U.S. and World News
- President Trump has signed a bill that imposes sanctions on Russia after Moscow ordered the U.S. to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff and said it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties. The new sanctions are the equivalent of a “full-scale trade war” according to Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev. The sanctions mark some of the strongest action Congress has taken against Russia since the Cold War. Meanwhile, the investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election is taking a step forward as special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly convened a grand jury. The move would give him the power to compel witness testimony and obtain evidence. Links between the Trump campaign and Russia are subject to the investigation, although President Trump has deemed the probe a “witch hunt”.
- A planned announcement by President Trump outlining a significant trade action against China has been postponed. It was expected that President Trump would direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open an investigation into Chinese violations of U.S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfer. The move would bypass the World Trade Organization and is getting some rare bipartisan support; with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer saying that the U.S. should skip any investigation and take immediate action against China. It is now unknown when or if this trade action will be announced.
- Markets were generally higher this week. The S&P 500 rose 0.23% and closed at 2,477. The Dow Jones rose 1.22% for the week and closed at a new All-Time High of 22,093. Year to date, the S&P is up 11.87% and the Dow is up 13.23%.
- Interest rates ended the week a bit lower. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.82% and 2.26%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil decreased by 0.38% this week, closing at $49.52 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 7.85%.
- The spot price of Gold ended the week lower by 0.81%, closing at $1,259.31 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 9.74%.
- Initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 from last week, coming in at 240,000. The Labor Department noted no factors affecting the data this week. The four week moving average for claims held steady at 242,000.
- The July jobs reports came in better than expected with 209,000 jobs added, beating estimates of 180,000. The prior two months’ figures were revised upwards by 2,000, bringing the three month average for job gains to 194,000.
- The headline unemployment rate edged down to 4.3%, in line with forecasts. The labor force participation rate ticked up 0.1% to 62.9%, making the reduction in the unemployment rate stronger.
- Average hourly earnings increased by 0.3% in the month, meeting expectations. Over the last year, wages have grown 2.5%.
- Headline PCE inflation was flat in the month of June, in line with consensus expectations. Over the last 12 months, headline PCE inflation has increased 1.4%.
- Core PCE inflation (excludes food and energy, Fed’s preferred inflation measure) rose by 0.1% in June, also in line with expectations. Over the last 12 months, Core PCE inflation has increased 1.5%.
Fact of the Week
- Since 1962, Congress has increased the nation’s debt ceiling 79 times. This amounts to once every 8 months over the last 55 years. This year, Congress must vote by mid-October to raise America’s debt ceiling or risk defaulting on its debt. (Source: Federal Reserve)
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