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Market Commentary

July 2019 Monthly Market Commentary

Time to Celebrate?


The U.S. economy is celebrating an important milestone this month, having entered the longest expansion in its history. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research - the official arbiter that identifies the beginning and end of business cycles-the Great Recession ended in June 2009, making this July the 121st month of growth, surpassing the previous longest stretch of 120 months during the 1991 to 2000 expansion. To be sure, we won’t know with certainty if the economy is still in its growth phase for a while. The NBER takes its sweet time gathering all the information needed to identify cyclical turning points.

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Weekly Market Commentary

November 4, 2019


The past week was jam-packed with news on the economic, policy and political fronts, which along with ghosts and goblins of Halloween, gave investors the shivers. That said, no skeletons came out of the closet and while the markets were rattled, they remained mostly upbeat, thanks in part to decent earnings reports. On the economy, the third quarter’s GDP report was the first to take center stage followed by the all-important monthly jobs report on Friday. While GDP was a tad stronger than expected, it did little to upend widespread perceptions that the economy is losing steam and will continue to chug along at a gradually slower pace through 2020. On policy, the Fed followed market expectations; it cut its benchmark short-term rate by another quarter of a percentage point, lowering it to a range of 1.50-1.75 percent. But its forward guidance regarding future rate changes created more confusion than clarity. As for politics, the impeachment inquiry into president Trump gained more traction and headlines, but its impact on the financial markets appears to be reaching the point of diminishing returns – at least until an endgame is within sight.

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Weekly Market Commentary

October 28, 2019


With a nod to an age-old proverb, the third quarter came in like a lion but ended like a lamb. The final month of the period still has some blanks to fill in, but most key indicators have clearly followed that trajectory. Recall that the quarter started on a promising note. Nonfarm payrolls increased by a solid 166 thousand in July, worker earnings rose by healthy 3.3 percent over the year, consumer confidence shot up to near the high for the expansion and households were spending lavishly; retail sales staged a solid 0.7 percent increase, nearly twice the 0.4 percent average gain over the previous three months.

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Weekly Market Commentary

October 21, 2019


It was not a good week on the economic front, although some positive earnings surprises and mildly encouraging news on the trade front supported a modest gain in stock prices until a late-day setback took hold on Friday. Nothing is written in stone yet, but a limited trade deal with China may be close at hand, and Brexit negotiations may be near a fruitful conclusion if the British Parliament approves the deal Boris Johnson struck with the EU leaders in Brussels. Anything that dials down trade and geopolitical friction strikes a positive chord with investors who have been buffeted by tumultuous crosscurrents for more than a year.

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Weekly Market Commentary

October 15, 2019


Signs of progress on the trade front brightened the economic and financial landscape this week, sending stock prices up for the first time in four weeks. Hopes that a meeting between President Trump and the vice premier of China on Friday would produce a limited deal on some non-core issues, including a possible suspension of tariffs scheduled to go into effect on December 15, sparked the rally. In addition to promising developments on the home front, some positive signals regarding Brexit negotiations also fueled optimism that trade tensions would simmer down, removing major drags on the U.S. and global economies.

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Weekly Market Commentary

October 7, 2019


With the drumbeat of data sounding a decidedly soft note this week, investors are betting that the Fed will ride to the rescue in an effort to save the economy from an unceremonious plunge into recession waters. Indeed, following a downbeat report on activity in the services sector, the markets on Thursday had priced in more than a 90 percent chance that the Fed would cut rates again at its upcoming meeting in late October. Adding to the markets’ conviction, the growth-dampening trade wars received more ammunition this week from the WTO, which gave the U.S. permission to impose additional tariffs on European goods. Not one to pass up such a gift, the administration promptly announced that it would impose duties on $7.5 billion of European imports, including jetliners, cheese, French wine and Irish whisky (yikes!) and hand tools later this month.

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