U.S. and World News
- In the wake of President Trump’s response to the violent and deadly acts at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, many high profile CEOs began resigning from Trump’s Manufacturing Council. President Trump originally responded to the first resignations by tweeting, “For every CEO that drops out, I have many to take their place.” However, as the resignations began to mount, the Manufacturing Council as well as the Strategic and Policy Forum were disbanded as more and more CEOs refused to be associated with this administration. In addition to the CEOs that have abandoned ship, famed investor Carl Icahn stepped down as a special advisor to the President late Friday afternoon.
- Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon has left his duties at the White House, though the nature of his departure remains unclear. A person close to Bannon said that the strategist had submitted his resignation on August 7, but the announcement was delayed after the violence that occurred at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12. Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange audibly cheered when the news broke, reflecting the views on many on Wall Street. Stock markets initially rose on the news before fading late in the day as traders may think that with Bannon’s ouster and Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn remaining on the staff, the prospects of passing a budget and getting tax reform improve.
- Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting were released this week and showed that policymakers are divided over the timeline for future rate hikes. While some members appeared wary about the recent weak inflation figures, others were more eager to have an additional rate increase sometime in 2017. The minutes also seemed to indicate that an announcement regarding the reduction of the Fed’s balance sheet could occur at the September meeting. The market is currently pricing in a 35% probability of an additional rate hike this year.
- Markets fell this again this week following a rally on Monday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.58% and closed at 2,426. The Dow Jones fell 0.77% for the week and closed at 21,675. Year to date, the S&P is up 9.73% and the Dow is up 11.36%.
- Interest rates ended the week relatively unchanged. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.76% and 2.20%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil decreased by 0.28% this week, closing at $48.68 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 9.45%.
- The spot price of Gold ended the week lower by 0.32%, closing at $1,289.30 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 12.00%.
- Initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 from last week, coming in at 232,000. The Labor Department noted no factors affecting the data this week. The four week moving average for claims remained at 241,000.
- Housing starts declined -4.8% in July, lower than the median forecast of a 0.4% increase. The volatile multi-family category led the decline (-15.3%), while the more stable single family starts figure dropped -0.5%. Starts declined in the Northeast (-15.7%), Midwest (-15.2%) and West (-1.6%) but edged up in the South (+0.6%).
- The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose 4.2 points to 97.6 in the preliminary August report, rebounding from declines in June and July. Although the survey’s current conditions index dipped, the expectations for the future component had the largest jump in four years.
Fact of the Week
- Of the 8.56 million new households formed in the last 10 years, 95% of them (8.13 million) were comprised of families that are renting. (Source: Census Bureau)
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