French Election, Brexit: Wealth Economic Update Apr. 21, 2017

U.S. and World News

  • france360France will be holding what is presumed to be the 1st round of its Presidential Election on Sunday. The current four top candidates in the polling are only separated by 4% points, making the race extremely tight. Under French election rules, if no candidate secures a majority (which seems all but a certainty), the two highest vote-getters will square off in a run-off election scheduled for May 7th. The four candidates include two broadly pro-market, liberal reformers (Emmanuel Macron and Francois Fillon) and two populist eurosceptics who promise labor market and trade protectionism (Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon). Macron and Fillon have put greater focus on domestic issues like tax reform, unemployment and the national debt. Meanwhile, both Le Pen and Melenchon focused on immigration control and have proposed taking France out of the European Union with Le Pen being more staunchly opposed to France remaining in the euro. Global markets will be watching the results of this election closely.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election in the U.K., with the vote to be held on June 8th. With her Conservative party holding a sizeable lead in polls, May is taking the opportunity to try to gain a significant majority as Brexit negotiations get underway. May said that the vote was necessary to secure a mandate going into a “moment of enormous national significance”, also stating that Westminster was currently too dividend to take on this task.

Markets

  • Markets rebounded a bit this week. The S&P 500 rose 0.87% and closed at 2,349. The Dow Jones gained 0.51% for the week and closed at 20,548. Year to date, the S&P is up 5.54% and the Dow is up 4.71%.
  • Interest rates ended the week where they began and remain at low levels. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.77% and 2.24%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil dropped 6.86% this week, closing at $49.58 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 7.80%.
  • The spot price of Gold was little changed this week, closing at $1,284.72 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 11.96%.

 Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims rose by 10,000 from last week, coming in at 244,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors affecting the data this week. The four week moving average for claims dropped to 243,000.
  • Housing starts declined -6.8% in March which was a larger drop than the expected -3.0%. The report was broadly weak with both the single-family category (-6.2%) and the multi-family category (-7.9%) seeing declines.
  • Existing home sales rebounded in March, increasing 4.4% vs. forecasts of 2.2%. This marks a full retracement of February’s -3.9% drop. Both sales of existing single family units (4.3%) and condos/co-ops (5.0%) rose during the month. On a regional level, existing home sales increased in the Northeast (10.1%), Midwest (9.2%) and South (3.4%) but declined in the West (-1.6%).

Fact of the Week

  • Of U.S. metropolitan areas with populations of at least 1 million, Salt Lake City has the lowest unemployment rate at 3.0% and Cleveland has the highest at 6.6%. The nationwide unemployment rate current stands at 4.5%. (Source: Department of Labor)

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

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Trump, China, NATO: Wealth Economic Update Apr. 14, 2017

U.S. and World News

  • Investors were forced to recalibrate their expectations this week as President Trump reversed several of his positions that he held during the campaign. Trump began by telling the Wall Street Journal that China is no longer a currency manipulator, a claim he had made many times throughout the campaign trail. He then went on to say that he respects Fed Chair Janet Yellen, leaving the door open for her to be reappointed when her term expires, despite Trump previously saying that she should be “ashamed of what she’s doing to the country.” Trump also reversed course on the Export-Import Bank, now supporting it for the backing that it lends to small companies. Finally, Trump said that NATO was no longer obsolete since it is fighting terrorism.

Markets

  • Interest rates continued their recent downward trend this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.77% and 2.24%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose 1.80% this week, closing at $53.18 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have fallen 1.01%.
  • The spot price of Gold increased by 2.47% this week, closing at $1,285.50 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 12.02%.

 Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims declined by 1,000 from last week, coming in at 234,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors affecting the data this week. The four week moving average for claims dropped to 247,000.
  • The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose 1.1 point to 98.0 in the preliminary April report. This is approaching the cycle high of 98.5 reached in January. Both consumers’ assessment of current conditions and expectations for the future improved in the report.
  • Retail Sales decreased -0.2% in March, in line with expectations. The headline retail sales figure was weighed down by lower motor vehicle & parts (-1.2%) and gasoline (-1.0%) sales. Core retail sales (excludes autos, gas, and building materials) saw a better than expected 0.5% increase.
  • The Consumer Price Index (measure of inflation) declined -0.3% in March vs. forecasts of a flat CPI. The decline was due to a -3.2% drop in energy prices during the month. Over the last 12 months, headline CPI has increased 2.4%.
    • Core CPI (excludes food and energy prices) declined -0.1% in March vs. expectations of a 0.2% increase. The decline was led by lower communications, apparel and lodging prices. This was the first outright decline in Core inflation since 2010. The 12 month increase in Core CPI declined to 2.0% as a result.

Fact of the Week

  • Net interest costs of the federal government make up 7% of total federal outlays in 2017. It is estimated that with higher interest rates in the future and rising federal debt levels, net interest costs will be pushed to 21% of total federal spending by the year 2047. (Source: Congressional Budget Office)

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

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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
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

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Russia-Election, Turkey: Wealth Economic Update Dec. 30, 2016

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.

Markets

  • 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%.

Economic Data

  • 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)

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

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Russia-US-Syria: Wealth Economic Update Sept 19, 2016

U.S. and World News

  • syria_aleppo_340The United States and Russia have agreed on a cease-fire in Syria with support from Syrian President Bashar Assad, and as part of the deal, Syria will continue to strike at the Islamic state for one week until the U.S. and Russia take over. The cease-fire was successful in its first full day with no recorded combat deaths and a cautious effort to deliver aid to fortified areas has begun. However, the ability of the U.S. and Russia to work together on the fight against ISIS has been questioned as they have begun to accuse one another of failing to do their part in the agreement.
  • Greece has stated that it plans to tell its creditors that it is unable to comply with the labor reforms set by the IMF for its €86 billion bailout. The terms of the labor reform is a ban on the right of workers to collectively negotiate wages and conditions.
  • The Bank of Japan plans to continue the use of negative interest rate policy for monetary easing. Negative interest rate policy has been in use by the BOJ since February in an effort to meet their 2% inflation target. The policy has come with repercussions such as a stronger Yen and lower margins for financial institutions.
  • The market currently has priced in a 20% probability of a 0.25% rate increase from the Federal Reserve next week.

Markets

  • After a volatile week, the S&P 500 finished up 0.59% and closed at 2,139. The Dow Jones rose 0.25% and closed at 18,124. So far in 2016, the S&P is up 6.26% and the Dow is up 6.04%.
  • Interest rates were up slightly from last week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.20% and 1.69%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil fell 5.82% this week to close at $43.21 per barrel. WTI Crude is up 16.60% in 2016.
  • The spot price of Gold was down 1.33% this week, closing at $1,310.21 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 23.48%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims came in at 260,000, up slightly from last week’s reading of 259,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims moved down to 261,000.
  • Retail sales declined by 0.3% in August compared to consensus estimates of a decline of 0.1%. The decline in oil prices transitioning to lower gasoline station sales is part of the reason for this.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 0.2% in August compared to consensus estimates of 0.1%. The increase reflects increased prices in medical care commodities and services.

Fact of the Week

  • More than 1 in 3 employed Americans (36%) work for companies that do not offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan, a total of 55 million workers lacking access to a plan (source: AARP, DOL).

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
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

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Wealth Management Economic Update February 8, 2016

U.S. and World News

  • The first known case of Zika virus transmission in the U.S. was reported this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This follows the World Health Organization’s declaration that the outbreak of the virus in South and Central America, which has caused serious birth defects, is an international health emergency. This was the fourth time the WHO has proclaimed a global health threat since 2007. Previously thought to only be transmitted by certain mosquitoes, the discovery that the U.S. case of the virus was sexually transmitted is an alarming development. Several large pharmaceutical companies have announced projects to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus.
  • The United Nations has suspended Syria peace talks in Geneva until later this month, after Syrian government forces (backed by Russian air strikes) escalated an offensive by cutting off rebel supply lines. The Syrian civil war has killed 250,000 people over five years and forced millions of other to flee their homes, creating a growing migrant crisis in Europe.
  • new_zealand_aukland_320The monumental Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed in New Zealand this week by ministers from its 12 member nations. However, the massive trade pact will still require years of negotiations before it becomes a reality as the deal will undergo a two year ratification period in which the final text must be agreed upon before implementation. The deal faces challenges in the U.S. as more members of Congress have pulled support for the deal as a way to strengthen their re-election bids. A vote on the deal in Congress isn’t expected to take place until after the elections in November.

Markets

  • Markets continued their volatility this week, reacting particularly poorly to the monthly jobs report. The S&P 500 fell 3.04% and closed at 1,880. Likewise, the Dow Jones dropped 1.54% and closed at 16,205. So far in 2016, the S&P is down 7.85% and the Dow is down 6.84%.
  • Interest rates continued to slide lower this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.25% and 1.85%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil fell 7.70% this week to close at $31.03 per barrel. WTI Crude has fallen 16.23% in 2016.
  • The spot price of Gold advanced 4.97% this week, closing at $1,173.83 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 10.62%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims came in at 285,000 which was an increase from last week’s reading of 278,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 284,750.
  • The January non-farm payrolls report showed a gain of 151,000 in the month, lower than consensus estimates of 190,000. December and November’s figures were revised down a combined 2,000 jobs, bringing the 3 month average job gains to 231,000.
    • The headline unemployment rate fell to 4.9%, better than expectations that it would remain at 5.0%. However, the labor force participation rate ticked up to 62.7% from last month’s 62.6%.
    • Average hourly earnings showed an increase of 0.5% in January, beating estimates of 0.3% growth. This may reflect the effects of several states raising the minimum wage on January 1st. Wage growth over the last 12 months now stands at 2.5%.
  • The PCE price index (measure of inflation) fell -0.1% in December, lower than the forecast that prices would remain flat. The Core PCE (excludes food & energy, Fed’s preferred measure of inflation) only rose 0.04% compared to forecasts for 0.1% growth, continuing the trend of subdued inflation. Over the last 12 months, core PCE inflation has risen 1.4%.

Fact of the Week

  • The average price of gasoline nationwide as of 2/5/16 was $1.76 per gallon. The average price of gas in 1966 (50 years ago) was $0.32 per gallon. After adjusting for inflation over the last 50 years, the $0.32 price in 1966 is equivalent to $2.38 in 2016 dollars, meaning today’s real (inflation adjusted) price of gas is 26% cheaper than 50 years ago. (Sources: AAA, Department of Labor)

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
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
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@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.

 

Wealth Management Economic Update April 13, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • Saudi Arabia announced that it has raised oil output to 10.3 million barrels a day in March, the highest in 12 years. Oil minister Ali al-Naimi said the country intends to keep producing at least 10 million barrels per day despite low crude prices. He also added in comments that he believes that oil will rise in the near future, but even if it doesn’t, it is expected that Saudi Arabia will hold production levels high until the slump in crude prices forces U.S. shale companies out of business.
  • finance_gears300Minutes released from the March Fed meeting gave insight to the central bank’s potential timing of an interest rate hike. While several participants supported a June hike, other favored waiting until later in the year, noting downward pressures on inflation due to lower energy prices and the stronger dollar. These statements, combined with last week’s weaker than expected jobs number seem to point to a September rate hike at the very earliest.

Markets

  • Equity markets closed on a positive note this week. The S&P 500 came up 1.70%, closing at 2,102, while the Dow Jones increased by 1.66% and closed at 18,058. Year to date, the S&P is up 2.10% and the Dow is up 1.32%.
  • Yields in the Treasury climbed up slightly this week. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 1.95% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.40 %.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil continued its rise this week climbing up 5.23% and closing at $51.71 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 5.91%.
  • The spot price of Gold rose by 0.05% this week and closed at $1,207.51 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 1.95%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims rose from last week, coming in at 281,000 vs. an average forecast of 283,000. The Labor Department noted that no special factors affected claims this week.

Fact of the Week

  • According to American Consumer Credit Counseling, a July 2014 survey found that 31% of U.S. households are providing financial assistance to adult children, a larger proportion than the 21% of households that are providing financial assistance to elderly parents.

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
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management