U.S. and World News
- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is pushing for the International Monetary Fund to remove itself from the country’s €86 billion bailout. This would leave the Eurozone to take full responsibility for supervising the economic reforms in Greece that the country’s third bailout depends on. The request by Greece risks alienating the IMF, which has in the past been a strong proponent of debt relief for the beleaguered nation. The IMF will likely decide whether to stay involved in the bailout shortly after the start of the new year.
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- The Obama administration has imposed fresh sanctions against Russian business leaders and other entities with close ties to Vladimir Putin. Targets of the new sanctions included state banks and a defense company. The penalties are an effort to force Russia to stabilize Ukraine, though they come at a time of perceived cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in the effort to end the Syrian civil war and fighting ISIS.
- OPEC published its highly anticipated annual World Oil Outlook this week with observers hoping to gain insight into the cartel’s future plans. The group anticipates the price of crude oil to rise to $70/barrel by 2020 and $95/barrel by 2040. The forecast also called for demand to reach 30.7 million barrels per day in 2020, a 6% increase in the forecast from a year ago.
- Markets rallied in a holiday shortened week. The S&P 500 gained 2.79% and closed at 2,061. Likewise, the Dow Jones rose 2.47% closing at 17,552. Year to date, the S&P is up 2.20% and the Dow is up 0.95%.
- Interest rates rose a bit this week and the 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.72% and 2.25%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil gained 5.49% this week, closing at $38.04 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices are down 37.10%.
- The spot price of Gold increased by 0.98% this week, closing at $1076.72 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are down 9.09%.
- Initial jobless claims came in at 267,000 which was a decrease from last week’s reading of 271,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 273,000.
- The core PCE inflation index (the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, excludes food and energy) rose by 0.1% in November. Over the last 12 months, Core PCE has risen by 1.3%, moving no closer to the Fed’s 2% inflation target.
- New home sales increased by a higher than expected 4.3% in November, though the report showed mixed results. New home sales increased in the South and West regions but declined in the Northeast and Midwest regions.
- Existing home sales fell by a sharp 10.5% in November, more than expected. The headline number reflected weakness across all regions, with the Midwest (-15.4%) and West (-13.9%) experiencing the largest declines.
Fact of the Week
- 45% of all global financial business is transacted in U.S. dollars, including all oil and natural gas trading worldwide. (Source: Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication)
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