Fassi Financial Monthly Economic Update
that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of
doing everything for money.”
– Ben Franklin
The end of the year is a good time to review (and adjust) the asset allocation of your portfolio. When you see a big difference between stock market performance and bond market performance in a given year, this is especially sensible.
You have two twins, three triplets and four quadruplets in a room; how many total people do you have in the room?
Last month’s riddle:
Last month’s answer:
A parking lot.
Household sentiment, as measured by the University of Michigan’s index, also improved: the index’s final September reading was 84.6 (up from 82.5 at the end of August, and the highest reading since late April). On the other hand, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index sank a troubling 7.4 points, falling to 86.0.2,4
Shoppers were opening their wallets a bit more as inflation remained benign. Retail sales were up 0.6% in August following the 0.3% gain the Commerce Department recorded for July. August’s headline Consumer Price Index showed a 0.2% retreat, taking the annualized rise in consumer prices down to 1.7%. The core CPI was flat for August.4
Wall Street was disappointed in the August employment report. The Labor Department announced just 142,000 new hires, representing the smallest monthly net job gain since December. Unemployment ticked down to 6.1% and the U-6 rate (including the underemployed) dipped 0.2% to 12.0%.5
Factory activity had surged in July with aircraft orders being the big influence, but that all seemed to reverse in August. Factory orders dropped 10.1% in the eighth month of the year according to the Commerce Department, and August brought 0.1% and 0.4% respective declines in factory and manufacturing production. Durable goods orders fell 18.2% in August. Producer prices were flat in August and up 1.8% in a year.2,4
Given all that, the August drop in the Institute for Supply Management’s factory PMI wasn’t surprising. It came in at 56.6 as opposed to 59.0 for July – still strong, just less so. ISM’s service sector PMI had gained 0.9 points in August, reaching 59.6.2,6
As the month and quarter wound down, the Commerce Department revised Q2 GDP north again, from 4.2% to 4.6%. Investors were pleased by that and by the Fed’s September policy statement, which again said that interest rates would likely not be adjusted for “a considerable time” after the end of quantitative easing.4,7
Speaking of China, its latest official factory PMI came in flat for September at 51.1, indicating mild sector expansion; HSBC’s factory PMI for the country was also unchanged at 50.2. The PRC also announced economic initiatives to encourage home buying and assist real estate developers.9
Other key manufacturing gauges were largely unimpressive. The Markit factory PMI for Germany showed sector contraction for the first time in 15 months in September; Markit’s manufacturing PMI for France showed contraction for the fifth month in a row. The eurozone factory PMI came in at 50.3 in September, the poorest reading in 14 months. In a Reuters poll late last month, economists put the chance of the European Central Bank initiating a quantitative easing campaign at 40%; the ECB followed through with that move in early October.10
In the Americas, the Bovespa sank 11.70%, the IPC All-Share 1.41% and the TSX Composite 4.26%. Overseas indices in the Dow Jones family suffered a rough month – the DJ Americas lost 2.89%, the Asia Dow 7.04%, the Europe Dow 4.10% and the Global Dow 3.29%. The STOXX 600 gained 0.32% last month; the MSCI World Index dipped 2.88% while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index slid 7.59%.11,12
September saw a 3.85% rise for the U.S. Dollar Index – the DXY closed out the month at 85.94. That factor alone meant rough going for many commodity futures. Important metals all pulled back: COMEX gold fell 5.98% for the month to close at $1,212.80 on September 30; platinum dropped 8.99%, copper 4.07% and silver 12.40%. Silver futures ended September down at $17.06.13,14
Crop futures also had a trying September, with major losses for soybeans (16.35%), corn (10.80%), cotton (9.22%) and wheat (13.25%). Sugar retreated just 0.06%, coffee gained just 0.03%. Cocoa actually advanced 1.35%.14
Did air strikes on ISIS-controlled refineries put any real pressure on oil prices? No. NYMEX crude lost 4.72% last month and ended September at $92.00. Unleaded gasoline sank 7.23% and heating oil fell 7.24%. Natural gas futures, partly reflecting fears over security of Ukraine pipelines, rose 1.10%.14
At the jobsite, the August numbers were negative. Construction spending was down 0.8% for the month, housing starts 14.4% and building permits 5.6%. A falloff in multi-family projects accounted for much of those retreats. Groundbreaking for single-family homes was up 4.2% year-over-year as of August.2,16
September saw mortgages grow more expensive. By the time Freddie Mac’s September 25 Primary Mortgage Market Survey rolled around, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan was up to 4.20%. Rates on the refinancer’s favorite, the 15-year fixed, were averaging 3.36%. Average rates on the 5/1-year ARM and 1-year ARM respectively reached 3.08% and 2.43%. Back on August 28, mean interest rates on mortgage types were estimated as follows: 30-year FRM, 4.10%; 15-year FRM, 3.25%; 5/1-year ARM, 2.97%; 1-year ARM, 2.39%.17
Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly.
These returns do not include dividends.
October has been a famously either/or month for stocks (plenty of big ascents, descents and swings over the years), and equities are being subjected to major volatility as the month opens thanks to recent world events. Unhappily, October 1 saw a correction in the Russell 2000. In the best-case scenario, better-than-expected earnings take center stage for the bulk of the month, complemented by upbeat economic indicators (manufacturing expansion, net job gains above the 200,000 level, a good initial reading on Q3 growth, solid fall consumer spending). The Fed’s longstanding asset purchase program is about to end; Wall Street is hopefully ready to accept that. October may throw more challenges at stocks than we have seen in several months. At junctures like these, hanging on and settling in for the ride often ends up being a wise move.20
UPCOMING ECONOMIC RELEASES: Here is the rollout of important economic indicators and reports for the rest of this month: the Labor Department’s September jobs report and the September ISM services PMI (10/3), the release of the minutes from the Fed’s most recent policy meeting (10/8), August wholesale inventories (10/9), September retail sales, a new Beige Book from the Fed and September’s PPI (10/15), September industrial output (10/16), the initial University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for October and the numbers on September housing starts and building permits (10/17), September existing home sales (10/21), September’s CPI (10/22), the Conference Board’s September leading indicators (10/23), September new home sales (10/24), September pending home sales (10/27), the Conference Board’s October consumer confidence index, the August Case-Shiller home price index and September hard goods orders (10/28), a Fed policy announcement (10/29), the first estimate of Q3 GDP from the federal government (10/30), and lastly the personal spending report for September and the final October University of Michigan consumer sentiment reading (10/31).
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Terri Fassi and Mike Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Website:Asset Protection Group
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. MarketingPro, Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is not a solicitation or recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. The CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices. NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services. The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world's largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade. The SSE Composite Index is an index of all stocks (A shares and B shares) that are traded at the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Nikkei 225 (Ticker: ^N225) is a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE). The Nikkei average is the most watched index of Asian stocks. Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index (KSE-100 Index) is a stock index acting as a benchmark to compare prices on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) over a period. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index or KOSPI is the major stock market index of South Korea, representing all common stocks traded on the Korea Exchange. The BSE SENSEX (Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index), also-called the BSE 30 (BOMBAY STOCK EXCHANGE) or simply the SENSEX, is a free-float market capitalization-weighted stock market index of 30 well-established and financially sound companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The Hang Seng Index is a freefloat-adjusted market capitalization-weighted stock market index that is the main indicator of the overall market performance in Hong Kong. The S&P/ASX 200 is Australia's “premier” share market index. The CAC-40 Index is a narrow-based, modified capitalization-weighted index of 40 companies listed on the Paris Bourse. The DAX 30 is a Blue Chip stock market index consisting of the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The FTSE 100 Index is a share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalization. The ISEQ Overall Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all official list equities in the Irish Stock Exchange, excluding U.K.-registered companies. The FTSE MIB (Milano Italia Borsa) is the benchmark stock market index for the Borsa Italiana, the Italian national stock exchange. The Bovespa Index is a gross total return index weighted by traded volume & is comprised of the most liquid stocks traded on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange. The Mexican IPC index (Indice de Precios y Cotizaciones) is a major stock market index which tracks the performance of leading companies listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange. The S&P/TSX Composite Index is an index of the stock (equity) prices of the largest companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) as measured by market capitalization. The Dow Jones Americas Index measures the Latin American equity markets by tracking 30 leading blue-chip companies in the region. The Asia Dow measures the Asia equity markets by tracking 30 leading blue-chip companies in the region. The Europe Dow measures the European equity markets by tracking 30 leading blue-chip companies in the region. The Global Dow is a 150-stock index of corporations from around the world created by Dow Jones & Company. The STOXX Europe 600 Index is derived from the STOXX Europe Total Market Index (TMI) and is a subset of the STOXX Global 1800 Index. The MSCI World Index is a free-float weighted equity index that includes developed world markets, and does not include emerging markets. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization index consisting of indices in more than 25 emerging economies. The US Dollar Index measures the performance of the U.S. dollar against a basket of six currencies. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards. This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.
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