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Princeton Wealth Advisors

Weekly Market Snapshot

December 14, 2018

Market Commentary
by Scott J. Brown, Ph.D., Chief Economist

There was plenty of economic data, but investors remained focused on trade policy and Brexit uncertainty. Intraday volatility remained elevated. Stock market weakness kept downward pressure on long-term interest rates.

Retail sales rose 0.2% in November, held down by a drop in gasoline sales (lower gasoline prices). Core sales, which exclude autos, gasoline and building materials, rose 0.6%, following a 0.7% gain in October (+4.6% y/y). Sales at department stores rose 0.4% (-0.2% y/y), while sales for non-store retailers (mail order and internet) jumped 2.3% (+10.8% y/y). Industrial production rose 0.6%, more than expected, but was boosted by gains in energy extraction and the output of utilities (cold weather). Manufacturing output was flat (+2.2% y/y), following a 0.1% decline in October (revised from +0.3%) – a soft trend in 4Q18. The Consumer Price Index rose as anticipated (+2.2% y/y ex-food and energy). The PPI rose 0.1% (+2.5% y/y), as higher food and transportation costs offset lower energy costs.

Next week, the focus will be on the Fed. The federal funds futures are pricing in about a 78% chance of a rate increase. Investors are expected to be more interested in the dot plot (the forecasts of individual Fed officials of the appropriate year-end federal funds rate for each of the next few years). The financial press and market participants focus far too much on the median of the dots (that is, how many rate increases in 2019), instead of the range. How many times will the Fed hike in 2019? The correct answer is “it depends.” A lot has changed since the September Federal Open Market Committee meeting (including a stock market decline) and moderate inflation should allow the Fed to be more cautious in raising rates next year.


Indices

  Last Last Week YTD return %
DJIA 24597.38 24947.67 -0.49%
NASDAQ 7070.34 7188.26 2.42%
S&P 500 2650.54 2695.95 -0.86%
MSCI EAFE 1773.46 1758.35 -13.52%
Russell 2000 1432.70 1477.41 -6.70%

Consumer Money Rates

  Last 1 year ago
Prime Rate 5.25 4.50
Fed Funds 2.19 1.16
30-year mortgage 4.72 3.97

Currencies

  Last 1 year ago
Dollars per British Pound 1.264 1.343
Dollars per Euro 1.136 1.178
Japanese Yen per Dollar 113.63 112.39
Canadian Dollars per Dollar 1.336 1.280
Mexican Peso per Dollar 20.317 19.138

Commodities

  Last 1 year ago
Crude Oil 52.83 57.04
Gold 1246.20 1257.10

Bond Rates

  Last 1 month ago
2-year treasury 2.73 2.86
10-year treasury 2.88 3.11
10-year municipal (TEY) 3.75 4.18

Treasury Yield Curve – 12/14/2018

Chart

As of close of business 12/13/2018


S&P Sector Performance (YTD) – 12/14/2018


Chart

As of close of business 12/13/2018


Economic Calendar

December 17  —  Homebuilder Sentiment (December)
December 18  —  Building Permits, Housing Starts (November)
December 19  —  Current Account (3Q18)
 —  Existing Home Sales (November)
 —  FOMC Policy Decision
 —  Summary of Economic Projections (new dot plot)
 —  Powell press conference
December 20  —  Initial Claims (week ending December 15)
 —  Leading Economic Indicators (November)
December 21  —  Real GDP (3Q18, 3rd estimate)
 —  Personal Income and Spending (November)
 —  Durable Goods Orders (November)
 —  UM Consumer Sentiment (December)
December 25  —  Christmas (market closed)
January 4  —  Employment Report (December)
January 30  —  FOMC Policy Decision (Powell press conference)
March 20  —  FOMC Policy Decision (Powell press conference)

 

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the Research Department of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. and are subject to change. There is no assurance any of the forecasts mentioned will occur or that any trends mentioned will continue in the future. Investing involves risks including the possible loss of capital. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. International investing is subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, different financial accounting standards by country, and possible political and economic risks, which may be greater in emerging markets. While interest on municipal bonds is generally exempt from federal income tax, it may be subject to the federal alternative minimum tax, and state or local taxes. In addition, certain municipal bonds (such as Build America Bonds) are issued without a federal tax exemption, which subjects the related interest income to federal income tax. Municipal bonds may be subject to capital gains taxes if sold or redeemed at a profit. Taxable Equivalent Yield (TEY) assumes a 35% tax rate.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index of 30 widely held stocks. The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ National Stock Market. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) index is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of the international stock market. The Russell 2000 index is an unmanaged index of small cap securities which generally involve greater risks. An investment cannot be made directly in these indexes. The performance noted does not include fees or charges, which would reduce an investor's returns. U.S. government bonds and treasury bills are guaranteed by the US government and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and guaranteed principal value. U.S. government bonds are issued and guaranteed as to the timely payment of principal and interest by the federal government. Treasury bills are certificates reflecting short-term (less than one year) obligations of the U.S. government.

Commodities trading is generally considered speculative because of the significant potential for investment loss. Markets for commodities are likely to be volatile and there may be sharp price fluctuations even during periods when prices overall are rising. Specific sector investing can be subject to different and greater risks than more diversified investments. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the annual total market value of all final goods and services produced domestically by the U.S. The federal funds rate (“Fed Funds”) is the interest rate at which banks and credit unions lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight. The prime rate is the underlying index for most credit cards, home equity loans and lines of credit, auto loans, and personal loans. Material prepared by Raymond James for use by financial advisors. Data source: Bloomberg, as of close of business December 13, 2018.


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