Several Signs Point to Strong Economic Conditions

09/19/2017

The S&P 500 enjoyed its best week since the first week in January, adding 1.6 percent to close at 2500 for the first time. Most of the gains came early in the week after a weekend in which North Korea refrained from another missile launch, and the destruction from Hurricane Irma, as bad as it was, was not as devastating as feared. As it turned out, North Korea was simply waiting for a different launch date, this time on Friday. But stocks held onto their gains anyway, rising fractionally on Friday to close at a new record high. Although markets took this latest provocation in stride, the North Korean threat has certainly not gone away, and will be the topic of discussion this week at the UN.

Markets React to a Week Full of Surprises

09/12/2017

Stocks slumped during a shortened holiday week that brought its share of surprises. First President Trump unexpectedly agreed to a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and the federal budget, sending analysts scrambling to handicap what it might mean for policy going forward, tax reform in particular. While the impact remains to be seen, one thing we know is that for now it sets up another round of market anxiety in December when this deal expires. There is certainly a chance that the deal buys some time for Congress to get something positive accomplished in the meantime, but until now that has obviously proven difficult.

Geopolitical Events Test the Bull Market’s Resilience

09/05/2017

The number of distractions competing for investors’ attention is particularly high at the moment. Despite this, the S&P 500 sits within shouting distance of its all-time high. The latest round of economic data has been generally solid and inflation has remained subdued. Whether this benign combination will persist in the coming weeks remains to be seen. In the meantime, the litany of potentially market moving events that could intrude on the prevailing end of summer reverie is formidable.

Is Investor Optimism Fading?

08/22/2017

For the first time since May, U.S. equities suffered a second consecutive week of losses. The decline last week was relatively modest, just 0.6 percent in the S&P 500, leaving the index down just 2.2 percent since peaking on August 7. But the combination of seasonal weakness, White House distractions, and the lack of a positive catalyst has left stocks to drift below their 50-day moving average, although still well above their 200 day.