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Weekly Market Commentary- 10/17/17

10/17/2017
There’s a new kid in town: narrative economics.

Last week, Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. His work in behavioral economics and finance recognizes not all economic and financial decisions are made after rational reflection. In Nudge, he wrote:

“The workings of the human brain are more than a bit befuddling. How can we be so ingenious at some tasks and so clueless at others?" Read More

Weekly Market Commentary- 10/10/17

10/10/2017
Slow and steady...

It has been 332 days since the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index experienced a 5 percent drop, reported Barron’s. If there isn’t a selloff on Monday or Tuesday, this will become the longest rally without such a drop.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 10/03/17

10/03/2017
A lot happened during the third quarter of 2017, but not much changed.

The bull market in U.S. stocks continued to charge ahead. Traditional measures of valuation continued to suggest the market is overvalued, but some analysts argued it’s different this time. The Economist explained:

“The current [cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings] ratio of 31 suggests that stocks are about 50% over-valued – a figure that has only been exceeded in the past 60 years during the dot-com bubble." Read More

Weekly Market Commentary- 09/26/17

09/26/2017
Geopolitics, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!

In January, Robert Kahn of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote in Global Economics Monthly:

“Markets showed impressive resilience in the face of a range of geopolitical shocks in 2016, but recent market moves suggest this year could be different…It should be the year that global geopolitical risks provide the volatility in markets that I, and many other economists, have been predicting for some time.”
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Weekly Market Commentary- 09/19/17

09/19/2017
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.”

Yogi Berra was talking about baseball, but the concept also applies to diversification, according to the GMO White Paper, The S&P 500: Just Say No. From the title, you might think the authors – Matt Kadnar and James Montier – don’t like U.S. stocks.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 09/12/17

09/12/2017
Last week, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and potency of Hurricane Irma dominated hearts and minds, but there were some diversions and some welcome news, too.

The NFL kicked off its 2017 season with the Chiefs’ win over the Patriots. The men’s U.S. soccer team tied Honduras to stay in the running for a World Cup spot. And, Sloane Stephens made the jump from 957th best on the women’s tennis tour to U.S. Open Champion.

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Weekly Market Commentary- 09/05/2017

09/05/2017
When it comes to economic growth, the government doesn’t measure twice. It measures three times.

Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its initial estimate that the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the value of all goods and services produced by a country or region, grew by 2.6 percent during the second quarter of 2017. The second estimate indicated the economy grew by 3.0 percent from April through June. Read More

Weekly Market Commentary- 08/29/17

08/29/2017
Hope floats.

Optimism about possible pro-growth economic policies, including tax reform and deregulation, helped U.S. stock indices finish higher last week, reported Barron’s. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Stocks bobbed up and down as investors’ optimism was weighted by concerns about a possible debt-ceiling battle and government shutdown.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 08/22/17

08/22/2017
Here, there, and everywhere…
Markets around the world appear to be benefitting from global economic recovery.
After pointing out the United States’ economy is the heart of the global financial system, Barron’s reported:
“The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has tirelessly amassed 30 record closes this year, but is up just 1.2 percent since March 1. Meanwhile, nearly every foreign stock market has sprinted ahead… Read More

Weekly Market Commentary- 08/15/17

08/15/2017
North Korea may be a little country, but it can churn up big trouble.

The possibility that verbal hostilities between the United States and North Korea could trigger geopolitical conflict had investors on the run last week. In the United States, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell by 1.4 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.1 percent, and the NASDAQ Composite finished 1.5 percent lower. Read More

Weekly Market Commentary- 08/08/17

08/08/2017
Who’s been buying shares of company stock?

Since the start of the bull market in 2009, U.S. companies have been buying their own stock. Stock buybacks peaked during the first three quarters of 2016 and have dropped off sharply since then, reports Financial Times citing a report from Goldman Sachs.

Companies participate in stock buyback (a.k.a. share repurchase) programs to improve shareholder value. Read More

Weekly Market Commentary - 08/01/17

08/01/2017
There was some good news and some bad news last week.
First, the good news: Thanks to consumer spending and an upturn in federal government spending, the U.S. economy grew faster from April through June this year. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.6 percent during the period, according to the advance estimate for economic growth. This was an improvement over growth from January through March, when GDP increased by 1.2 percent.
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Weekly Market Commentary - 07/25/17

07/25/2017
The Markets
Do we have central banks to thank?
Low interest rates, accommodative monetary policy, and improving economic growth have helped stock markets around the world reach record highs, reports Barron’s:
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Weekly Market Commentary - 07/18/17

07/18/2017
It was a good week for a lot of stocks but not bank stocks.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) both finished at record highs last week. Barron’s indicated investors owe Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen a debt of gratitude:
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Weekly Market Commentary- 07/11/17

07/11/2017
Things you may want to know…

Last Friday, Financial Times (FT) published, ‘Five markets charts that matter for investors.’ Among the issues addressed in the charts were:

• The bond market bear watch. The yield on 10-year German Bunds (Germany’s government bonds) reached an 18-month high of 0.58 percent recently. Yields rose after the European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi indicated its stimulus efforts would end at some point.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 07/04/17

07/04/2017
This is the way the quarter ends – with a central bank scare.

Central bankers are stodgy. They speak carefully. For many, reading the words ‘Federal Reserve’ is enough to cause boredom to set in and web surfing to ensue.

Last week, though, the European Central Bank and Bank of England cracked the ‘open secret’ (i.e., central banks will provide less stimulus and increase rates at some point), and investors did not like what they heard.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 06/27/17

06/27/2017
It has been a very good year, so far.

Through the end of last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted 24 record highs and delivered returns in the high single digits. The MSCI World ex USA Index was up more than 11 percent, and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index gained more than 17 percent.

After reading those numbers, many people would assume bond markets are down for the year. After all, stock and bond markets tend to move in different directions.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 06/20/17

06/20/2017
All eyes on inflation!

Inflation is the way economists measure changes in the prices of goods and services. The United States has enjoyed relatively low inflation for a significant period of time. Last week, the consumer price index indicated inflation had moved lower in May.

Inflation is our focus because it is at the core of two very different opinions that currently are influencing markets and investors.
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Weekly Market Commentary- 06/13/17

06/13/2017
Stock market historians may dub 2017 the Xanax year. Traditional historians will probably choose a different moniker.
Stock markets in many advanced economies have been unusually calm during 2017, reported Schwab’s Jeffrey Kleintop in a May 15, 2017 commentary. The CBOE Volatility Index, a.k.a. the Fear Gauge, which measures how volatile investors believe the S&P 500 Index will be over the next few months, has fallen below 10 on just 15 days since the index was introduced in 1990. Read More

Weekly Market Commentary- 06/06/17

06/06/2017
The bull market in U.S. stocks is getting really old!

In fact, this bull has been charging, standing, or sitting for more than eight years. In April, it became the second longest bull market in American history, according to CNN Money.

There are some good reasons the stock market in the United States has continued to trend higher. For one, companies have become more profitable. Read More