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.

Money Talks – March 10, 2018

This week on “Money Talks,” Chief Investment Officer Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA is joined by Principal Jennifer J. Thomas, CFP®, and Managing Associate K.C. Smith, CFP®, to broadly discuss the week’s economic picture, including the ISM Manufacturing Index, Factory Orders, Productivity and Costs, and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. Now that it is prime tax season, Jennifer and K.C. discuss some of the many devious scams that thieves are using, capitalizing on the common fear of the IRS. They also provide some tips on how to really know when it is the IRS contacting you. The experts round out the show by answering listeners’ questions on pharmaceutical company AbbVie, and insurance companies Lincoln National Corp and Allstate Corp. They also discuss how working in retirement can affect your Social Security benefits and shed a little light on what the proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum mean.

Market Roundup: Impressive Weekly Gains Following Tariff Details

Indices kicked off the first full week of March closing in the green zone on Monday, amid a variety of economic news. The ISM non-manufacturing index fell to 59.5 from 59.9 in January, indicating service activity decreased slightly. The upward momentum continued Tuesday as investors saw signs of disapproval to the potential tariffs on imported aluminum and steel. Mixed moves were on deck Wednesday. The tech-heavy NASDAQ composite added points, but both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index closed in the red on trade war concerns following news of National Economic Council leader, Gary Cohn’s resignation. In other news, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which covered activity from January to mid-February, showed a modest-to-moderate pace of economic expansion in all 12 districts. The market recovered Thursday following the release of tariff details. President Trump announced a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% levy on non-American aluminum. On another note, Department of Labor data showed initial jobless claims rose by 21,000 to 231,000 last week. The three major Indices closed trading with gains on Friday, but it was the NASDAQ composite that closed at a new record level. Stocks climbed on favorable jobs data for February. The U.S. economy added 310,000 jobs last month, well beyond expectations of 200,000 payroll additions.

Money Talks – March 3, 2018

This week on “Money Talks,” Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, is joined by Managing Associates, Shawna Theriault, C.P.A., CFP®, CDFA®, and K.C. Smith, CFP®, to discuss a slew of housing news, including New-Home Sales, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and mortgage applications. They also look at the consumer confidence reading for February and the second estimate of fourth quarter GDP. Shawna and K.C. discuss how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect the tax treatment of alimony payments for divorce and separation agreements executed after Dec. 31, 2018. The experts round out the show answering listeners’ questions on maxing out 401(k) contributions to shield income from taxes, Vanguard index funds and real estate funds, tech stocks Nvidia and Intel Corp., and the timing of required minimum distributions.

Market Roundup: Proposed Tariffs Weighed on an Already Red Week

The major U.S. indexes were uniformly strong on Monday, carrying over Friday’s bullishness into the new week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added as much as 400 points during the day, while the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ both benefited from a rally in Technology sector stocks. Indices traded into the red zone on Tuesday with stocks dipping on a variety of economic news. Durable goods orders slipped in January, as orders for goods fell 3.7%, marking the largest decrease in six months, and well beyond economists’ expectations for a lesser decline of 2.5%. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence index ticked up to a 17-year high in February, jumping to 130.8 from 125.4 in January. Midweek, both the Dow and S&P 500 closed lower and snapped their 10-month winning streaks. In economic news, fourth-quarter gross domestic product was revised to a reading of 2.5% growth, matching expectations. This was down just slightly from the prior reading of 2.6%. On another note, pending-home sales dipped in January. Sales fell 4.7% to 104.6, marking the lowest reading since October 2014. Additionally, the Energy Information Administration data showed crude oil inventories increased by three million barrels last week, marking a larger-than-expected jump in oil reserves. For the session, oil prices dipped 1.1% to settle at $62.29 a barrel. Stocks continued their slip Thursday amid investor concerns over new steel and aluminum tariffs announced by President Trump. Trump’s pronouncements of a tariff of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports were enough to send stocks tumbling on both Thursday and Friday morning. Department of Labor data showed new claims fell last week by 10,000 to 210,000. The result marks a 49-year low for first-time claims. Looking elsewhere, the ISM manufacturing index reading came in at 60.8 for February, up from 59.1 in January, and exceeded the consensus forecast of 58.7. Indices ended trading with mixed moves on Friday. The Dow shed some points, while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ stepped up. In the second consumer reading for the week, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for February jumped four points to 99.7.