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Weekly Market Commentary (November 26, 2019)

The Markets
 
Thanksgiving is in the air!
 
On Thursday, U.S. investors may find themselves giving thanks for the bull market.
Year-to-date, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq Composite have all gained more than 20 percent with dividends reinvested. The MSCI World Index also is up 20 percent year-to-date.
 
Bond markets have rallied, too. U.S. government bond yields have dropped since January, and prices have risen. Not all asset classes have packed an oomph, but investors are feeling optimistic, reported Michael Mackenzie of the Financial Times.
 
Ben Levisohn of Barron's expressed some skepticism about the current level of optimism.
 
"If you believe the current narrative, everything is right with the world. By cutting interest rates three times, the Federal Reserve has averted a recession. And with the U.S. and China slowly making progress on a trade deal, capital spending could revive and boost the economy. And right on time, the S&P 500 index hit a new all-time high, seemingly confirming this rosy narrative. Strangely, market sentiment appears to be getting better even as the economic data appear to be getting worse."
 
He's not wrong. Economic data suggest U.S. and Chinese economies have begun to experience negative effects related to the two-year-old trade war. Reuters reported economic growth in China has slowed to a 30-year low. Growth in the United States has slowed, too.
 
While many remain optimistic about progress in resolving the U.S.-China trade dispute, Barron's Nicholas Jasinski spoke with the chief investment officer of an international wealth management firm, who commented, "Our view of U.S. and China is that it's a competition that's going to go on for a generation economically, diplomatically, militarily."
 
Last week, major U.S. indices finished lower on concerns about trade talk progress.

Happy Thanksgiving! We're thankful for you.
 

WHY DO PRESIDENTS PARDON TURKEYS? A turkey may not be on the Great Seal of the United States, as Ben Franklin would have preferred, but the bird has a surprisingly robust history at the White House.
 
From the 1870s until 1913, turkeys were provided to the White House for holiday meals primarily by Rhode Island poultry producer Horace Vose. After his death, it was a free for all. The White House Historical Association wrote,
 
"By 1914, the opportunity to give a turkey to a President was open to everyone, and poultry gifts were frequently touched with patriotism, partisanship, and glee. In 1921, an American Legion post furnished bunting for the crate of a gobbler en route from Mississippi to Washington, while a Harding Girls Club in Chicago outfitted a turkey as a flying ace, complete with goggles. First Lady Grace Coolidge accepted a turkey from a Vermont Girl Scout in 1925. The turkey gifts had become established as a national symbol of good cheer."
 
The first time a turkey was granted clemency was in 1863. President Abraham Lincoln instructed the White House staff to spare a bird which had become a favorite of his son, reported the Constitution Daily.
 
Some say President Truman pardoned a turkey or two, but the Truman Library does not agree.
 
Records indicate it was 1963 before another President spared a turkey destined for the White House kitchen. While both President Lincoln and President John F. Kennedy showed mercy, neither officially pardoned their birds. President Ronald Reagan joked about a pardon, but the first official Presidential turkey pardon was issued by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
 
So, why do Presidents pardon turkeys? We're not really sure. We know where pardoned turkeys go, though.
 
For many years, like Super-Bowl-winning quarterbacks, they went to amusement parks in Florida and California. The turkeys helped lead Thanksgiving Day Parades. More recently, "the spared turkeys are sent to an enclosure at Virginia Tech called 'Gobbler's Rest' where they get to frolic with other free turkeys," reported The Independent.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It  
You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There's another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. "The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity." -- Bill Gates, Business magnate and philanthropist
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary (November 7, 2019)

The Markets
 
They did it.
 
The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates last week, as expected. There were no enthusiastic fans singing the Baby Shark song, but the Federal Open Market Committee's decision was well received.
 
Reuters reported, "Gaps between market expectations and the Fed's own outlook have been wide at times this year, a source of concern for policymakers who don't want to kowtow to markets, but also don't want to surprise or disrupt them. But, the two are now roughly in line with the idea that the Fed is on hold and the economy continuing to chug along.
 
Last week's unemployment report was full of good news. It reported job gains and moderate pay increases, according to Barron's, but there was a counterintuitive twist. The unemployment rate increased even though the economy added new jobs.
 
The only bad news was found in manufacturing. The October ISM manufacturing index ticked higher, but remains in contraction territory. CNBC reported, "Manufacturing has been at the heart of the economy's sluggishness, with a drop in business investment a big reason for the third quarter's sluggish 1.9 percent [economic] growth pace."
 
Barron's attributed softness in manufacturing to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.
 
 

Data as of 11/1/19
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
1.5%
22.3%
11.9%
13.3%
8.7%
11.4%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
1.2
13.4
8.1
5.6
1.9
2.8
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.7
NA
3.2
1.8
2.4
3.4
Gold (per ounce)
-0.3
17.7
22.3
5.4
5.3
3.6
Bloomberg Commodity Index
1.0
4.6
-4.0
-1.7
-7.4
-4.9
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
WHAT WILL WE DO WITH PARKING GARAGES? As the popularity of ride-sharing services and personal transportation options (like scooters and bicycles) grows, the need for cars in urban areas may diminish.
 
The arrival of autonomous vehicles could reduce demand even further.
 
Pew Research explained, "By 2030, 15 percent of new cars sold will be totally autonomous, according to one estimate. One in 10 will be shared. And, as it becomes easier for people to summon shared or autonomous cars when they need them, fewer people will want to own their own vehicle, meaning fewer cars overall."
 
So, what's going to happen to all of the parking garages?
 
There are a lot of interesting ideas about how parking garages might be repurposed. Some companies plan to reserve the spaces for autonomous vehicles. Others are remodeling garages to accommodate businesses and services.
 
For example, one company is buying properties with the intention of turning them into "commercial kitchens for delivery-only restaurants and other consumer services." Other possibilities include:
 
  • Recreational areas
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters
  • E-commerce distribution centers
  • Flood protection areas
  • Urban farms
  • Apartment buildings
 
The co-CEO of an architecture and design firm told Axios News, "An obvious and functional challenge we face is that these structures were not originally designed for human habitation. These spaces often require us to raise the floor height, level the floors between ramps and incorporate design techniques that bring natural light into the space."
 
Redeveloping parking garages may be challenging and costly, but it could create opportunities for investors.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all."
--Arthur C. Clarke, Science fiction writer and futurist
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary (October 30, 2019)

Weekly Market Commentary (October 30, 2019)
 
The Markets
 
More money managers are feeling less bullish, but you sure couldn't tell by the performance of U.S. stock markets last week.
 
Through the end of last week, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index had gained more than 20 percent year-to-date, the Dow Jones Industrial Index was up more than 15 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite had risen more than 24 percent.
 
All three indices finished last week in positive territory. Lawrence Strauss of Barron's reported signs that global markets are stabilizing supported investors' optimism. In addition, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes increased, which suggested "investors are more optimistic about growth and overall economic prospects."
 
Despite strength in U.S. markets year-to-date, Barron's most recent Big Money Poll found fewer money managers are bullish than just one year ago when 56 percent anticipated gains in the months ahead. When 134 money managers across the United States were asked about their outlook for the next 12 months:
 
  • 27 percent were bullish
  • 42 percent were neutral
  • 31 percent were bearish
 
That's the lowest level of bullishness in 20 years and the highest level of bearishness since the mid-1990s. Nobel Laureate in Economics, Dr. Robert Shiller explains it is due to the "bubbles everywhere" including the US stock market, bond market and real estate markets. The Yale University professor sees a severe decline coming followed by ten years of recovery with stocks yielding half of what they produced in the last ten years. He believes one of the few bright spots in the stock markets will be established foreign markets. However, he also points out that our markets remain very fluid and subject to many pressures so exact time lines are impossible to predict.
 

Data as of 10/25/19
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
1.2%
20.6%
11.7%
12.1%
9.0%
11.0%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
1.2
12.1
9.3
4.9
1.9
2.3
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.8
NA
3.1
1.8
2.3
3.6
Gold (per ounce)
1.6
18.1
23.0
6.0
4.3
3.7
Bloomberg Commodity Index
1.1
3.6
-6.1
-2.6
-7.4
-5.2
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? In 1986, Fortune magazine asked Warren Buffett his thoughts on inheritance. He responded children should receive, "...enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing."
 
It's an important question, even though relatively few Americans may need to grapple with it. According to the Federal Reserve:
 
  • 55 percent of inheritances are less than $50,000
  • 85 percent of inheritances are less than $250,000
  • 93 percent of inheritances are less than $500,000
  • 98 percent of inheritances are less than $1 million
  • 2 percent of inheritances are more than $1 million
 
A 2015 survey conducted by Merrill Lynch's Private Banking and Investment Group found, "a majority (91 percent) of people plan to leave the lion's share of their wealth to family members, motivated by a desire to positively influence the lives of loved ones. Yet the results indicate that many see significant risk in passing on wealth without context, conversation, guidance, or accountability."
 
So, how much is too much? Is there an amount of inheritance that will sap your children's motivation and undermine their work ethic? The answer may depend on the source of the wealth, reported The Atlantic:
 
"Perspectives on what constitutes 'too much' seem to vary depending in part on whether parents inherited their wealth or earned the majority of it themselves. When significant wealth gets passed down through multiple generations, inheritors can get the sense that 'they're just the caretakers of it', which means they might be more inclined to keep up the family tradition and will it to their own children...Self-made rich people can have a different relationship to their fortune, because they have firsthand knowledge of what was required to amass it. As such, they might be more interested in bequeathing not just money to their children, but a good work ethic as well."
 
If you would like to discuss your legacy and its potential impact on your heirs, give us a call.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"We should not forget that it will be just as important to our descendants to be prosperous in their time as it is to us to be prosperous in our time."
--Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary (October 23, 2019)

Weekly Market Commentary (October 23, 2019)
 
The Markets
 
Last week was like an overstuffed suitcase that busts open on the baggage carousel. A lot was unpacked in a surprising and disorderly fashion.
 
There was some positive news for investors who prioritize fundamentals. Third quarter's earnings season - the period of time when companies let investors know how they performed during the previous quarter - got off to a strong start.
 
Fifteen percent of companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index have reported so far and 84 percent had earnings that beat analysts' expectations. FactSet said better than expected earnings from companies in the Healthcare and Financials sectors balanced the weaker performance of companies in the Energy sector.
 
There was some negative economic news, too.
 
In the United States, retail sales declined in September. It was the first monthly decline since February, reported MarketWatch, and analysts had expected an increase.
 
In China, gross domestic product growth was 6 percent year-over-year, the slowest growth rate since the 1990s, reported Reuters.
 
On the geopolitical front, The Wall Street Journal reported U.S. and European investors were cheered by news that Britain and the European Union (EU) had reached an agreement under which Britain could amicably exit the EU. That optimism was dashed on Saturday when Parliament withheld approval of the deal until all supporting legislation has been passed, reported The Washington Post.
 
The world was also rocked by Turkey's invasion of Syria.
 
At the end of the week, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite had held onto gains while the Dow Jones Industrials finished lower.
 

Data as of 10/18/19
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
0.5%
19.1%
7.9%
11.8%
9.4%
10.5%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
1.2
10.8
4.2
4.5
2.0
2.0
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.8
NA
3.2
1.8
2.2
3.4
Gold (per ounce)
0.7
16.3
21.8
5.8
3.7
3.7
Bloomberg Commodity Index
-0.2
2.5
-8.3
-3.1
-7.6
-5.4
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN. During the past few weeks, Nobel Prize winners have been announced as well as Ig Nobel Prize winners. The Igs are awarded for improbable research that makes people laugh and then think. A lucky few have won both Ig Nobel and Nobel prizes.
 
The honorees at the Ig Nobel ceremony received their awards from "a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, in Harvard's historic and largest theater." This year's winners included:
 
  • Medicine: Cancer researcher Silvano Gallus and associates researched and wrote the paper, Does Pizza Protect Against Cancer? They received the Ig Nobel for "collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy."
 
  • Biology: A group of researchers from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore were recognized for "discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches."
 
  • Engineering: Iman Farahbakhsh of Iran was recognized for patenting an infant diaper changer and washer. The patent explained, "...once the infant is placed inside the apparatus, various steps may in some cases be carried out automatically without needing the operator to touch the infant or interact manually with the diaper or infant during the changing process..."
 
  • Economics: Father and son, Timothy and Andreas Voss, and their associates received an Ig Nobel for "testing which country's paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria."
 
Other winners explored the pleasure of scratching an itch (Peace Prize), the volume of saliva produced daily by a five-year-old child (Chemistry Prize), and whether holding a pen in your mouth increases happiness (Psychology Prize).
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor."
--Charles Dickens, English author
 
Best regards,
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary (October 16, 2019)

Weekly Market Commentary (October 16, 2019)
 
The Markets
The world breathed a sigh of relief last week when the United States and China took a step toward a trade-war truce.
 
Financial Times reported the United States agreed to not increase tariffs from 25 percent to 30 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports next week. (Current tariffs remain in place, and it is possible new tariffs will be imposed on additional Chinese goods - electronics, apparel, and other consumer items - in mid-December.)
 
In return, China agreed to purchase $40 to $50 billion of agricultural goods, including soybeans and pork, although no time frame was established for the purchases. It remained unclear what progress was made on intellectual-property protection and rules to prevent currency manipulation, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
 
U.S. stock markets responded enthusiastically to news about one of the great uncertainties hanging over economic growth, namely the trade war between the United States and China, might be resolved. However, after the details of the deal were announced, markets gave back some gains.
 
"The tentative truce underwhelmed some international businesses that had been hoping the United States and China would finish up a deal that cemented more sweeping structural changes in China's economy, eliminated additional tariffs scheduled to go into place in December, and even rolled back existing tariffs both sides have added to imports from each country," reported WSJ.
 
Derek Scissors, an American Enterprise Institute trade expert and White House advisor told WSJ, "If this turns out to be all there is, we could have achieved these results a year ago or more."
 
Yields on U.S. Treasury bonds moved higher during the week, and the yield curve righted itself, reported MarketWatch. The change reflected optimism about trade negotiations. Bond markets also embraced a Federal Reserve announcement it will resume buying Treasuries each month to ensure the banking system has sufficient reserves.
 
The United States and China hope to have a written draft of the phase-one agreement finalized during the next few weeks.
 

Data as of 10/11/19
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
0.6%
18.5%
8.9%
11.6%
9.6%
10.7%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
1.9
9.5
3.5
4.2
1.7
2.1
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.8
NA
3.1
1.8
2.3
3.4
Gold (per ounce)
-1.3
15.4
22.7
5.8
3.8
3.4
Bloomberg Commodity Index
1.2
2.8
-8.3
-2.9
-7.9
-5.0
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
THE NICEST PLACE IN AMERICA. There are some people who scorn being nice (a.k.a. amiable, agreeable, pleasant). They equate it with being uninteresting or boring. What they fail to understand is being nice is often more challenging than the alternative.
 
Years ago, Marilyn Zeilinski penned a Chicago Tribune article entitled, "Being Nice Is Hugely Underrated." In it, she explained:
 
"Eventually I discovered that being nice is hard work. It is strong enough to shovel the elderly neighbor's driveway and as brave as a child inviting, 'Come play with me!' to another child exiled by unpopularity...Niceness is not weakness, as I once thought. Niceness stands up for itself, though politely, if someone cuts in line. Most of all, niceness is not safe. Safety is keeping your head down, minding your own business. Niceness reaches out, and that is riskier than a cocoon of self-interest. But it is worth it."
 
Residents of Columbiana, Ohio, have chosen to embrace 'nice.' That's why Reader's Digest (RD) recently named the town 2019 Nicest Place In America.
 
How nice is Columbiana?
 
Good News Network reported the town has, "A baker who donates freely to support causes of every kind, the real-estate developer who offers a year rent-free to promising entrepreneurs who may not have the resources to get started on their own, the local philanthropist who returned to his hometown to donate $500,000 to rebuild the town's beloved Firestone Park."
Columbiana isn't the only nice place in America. There are a lot of places where people work hard and help make each other's lives better. In 2019, RD recognized a place or town in every state.
 
Nice can be inspiring.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely."
--Roy T. Bennett, Author
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
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