U.S. Economic and Market Highlights
- The holiday shopping season will be a mixed bag from an economic point of view. Retailers are monitoring the latest public-health data as they continue to navigate the pandemic and its impact on consumer confidence and shopping preferences. Ultimately, a bifurcated, K-shaped recovery means some shoppers are ready to spend while others are holding out for the best value this holiday season.
- COVID-19 cases in Europe and the U.S. are on the rise as cases in Asia are stabilizing.
- Christmas will be a virtual experience this year for many people who will celebrate from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Online shopping, entertainment, and religious observances will increase while travel, dining-out, and entertainment in public venues will decrease.
- In November, the U.S. economy added half the number of jobs as it did in October. The unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 6.7% from 6.9% a month earlier.
- Transportation and warehousing sectors saw large payroll gains as e-commerce companies added workers in preparation for the holidays, while retail and government payrolls declined the most as they await a new federal aid package from Washington.
- Last week a bipartisan group of U.S. politicians announced preliminarily a new financial relief proposal for approximately $900 billion.
- The 10-year U.S. Treasury Bond (the most popular bond market benchmark) yield rose15 basis points last week to nearly 1.0%, making it the worst week for bond valuations since early August, as bond prices generally move inversely to changing rates.
- Increased rates are a result of the new financial relief proposal that will create a higher supply of Government bonds pushing rates higher and prices lower.
- Even with the potential for worsening economic news such as the recent jobs’ report, which would generally drive rates downward, bond investors expect negative news to provide further motivation for politicians to strike a stimulus deal.
- Europeans are experiencing the impact of negative interest rates. As of January 1st, Banks in Europe will require that account balances remain below €250,000 to avoid an interest charge. (Variations apply depending on specific bank policies.)
- Europeans with multiple accounts at more than one bank are likely to be able to avoid negative interest charges by allocating funds between accounts, transferring money to USD accounts, and adding cash values to investment portfolio accounts.
- In late November, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed the 30,000 mark for the first time in history, less than 4 years after the index closed above 20,000 for the first time.
- Equity markets around the globe rallied with double digit performances in November as favorable news about COVID-19 vaccines and additional treatments surfaced. This news resulted in a more “risk on” attitude for equity investors and weakened the USD (safe-haven) currency value against other major currencies.
- Emerging markets received a record-breaking amount of investment inflows in November as the USD continued to weaken and manufacturing activity increased. The Mexico Peso topped the currency appreciation list.
- Since the U.S. election in early November, value stocks (e.g. financial and energy companies) outperformed growth stocks (technology and communication companies). This shift from growth to value stocks also occurred (temporarily) after the U.S. election in 2016. (See Market Tracker below.)
- At the end of the first quarter 2017 growth stocks regained dominance, which held up until recently. Only time will tell how market dynamics will play out this time. However, the same factors that led to growth stock dominance over the last decade, and certainly this year, are arguably stronger than ever.
This communication was prepared for informational purposes only and is not an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any security/instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. Past performance is not indicative of future results.