U.S. and World News
- Minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting were released this week and were generally in line with expectations. The tone was slightly on the more dovish side but also confirmed the Fed’s plan to continue to decrease bond purchases (quantitative easing) at the next three meetings, completely stopping purchases in October.
- The results of Indonesia’s presidential election will remain uncertain until next week, as 130 million votes need to be hand-counted. The latest polls show a narrow margin between candidates Joko Widodo and ex-general Prabowo Subianto. Subianto faces a U.S. visa ban for allegations of past human rights violations. The new president will come into office facing several issues including foreign investment, a crumbling currency and a need to cut fuel subsidies.
- Tensions are mounting in the Middle East, after Gaza militants fired new M-302 rockets deep into Israel. Israel has ramped up its air strike campaign as a result, targeting militant positions including rocket launching sites and smuggling tunnels. The newly acquired rockets put about 2/3 of Israel’s 8 million people into Gaza’s range of fire, increasing pressure to neutralize any threats.
- The Ukrainian army is preparing its invasion of Donetsk, the pro-Russian separatist stronghold and city of nearly 1 million. Rebel leaders are urging residents to evacuate the city and have vowed to never surrender. Separatists have continued to call on Russia for aid, although the country has not yet offered any direct military assistance. While Russia openly condemns Ukraine’s military crackdown, Russia faces heavy economic sanctions should it intervene.
- Markets fell this week after making new highs the week prior. The S&P 500 shed 0.86% and closed at 1,968. The Dow Jones followed suit by dropping 0.68% and closing at 16,944. Year to date, the S&P is up 7.60% and the Dow is up 3.46%.
- Interest rates fell this week and the 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.64% and 2.52%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil continued to fall this week due to waning concerns about Iraqi oil supplies in the near term. Prices fell 3.26%, closing at $100.67 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have risen 5.30%.
- The spot price of Gold increased by 1.34% this week, closing at $1,338.20 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 11.36%.
- Initial jobless claims dropped 11,000 from last week, coming in at 304,000 vs. consensus estimates of 315,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 311,500.
Fact of the Week
- According to the Federal Reserve, outstanding student loans total $1.11 trillion while outstanding credit card debt stands at $857 billion. In the last 12 months, student debt has increased $124 billion while credit card debt has increased just $7 billion.
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