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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Continued to Spread Across The United States Last Week
March 23, 2020
On Friday, March 13, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported there were 1,629 confirmed and presumptive cases and 41 deaths. Last Friday, March 20, the numbers had increased to 15,219 cases and 201 deaths.
March 16, 2020
Mid-week, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a global pandemic. At the time, there were more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and the death toll exceeded 4,000 people. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 46 states and the District of Columbia have been affected, so far. As of Friday, there have been 1,629 confirmed and presumptive cases and 41 deaths.
Last Week, Market Volatility Reached Levels That Make Many Investors Uncomfortable
March 9, 2020
On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged higher, delivering its biggest one-day point gain in history. The catalyst may have been reports that ‘Group of Seven’ (G7) finance ministers and central bank governors were meeting via conference call on Tuesday. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire indicated the discussion would lead to coordinated monetary efforts to address economic issues related to the coronavirus, reported Reuters.
Take a deep breath. We have experienced downturns before
March 2, 2020
Think back to 2018. During the last quarter of the year, major stock indices in the Unites States suffered double-digit losses, much of it during December. What happened next? By the end of 2019, those indices had reached new highs.
Last Week, Major U.S. Indices Posted Strong Gains.
February 24, 2020
The coronavirus appears to have inspired two distinct schools of thought among investors. Some investors currently favor opportunities that are considered lower risk, like Treasury bonds and gold, because they’re concerned about the potential impact of the coronavirus on the global economy. Others are piling into higher risk assets, like stocks, that could benefit if central banks (like the United States Federal Reserve) take steps to stimulate economic growth, reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s.
Many stock markets around the world moved higher last week.
February 18, 2020
Investors’ optimism in the face of economic headwinds has confounded some in the financial services industry. Laurence Fletcher and Jennifer Ablan of Financial Times cited several money managers who believe investors have become complacent. One theory is investors’ buy-the-dip mentality has become so firmly ingrained that any price drop is seen as a buying opportunity, regardless of share price valuation.
February 10, 2020
That’s welcome news, but the drivers behind share price appreciation appear to have little to do with company fundamentals.
Fourth quarter earnings season is underway. During earnings season, companies let investors know how profitable they were during the previous quarter. With 45 percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index reporting, earnings are slightly down. If the trend continues, this will be the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year earnings declines, according to FactSet.
Prepare Yourself. There Is A Good Chance Markets Will Be Volatile In The Coming Weeks
February 3, 2020
Precautions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus may also slow Chinese economic growth and, by extension, global economic growth.
Markets Hunkered Down Last Week.
News of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China unsettled investors around the world. The respiratory infection is related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), reported WebMD.
The New Trade Deals Are Here!
The United States and China signed a preliminary trade deal last week. The next day, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was approved by the Senate.
It Was A Nerve-Wracking Week.
Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles at the Ain Al Asad air base near western Iraq and a second base in northern Iraq following last week’s U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian military commander. Newsweek reported the bases suffered minimal damage and there were no casualties from the attack. However, Iran mistakenly downed a commercial airliner, killing all on board, reported CBS News.
2019 was a remarkable year for investors with many asset classes delivering positive performance. Both the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a gauge of U.S. stock market performance, and the Dow Jones Global (ex U.S.) Index delivered double-digit increases (see the below table). Bonds and gold rallied, too, delivering positive returns for the year.
Investors may find themselves reluctant to ring out the old and ring in the new this week. During 2019, stock and bond markets delivered exceptional returns.
Major stock indices in the United States and overseas are poised to deliver double-digit gains for the year. Even with uncertainty about Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), the FTSE 100 boasted a gain of more than 10 percent at the end of last week. That’s not bad for a year which included (in the United States) an inverted yield curve, an earnings recession, and a contentious trade war.
Last week was a good week for investors. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s explained:
“The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank both pledged to do what they could to underpin their respective economies. The United Kingdom gave Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party a landslide victory, virtually guaranteeing that the Brexit saga will end, finally.”
On Friday, the unemployment report flashed its numbers like a hair model in a shampoo commercial. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 266,000 new jobs were created in November. That was better than expected even after deducting the 40,000-plus General Motors employees returning to work, reported CNBC.
Sometime, probably not so long ago, comedian Dave Barry wrote, “Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.”
On Thursday, U.S. investors may find themselves giving thanks for the bull market.
Year-to-date, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq Composite have all gained more than 20 percent with dividends reinvested. The MSCI World Index also is up 20 percent year-to-date.
U.S. stock markets climbed higher for the sixth week straight – the longest rally in U.S. markets in two years – and the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed 28,000 for the very first time, reported Bloomberg.
According to a source cited by Barron’s, U.S. stock markets are responsible for creating $6 trillion in paper wealth this year. ‘Paper’ wealth is when an asset is estimated to be worth a specific amount. The wealth becomes ‘real’ when the asset is sold.
The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates last week, as expected. There were no enthusiastic fans singing the Baby Shark song, but the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision was well received.
So far, 2019 has been a tremendous year for U.S. stocks. Through the end of last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index had gained more than 20 percent year-to-date, the Dow Jones Industrial Index was up more than 15 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite had risen more than 24 percent.
A lot was unpacked in a surprising and disorderly fashion. There was some positive news for investors who prioritize fundamentals. Third quarter’s earnings season – the period of time when companies let investors know how they performed during the previous quarter – got off to a strong start.
Financial Times reported the United States agreed to not increase tariffs from 25 percent to 30 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports next week. (Current tariffs remain in place, and it is possible new tariffs will be imposed on additional Chinese goods – electronics, apparel, and other consumer items – in mid-December.)
From trade wars to impeachment inquiries, investors had a lot to ponder during the third quarter. Toward the end of September, they appeared to become more cautious, although it’s difficult to say which issues weighed most heavily. Here are a few questions they may have been asking: