5ETNX/history?p=%5ETNX
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/pages/TextView.aspx?data=yieldYear&year=2020
https://www.kiplinger.com/investing/stocks/601490/stock-market-today-100120-stimulus-talks-keep-stringing-stocks-along
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/another-coronavirus-aid-package-is-probably-not-happening-after-august-jobs-report-and-deal-to-avoid-government-shutdown-analyst-says-2020-09-04
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/03/coronavirus-stimulus-update-trump-urges-congress-to-pass-relief-bill.html
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/UNRATE
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/september-jobs-report-unemployment-661k-added-rate-falls/
https://www.bea.gov/news/2020/gross-domestic-product-2nd-quarter-2020-second-estimate-corporate-profits-2nd-quarter
https://www.frbatlanta.org/-/media/documents/cqer/researchcq/gdpnow/RealGDPTrackingSlides.pdf
https://www.bondbuyer.com/news/gdp-recovery-has-a-long-way-to-go-experts-say (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-05-20_TheBondBuyer-GDP_Recovery_has_a_Long_Way_to_Go-Footnote_15.pdf)
https://www.businessinsider.com/funny-test-questions-both-books-2013-1
https://www.businessinsider.com/funny-test-answers-from-kids-2013-1#-6
https://www.livewiremarkets.com/wires/ten-quotes-on-volatility-from-the-masters-of-the-market

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