U.S. and World News
- In response to its alleged hacking and interference in the 2016 presidential election, the Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia this week, including expelling 35 Russian diplomats and closing two Russian compounds in the U.S. The White House stated, “Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Moscow will not retaliate in-kind and will refrain from expelling U.S. diplomats from the country, a decision that was praised by President-Elect Donald Trump in a Friday afternoon tweet.
- Expanding on the truce that was established in Aleppo earlier this month, Russia and Turkey have brokered a nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The agreement would come into force in all regions where fighting between pro-government forces and opposition groups is taking place. The accord is already off to a shaky start as just after the ceasefire was set to take effect, it was reported that clashes between insurgents and government forces took place in several locations.
- This week the S&P 500 fell by 1.07% and closed at 2,239. The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased by 0.46% and closed the year at 19,763 and was unable to reach the 20,000 milestone in 2016. For the year, the S&P rose 11.77% and the Dow climbed 16.16%.
- Interest rates continued to retreat from their recent highs this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes now yield 1.93% and 2.45%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose by 1.49% this week and closed 2016 at $53.83 per barrel. WTI Crude was up 34.40% in 2016.
- The spot price of Gold increased by 1.59% this week, ending the year at $1,151.35 per ounce. In 2016, gold prices rose 8.50%.
- Weekly initial jobless claims came in at 265,000, a decrease from last week’s reading of 275,000. The Labor Department noted not major distortions to the data this week. The four week moving average for jobless claims now stands at 263,000.
- The Case-Shiller home price index rose by 0.6% in October, beating expectations of 0.5%. Prices rose in all 20 cities measured by the index and have now risen 5.1% over the last 12 months.
- Pending home sales fell 2.5% in November to a 10-month low. Pending sales fell in the West (-6.7%), Midwest (-2.5%) and South (-1.2%) but rose in the Northeast (+0.6%). The weak report may be an indication that higher mortgage rates are beginning to affect demand.
Fact of the Week
- The number of electronic devices that are connected to the internet (ie. laptops, phones, care, appliances etc.) surpassed the world’s population in 2010. By 2020, the number of connected devices will reach 50 billion, or almost 7 times the world’s population of 7.3 billion. (Source: Federal Trade Commission)
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