The Markets It was a short week, but it wasn’t quiet. Oil prices moved higher, according to The Wall Street Journal, after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported crude-oil inventories fell unexpectedly last year. Analysts had predicted oil supplies would rise. One expert cited by The Wall Street Journal suggested the stockpile decline and subsequent oil price rally owed much to Gulf Coast refiners reducing inventories “to mitigate state ad valorem taxes on year-end crude stocks.” If that’s the case, the oil price increase may not be sustained. Regardless, improving oil prices gave U.S. stock markets a boost. In particular,
The Markets After a level of hype that would have exhausted even the most dedicated Star Wars fans, the Federal Reserve finally began to tighten monetary policy last week, raising the funds rate from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. Although financial markets appeared sanguine when the rate hike was announced, the calm dissipated quickly. The Standard & Poor’s 500, Dow Jones Industrial, and NASDAQ indices finished the week lower. International markets fared better. Most finished the week higher. The last five times the Fed has begun to raise rates, the U.S. dollar has remained stable and stock prices have risen,
As the central bank starts tightening, some positives & negatives may emerge. Economists widely expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month. Additional incremental rate hikes may follow in 2016. If you are retired (or soon will be), you will want to consider what gradually higher interest rates could mean for you financially. Some of the effects are already being felt. Glancing at Freddie Mac’s weekly surveys, average interest rates for fixed-rate home loans climbed about 0.2% between October 8 and December 10 on assumptions of the federal funds rate rising. (Bond market behavior influences these rates as
The Markets It’s not like it’s a surprise! Last week, investors didn’t appear to be thrilled with the possibility the Federal Reserve might raise rates this week. They also weren’t too impressed by another drop in oil prices. There was red ink everywhere as markets from Australia to Hong Kong, across the Eurozone, and throughout the Americas moved lower last week. Bloomberg reported there was a 74 percent probability of a Fed rate hike at the December Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The Wall Street Journal’s survey of business and academic economists put the chance at 97 percent. More than
The Markets Anyone looking at U.S. stock market performance last week might assume it was a pretty quiet week. They would be wrong. It was a very bouncy week. U.S. stock markets moved lower on Monday, rebounded on Tuesday, and then appeared to suffer a one-two punch mid-week that knocked indices lower. On Wednesday, the benchmark U.S. oil price sank below $40 a barrel as supply continued to exceed demand, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Analysts had expected stockpiles of crude oil, gasoline, and other fuels to decline. Instead, stores increased to more than 1.3 billion barrels. The
The Markets American markets were relatively quiet during Thanksgiving week but there were fireworks in China’s markets. Late in the week, media outlets reported the China Securities Regulatory Commission was conducting inquiries into several securities firms as part of an anti-corruption crackdown triggered by last summer’s wild market gyrations. The news sizzled through China’s stock markets. The Financial Times wrote: “It’s like a trip down memory lane… if memory lane was vertical… The Shanghai Composite was down by as much as 6.1 percent in late trade, with the tech-focused Shenzhen Composite following suit, down by as much as 6.8 percent.