Hurricane Laura, Monetary Policy: O2 Wealth Economic Update, August 28, 2020

U.S. and World News

  • iStock-1174130246_370Hurricane Laura made landfall in Western Louisiana Thursday morning as a Category 4 storm. The storm, that brought maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, caused catastrophic damage that is estimated to cost billions of dollars. The hurricane left six people dead and caused a hazardous chemical fire at a BioLab plant, however, the damage was not as bad as what was expected. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said “It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute catastrophic damage that we thought was likely based on the forecast that we had last night”. Hurricane Laura was the strongest hurricane to ever hit Louisiana, surpassing Katrina which was a Category 3 storm. This year is expected to be the worst ever for hurricanes, as Laura was the seventh named storm to hit the United States before the end of August, a record.
  • In a historic Jackson Hole speech this week, the Federal Reserve issued an update to its longer-term goals on Monetary Policy. The Fed stated that its policy decision will be affected by its “assessments of the shortfalls of employment from its maximum level” instead of “deviations” above or below its maximum level. Also, the Fed announced a more flexible approach to price stability, stating that “following periods when inflation has been running persistently below 2 percent, appropriate monetary policy will likely aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time.” Additionally, the Fed stated that it will respond to “risks to the financial system that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals.” The changes that were made to Monetary Policy will likely lead to low interest rates for the foreseeable future.


  • Markets rose higher every day of the week this week. The S&P 500 surged 3.29% and closed at 3,508, AN ALL-TIME HIGH. The Dow Jones spiked 2.64% and closed at 28,653. Year-to-date, the S&P 500 is up 9.96% and the Dow Jones is up 2.03%.
  • Interests rates moved higher this week and the curve steepened. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are yielding 0.27% and 0.72%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude oil rose this week. Prices rose 1.51% and closed at $42.98 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices are down -29.61%.
  • The spot price of Gold jumped 1.23% and closed at $1,964.27 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 29.46%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims fell by 98,000 to 1 million and the four-week moving average of claims fell by 68,000 to 882,000. Claims fell by 28,000 in Florida, 18,000 in New York, and by 11,000 in Texas. Claims rose by 22,000 in California.
  • Second-quarter real GDP growth was revised up by 1.2% to -31.7%, versus expectations for a reading of -32.5%
  • The core PCE price index rose by 0.4% versus expectations for an increase of 0.5% and the year-over-year rate rose 1.3% versus expectations for an increase of 1.2%
  • Personal income rose by 0.4% versus expectations for a decline of -0.2%
  • Personal spending rose by 1.9% versus expectations for an increase of 1.6%
  • Retail inventories rose by 1.2%, in-line with expectations
  • Wholesale inventories fell by -0.1% versus expectations for a decline of -0.9%
  • The FHFA house price index increased by 0.9% versus expectations for a decline of -0.2% and the year-over-year rate rose by 5.7%
  • Sales of new single-family homes rose by 13.9% to a seasonally-adjusted-annualized-rate of 901,000 units versus expectations for 790,000 units
  • Pending home sales rose by 5.9% versus expectations for an increase of 2.0%
  • New orders for durable goods increased by 11.2% versus expectations for an increase of 4.8%
  • Durable goods orders ex-transports rose by 2.4% versus expectations for an increase of 2.0%
  • Core capital goods orders rose by 1.9% versus expectations for an increase of 1.7%
  • Core capital goods shipments rose by 2.4% versus expectations for an increase of 1.8%
  • The Conference Board index of consumer confidence fell by 6.9 points to 84.8 versus expectations for a reading of 93.0
  • The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment rose by 1.3 points to 74.1 versus expectations for a reading of 72.8

Fact of the Week

  • Apple surpassed $2 trillion market cap last week, becoming the first company to be valued at $2 trillion. Apple became the most valuable publicly traded company on July 31st, when it passed oil giant Saudi Aramco. Apple was also the first company to pass $1 trillion back in 2018 (Source: CNBC).

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730
Steve Meves CFA® – (630) 801-2217
Brad Johnson CFA®, CFP® – (630) 906-5545
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462
Ed Gorenz – (630) 906-5467
Mike Demski – (630) 966-2430
Mike Cava CFA®, CFP® – (630) 281-4522

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