UNCERTAINTY BREEDS SELLING, FOLLOWED BY A RELIEF RALLY On Friday, Wall Street rebounded from a disquieting slump that saw the blue chips take an almost 1,400 point dive. The S&P 500 gained 1.42% to snap a 6-session losing streak, the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.29% to fight back from a correction, and the Dow rose 1.15%. A new earnings season may take investors’ minds off the insecurities they have felt recently about bond yields, tariffs, and interest rate hikes. Those uncertainties weighed on equities again this past week: the Dow fell 4.19% to 25,339.99; the S&P, 4.10% to 2,767.13; the Nasdaq,

10-YEAR TREASURY YIELD HITS A 7-YEAR PEAK Friday, the yield on the 10-year note reached 3.23%, its highest level since 2011. Its yield rose dramatically last week, influenced by hawkish comments from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell and reports showing minimal unemployment and a swiftly expanding business sector. All this strengthened investor perception that the U.S. economy has hit its stride. It also suggested a near future with recurring interest rate hikes, costlier borrowing, and subdued spending. That possibility weighed on equities. For the week, the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.21% to 7,788.45, and the S&P 500, 0.97% to 2,885.57; the

FEDERAL RESERVE MAKES ITS THIRD RATE HIKE OF 2018 The central bank set the target range for the federal funds rate at 2.00-2.25% last week, in a move that economists and investors widely expected. One development was unexpected: the Fed removed the word “accommodative” from its latest policy statement, a hint that it may be on the verge of altering its monetary policy outlook. The Fed dot-plot still shows one more interest rate hike for 2018 and three hikes in 2019.1 HOUSEHOLDS SEE A VERY STRONG ECONOMY Both marquee U.S. consumer confidence indices finished September in good shape. The Conference

Weekly Economic Update 9/24/2018 BLUE CHIPS HIT A 2018 HIGH On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its best close since January. Friday took the index even higher, to another record settlement of 26,743.50. That capped a 2.25% weekly advance. The Dow was not the only major benchmark shattering records last week. The S&P 500 also settled at a historic peak Thursday before drifting slightly lower to 2,929.67 a day later; in five days, it rose 0.85%. For the Nasdaq Composite, the story was different: it declined 0.29% last week to 7,986.96.1,2 AUGUST WAS A FLAT MONTH FOR HOME

Weekly Economic Update 9/17/2018 CONSUMER SENTIMENT EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS In its initial September edition, the University of Michigan’s monthly consumer sentiment index rose 4.6 points to 100.8, a 6-month high. Economists polled by Bloomberg had forecast a reading of 96.6. Fifty-six percent of households responding to the survey said that they had made recent financial gains; the all-time high for the survey is 57%, recorded in both March 2018 and February 1998. The index’s future expectations gauge reached a 14-year peak of 91.1.1 RETAIL SALES ALMOST FLAT IN AUGUST The 0.1% August advance was the smallest monthly gain since February. Core

Weekly Economic Update 9/10/2018 LATEST JOBS REPORT CONFIRMS WAGE GROWTH IS ACCELERATING According to the Department of Labor’s newest employment report, average pay for U.S. private sector workers improved 2.9% in the 12 months ending in August. That is the best annualized wage boost since the end of the Great Recession in 2009 and an improvement from 2.7% in July. The economy added 201,000 net new jobs last month. The headline jobless rate remained at 3.9%; the U-6 rate, which includes both unemployed and underemployed Americans, declined 0.1% to 7.4%, a 17-year low.1 STRONG AUGUST SHOWINGS FOR THE ISM INDICES

Weekly Economic Update 9/3/2018 Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email OPTIMISM REIGNS ON MAIN STREET In August, the Conference Board’s respected consumer confidence index made a remarkable leap, rising 5.5 points to 133.4. This was its highest reading in almost 18 years. (Economists surveyed by Briefing.com forecast an August reading of 126.5.) The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index also improved in its final August edition, ending the month at a mark of 96.2, 0.9 points above its preliminary reading.1,2                                           

Weekly Economic Update 8/27/2018 BULL MARKET MAKES HISTORY At the close on August 22, the current bull marked its 3,453th day, a record by S&P Dow Jones standards. Between March 9, 2009 and last Wednesday, the S&P 500 advanced 323%, with an annualized return of about 19%. Besides optimism, four other factors drove the market higher in the last nine-and-a-half years: easing by the Federal Reserve, earnings growth (corporate profits have improved in 30 of the past 35 quarters, with the only slump happening in 2015-16), share repurchases, and dip-buying on the assumption that stocks would recover from declines.1 HOME

Weekly Economic Update 8/20/2018 MID-SUMMER MEANT BUYING FOR CONSUMERS According to new Census Bureau data, retail sales were 0.5% improved in July. Core retail sales (all categories except car and truck buying) rose 0.6% last month. The only sour note was the revision the Bureau made to June’s headline and core retail sales advances. The overall June retail sales gain was reduced to 0.2% from 0.5%; the core gain, to 0.2% from 0.4%.1,2 HOUSEHOLD SENTIMENT GAUGE DISAPPOINTS In its initial August edition, the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment fell 2.6 points to 95.3. That was a miss: analysts

Weekly Economic Update 8/13/2018 Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email INFLATION AT 2.9%, CORE INFLATION AT 2.4% Friday, the Department of Labor reported these annualized gains through July of this year for the Consumer Price Index. Both the headline and core CPIs rose 0.2% last month, matching the consensus forecast of economists polled by Reuters. The yearly core inflation increase is the largest on record since September 2008. (The core inflation reading leaves out food and energy costs.) The Producer Price Index was flat in July, with the yearly advance declining slightly to 3.4%; the core PPI rose 0.3%, resulting in

Weekly Economic Update 7/30/2018 In this week’s recap: an impressive Q2 GDP reading, a consumer sentiment dip, a falloff in home buying, and the end of a long stock market correction. Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email Print Pinterest First estimate of Q2 GDP: 4.1% Not since the third quarter of 2014 has the economy grown at such a pace. In its report released Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis noted 4.0% growth in consumer outlays during the quarter, a 7.3% improvement in business spending, and 3.5% more federal government spending. The BEA also revised the first-quarter GDP number up 0.2%

Weekly Economic Update 7/23/2018 Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn Email ANOTHER GOOD MONTH FOR RETAIL SALES Americans are spending freely, as new Census Bureau data confirms. Retail sales advanced 0.5% last month, matching the consensus forecast of economists surveyed by Reuters, in the wake of a revised 1.3% May gain. (May was the best month for buying since last September.) The only negative note: core retail sales were flat in June. (Core sales exclude food, fuel, auto, and home improvement purchases.)1 HOUSING STARTS SINK TO A 9-MONTH LOW Taking their biggest monthly fall since November 2016, starts unexpectedly dropped 12.3% in

INCOME AND SPENDING RISE, ALONG WITH CORE INFLATION According to the latest monthly Department of Commerce snapshot, personal incomes improved 0.4% in May. Personal spending, however, advanced just 0.2% (half the gain forecast by economists polled by Reuters) and was actually flat when adjusted for inflation. May also brought the sixth straight 0.2% monthly increase for the core PCE price index, which the Federal Reserve uses as its inflation yardstick. The core PCE was up 2.0% year-over-year through May, reaching the central bank’s annualized inflation target for the first time in more than six years.1 CONSUMER CONFIDENCE GAUGES SHOW JUNE

TARIFF TALK INTENSIFIES Major economic powers proposed additional import taxes last week, as investors wondered if a global trade war was now underway. Monday evening, President Trump stated that he had instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to identify another $200 billion of Chinese products to subject to a new 10% import duty. Shortly before the trading week began, the European Union proclaimed it would place import taxes on $3.3 billion of U.S. products, in retaliation to recently imposed metals tariffs. Friday, President Trump mulled imposing a 20% tax on autos arriving from the E.U. unless it lifts such import

FED, NEW TARIFFS GET WALL STREET’S ATTENTION As expected, the Federal Reserve adjusted the target range on the federal funds rate to 1.75%-2.00% on Wednesday. The central bank’s latest dot-plot projection, however, raised some eyebrows: it showed four interest rate increases planned for 2018 instead of three. The median forecast of Fed officials puts the benchmark interest rate at 2.4% at the end of this year, on the way to a peak of 3.4% in 2020. Friday morning, the Trump administration announced new 25% tariffs on at least $34 billion of Chinese imports. Hours later, China retaliated, declaring that it

100 MONTHS OF GROWTH FOR SERVICE BUSINESSES The Institute for Supply Management announced this milestone as it revealed a 58.6 May reading for its non-manufacturing purchasing manager index. That excellent reading was well north of the 56.8 mark seen in April. Fourteen of the fifteen service industries followed by the PMI reported expansion in May; the information sector was the only outlier.1     Q2 GDP OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS Is the economy now expanding at the rate of 5% a year? The bold new estimate by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta nearly says as much. The Atlanta Fed projects a 4.6%

HIRING, HOUSEHOLD SPENDING STRENGTHEN Net job growth surprised to the upside in May: companies added 223,000 more workers than they laid off or fired. At 3.8%, the unemployment rate is now where the Federal Reserve thought it would be at the end of 2018, and it is also at its lowest level since April 2000. Underemployment, as measured by the Department of Labor’s U-6 jobless rate, fell 0.2% in May to a 17-year-low of 7.6%. Year-over-year wage growth was measured at 2.7% in this latest labor market snapshot. In another sign of a strong economy, the Department of Commerce said

HOME SALES DECLINE Both new and existing home sales weakened in April, according to reports from the Census Bureau and National Association of Realtors. Resales were down 2.5%; new home buying, 1.5%. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun cited “the utter lack of available listings on the market” as the “root cause” of the retreat in resales. Existing home sales were down 1.4% year-over-year through April; on the other hand, the pace of new home buying improved 8.4% in the same 12 months. Zillow says that existing home values soared 8.7% in the year ending in April; that is the largest

OIL HITS A 4-YEAR PEAK The price of WTI crude settled at $71.36 on Thursday, hours after Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts forecast $90 oil by spring 2019 and a “risk of $100 a barrel” Brent crude next year. Thursday’s close was oil’s highest settlement since November 2014. Futures rallied 1.4% on the week after the Trump administration said that the U.S. would exit the Iran nuclear deal and reinstate sanctions against that OPEC member. That implies reduced global oil supply. As of Friday evening, no other OPEC country had committed to produce more oil in response. WTI crude

JOBLESS RATE HITS 18-YEAR LOW Unemployment fell to 3.9% in April, the Department of Labor said Friday – the smallest percentage seen since late 2000. Additionally, the U-6 underemployment rate declined to 7.8%, a 17-year low. Payrolls expanded with 164,000 net new jobs last month; the economy has created an average of 200,000 jobs a month so far in 2018, compared to 177,000 a month in 2017.1   PERSONAL SPENDING IMPROVES 0.4% The March gain reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis was the best since the 0.5% advance in December. Personal wages increased 0.3% for March, replicating the gain from