Economic Update 9-17-2018
- Economic news for the month included mediocre retail sales numbers, several inflation results that came in a bit lower than expected and continued strong labor market data.
- Equity markets gained globally, as sentiment about trade improved somewhat. Bonds were mixed with interest rates moving higher, as credit outperformed governments. Commodities gained slightly, as oil prices moved higher.
Economic Update 9-10-2018
- Economic data for the week was dominated by a decent employment situation report for August, continued strong results in other labor metrics, as well as positive results from the ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing surveys.
- U.S. equity markets declined for the holiday-shortened week, as did foreign stocks with continued weakness in emerging markets. Bonds fell also as interest rates ticked higher. Commodities ticked downward along with lower crude oil prices.
Economic Update 8-27-2018
- Economic data for the week consisted of continued strong showings for jobless claims, and mixed results for durable goods, while housing data was weak in terms of new and existing home sales.
- Equity markets gained globally, with U.S. stocks reaching new records but still being outpaced by foreign stocks that were helped by a weaker U.S. dollar. Bonds gained ground domestically with long-term interest rates falling, while foreign debt was also boosted by the dollar’s drop. Commodities gained as crude oil prices rose back up toward $70/barrel upon Iranian supply concerns.
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Economic Update 8-20-2018
- Economic data for the week was highlighted by stronger data for retail sales and leading economic indicators, mixed regional manufacturing survey results, while sentiment and housing data disappointed.
- U.S. equity markets ticked higher last week, while foreign stocks suffered, and emerging markets faring worst. Bonds were flattish as interest rates ended the week little changed. Commodities lost ground, with crude oil prices losing a few dollars per barrel.
Economic Update 8-06-2018
- Economic news during the week was highlighted by the Fed’s decision to keep interest rates steady, a lukewarm employment situation report for July but stronger labor data in other reports, decent housing numbers, but weaker ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing numbers held back by tariff concerns.
- U.S. stocks gained ground on the week, and offset losses in foreign stocks as the dollar strengthened. U.S. bonds were little changed, but outperformed international bond markets due to the same dollar effect. Commodities fell a bit, with most segments losing ground, including oil.
The FOMC concluded their monetary policy meeting today, which, as expected, resulted in no change to the fed funds rate—currently targeted to a range of 1.75-2.00%. There were no dissenting votes.
The formal narrative again was positive in its assessment of overall conditions, with both economic activity and labor market descriptions being upgraded from ‘solid’ to ‘strong’. As we’ve noted before, the FOMC statements have taken a decidedly more direct and business-like tone with Jerome Powell as chair, as opposed to the longer and more detailed releases under the Janet Yellen regime. The movement away from the quantitative easing program, and various nuances with ‘tapering’, has also helped. The periodic Q&A sessions (next scheduled for September) have been similarly more direct and in more straightforward language, which is not surprising considering the more diverse background of the current Fed chair compared the previous few, who originated from academia prior their tenures in the Federal Reserve system.
Economic Update 7-30-2018
- Economic data for the week was highlighted by the 2ndquarter GDP report, with the best results in five years. Durable goods were mixed, as were jobless claims, while housing data generally came in below expectations.
- U.S. equity markets rose last week, as trade tensions eased somewhat, although were outperformed by foreign, and especially emerging market equities. Bond returns were mixed as interest rates rose across the curve, with higher-risk outperforming lower-risk globally. Commodities gained on the week, led by a rise in prices of a variety of sectors.