Money Talks – March 17, 2018

This week on “Money Talks,” Bil Lako, CFP®, and Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, are joined by Senior Associate Jarrett McKenzie, CFP®, CWS®, to discuss the week’s market movements, economic releases the Consumer Price and Producer Price indices, and a wrap of fourth quarter 2017 earnings season. They also touch on housing data for February. The big discussion this week was about Bitcoin, including what it is, what it isn’t in our opinion, and whether or not investors should add bitcoin to their portfolios. The hosts also answer a listener’s question on keeping money for living expenses in bonds or if he should separate it from his portfolio.

Market Roundup: Market Volatility Fueled by Inflation Fears and Trade Policy Concerns

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index started the week slightly down, as investors continued to assess the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The slip continued Tuesday after early market momentum faded following news of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s ouster. Elsewhere, consumer prices ticked up in February, as the Consumer Price Index rose 0.2%, cooling slightly from a 0.5% jump in January. The core measure, which excludes food and energy, also increased by 0.2%, following a 0.3% gain in January. Indices were still in the red zone on Wednesday as investors weighted new signs that protectionist trade policies could spread to other countries, slowing international trade and weakening global economic growth. In economic releases, the Producer Price Index rose 0.2%, versus expectations of a 0.1% increase, and following a 0.4% gain in January. Additionally, Retail Sales slipped in February, falling 0.1% versus an expected 0.3% gain. Discounting gas and cars, sales stepped up 0.3%. Mixed moves were on deck Thursday, with the Dow stepping up while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite shed some points. In economic news, initial jobless claims decreased last week, as Department of Labor data showed new claims fell 4,000 to 226,000 for the week ended March 10. On another note, import prices increased by 0.4% in February following a downwardly revised 0.8% jump in January. Heading into St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, the major indices finally landed in the green zone on Friday. Housing starts decreased to an annual rate of 1.24 million in February. The results were weaker than expected and fell shy of January’s upwardly revised 1.33 million. Furthermore, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index showed confidence is on the upswing. In a preliminary reading for March, the consumer sentiment index jumped to 102, marking the highest level since 2004, from February’s reading of 99.7.