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Market Week: January 20, 2015

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Key Dates/Data Releases

1/21: Housing starts

1/22: European Central Bank meeting

1/23: Home resales

1/25: Greek parliamentary election

The Markets

A surprise move by Switzerland’s central bank made already unsettled financial markets even more volatile. For the third straight week of 2015, equities saw strong ups and downs that resulted in losses for the week. The uncertainty drove the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield even further below 2% as demand for a safe haven sent prices higher.

Market/Index 2014 Close Prior Week As of 1/16 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 17823.07 17737.37 17511.57 -1.27% -1.75%
Nasdaq 4736.05 4704.07 4634.38 -1.48% -2.15%
S&P 500 2058.90 2044.81 2019.42 -1.24% -1.92%
Russell 2000 1204.70 1185.68 1176.65 -.76% -2.33%
Global Dow 2501.66 2459.59 2447.65 -.49% -2.16%
Fed. Funds .25% .25% .25% 0% 0%
10-year Treasuries 2.17% 1.98% 1.83% -15 bps -34 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

  • The Swiss National Bank shocked financial markets by deciding not to maintain a cap on the amount the Swiss franc can rise against the common eurozone currency. As a result, both the euro and shares of Swiss companies were hard-hit in the wake of the decision, which was made in anticipation of further weakening of the euro once the European Central Bank meets next week. In other central bank actions, India cut its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.75%; it was the first cut in almost two years and is intended to help spur growth.
  • The largest monthly decline in U.S. consumer energy costs since December 2008, which included a 9.4% drop in gas prices, was largely responsible for cutting the Consumer Price Index by 0.4% in December. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that means consumer prices overall have increased only 0.8% over the last 12 months; that’s sharply lower than the 1.3% annual rate recorded in November. Higher costs for shelter and medical care were offset by declines in not only energy but also clothing, air fares, vehicles, and household furnishings.
  • The plunging cost of oil also helped cut wholesale prices 0.3% in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline–the fourth in the last five months–was the sharpest drop in more than 3 years. December’s figure left the wholesale inflation rate for the last 12 months at 1.1%; however, excluding food and energy, the 12-month increase in wholesale prices was 2.1%.
  • Early holiday shopping may have helped cut December’s retail sales by 0.9% in the wake of a strong November. The Commerce Department said December’s decline was the largest since January 2014.
  • Warmer than usual temperatures in some parts of the United States in December led to reduced production by utilities, which contributed to a 1% decline in the nation’s industrial production. However, the Federal Reserve Board said that aside from utilities, industrial production rose 0.7%. The Fed’s Empire State manufacturing survey showed stronger growth than in November, while its Philly Fed survey showed slower growth.
  • Exports from China increased 9.7% in December, according to the country’s General Administration of Customs. Investors took that as an encouraging sign for the global economy as a whole.
  • The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report showed that the U.S. economy continued to expand at a moderate pace in December, with consumer spending increasing in most of the Fed’s 12 districts.

Eye on the Week Ahead

Europe is likely to dominate the coming week’s news. Investors are hoping for additional stimulus measures from the European Central Bank, and will be watching polls in Greece to see if anti-bailout forces are likely to make gains in Sunday’s parliamentary election. Those results could affect the country’s willingness to go along with conditions imposed by its creditors after bailouts in 2011 and 2013, and could prompt fresh concerns about a “Grexit” from the eurozone.

Data sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market data: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

 


  
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