After eight consecutive weeks of positive returns, the S&P 500 declined by 0.25 percent as investors digest another solid earnings season and evaluate the implications and likelihood of the “Jobs Act” becoming law. To add to the confusion, there are substantial differences between the House and Senate version of the bill released on Thursday.
A normal week sees one or two impactful pieces of news that influence the markets. By all accounts this was no ordinary week on that front, yet the markets have largely shrugged it off.
Friday revealed strong earnings in large cap tech-fueled stocks, resulting in a slightly positive week for the market. This leaves the S&P 500 at another all-time high. Interest rates ticked up as well, as economic data continued to show improvements. The 10-year U.S. Treasury ended the week with a yield of 2.43 percent, up from 2.35 percent.
Treasury rates and the U.S. dollar climbed while U.S. equities are headed towards six straight weeks of gains. The market appears to be betting on the successful passing of a tax overhaul after the U.S. Senate approved a budget resolution. The bond market fluctuated and ended the week yielding around 2.37 percent, trading up from last week’s level of 2.27 percent.
Stocks finished higher for the fifth-straight week, while bond prices were flat. Although Fed comments and more discussion of tax reform dominated the capital markets headlines, but there was little movement in the large indices.
After eight consecutive days of positive returns, U.S. equities closed slightly lower Friday and finished the week up 1.10 percent. Emerging markets, up 2.75 percent, extended the lead as the best performing asset class of 2017 with a total return greater than 30 percent.
Equities continue their grind harder and higher this week as optimism for economic growth remains. The S&P 500 finished the week up three quarters of a percent resulting in year-to-date gains of over 14 percent. Yields also ticked up resulting in the 10-year Treasury yielding 2.32 percent.
As investors digested news of the Federal Reserve's plan to unwind its balance sheet starting in October, both interest rates and equity markets remained unchanged for the week.
As the Western states struggle with wildfires and the Southeastern states get pounded by hurricanes, the stock market quietly made new highs. The S&P rallied this week 1.4 percent, closing in on the psychologically important 2,500. Conversely, bonds felt the swing into equities with rates on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rising 13 basis points to 2.20 percent.
Last week, we sent a notice to clients regarding the Equifax data breach. To read that information, please click here.
The passing of Hurricane Harvey and the imminent landfall of Irma failed to rock the boat for equities, which remain near all-time highs despite puts and takes amid industries being impacted by severe weather events. More remarkable than trade posturing in home improvement and insurance stocks is the observation that benchmark interest rates and the dollar continue to slide.
Equifax, one of three credit reporting agencies in the United States, reported on Thursday that the company experienced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers.
Ferguson Wellman and West Bearing recognize that many of our clients may have questions as a result of the announcement. While it is still early in the process, we would like to share a few thoughts:
- Equifax has established a website to assist clients in understanding the incident and to allow consumers to determine if they are known to be impacted. The website is www.equifaxecurity2017.com. To determine if you have been impacted, select the, “Potential Impact” link
- Whether or not you are reported to have been impacted, you may want to consider enrolling in an identity monitoring and credit protection program. While our firm does not endorse any program, here are the names of several offerings rated by Consumer Affairs:
- As reported on the website, Equifax is offering complimentary access to an identity theft protection and credit file monitoring product called TrustedID Premier. However, by enrolling in the complimentary program, you may be agreeing to settle grievances through arbitration. There is a link to enroll in the program on the website referenced above
- No Ferguson Wellman nor West Bearing clients own Equifax stock (ticker EFX) in portfolios managed by our firm, with the exception of a few clients who transferred the position in from other managers. Not surprisingly, the stock dropped 13.66 percent on Friday following the news
As always, now is an excellent time to use complex and unique passwords for all of your accounts. We recommend:
- Changing your password immediately if you know of data breach and any like passwords on other sites
- Create strong passwords everywhere and do not use the same password on different sites
- Use a password manager to do the heavy lifting of creating strong passwords. Many are free
- Enable two-step or even multi-step verification if available. Even if your credentials are compromised, they are useless without additional verification
- Monitor any financial accounts associated with any breach that you believe have been associated with fraud. Your liability may be impacted by how quickly you identify fraudulent activity
- Be aware of “phishing” attacks that may increase shortly after news of a breach. They may pose as the affected company to trick consumer
Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Kralj shares a piece by Financial Advisor magazine regarding the need for a power of attorney at the age of 18.
Stock markets were higher this week, despite Hurricane Harvey and a weaker-than-expected jobs report. The S&P 500 was up 1.5 percent, ending the week close to the all-time high of 2,480 from early August. Bond yields slid slightly lower, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield dipping to 2.14 percent. August’s nonfarm payrolls report showed a gain of 156,000, which was below the expected 180,000 jobs.
The dog days of summer have officially set in. Millions of people took Monday off to watch the eclipse, while millions more merely peeked out their office windows.
For the week, the equity markets were down more than 1 percent as investors followed political events in Washington D.C. While the markets have been mostly focused on the global surge in earnings growth this year, political drama took center stage this week as there are concerns that the current administration will be unable to successfully enact tax reform and deregulation.