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Weekly Market Commentary, December 14, 2020

 

 The Markets
 
When it comes to beverages, frothy can be delicious.
 
In what may be the least inspiring description of fizzy drinks ever written, a group of food engineers explained, “Aeration in beverages, which is manifested as foam or bubbles, increases the sensory preference among consumers.”
 
Stock markets can fizz up, too. Share prices bubble, enthusiastic investors invest, and prices go even higher. In a frothy market, share prices often rise above estimates of underlying value. The terms that describe this financial market phenomenon include irrational exuberance, animal spirits, and overconfidence.
 
Last week, there was speculation about whether some parts of the U.S. stock market have gotten frothy. Eric Platt, David Carnevali, and Michael Mackenzie of Financial Times wrote about an initial public offering (IPO) of stock by a hospitality company. They reported:
 
 
“…[the share price] more than doubled in value on Thursday in a return to the kind of
mammoth pops that came to define the dotcom boom of the late 1990s…It’s a sign of
frothiness, a sign of incredible demand, a sign of a retail investor that…just wants to
get in.”
 
That observation about investor enthusiasm for stocks was supported by the AAII Sentiment Survey. Last week, 48.1 percent of participants were bullish. The long-term average is 38 percent. (Some believe the survey is a contrarian indicator. When bullishness is stronger than usual, contrarian investors would adopt a bearish stance, and vice versa.)
 
Despite IPO fervor, major U.S. stock indices finished lower last week. The decline has been attributed to a lack of new stimulus from Congress rather than concerns about high share prices. Inflation worries may have played a role, too. Last week, headlines in both The Economist and The Wall Street Journal suggested the post-pandemic world may include higher inflation.
 
Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index edged higher last week, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s. It’s at about 24.6, which is above its long-term average of 19. That’s a sign markets may be volatile during the next few weeks.
 
 
A HOLIDAY SEASON LIKE NO OTHER. The coronavirus, which The Economist estimates has infected one-in-five Americans, is reshaping holiday traditions this year. “COVID-19 is playing on shoppers’ psyches as they weigh its impact on their health and finances. But, as we’ve seen with previous periods of recession, as well as those of growth, consumers are resilient and will adjust their habits to adapt,” reported Deloitte’s 2020 holiday retail sales consumer survey report:
 
  • 33 percent of survey participants were in a worse financial position than last year, especially those in lower income groups.
  • 40 percent planned to spend less on the holidays than they did last year because they are concerned about the economy.
  •  51 percent were anxious about shopping in stores because of COVID-19. Deloitte estimated shoppers would spend about $390 of their holiday budgets in stores and $892 online.
 
The Deloitte survey identified four types of holiday shoppers:
 
  •   The Festive Shopper: “These shoppers are all about buying gifts for others, keeping up with conventional shopping routines. They also outspend other types of shoppers.”
  • The Conscious Shopper: “These shoppers care about society and are willing to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ by paying more for socially responsible products.”
  •  The Deal-Seeker: These shoppers “…enjoy the search for the right gift at the right price and will spend weeks shopping. [They’re] up for browsing and sifting through digital platforms, including social media, for attractive options.”
  • The Efficient Shopper: These shoppers “…aren’t in the mood to browse or get caught up in time-sucking events, like Black Friday. Shopping is a task and they’ll seek out the easiest way to get it done.”
 
Do you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions?
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
Beware the investment activity that produces applause; the great moves are usually greeted by yawns.”
--Warren Buffett, Investor
 
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, December 9, 2020

The Markets
 
When is bad news good news? Take a look at last week.
 
Major stock indices in the United States hit all-time highs on Friday, despite a lackluster employment report and a surge in COVID-19 cases, reported Lewis Krauskopf of Reuters. During the week, we saw: 
 
  • The slowest jobs growth since the economic recovery began. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 245,000 jobs were created in November. “…a key sign of holiday enthusiasm – the hiring of thousands of workers to help with the holiday retail rush – simply didn’t happen this year. Some of those workers – but clearly not enough – are helping with online shopping duties, filling warehouses around the country, or driving vans from house to house,” reported Avi Salzman of Barron’s.
 
  • New unemployment claims remain steady. More than one million people a week are filing first time jobless claims, reported Dion Rabouin of Axios. On November 14, more than 20 million Americans were receiving unemployment assistance.
 
It’s difficult to know how much weight to give this data since the Government
Accountability Office shared weekly unemployment insurance estimates issued by the
Department of Labor “… have potentially both overestimated and underestimated the
total number of individuals actually claiming unemployment insurance…due to state
backlogs in processing claims and other data issues…”
 
COVID-19 cases spiked across the United States. Coronavirus-related deaths hit a one-day record last week, and “…hospitalizations surpassed 100,000 for the first time this week, leaving hospitals in some regions of the country without enough beds in intensive-care units to meet their patients’ needs,” reported Melanie Evans of The Wall Street Journal. This is undermining consumer confidence and depressing economic activity.
 
In light of this news, why were markets bullish?
 
Signs the economic recovery is faltering create a strong incentive for Congress to pass a stimulus bill in 2020 instead of delaying until next year, reported Barron’s. An analyst cited by the publication said, “Under the circumstances, it is hard to be a seller of any risk asset as long as there is a good possibility of getting a deal done…”
 
During the next few months, markets may be quite volatile. Hang tight and keep your eyes on your long-term financial goals.
 
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 does it take to be middle class in the united States? The not-so-simple answer is it depends on how you define ‘middle class.’
 
In a 2018 report, Pew Research Center defined middle class as middle income. “In our analysis, “middle-income” Americans are adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median, after incomes have been adjusted for household size. In 2016, the national middle-income range was about $45,200 to $135,600 annually for a household of three.”
 
In November, USA Today shared an analysis by Michael Sauter that adopted a different standard. It considered U.S. family income from “…the lower boundary of the second quintile and the upper boundary of the fourth quintile [of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey], representing in total 60 percent of American families…The analysis made some cost-of-living adjustments and found, “…the range of income that could be considered middle class in a given state.”
 
In the states with the highest median (the number in the middle of the list) family incomes, middle-class income ranged from:
 
  • Massachusetts:    $35,233 to $188,259
  • New Jersey:         $39,920 to $197,868
 
States in the middle of the pack for median family income had these middle-class income ranges:
 
  • Wyoming:             $25,760 to $111,422
  •  Kansas:                $24,741 to $105,573
  • Iowa:                    $24,663 to $101,008
 
In the states with the lowest median family incomes, the middle-class income range was:
 
  •  West Virginia:       $17,452 to $85,516
  • Mississippi:           $15,165 to $81,480
 
It’s interesting to note the 2020 federal poverty threshold set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which determines eligibility for various federal programs, was $26,200 for a family of four.
 
Not everyone uses income to define the middle class. Richard V. Reeves, Katherine Guyot, and Eleanor Krause of Brookings explored the question, asking:
 
“Is middle-class status a reflection of economic resources, especially income or wealth? Or is it denoted more clearly by occupational status and/or educational attainment? Is it, rather, a state of mind, a set of aspirations, or revealed through behavior, cultural tastes, or by certain kinds of consumption? Is it a question of how we define ourselves?”
 
What do you think?
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“I wasn't going to be an actor. I was going to be a lawyer. I came from a family just above working class, just below middle class, a great family of wonderful values. The idea of me having a chance for a law degree was enticing. Enticing to me but also very enticing to my family.
--Gerard Butler, Actor
 
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, December 1, 2020

 
 
 
 The Markets
 
Last week, vaccine optimism immunized investors against signs of economic weakness.
 
In previous commentaries we’ve written about narrative economics, which holds that popular stories may affect individual and collective economic behavior. Last week, diverse narratives had the potential to influence consumer and investor behavior, but not all did. You may have read that:
 
  • Coronavirus anxiety is high. “Figures from recent days suggest infections may have fallen off from record highs in some states. But no one is cheering in the emergency wards. Health workers fear that Thanksgiving gatherings will prove to be super-spreader moments… Meanwhile many college students have just gone home for the year… [A medical professional said], ‘It is like slow-motion horror. We’re just standing there and being run over,’” reported The Economist.
 
  • Unemployment claims moved higher. “The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits increased further last week, suggesting an explosion in new COVID-19 infections and business restrictions were boosting layoffs and undermining the labor market recovery,” reported Lucia Mutikani of Reuters.
 
  • Economic stimulus is needed. “As it stands, tens of millions are already struggling to make rent payments and put food on the table. The $1,200 stimulus checks sent out by the government in the spring have long run dry and 12 million Americans are set to lose unemployment insurance the day after Christmas if Congress does not act,” reported Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post.
 
  • Vaccines are on the way. “As G20 leaders pledged to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs, and tests so that poorer countries are not left out, the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany each announced plans to begin vaccinations in their countries in December…,” reported The Guardian.
 
  • Fiscal and monetary policy will reinvigorate the economy. “Surely the market strength reflects the fact that barring [vaccine] rollout disasters, we should have our normal lives back within months…Now add in the widely held assumption that the expected new Treasury secretary Janet Yellen will deliver the additional stimulus she has called for, and the newish Federal Reserve rhetoric that holds interest rates need to stay low…Suddenly it makes perfect sense to think that pent up demand and possible productivity gains created by the crisis could help set off what Goldman Sachs calls the Roaring 20s Redux,” wrote Merryn Somerset Webb for Financial Times.
 
The optimistic stories – the potential for vaccines to restore ‘normal’ and the possibility of new stimulus measures if Janet Yellen becomes Treasury Secretary – helped drive markets higher last week. Global stock markets rose and were positioned to deliver their best monthly performance ever, reported Camilla Hodgson of Financial Times.
 
In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved above 30,000 before retreating, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq Composite Indices both finished the week at record highs, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.
 
 
AND THEY'RE OFF! Holiday shoppers may not have been racing into brick-and-mortar retail stores, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t shopping. Consumers have earmarked about $998 for spending on winter holidays, which include Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, according to the National Retail Federation. They plan to spend:
 
  • Slightly less on gifts for family, friends, and coworkers than they did last year
  • Slightly more on food and decorations
  • Significantly less on non-gift spending (buying that special something for yourself because the price is so attractive)
 
A lot of that money will be spent online. On Black Friday, U.S. consumers shelled out more than $9 billion online, reported TechCrunch. It was the second biggest day for digital commerce in history. The first was Cyber Monday 2019.
 
Overall, online holiday sales are expected to break all previous growth records. A report from Adobe estimated 2020 digital sales will be up 20 to 47 percent, year-over-year. That’s a broad range because there is a lot of uncertainty about levels of disposable income and capacity limits for brick-and-mortar stores. The report stated:
 
  • “If flu season brings with it a spike in [coronavirus] cases and an increase in store restrictions, a reduced store capacity will drive more people online. E-commerce is still only around one out of every $4 spent on retail. That’s a large bucket of dollars that could move online, leading to potential for big swings this season.”
 
Whether you are holiday shopping in person or online, or using a smartphone or computer, watching trends may help investors identify new investment opportunities. 
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”
--Donald E. Westlake, Crime fiction writer
 
 
 
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 16, 2020

 
The Markets
 
Vaccine can be a powerful word. It’s worth 14 points in Scrabble (42 on a triple word square) and, last week, it was worth a whole lot more than that to financial markets.
 
On Monday, a pharmaceutical company and a biotech company announced preliminary trials of their vaccine show it may be 90 percent effective, reported Financial Times. The revelation conjured tantalizing visions of a future in which virus precautions are unnecessary and life returns to normal.
 
Around the world, pandemic-fatigued populations cheered and markets rallied. CNBC reported:
 
“The Dow was up nearly 3 percent, while Nasdaq fell 1.5 as laggard sectors like
energy and financials outperformed tech. Stay-at-home plays…were sharply lower,
but airlines rallied 16 percent. The S&P energy sector, still down 45 percent this
year, was up more than 14 percent, and financials were up 8 percent.”
 
As demand for risk assets, like stocks, increased so did bond yields. In the United States, the yield on 10-year Treasuries rose to 0.97 percent. Rising long-term interest rates caused analysts to speculate about the possibility of inflation and stagflation (rising prices during a period of weak economic growth), reported Barron’s.
 
Mid-week, enthusiasm moderated. While investors remained confident a vaccine could lead to economic recovery over the longer term, concerns about the shorter-term took center stage. Markets retreated a bit as investors mulled:
 
  • Weaker-than-expected consumer sentiment. In November, consumer sentiment has declined by 5.9 percent month-to-month and it was off by more than 20 percent year-to-year. Sentiment is an important measure because consumer spending is a major driver of U.S. economic growth. When sentiment declines, people may spend less.
 
  • A surge in coronavirus cases. The number of daily cases has increased by more than 70 percent nationwide since the beginning of November. Eighteen states are at risk of reaching full hospital capacity, reported NPR.
 
  • New pandemic restrictions. As holidays approach, many cities and states introduced or re-introduced restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus. The measures could slow economic recovery.
 
  •  No progress on new stimulus. If good news about a vaccine throttles political appetite for additional stimulus, small business owners could be in trouble. In 2019, small businesses employed almost 60 million people – 47 percent of working Americans. A new Goldman Sachs survey found “…more than half of small business owners (52 percent) have stopped paying themselves in a bid to keep their businesses afloat and four in 10 (42 percent) already have begun laying off employees or cutting worker pay,” reported Axios.
 
Market volatility is likely to persist. Stay calm and don’t let short-term events jar you from your long-term financial goals.
 
 
 
 
Is value investing making a comeback? In 1949, Benjamin Graham, who is known as the father of value investing, penned The Intelligent Investor. His book offered insights about how to reduce the risk of loss when investing in stocks.
 
Graham encouraged investors to understand a stock is more than a ticker symbol. Stockholders are owners of businesses that have underlying value, and that value does not depend on its stock price. He believed investors should purchase shares when a stock is trading below the underlying worth of the business. Value investing is all about looking for bargains, for diamonds in the rough.
 
Value investing is often discussed in tandem with growth investing.
 
Growth investors are less concerned about share price and more concerned about above-average earnings growth. They invest in companies that are expected to grow quickly and deliver impressive returns as a result of that growth.
 
Value investing has had a rough decade. Despite a long history of outperformance – from 1983 through 2019, the FTSE Russell 1000 Value Index outperformed the Russell 1000 Growth Index – value has underperformed since the 2008 financial crisis.
 
Last week, there was a move from growth-oriented stocks into value-oriented stocks. The Economist explained, “In the past week or so, fortunes have reversed. Technology stocks have sold off. Value stocks have rallied, as prospects for a coronavirus vaccine raise hopes of a quick return to a normal economy. This might be the start of a long-heralded rotation from overpriced tech to far cheaper cyclicals – stocks that do well in a strong economy. Perhaps value is back.”
 
Time will tell.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“The vaccine news airlines have been waiting for arrived this week, raising hopes for a recovery in passenger air travel – but only if the crippled industry can muster the resources to deliver billions of life-saving doses to the world…Just providing a single dose to the world's 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 747 freighter planes…”
--Joann Muller, Axios News, November 13, 2020
 
 
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 10, 2020

The Markets
 
It’s said markets hate uncertainty, but that wasn’t the case last week.
 
Despite tremendous uncertainty about the outcome of the United States election, major domestic and international stock indices moved higher and the CBOE Volatility Index, better known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, moved 35 percent lower. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s reported:
 
“By all accounts, it should have been a terrible week for the stock market. At the close of trading on Friday, we still didn’t know whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump had won or which party would control the Senate. There was also set to be at least two recounts – one in Georgia, and one in Michigan – with likely more to come. It’s the kind of uncertainty that the market is supposed to hate.”
 
Yet, there was little fear to be found in financial markets. Investors’ confidence may have been grounded in a wave of positive economic news:
 
  •   15 of 18 manufacturing industries grew in October. The ISM’s Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index rose 3.9 percent in October. The Index finished at 59.3 percent, an indication manufacturing is improving and the economy is growing.
 
  • Rates remained low. The Federal Reserve kept rates near zero, which supports economic growth. The Fed’s Open Market Committee statement indicated supportive monetary policy would continue. “The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals.”
 
  • People are going back to work. More jobs were created in October than economists expected. The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Unemployment report showed 638,000 new jobs for October. The U-3 unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent. That’s an improvement on April’s unemployment level of 14.7 percent.
 
While that’s all good news, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States continued to increase last week. Randall Forsyth of Barron’s reported, “As politics at long last fades as a factor, the renewed surge in COVID-19 cases looms large…Even without renewed mandated lockdowns, however, people are apt to hunker down voluntarily…that could dampen the labor market’s recovery.”
 
 
A SALUTE TO VETERANS AND GOLD STAR FAMILIES. This week we celebrate Veterans Day. The U.S. Department of the Interior is celebrating by giving veterans and Gold Star families free access to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands, reported the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
 
To gain free admission on Veterans Day 2020 – and every day after – anyone who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, can show one of the following forms of identification:
 
  • Veteran ID Card
  • Department of Defense ID Card
  • Veteran Health Identification Card
  • Veteran’s designation on a state-issued driver’s license or state ID card
 
The most frequently visited National Park Service sites across the country include:
 
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Gateway National Recreation Area
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
 
Happy Veterans Day!
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“There is nothing so American as our national parks…The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us."
--Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President
 
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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Contact Details

Morgan Kenwood Advisors, LLC
5130 West Loomis Road
Greendale, WI 53129-1424
Phone: (414) 423-4020
Fax: (414) 423-4023
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.