Syria, Gorsuch: Wealth Economic Update Apr. 7, 2017

U.S. and World News

  • Following a poison gas attack against a rebel-held area of Syria which included use of the banned nerve agent sarin, President Trump was forced to pivot from his prior stance on Syria and its President Bashar al-Assad. Trump said that the attack, which included children among its victims, crossed “many, many lines” and that his “attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.” In what was seen as a direct response, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles against an airbase in Syria. This sets up further potential conflict with Russia, Assad’s primary backer, as the Kremlin has already stated the missile launch will deal a “significant blow to Russian-U.S. relations” and represented an “act of aggression” against a sovereign state.
  • Facing significant Democratic opposition, Republicans voted to enact the “nuclear option”, which reduces the threshold for Supreme Court nominations in the Senate from 60 to a simple majority. Having done that, the path was cleared for Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate on Friday. With the Republicans choosing to lower this threshold, future presidents will have a much easier time getting their Supreme Court nominees confirmed, potentially changing whom they decide to appoint.
  • Minutes from the March Federal Reserve meeting were released this week and contained a relatively upbeat assessment of economic conditions and references to the potential upside from fiscal policy measures. The minutes also showed discussion regarding allowing the Fed’s balance sheet to ‘run-off’ at some point in the future. Additionally, some participants characterized stock market valuations as ‘quite high’ in light of the run-up in indices in recent months. The market is currently pricing in a 13% probability of a rate hike at the Fed’s May meeting and a 62% probability of a rate hike by their June meeting.

Markets

  • Markets were relatively flat this week. The S&P 500 fell 0.24% and closed at 2,356. The Dow Jones was flat for the week and closed at 20,656. Year to date, the S&P is up 5.80% and the Dow is up 5.20%.
  • Interest rates bounced around this week but ended close to where they began. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.92% and 2.38%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose 3.18% this week, closing at $52.21 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 2.81%.
  • The spot price of Gold increased by 0.48% this week, closing at $1,255.21 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 9.39%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims declined by 25,000 from last week, coming in at 234,000. Most of the improvement came from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, where claims in recent weeks were elevated due to Winter Storm Stella. The four week moving average for claims dropped to 250,000.
  • The March employment report showed a gain of 98,000 jobs in the month, well below expectations of 180,000. Additionally, the prior two months’ figures were revised down a combined 38,000. The retail sector disappointed again, losing 30,000 jobs in the month however the overall report may have been negatively affected by severe weather. Over the last three months, job gains have averaged 178,000 per month.
    • The headline unemployment rate moved down 0.2% to 4.5%, which was better than expected. The labor force participation rate held steady at 63.0%.
    • Average hourly earnings rose by 0.2%, which was in line with forecasts. Over the last year, wages have grown 2.7%.

Fact of the Week

  • The IRS audited just 0.7% of individuals’ tax returns in 2016. The number of people audited in 2016 (just over 1 million) dropped for the 5th consecutive year. The IRS claims that for every $1 spent conducting an audit, they are able to recuperate $4 in previously unpaid taxes. (Source: IRS)

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Steve Meves, CFA® – (630) 801-2217 – smeves@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA®, CFP® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.

 

Travel Ban, One China: Wealth Economic Update Feb. 10, 2017

U.S. and World News

  • scales_gavel-509557490_360Three judges in the U.S. Appeals Court upheld the suspension of President Trump’s travel ban this week. The government now has 14 days to ask the 9th Circuit to have a larger panel of judges review the decision or appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would likely determine the case’s final outcome. Expressing his displeasure with the Circuit Court’s decision, Trump tweeted, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
  • In his first phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Trump said that he would honor the nation’s “One China” policy which considers Taiwan as one with China and not a separate nation. Trump also urged closer ties between the U.S. and China. The clarification on the “One China” policy ends weeks of uncertainty regarding Washington’s approach to China.
  • According to a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security report, President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion and take more than three years to construct. The projected price tag is much higher than the $12 billion figure cited on the campaign trail and the $15 billion estimated by Republican Congressional leaders.

Markets

  • Markets rose this week with continued low volatility. The S&P 500 gained 0.87% and closed at 2,316 which is an All-Time High. The Dow Jones followed suit by rising 1.13% and closing at 20,269, also an All-Time High. Year to date, the S&P is up 3.66% and the Dow is up 2.83%.
  • Interest rates fell this week and the 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.89% and 2.41%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil was unchanged this week, closing at $53.81 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have risen 0.18%.
  • The spot price of Gold increased by 1.09% this week, closing at $1,233.62 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 7.51%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims fell 12,000 from last week, coming in at 234,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 244,000 which marks a new 40-year low.
  • The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 95.7 in the preliminary February report following increases in the previous three months. Both consumers’ assessment of current conditions and expectations for the future declined with the expectations component falling further.

Fact of the Week

  • Equity market volatility has been very low for the last portion of 2016 extending into 2017. The S&P 500 has now gone 39 consecutive trading days without experiencing an intraday range of greater than +/- 1% which is the longest stretch that has occurred since 1982. (Source: Strategas Research Partners)

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Steve Meves, CFA® – (630) 801-2217 – smeves@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA®, CFP® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.

 

SCOTUS, Brexit, Fed: Wealth Economic Update Feb. 6, 2017

U.S. and World News

  • scales-178714734_360President Trump continued to make headlines this week starting with his firing of Attorney General Sally Yates after she ordered DOJ lawyers not to defend the newly enacted travel and immigration restrictions. Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney General for the Eastern District of Virginia, has been named acting Attorney General until Jeff Sessions is confirmed by the Senate. Trump also announced his nomination of Neil Gorsuch, an appointee of President George W. Bush, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch is the youngest (49) nominee to the Supreme Court in more than 25 years and will face a difficult confirmation process as Democrats have already come out in opposition of him.
  • After a two day debate, Britain’s departure from the European Union took a step forward this week as the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favor of triggering Article 50. Once triggered, it will begin a two year process for Britain to leave the EU. With that obstacle cleared, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to publish a detailed Brexit plan that includes controlling migration, pulling out of the single market and negotiation plans with Britain’s trading partners.
  • The Federal Reserve held a policy meeting this week and elected to keep interest rates unchanged as was the expectation going in. The Committee made few changes to their prior statement saying that the economy was expanding “at a moderate pace” and that job growth was still “solid.” They did make one meaningful upgrade to their assessment of the economy saying “measures of consumer and business sentiment have improved of late.” The Fed will meet again March 14-15 and the market is currently pricing in a 35% probability of a rate hike at that meeting.

Markets

  • Markets traded relatively flat this week. The S&P 500 gained 0.16% and closed at 2,297. The Dow Jones dipped 0.09% and closed at 20,071. Year to date, the S&P is up 2.76% and the Dow is up 1.69%.
  • Interest rates held steady this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.93% and 2.49%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose by 1.28% this week, closing at $53.85 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices are unchanged.
  • The spot price of Gold increased by 2.44% this week, closing at $1,220.30 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 6.34%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims fell 14,000 from last week, coming in at 246,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 248,000.
  • The January employment report showed a gain of 227,000 jobs in the month, beating consensus estimates of 180,000. The prior two months were revised down by a combined 39,000 which brings the three month average of job gains to 183,000.
    • Headline unemployment ticked up 0.1% to 4.8% in January. The move up was the result of a 0.2% increase in the labor force participation rate to 62.9%.
    • Average hourly earnings only rose 0.1% in January, lower than expectations of 0.3%. Over the last 12 months, wages have grown 2.5%.
  • The Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose by 0.9% in December, beating forecasts of 0.7%. All 20 cities measured by the index saw increased prices and have now grown 5.3% over the last 12 months.
  • The PCE Index (measure of inflation) rose by 0.2% in December, in line with expectations. Over the last 12 months PCE prices have risen 1.6%.
    • Core PCE (excludes food and energy, preferred measure of inflation by the Fed) rose 0.1% in the month, meeting expectations. Over the last year, Core PCE has risen 1.7%, still short of the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

Fact of the Week

  • The New York Stock Exchange introduced its opening/closing bell in the 1870’s when continuous trading began and started off as a Chinese gong. In 1903, the NYSE moved to its current building and the gong was replaced by a brass bell. The first guest to ring the opening bell (which has now become a tradition) was Leonard Ross in 1956. Leonard was a 10 year old who had won a TV quiz show answering questions about the stock market to earn that honor. (Source: NYSE.com)

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Steve Meves, CFA® – (630) 801-2217 – smeves@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA®, CFP® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.