U.S. and World News
- The Olympic Games have begun in Brazil but that did not stop the country’s Senate from voting to put suspended President Dilma Rousseff on an impeachment trial. Rousseff had been suspended from her post for allegedly illegally financing government spending. The decision to proceed with impeachment hearings could seal her fate and lead to her successor Michel Temer taking the post on a permanent basis as early as this month.
- Vladimir Putin has promised to respond in kind to what he called Ukraine’s “terror” tactics in the disputed region of Crimea. Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels has intensified once again with two servicemen being killed in clashes in the last week. Putin also threatened to cancel the peace negotiations at next month’s G20 meeting and called the talks “pointless”.
- On Thursday, in an event that hadn’t occurred since December 31, 1999, the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ indices all set all-time highs on the same day. This accentuates a strong comeback in equity markets from historically the worst start to a year which saw those same indices decline more than 10% through mid-February.
- This week the S&P 500 was up 0.12% and closed at 2,184. The Dow Jones rose 0.33% and closed at 18,576. So far in 2016, the S&P is up 8.21% and the Dow is up 8.29%.
- Interest rates dipped a bit this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.10% and 1.51%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil gained 6.96% this week to close at $44.71 per barrel. WTI Crude is up 11.64% in 2016.
- The spot price of Gold was unchanged this week, closing at $1,335.97 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 25.90%.
- Initial jobless claims came in at 266,000, edging down from last week’s reading of 269,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims moved up to 263,000.
- Retail sales were flat in July, missing expectations of a 0.4% acceleration. Solid increases in vehicle and parts sales were offset by lower gas station sales as fuel prices declined. Core retail sales (excludes autos, gasoline and building materials) also showed no gain, underperforming estimates of 0.3%.
- The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index moved up to 90.4 from 90.0 in the initial August release. This was a bit below expectations of a 91.5 reading. Within the report, consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions declined while their expectations of the future improved.
Fact of the Week
- Americans spent $3.63 billion less at gas stations in June 2016 compared to June 2015, but they spent $2.55 billion more at restaurants and bars in June 2016 than in June 2015 (Source: Census Bureau).
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