The Independent Market Observer

Pandemic Indicators Show Signs of Improvement

December 31, 2020

As expected, we have seen a pullback in many pandemic indicators over the Christmas holidays. We are also, again as expected, starting to see the data bounce back, indicating the drop was more due to slower reporting than an actual decline in cases. Looking forward, holiday travel may well give us another surge, so take the current better news with a grain of salt. While a peak is coming, we are not through this wave yet, despite encouraging signs from the Midwest.

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Reflections from the Massachusetts Conference for Women

December 31, 2020

Today's first post is from Giovanna Zaffina, wealth management platform manager, and Anu Gaggar, senior investment research analyst.

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Trade Deals in 2020

December 30, 2020

Today’s post is from Peter Roberto, investment research analyst on our Investment Management and Research team.

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Embracing America’s Colorful Future

December 29, 2020

Today's post is from Anu Gaggar, senior investment research analyst on our Investment Management and Research team.

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Monday Update: Consumer Recovery Falters

December 28, 2020

Last week’s economic updates largely pointed to a slowing economic recovery as we headed into the end of the year. The evidence includes a drop in personal spending in November, falling consumer confidence, and continued high levels of weekly layoffs. There were some signs for optimism, however, as business investment remained resilient and housing sales stayed strong on a year-over-year basis. Due to the holidays, this week will be very quiet, with only the weekly initial jobless claims report set to be released.

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Merry Christmas to All

December 24, 2020

I’ve always loved Christmas, but I think I’ve lost much of the spirit as I’ve gotten older. Now that I have a young son—who enjoys baking cookies with his mom and eyeing presents under the tree, while struggling to behave under the eye of the “Elf on the Shelf"—I find myself recovering much of what I’ve lost. This is wonderful, but, as a father, I also find myself reaching deeper into the meaning of the holiday.

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Is Santa Checking His Portfolio Twice?

December 23, 2020

Today's post is from Brian Price, senior vice president of investment management and research.

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Coronavirus Update: December 23, 2020 [Video]

December 23, 2020

Today, I'd like to provide an update on the coronavirus, including what it means for the economy and markets. On the medical front, there were signs the third wave may be cresting, as both new cases and positive tests have ticked down. Further, people are now getting the Pfizer vaccine, and the Moderna vaccine will soon be available.

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The Case for Bonds

December 22, 2020

Today’s post comes to you from Nick Follett, fixed income manager on our Investment Management and Research team.

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Monday Update: Economic Recovery Slows

December 21, 2020

Last week’s data releases largely showed a slowing economic recovery, as evidenced by declining retail sales figures for October and November and a disappointing rise in initial jobless claims. With that being said, the housing sector remains healthy and manufacturing continues to show signs of improvement. This will be a busy week for economic updates, with reports scheduled that touch on consumer confidence, home sales, durable goods orders, and personal income and spending.

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With CARES Act Programs Closing, What’s Ahead for the Markets?

December 18, 2020

Today’s post comes to you from Rob Swanke, fixed income analyst on our Investment Management and Research team.

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Pandemic Economic Damage Gets Worse

December 17, 2020

The third wave of the pandemic may be showing signs of a peak. While new cases remain very high, the seven-day daily average was down for two days in the past week, suggesting we may be close to a peak. Given the lag from Thanksgiving, that conclusion seems reasonable as much of the travel surge should be starting to play out, while control measures are becoming more widespread.

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What Will the New Normal Look Like?

December 16, 2020

With the start of COVID vaccinations and signs that the third wave may be peaking, I have been thinking a lot about what the new normal will look like—and what it will mean for us as investors. We are not there yet, of course. But we can see the end of the pandemic in the not-too-distant future. Markets are already there, but markets tend to have a ready-fire-aim approach. So, there is still an opportunity to be thoughtful. Let’s walk through what the new normal might look like.

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2021 Market Outlook [Video]

December 15, 2020

We’re nearing the end of a hard year, with the pandemic raging once again and the economy starting to slow. On the other hand, vaccines will soon be coming into play, companies are adapting, and there is the possibility of a spending boom next year. Despite risks ahead (e.g., the chance of another surge of infections with holiday travel), could 2021 be better for medical news, for the economy, and for the markets?

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As Bad As It Gets?

December 15, 2020

A lot has been written about how bad things are. Although vaccines are now being deployed, daily new cases continue to hit new highs. Even as testing expands, the positive rates remain way too high, signaling that the virus continues to spread. States that had the virus under control are now seeing new outbreaks.

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Appearance on Yahoo Finance’s Live, December 14, 2020 (Video)

December 15, 2020

Yesterday I appeared on Yahoo Finance’s Live to discuss the current market and outlook for 2021. Listen in to hear more.

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Monday Update: Consumer Confidence Rises

December 14, 2020

Last week was relatively quiet in terms of economic updates, with a focus on the November inflation reports, the weekly initial jobless claims report, and the first look at consumer sentiment in December. The consumer sentiment report was the highlight during the week, as consumer confidence unexpectedly rose to start off December. This week, we’ll see more updates. The November retail sales and industrial production reports are set to be released, as are updates on home builder confidence and new home construction.

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Coronavirus Update: December 11, 2020 [Video]

December 11, 2020

Today, I'd like to provide an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. We had mixed news on the medical front. The third wave of the pandemic continues, although there were positive developments on vaccines. People could start getting shots in days, and recent projections suggest we could approach herd immunity as soon as June. Turning to the economy, the news got worse. Job growth dropped substantially, and layoffs rose sharply. With the employment market down, consumer confidence softened further, along with retail spending. Clearly, the third wave is acting as a significant drag on the economy, but what should we expect from the markets? Watch my latest video to learn more.

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Pandemic Hits Job Growth

December 10, 2020

The third wave of the pandemic has not yet peaked. While we saw a significant downturn in case growth late last month, that was due to limited reporting during the Thanksgiving holiday. Since then, after an expected surge as reporting caught up, cases have continued to rise. We are now two weeks past the start of the holiday travel period, and a rise in cases is now showing up (likely due to that travel).

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Monthly Market Risk Update: December 2020

December 9, 2020

My colleague Sam Millette, senior investment research analyst on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Market Risk Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!!

Markets rebounded in November, as positive news on the vaccine caused markets to surge. The S&P 500 gained 10.95 percent during the month, while the Nasdaq Composite rose by 11.91 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 12.14 percent. These strong results helped break a streak of two consecutive months with declining equity markets, and all three indices set new all-time highs. Despite the strong returns in November, however, markets still face very real risks, as we discuss below.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: December 2020

December 8, 2020

My colleague Sam Millette, senior investment research analyst on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Economic Risk Factor Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

The economy continued to show signs of growth in November, but the data weakened as the third wave of the pandemic slowed economic activity. Job growth slowed substantially, and service sector and consumer confidence both declined. Despite the slowdown, however, growth has continued as the economy continues to adapt. While the pandemic is indeed acting as a growing headwind, the recovery continues to be surprisingly resilient.

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Monday Update: Employment Recovery Slowing

December 7, 2020

Last week saw a number of economic updates, with a focus on business confidence, the November jobs report, and October’s international trade report. This week will be relatively quiet, with November’s inflation reports and a first look at consumer sentiment in December serving as highlights.

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Weak Jobs Report Highlights Economic Risks

December 4, 2020

This morning’s jobs report was a disappointment. Total new jobs came in at 245,000. This result was well below the 460,000 expected and even further below the 638,000 we saw last month. Looking under the hood, the details were not great either. Private job growth dropped from a strong 906,000 last month to 344,000, again well below the expected 540,000. Even if we adjust for the effects of expiring temporary census jobs, at 93,000, this is still a notable weakening of what until now had been a very resilient employment picture.

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Economic News Softer, But Signs of Faster Growth

December 3, 2020

We still do not know whether the third wave of the pandemic has peaked. While we saw a significant downturn in case growth in the past week, that may have been due to the Thanksgiving holiday, where cases reported dropped off, rather than to an actual decline in cases. We are now seeing cases surge again, as case reporting of earlier cases is catching up. Again, this is likely due to the holiday rather than an actual surge. There does seem to be continued improvement overall, but we need a couple of weeks for the data to normalize until we can be sure.

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Looking Back at the Markets in November and Ahead to December 2020

December 2, 2020

November was a great month for the markets. In fact, it was one of the best on record. U.S. markets were up by double digits, as were most markets around the world. We saw new all-time highs here, and even fixed income had a good month. From an investor’s point of view, things looked not just good but great—and clearly markets expect even better times ahead. But do they have it right? Let’s take a closer look.

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Market Thoughts for December 2020 [Video]

December 1, 2020

November was a very strong month for the stock markets, with most up by double digits. With good news on vaccines and the resolution of the presidential election, investors gained confidence. But medical risks remain, and the economic risks rose. Layoffs increased, and consumer confidence declined. Business confidence remained high but has pulled back.

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The information on this website is intended for informational/educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice, a solicitation, or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or investment product. Please contact your financial professional for more information specific to your situation.

Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

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