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Weekly Market Commentaries:


April 24, 2017

Last week, investors multi-tasked, pushing both U.S. bond and stock markets higher.

In March, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed funds rates for the second time in three months. Typically, we would expect interest rates to rise and bond prices to fall, but interest rates have been falling and bond prices have been moving higher.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 17, 2017

And the survey said...

In late 2016, Natixis Global surveyed 500 institutional decision makers representing corporate pension plans, public pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, foundations, and endowments.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 10, 2017

U.S. stock markets are sending mixed signals.

If you look at the performance of the CBOE Volatility Index (a.k.a. the VIX or fear gauge), which is a measure of market expectations for volatility in the near future, it appears all is well and investors expect no unexpected events. Barron’s explained, "... which brings us back to a central fact: the absence of volatility..."

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 3, 2017

Toward the end of the first quarter, the bull market celebrated its eighth birthday. David Kelly, Chief Global Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management wrote:

“Eight years ago, on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 closed at 677, down 57 percent from where it had been just 18 months earlier. 10-year Treasury yields had fallen from 3.6 percent to 2.9 percent over the previous year…Investors were depressed and scared...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 27, 2017

You’ve read it before – and it’s true. Markets hate uncertainty.

Failure to pass the American Healthcare Act, which was supported by Republican leaders in Congress and President Trump, may have spooked U.S. stock markets last week.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 21, 2017

Three steps and no stumble…

Technical analyst Edson Gould developed a market rule of thumb known as ‘three steps and a stumble.’ It states stock prices may fall after the Federal Reserve (Fed) raises the Fed funds rate three times in a row without a decline, according to Market Technicians Association.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 13, 2017

Rate hike ahead…maybe.

Last week’s U.S. employment report was better than expected. The United States added 235,000 jobs in February, which was a few more than economists had forecast.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 6, 2017

It was a grand slam.

Major U.S. stock markets were positively euphoric following President Trump’s speech on February 28. Optimism about the new administration’s pro-growth policies propelled the four major U.S. stock indices to record highs, despite a dearth of policy details, reported Financial Times.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 27, 2017

Once upon a time, five blind men discovered an elephant. Each man examined a different part of the elephant and formed a unique impression about the animal. One believed an elephant was like a pillar, while another decided an elephant was like a snake.

In recent weeks, stock and bond markets have been telling different stories, too.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 21, 2017

Up!

Four major U.S. benchmark stock indices closed at record highs for four consecutive days during Valentine’s Day week, reported Financial Times (FT).

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 13, 2017

What’s the word ‘phenomenal’ worth? It all depends on who says it.

Barron’s shared Wilshire Associates’ calculations which indicated the word was worth about $175 billion – the amount markets gained last Thursday – when President Trump used it to describe the tax plan his administration will deliver “ahead of schedule.”

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 6, 2017

U.S. stock markets were unsettled last week.

President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States for 90 days, in tandem with some disappointing earnings reports, inspired turmoil and uncertainty that helped push U.S. stock markets lower early in the week.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 30, 2017

An historic moment for U.S. stock markets…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed 20,000 last week. Barron’s cautioned investors not to make too much of the milestone since, “There are only 30 stocks in the index so each one carries a lot of weight.”

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 23, 2017

Markets weren’t quite sure which direction to move last week.

The Trump rally, which lost some steam, gained momentum early in the week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index finished January 19, the day before the inauguration, with its biggest election-to-inauguration gain since Bill Clinton won a second term in 1996...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 17, 2017

The post-election adrenaline rush may be over in the United States. Barron’s reported:

“The new year began with high hopes, with the bulls expecting the rally that began with Donald J. Trump’s election victory to continue into 2017, while the bears salivated at the opportunity presented by a market that had gotten way ahead of itself...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 9, 2017

Bullish sentiment helped world equity markets get off to a fast start last week. Just name a country or region – developed markets, emerging markets, the United States, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom – and it’s likely the area’s benchmark index may have been up for the week.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 3, 2017

What a difference a year makes! At the start of 2016, investors were rather pessimistic and risk averse, preferring bonds to stocks. By the end of the year, they were quite optimistic and preferred stocks to bonds. In between, markets traveled a bumpy road.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 27, 2016

Missed it by that much…

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) got within 13 points of 20,000 last Tuesday. It finished the week about 90 points below the vaunted milestone. “The Dow has gained nearly 10 percent since the end of October...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 19, 2016

The Federal Reserve put a hitch in the markets’ giddy-up last week.

It wasn’t the Fed’s second interest rate hike in a decade that caused markets to stumble. December’s rate hike was old news before it happened. In mid-December, Reuters reported Fed funds futures indicated there was a 97 percent probability the Fed would raise rates one-quarter percent at its December Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. In addition, all 120 economists polled by Reuters agreed rates were headed higher.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 12, 2016

This holiday season, investors’ enthusiasm for U.S. stocks has rivaled old man Parker’s passion for his major-award leg lamp in ‘A Christmas Story.’ Last week, three major U.S. indices hit all-time highs.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 5, 2016

Flirting with higher interest rates.

Last week, yields on 10-year Treasury bonds rose to a 17-month high of 2.44 percent, reported The Wall Street Journal, before retreating to finish the week at about 2.4 percent.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 28, 2016

It’s a myth!

According to WebMD, the amino acid L-Tryptophan is not responsible for Americans’ post-Thanksgiving food coma. The real culprit is overeating. So, last week’s post-feast sleepiness can be blamed on big appetites.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 21, 2016

It seems like experts have been forecasting the end of the bull market in bonds for years – and they have been doing so. In July 2010, bond guru Bill Gross predicted the 28-year bull market in bonds was near an end and, as interest rates moved higher, bond values would move lower.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 7, 2016

Markets hate uncertainty – and that may create opportunities.

Last week, investors experienced another bout of election jitters, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index fell for the ninth straight session.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 31, 2016

It’s almost over…

During July 2016, Pew Research reported almost 60 percent of Americans were suffering from election fatigue. They weren’t uninterested in the election. They were just worn out by never-ending news coverage that focused on candidates’ comments, personal lives, and standing in the polls rather than their moral character, experience, and stance on issues.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 24, 2016

“Verrrry interesting.”

Arte Johnson’s catch phrase from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In may not have described U.S. stock markets last week, but there were some interesting economic, cyber-security, and consumer developments around the world.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 17, 2016

‘Tis the season!

Third quarter earnings season, that is.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 10, 2016

Was it good news or wasn’t it?

The U.S. unemployment rate ticked higher last week. The September jobs report showed the United States added 156,000 new jobs in September. That was 16,000 fewer than economists were expecting and 11,000 fewer than were added in August, according to Barron’s.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 3, 2016

Markets were relatively calm during the third quarter of 2016, yet they delivered some attractive returns overall.

In the United States, all three major U.S. indices posted record highs twice during a single 7-day period in August..

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 26, 2016

As expected…

The U.S. Federal Reserve left rates unchanged last week and markets celebrated. Across the globe, national stock market indices finished the week higher..

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 19, 2016

If it’s not one thing, it may be another.

Economic data released last week will factor into this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision on whether to push interest rates higher in the United States. Some of the August data supports the idea economic growth was soft. For example...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 12, 2016

Blame it on the central banks!

After 44 consecutive sleepy, summer days when Barron’s reported the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index opened and closed without a 1 percent move in either direction, the index tumbled last week – and so did indices in other markets around the world. What roused investors from complacency? Some experts pointed their fingers at central banks:

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 6, 2016

Economists and market analysts have been thinking a lot about the Federal Reserve and the actions it may take before the end of 2016. Friday’s employment numbers helped fan the speculative fire. The U.S. Labor Department reported the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent with 151,000 jobs added during August.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 29, 2016

Attention investors: U.S. interest rates may be moving up and it might happen this year.

During last Friday’s speech at the Federal Reserve’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen signaled that a rate hike is probably coming but, as usual, she didn’t offer any specifics about the timing:

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 15, 2016

How do you measure stock market valuation?

If you look at conventional measures – like price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios – then U.S. stock markets appear to be pricey. The Wall Street Journal reported trailing 12-month P/E ratios are high when compared to 10-year averages.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 8, 2016

The Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index, also known as the VIX, tracks the prices of options on the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index. Since options often are used to hedge portfolio risk, the VIX is considered to be a ‘fear gauge’ that has value with regard to market volatility during the next 30 days.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 1, 2016

Here’s a brain tickler for you:

In July 2016, there were four.
In June 2016, there were 10.
Since 2008, there have been 673!
What are they?

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 25, 2016

Like a cool breeze on a hot day, the post-Brexit market rally has soothed investors.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), also known as the fear gauge, fell significantly during the past few weeks, according to CNBC.com. The VIX measures investors' concerns about future volatility. The lower the Index is; the calmer investors are about the future.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 18,2016

“Start your engines,” was not in the Department of Labor (DOL)’s June Employment Report Summary, but it may as well have been. A positive jobs report revved investor optimism and sent U.S. stock markets sprinting higher last week.

Job growth was strong in June with 287,000 new jobs created. That helped soothe worries raised by a less than stellar May jobs report...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 11, 2016

When the yield on 10-year Treasuries finished last week at 1.37 percent, a record closing low, Barron’s called it a Kübler-Ross rally.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist whose research identified the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. According to Barron’s, institutional money managers have...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 5, 2016

Second quarter ended with a spectacular finale of Brexit-inspired market volatility.

Investors typically welcome sharp market movements with about the same level of enthusiasm that canines show for fireworks. However, recent market agitations highlighted a key tenet of investing: Volatility often creates opportunity. Following an initial Brexit sell-off, global markets rebounded. Last Friday, Financial Times reported:

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


June 27, 2016

SURPRISE! Britain is leaving the European Union (EU) after 40 years of membership.

Last Thursday, almost three-fourths of voters in Britain – about 30 million people, according to the BBC – cast ballots to determine whether the United Kingdom would remain in the EU. By a slim margin, the British people opted out.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


June 20, 2016

The world’s stock markets took it on the chin last week.

A one-two punch was delivered with the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting leading and concerns Britain will leave the European Union following.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


June 13, 2016

The British may be leaving. The British may be leaving.

Last week, the interest rate on 10-year U.S. Treasuries dropped to levels last seen in 2013. Why, you may ask, would bond yields move lower when Federal Reserve policy is to push interest rates higher? The answer can be found across the pond.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


June 6, 2016

Statistics means never having to say your certain, and that was certainly true last week.

The employment report, which was released on Friday, was a bit short on jobs. Analysts had predicted employers would add about 162,000 new jobs during May, according to CNBC. Instead, a paltry 38,000 jobs added to payrolls.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


May 31,2016

Everyone makes mistakes. Some people learn from them.

In GMO’s March 2016 white paper, James Montier and Philip Pilkington continued to explore the Federal Reserve’s influence on the stock market. It was a process they’d begun in 2015 as they sought “…to understand why our forecast for the S&P 500 had been too pessimistic over the last two decades or so.” Inspired by research done at the New York Federal Reserve, they found:

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


May 23, 2016

A mobile trivia game maker recently assessed the playing habits of Americans and identified the most popular topics by state. As it turns out, Alabamians like college football questions, Alaskans like queries about U.S. states, Rhode Island natives prefer inquiries about the human body, and Wisconsinites love their Green Bay Packers.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


May 16, 2016

When is a door not a door?

The answer, of course, is: When it’s ajar.

Investors and analysts were trying to find the answer to a different riddle last week: When are strong retail sales not strong retail sales?

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


May 9, 2016

Reading economic portents can be tricky.

For example, do signs that economic growth is slowing – like last week’s employment report, which was anemic relative to consensus forecasts, and first quarter’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth – mean the economy is headed for trouble? Or, does it mean the economy is going to continue to grow slowly?

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


May 2, 2016

“Which would you prefer to be: a medieval monarch or a modern office-worker?” If you immediately answered medieval monarch, take a moment to ponder life without “…modern dentistry, antibiotics, air travel, smartphones, and YouTube.”

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 25, 2016

U.S. stock markets finished last week in heady territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,003. Its all-time closing high is 18,312. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was less than 1 percent below its intraday trading record, which was set last year.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 18, 2016

Isn’t it remarkable that China’s growth is so consistent?

A columnist from The Washington Post once opined that China “produces an astonishing number of astonishing numbers.” Last week’s GDP announcement, which helped push markets higher, may fall into that category.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 11, 2016


We all learned a thing or two about Panama last week.

The country is not the home of the Panama hat, which is made in Ecuador. However, it is the only place in the world where you can watch the sun rise on the Pacific Ocean and set on the Atlantic Ocean.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


April 4, 2016


It’s like déjà vu all over again!

This wasn’t the first quarter, or even the first year, that bond markets have not performed in the way Wall Street strategists have expected.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 28, 2016


Are corporations in the United States struggling?

In its cover article last week, The Economist (a British publication), suggested there is not enough competition among American companies. It pointed out:

“Aggregate domestic profits are at near-record levels relative to GDP… High profits might be a sign of brilliant innovations or wise long-term investments were it not for the fact that they are also suspiciously persistent. A very profitable American firm has an 80 percent chance of being that way 10 years later. In the 1990s the odds were only about 50 percent.”


For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 21, 2016


There is ongoing debate about whether markets behave in rational ways.

The efficient market hypothesis suggests it’s impossible to outperform the stock market because current share prices reflect all relevant information. In other words, stocks should always trade at fair value and it should be impossible to invest in a stock that is overpriced or underpriced.


For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 14, 2016


Stim-u-late mar-kets! Come on! It’s monetary easing.*

The European Central Bank (ECB) was singing a tune that invigorated financial markets last week. The Wall Street Journal explained...


For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


March 7, 2016


When Mark Twain’s death was reported in the United States, he was alive and well in London. He responded to news accounts with a note saying, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Last week’s jobs data suggest the same is true of reports that a recession is imminent in the United States. Barron’s explained...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 29, 2016


It wasn’t as entertaining as the Fantastic Four, The Magnificent Seven, or Ocean’s 11 but, last week, we had an opportunity to watch the Group of 20 (G20).

The G20 stars finance ministers and central bankers from 19 countries and the European Union as well as representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The group meets periodically to discuss the global economy.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 22, 2016


And the economic data says…

The United States economy is doing pretty well. So well that a March rate hike by the Federal Reserve is not entirely out of the question. Barron’s described the situation like this:

“Squawking pessimism can't drown out what is a very respectable start to 2016. Economic data so far this year, apart from predictions of deflation and negative interest rates, could justify what was scheduled to be, but what soon seemed impossible, a rate hike at the March FOMC.."

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


February 16, 2016


Are markets suffering from excessive worry? 

Last week, markets headed south because investors were concerned about the possibility of negative interest rates in the United States – even though the U.S. Federal Reserve has been tightening monetary policy (i.e., they’ve been raising interest rates).

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary


February 8, 2016


In the negative column, fewer jobs were created in the United States than economists had predicted, and January’s jobs gains were not as strong as December’s had been. In addition, the December jobs increase was revised downward from 292,000 to 252,000, according to Barron’s.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary


February 1, 2016


How low can you go?

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) drove into the negative interest rate rabbit hole last week when it dropped its benchmark rate to minus 0.1 percent. If you've been following Japan's story then you know the country has been struggling with deflation for nearly two decades. The BOJ's goal is to push inflation up to 2 percent. MarketWatch explained the idea behind negative interest rates..

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 25, 2016


Investors breathed a sigh of relief last week when U.S. stock markets recovered from a tumble toward bear market territory with the grace of a Cirque du Soleil performer. Many stock markets around the world finished the week with gains, although national indices in Europe and the United States fared better, generally, than those in Asia.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 18, 2016


We all have our pet peeves, and if there is one thing markets do NOT like, it is uncertainty. Unfortunately, we entered 2016 with a lot of unanswered questions such as, How much has China’s growth slowed? How will the country’s slower growth affect companies and investments..."

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 11, 2016


The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) started the New Year with a downward currency adjustment and fireworks followed.

Last week, three distinct issues affected China’s stock market. First, the PBOC’s devaluation of the yuan (a.k.a. the renminbi), along with the knowledge the central bank had been spending heavily to prop up its currency in recent months, led many analysts and investors to the conclusion China’s economy might not be as robust as official reports indicated, according to the Financial Times.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


January 4, 2016


Investing in U.S. stock markets during 2015 was a bit like riding a mechanical bull. Markets jolted up and down but, once the year ended, investors were almost where they had started.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 28, 2015


It was a short week, but it wasn’t quiet.

Oil prices moved higher, according to The Wall Street Journal, after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported crude-oil inventories fell unexpectedly last year. Analysts had predicted oil supplies would rise.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 21, 2015


After a level of hype that would have exhausted even the most dedicated Star Wars fans, the Federal Reserve finally began to tighten monetary policy last week, raising the funds rate from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 14, 2015


It’s not like it’s a surprise!

Last week, investors didn’t appear to be thrilled with the possibility the Federal Reserve might raise rates this week. They also weren’t too impressed by another drop in oil prices. There was red ink everywhere as markets from Australia to Hong Kong, across the Eurozone, and throughout the Americas moved lower last week.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


December 7, 2015


Anyone looking at U.S. stock market performance last week might assume it was a pretty quiet week. They would be wrong. It was a very bouncy week. U.S. stock markets moved lower on Monday, rebounded on Tuesday, and then appeared to suffer a one-two punch mid-week that knocked indices lower.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 30, 2015


American markets were relatively quiet during Thanksgiving week but there were fireworks in China’s markets.

Late in the week, media outlets reported the China Securities Regulatory Commission was conducting inquiries into several securities firms as part of an anti-corruption crackdown triggered by last summer’s wild market gyrations. The news sizzled through China’s stock markets.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 23, 2015


Financial markets were remarkably calm last week.

Many stock markets in the United States, Europe, and Asia moved higher as investors chose to focus their attention on the minutes of the October 27-28, 2015 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which were released on Wednesday, rather than recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Lebanon, Mali, and against Russia..

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 16, 2015


Attacks on Paris by the Islamic State were an appalling exclamation point at the end of a difficult week for stock markets.

World stock markets tumbled as investors braced for a possible rate hike by the Federal Reserve in December. Many national indices across the United States, Europe, and Asia experienced downturns of more than 2 percent.


November 9, 2015


And, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said...

U.S job growth surpassed expectations in October. About 271,000 jobs were created across diverse industries: professional and business services.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


November 2, 2015


Keep your eyes on the data.

There was much to be said for U.S. stock markets’ performance during October. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index delivered their best monthly performance in four years, according to Barron’s.


October 26, 2015


Central banks were at it again – and markets loved it.

Last week, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi surprised markets when he indicated the ECB’s governing council was considering cutting interest rates and engaging in another round of quantitative easing. The Economist explained European monetary policy was heavily tilted toward growth before the announcement:

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 19, 2015


How quickly emotions have changed since August. Worry? Angst? It’s already priced into the markets, according to some experts.

Last week, Barron’s published the results of its Big Money Poll, a biannual survey of professional investors and money managers. A majority of those surveyed (55 percent) were bullish about U.S. markets...

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 12, 2015


They’re investors. They’re allowed to change their minds.

Just a few weeks ago, on September 17, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to leave the fed funds rate unchanged. In part, this was because, “Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term.”

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


October 5, 2015


Well, third quarter was a humdinger.

It began with the first International Monetary Fund (IMF) default by a developed country (Greece) and finished with Hurricane Joaquin possibly headed toward the east coast. In between, China’s stock market tumbled, the Federal Reserve tried to interpret conflicting signals, and trade growth slowed globally.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 21, 2015


As Tom Petty often sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

Whether it’s waiting for college acceptance letters, medical test results, employment offers, or Federal Reserve monetary policy changes, waiting can produce a lot of anxiety. A 2012 research paper written by Associate Professor Kate Sweeney and Graduate Fellow Sara Andrews of the University of California, Riverside, explained it like this..

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 14, 2015


The market is as streaky as a slice of bacon.

Barron’s reported the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has tumbled from gains to losses and back again for 10 weeks in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Index has tagged along with nine weeks of flip-flops. You’d almost think they were running for office.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


September 7, 2015


Who’s the culprit?

Speculating on who or what is to blame for recent market weakness is a popular pastime right now. Last week, Barron’s said the search for someone to blame is a lot like a game of Clue. So far, the most common conclusions are “the People's Bank of China with a devalued currency in Beijing,” and “Janet Yellen with a potential interest-rate hike in Washington.”

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 31, 2015


U.S. stock markets finished last week higher than they started it, but the five-day ride was awfully bumpy.

Concerns about China’s slowing growth, shifting currency valuations, and falling stock markets, coupled with uncertainty about the Federal Reserve’s next monetary policy move, contributed to malaise in world markets early last week.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 24, 2015


Correction!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 6 percent last week. That puts the benchmark index about 10 percent below its record high on May 19, 2015, according to Barron’s. This runs concurrent with what we have spoken about in several workshops this past summer.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 17, 2015


Stock markets in the United States got off to a good start last week, heading higher before stumbling over China’s currency news.

China, which has one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies, is experiencing a slowdown in economic growth. The Economist reported data released last week showed, “…an 8 percent fall in Chinese exports in July and a 5.4 percent drop in factory-gate prices.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 10, 2015


Back to school…back to higher interest rates?

After a solid July jobs report arrived on Friday – 215,000 new jobs were created and unemployment remained at 5.3 percent – analysts were pretty confident there would be ample support for a Federal Reserve rate increase (a.k.a. liftoff) in September. Bloomberg reported the odds of a September liftoff shot from 38 percent to 52 percent just last week.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


August 3, 2015


The market is flat.

That’s right. It’s a rare occurrence – something that has happened just 12 times since 1926, according to Fortune – but the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) has remained in a narrow trading range for seven months. For every sector that has delivered performance gains (for instance, healthcare, software, and consumer discretionary), there has been one with losses that have offset those gains (for instance, energy, materials, and industrials).

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 27, 2015


There was a spate of bad news last week, and it drove U.S. markets lower.

China’s wild ride isn’t over yet. The Purchasing Managers’ Index, a private measure of Chinese manufacturing, came in below expectations at 48.2, according to BloombergBusiness. Results below 50 indicate the sector is contracting. That doesn’t bode well for growth in China, which is the biggest global consumer of metals, grains, and energy, or the rest of the world.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 20, 2015


Investors around the world breathed a sigh of relief last week.

It wafted many markets higher. The NASDAQ jumped by more than 4 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 2.4 percent. France’s national benchmark index rose 4.5 percent, Germany’s was up 3.2 percent, Italy’s increased by 3.6 percent, and China’s Shanghai Composite was up 2.1 percent. So, what happened?

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 13, 2015


It’s a cautionary tale…

Many Chinese investors were so optimistic about the prospects for Chinese stock markets they bought on margin, meaning they borrowed money to buy stocks. Borrowing to invest has been so popular that the amount of margin loans doubled in just six months to about $320 billion..

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.


July 6, 2015


It’s been a wild, wild quarter.

In early April, stock markets were doing so well (14 of 47 national benchmark indices hit all-time highs) that global market capitalization — the value of stocks trading on exchanges throughout the world — pushed past $70 trillion, according to Bloomberg Business.

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June 29, 2015


Not quite as popular as Branjelina and Kimye, ‘Grexit’ (short for Greek Exit) has gained traction as a nickname during the past few months.The British press appropriated a variation, Brexit, when they discovered that the Bank of England was researching the potential risks of renegotiating membership in the European Union, or possibly even leaving the group—but that’s another story..

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June 22, 2015


You’re probably familiar with the seven-year itch. Not the movie with Marilyn Monroe, but the concept that relationships can lose their luster after seven years. That may be what happened last week in China...

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June 15, 2015


Sir John Templeton once said: “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria.”

If he was right, investor sentiment seems to support the idea the bull market may be around for a while. The American Association of Individual Investors’ most recent poll indicated investors aren’t feeling very optimistic..

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June 8, 2015


If it looks like a bond, and it acts like a bond…oh…that’s the problem. Government bonds aren’t acting the way investors expect.

Last week, 10-year U.S. Treasuries – which, typically, are thought to be safe and stable investments – suffered the biggest one-week sell off since June 2013, according to The Wall Street Journal. Treasuries finished the week yielding 2.4 percent, a gain of 0.3 percent. In the world of stodgy, backed-by-the-full-faith-and-credit-of-the-U.S.-government-bonds, that’s a big change.

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June 1, 2015


Is it possible to have an economic optical illusion?

On Friday, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.7 percent during the first quarter of 2015. The Federal Reserve sees things slightly differently.

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May 26, 2015


You could have set the events of last week to music.

Should they stay or should they go? Last week, the Bank of England (BOE), Britain’s central bank, inadvertently sent a memo describing how staffers should handle press inquiries about its confidential research into the possibility of a British exit (Brexit) from the European Union, to the media. Oops.

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May 18, 2015


The U.S. Treasury market is a bit like a lake in the midst of a drought. All the action – fish, frogs, crawdads, and such – that was once hidden in the depths has become a lot more visible as the water shallows.

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May 11, 2015


Government bonds have gone wild!

Sure, you might expect high-yield bonds to act unpredictably from time to time. That’s why they’re high-yield bonds. They don’t receive investment-grade ratings – BBB through AAA – from leading credit rating agencies because they’re not considered to be as creditworthy as investment grade bonds and carry a high degree of risk.

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May 4, 2015


Stock markets tipped into the red last week.

Major indices in the United States and elsewhere dipped lower as U.S. economic growth came in below expectations. The Commerce Department reported gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.2 percent annualized during the first quarter.

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April 27, 2015


Remember the dot-com bubble?

If so, you’ll appreciate this week’s notable event: The NASDAQ Composite Index, which includes a fair number of technology stocks, transcended its previous high (set in March 2000). Share values in the tech sector gained 4 percent last week, according to Barron’s, as major players in the space delivered better-than-expected earnings results.

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April 20, 2015


It’s a topsy-turvy world.

In the United States, during the last quarter of 2014, about seven million (13 percent) of all mortgaged residential properties were underwater, meaning the mortgage loan amount was at least 25 percent higher than the estimated market value of the property, according to RealtyTrac.com.

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April 13, 2015


Last week, the value of global equities surpassed – not $1 trillion – but $70 trillion, according to BloombergBusiness, which credited central banks’ stimulus programs for soaring stock values. Of the 24 national stock indices covered by Barron’s, 10 have delivered double-digit returns year-to-date.

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April 6, 2015


The global economy performed a bit like a Rube Goldberg contraption during the first quarter of 2015, although it’s doubtful many countries found humor as economic, financial, and political events triggered other economic, financial, and political events across the world.

For more on this commentary, Weekly Market Commentary.