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Weekly Market Commentary

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June 27, 2022

Last Week, Bad News Was Good News. 

Consumers were feeling blue in June, according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey. The survey scored sentiment at 50, which was the lowest level on record. Surveys of Consumers Director Joanne Hsu reported that 79 percent of consumers anticipate business conditions will decline during the next 12 months, and almost half indicated they are spending less because of inflation.

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June 20, 2022

The Fight Against Inflation Intensified. 

Last week, the Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered a message that it is serious about fighting inflation. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lifted the federal funds target rate by 0.75 percentage points. The fed funds rate is now 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent. 

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June 13, 2022

Inflation Is Proving To Be Far More Tenacious Than Markets Had Hoped 

The idea that inflation peaked in March was put to rest last week when the Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that inflation accelerated in May. Overall, prices were up 8.6 percent last month, an increase from April’s 8.3 percent. It was the highest inflation reading we’ve seen since December 1981.

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June 6, 2022

How Strong Is the United States Economy? 

That’s the question investors were mulling after last week’s jobs report. More jobs were created in May than economists expected, and the labor force participation rate rose, meaning even more people are returning to work. Overall, the unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent. However, unemployment rates varied by age, sex and race:

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May

May 31, 2022

Investors Reassessed and Markets Bounced

Last week, major U.S. stock indices moved higher for the first time in weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 6.2 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 6.6 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 6.9 percent, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.

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May 23, 2022

On The Fear and Greed Cycle 

One of the most challenging times for investors is a market downturn. Whether markets are experiencing a correction or a bear market, it’s really disturbing to watch the value of your savings and investments decline.

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May 16, 2022

Living With A Bear 

On the survival series “Alone,” the tension ratchets higher whenever participants encounter bears. Some participants live warily alongside bears, while others tap out. A similar thing happens among investors when they encounter a bear market.

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May 9, 2022

There is a lot of uncertainty in financial markets – and markets hate uncertainty

In recent weeks, economic and financial market data have been telling different stories – and that makes it tough for investors to know where the United States economy is headed. Since stock markets move up and down based on what investors think will happen in the future, markets have been volatile. Here are some of the issues that have contributed to recent uncertainty.

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May 2, 2022

Correction And Contraction.... 

Investing during 2022 has been like running a forest trail and having unexpected obstacles appear every so often – a fallen tree, a swarm of biting flies, a bear with cubs – you get the idea. To-date, economic, coronavirus-related, and geopolitical events have taken a toll from stock and bond markets, as well as the U.S. economy. For example:

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April

April 25, 2022 

The Federal Reserve’s Ice Bucket Challenge… 

Remember a few years ago when people raised money for charity by challenging others to pour buckets of icy water over their heads? Last week, the Federal Reserve poured a bucket of ice water over the United States stock market. Randall W. Forsyth of Barron’s explained:

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April 18, 2022 

Here’s A Riddle: How Can Inflation Be 8.5 Percent And 6.5 Percent At The Same Time? The Answer Is That It Depends On How You Measure It. 

Determining how quickly prices are rising or falling – and where they may be headed in the future – is not simple. In the United States, millions of goods and services are bought and sold every day – shelter, food, transportation, energy, water, education, childcare, equipment and tools, medical care, furnishings, apparel, trash removal, and much more.

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April 11, 2022 

The First Quarter Of 2022 Was Jam-Packed With Volatility-Inducing Events: Rising Inflation, War In Ukraine, Rising Interest Rates, Sanctions On Russia, And A New COVID-19 Outbreak In China

Here’s a brief review of what happened during: Inflation continued to rise. At the start of the year, consumers and investors were primarily concerned about inflation. In February, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index showed core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was up 5.4 percent year-over-year. That’s well above the Federal Reserve (Fed)’s two percent target for inflation.

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April 4, 2022 

Checking In on The Federal Reserve 

Among other things, Congress asks the Federal Reserve to use its tools to promote price stability and  maximum employment. Last week, economic data provided information about both.

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March

March 28, 2022 

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just Might Get It 

In early March, almost two-thirds of Americans who participated in a Nationwide Retirement Institute survey said the Federal Reserve (Fed) should take more aggressive action on inflation. The next week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) did just that. It increased the target range for the Federal funds rate by a quarter point to 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent.

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March 21, 2022 

Markets Were Reassured By The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)’S Actions Last Week

The FOMC met on March 16 and did exactly what most people expected them to do. They raised the federal funds target rate by a quarter point. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed expects to continue to raise rates and reduce its balance sheet during 2022 to lower inflation. 

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March 14, 2022 

Investor Optimism Is Quite Low 

In just two weeks, the war in Ukraine has changed the status of 1.3 million people – approximately the number of people who live in Philadelphia or Phoenix – from citizen to refugee, reported Rachel Pannett and colleagues at The Washington Post.

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March 7, 2022

The World Is Adapting To A Changing Reality 

As the war in Ukraine intensified last week, financial markets grappled with uncertainty.

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February

February 28, 2022

Last Week, Russia Invaded Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision ignited the biggest military conflict in Europe since World War II. The war is already exacting a terrible human toll. It has also disrupted global markets and raised questions about the potential economic impact on Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world.   

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February 22, 2022

Investors’ Appetite For Risk Diminished As The Russian Threat To Ukraine Intensified. 

Volatility was high last week as investors guessed and second-guessed how markets would react if Russia invaded Ukraine and sanctions were imposed on Russia. They also wondered what would happen if Russia pulled back. The questions are difficult to answer. Adam Samson, Valentina Romei and Matthew Rocco of Financial Times reported:

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February 14, 2022

Why Did Stock Markets In The United States Finish The Week Lower? 

If this were Jeopardy, acceptable answers to that question might include: 

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February 7, 2022

A Rosy View Through The Rearview Mirror 

To say that economists did not have great expectations for the January employment report might be understating their position. It was widely believed that the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant would translate into a dismal jobs report.1 It didn’t. 

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January

January 31, 2022

Last Week, The January Stock Market Decline Was Interrupted By A Friday Afternoon Rally. 

“The S&P 500 rose 2.4 percent, its biggest one-day jump since June 2020, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 3.1 percent. Friday’s gain snapped a three-day streak of losses and left the S&P 500 up 0.8 percent for the week, its first weekly gain this year,” reported Coral Murphy Marcos of The New York Times.

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January 24, 2022

When Is A Barometer Not A Barometer? 

It’s widely recognized that people do not make perfect financial decisions. In fact, many investors rely on mental shortcuts when asked to make complex decisions. That may be why there are theories that correlate stock market performance to football, hemlines and sales of headache remedies.

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January 17, 2022

Is The Economy Doing Well, Or Not? 

If you skimmed the headlines last week, you may have seen that retail sales – the purchases we make from stores in-person or online – declined 1.9 percent in December. The statistic may have raised questions about the strength of the economy. After all, how could retail sales move lower during the holiday season?

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January 10, 2022

Here’s A Little Story About A Group Called The Fed… 

In the 1950’s, then Fed Chair William McChesney Martin described the Federal Reserve as “the chaperone who has ordered the punch bowl removed just when the party was really warming up.”

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January 3, 2022

2021 was a fizzing mints-in-soda kind of year. 

Everything seemed to shoot higher – from COVID-19 cases and vaccinations to economic growth and global stock markets. Everything except for optimism. As the year came to an end, a CBS News poll found that 40 percent of Americans felt 2021 was mostly filled with sadness, although almost three out of four people polled said they were hopeful for 2022.

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December

December 27, 2021 

Investors Were Feeling Bullish 

Last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index closed at a record high for the 68th time this year. That’s the second-highest number of record closes in a single year. The highest number occurred during 1995, when the S&P 500 had 77 record highs, reported Reuters. That was the year the Dow Jones Industrial Average passed 4,000 for the first time and then rose above 5,000, reported Wayne Duggan of Benzinga.

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December 20, 2021 

Stock and bond markets diverged. 

Last week, the Bank of England surprised markets with a rate hike, its first in three years, and the Bank of Mexico raised rates more than expected. Both cited persistent inflation as the reason for the increases, reported Carla Mozée of Markets Insider.

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December 13, 2021 

Inflation Met Expectations 

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) last week, it showed that inflation was at levels last seen in 1982. In November, prices were up 0.8 percent month-to-month and 6.8 percent year-to-year.

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December 6, 2021 

Investors Look To The Future 

Last week, employment and manufacturing data confirmed that the United States economy continued to strengthen in November, but positive economic news was overshadowed by investors’ concerns about the spread of coronavirus and Federal Reserve policy.

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November

November 29, 2021 

COVID-19 Strikes Again

Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Europe, climbing from about 700,000 new cases a week in September to 2.6 million a week in November, reported Richard Pérez-Peña and Jason Horowitz of the New York Times. As Thanksgiving approached, there was concern that travel and togetherness could increase the number of cases in the United States, too, creating stress on already taxed healthcare systems. Jamie Smyth and Caitlin Gilbert of the Financial Times explained:

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November 22, 2021

Thinking About the Possibilities 

The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index finished last week slightly higher and has gained about 6 percent during the past 25 days; however, investors have curbed their enthusiasm. The S&P 500 hasn’t experienced a move of one percent or more in 25 trading days. That’s the longest period without a move of that size in about two years, according to a source cited by Avi Salzman of Barron’s.

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November 15, 2021

Economists Like To Joke That Inflation Is Just Right When No One Notices It 

Last week, investors noticed it. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measure of inflation, rose 0.9 percent in October and 6.2 percent over the last 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (When volatile food and energy prices were excluded, the CPI was 4.6 percent for the period.)

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November 8, 2021

Feeling Bullish… 

Investor bullishness ticked higher last week on all four investor sentiment gauges tracked by Barron’s. Investor optimism may have been fanned by positive financial and economic news. For example, last week:

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November 1, 2021

The Road To Recovery Is Slow And Bumpy 

Last week, we learned that economic growth slowed in the third quarter as a new wave of COVID-19 surged across the United States, reported The Bureau of Economic Analysis. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the value of all goods and services produced in the United States, increased by 2 percent annualized in the third quarter.

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October

October 25, 2021

It’s MESSI! 

No, this commentary is not about Lionel Messi, the Argentine soccer phenom who is widely regarded one of the greatest footballers of all time. However, it is about something that economists say may be as rare as Messi’s talent: Moderating Expansion with Sticky Supply-driven Inflation (MESSI).

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October 18, 2021

Don’t Get Spooked! 

Barron’s Big Money Poll is an exclusive survey of market sentiment among professional investors. Last week, Nicholas Jasinski reported on 2021’s findings:

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October 11, 2021

The Word “Jouncy” May Have Started Life As A Combination Of Bouncy And Jolting – And It’s A Pretty Good Way To Describe What Happened To Stock Markets Last Week 

The week started with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index experiencing daily gains and losses of about one percent. Other major U.S. indices saw sizeable daily swings in value, too. Lu Wang of Bloomberg reported:

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October 4, 2021

September Strikes Again… 

If you look back over the last 20 years, September has been the worst performing month for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to Nasdaq.

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