The Independent Market Observer

It’s All About Jobs

March 31, 2021

We have had a lot of good economic news recently, including the significant bounce in consumer confidence reported by the Conference Board. Consumer confidence rose by more than 20 percent last month, to the highest level since September, before the third wave. According to that increase, people are feeling much better about the economy and their place in it.

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What Does the Archegos Blowup Mean for the Markets?

March 30, 2021

I wanted to use the title “Leverage, Margin Calls, and Stock Prices, Oh My” here. But I decided to go with the more specific title so readers would actually know what I was taking about. Those are the real themes, though, as the hedge fund/private family office Archegos is simply the latest iteration of an old and sad story.

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Monday Update: Consumer Sentiment Surges in March

March 29, 2021

Last week saw the release of a number of important economic updates. February’s housing sales and durable goods orders reports continued to show the negative impact from winter weather during the month, but the recent initial jobless claims report and March’s consumer sentiment survey point toward potentially faster growth. This will be another busy week of updates, with a focus on consumer and manufacturer confidence as well as March’s employment report.

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Economic Improvement Continues Despite Rising Medical Risks

March 26, 2021

For the first time in several weeks, the big picture on the medical front has gotten worse. Case growth and positive test rates have ticked back up as the economy has reopened. While the change is relatively small so far, it is a reversal of previous improvements and signals that both reopening and the spread of more contagious variants are outpacing the positive effects of vaccinations. Faster spread has therefore moved from a potential risk to an actual one.

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A Sober Outlook for Emerging Market Debt

March 25, 2021

Today's post is from Anu Gaggar, senior investment research analyst.

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What About SPACs?

March 24, 2021

Today's post was cowritten by Chris Stuart, senior investment research analyst.

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Will Spring Bring Better Economic News?

March 23, 2021

Spring is here! I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to write this post. Mind you, spring started a couple of days ago, astronomically speaking. And, of course, spring started weeks ago in more southern states. But today the sun is shining, the birds are making a heck of a racket, and my son went off to school in shorts. So, it seems fair to call this the first day of spring, at least for me.

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Monday Update: February Storms Affect Economic Recovery

March 22, 2021

Last week saw the release of a number of important economic updates, including February’s retail sales and industrial production reports and a look into home builder confidence and new home construction. Many of the reports came in below expectations, driven in large part by the severe winter storms that affected much of the country throughout February. This will be another busy week for updates, with highlights to come on housing sales, durable goods orders, and personal income and spending.

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Coronavirus Update: March 19, 2021 [Video]

March 19, 2021

Today, I'd like to provide an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. The medical situation continues to improve, as the vaccination campaign moves forward. Still, case growth remains above the levels seen between the second and third waves, and positive rates have not improved in weeks. We still have a very real pandemic on our hands.

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Optimistic Outlook for Emerging Markets in 2021?

March 18, 2021

Today's post is from Anu Gaggar, senior investment research analyst.

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Protecting a Portfolio Against a Rise in Interest Rates

March 17, 2021

Today’s post is from Peter Essele, vice president of investment management and research.

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What Should We Expect from the Fed?

March 16, 2021

The biggest financial and economic story in recent days has been around interest rates. Inflation worries flared up again with the passage of the most recent federal stimulus bill, on fears that dumping trillions of dollars into the economy would drive demand—and prices—up. Rates followed, with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rising from 1.07 percent to a peak of 1.59 percent on March 8. Stock prices, especially for growth stocks, reacted by dropping, as higher rates usually mean lower valuations.

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Monday Update: Consumer Confidence Surges in March

March 15, 2021

Last week saw a number of important economic data releases, with a focus on February’s inflation reports and a first look at consumer confidence in March. Consumer confidence increased by more than expected to start the month, bringing the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index to a one-year high. This week will be packed with updates once again. Highlights will include February’s retail sales and industrial production news and reports on home builder confidence and new home construction.

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Markets in an Interesting Place

March 12, 2021

As a reminder, this written update will be followed next week by a video update, and then back to a written post on a weekly basis. Thanks as always for reading and watching.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: March 2021

March 11, 2021

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!!

Equity markets rebounded in February despite some late-month volatility driven by a spike in U.S. interest rates. The S&P 500 gained 2.76 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 3.43 percent. Riskier assets were hit hardest by the volatility at month-end, and the technology-weighted Nasdaq Composite gained 1.01 percent. Despite the overall positive results, the month-end volatility served as a reminder of the potential risks markets still face.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: March 2021

March 10, 2021

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 economic recovery picked up speed in February, driven by public health improvements and the federal stimulus checks that reached bank accounts. We saw a positive turnaround in consumer confidence and spending figures, along with an acceleration in hiring. We also saw signs of continuing normalization of long-term interest rates, which is a positive signal that the economic recovery remains on track.

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Monday Update (on Tuesday): Economy Adds More Jobs Than Expected

March 9, 2021

Last week saw a number of important economic data releases, with the better-than-expected February employment report serving as a highlight. This will be another busy week for updates, with a focus on consumer and producer inflation, as well as a first look at consumer sentiment in March.

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Celebrating Women Pioneers in Finance

March 8, 2021

Today’s post is brought to you by Anu Gaggar, international analyst, and Giovanna Zaffina, manager, wealth management platform.

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Jobs Report Signals Good News for Economic Recovery

March 5, 2021

This morning, we got some very good news about the recovery. The headline number of the jobs report, with 379,000 jobs created, was excellent—and almost double the expected 200,000. This is good news. When you look into the details, the news is even better. Clearly, the reopenings around the country have made a big difference in the job market. Looking forward, that trend will give us a real tailwind as vaccinations accelerate.

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Coronavirus Update: March 4, 2021 [Video]

March 4, 2021

Today, I'd like to provide an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. On the medical front, the stats have been getting better for the past two months, with case growth and hospitalizations down. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we are now at levels we saw at the peak of the second wave. And with some states starting to reopen and ending mandatory mask wearing, there are real things to worry about in the months ahead.

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Looking Back at the Markets in February and Ahead to March 2021

March 3, 2021

February looks to have been the start of our recovery from the pandemic. The medical news improved markedly, and the vaccination deployment finally got traction. Consumer confidence and spending turned around, and business investment continued to improve. Markets moved up. It was a good month all around. While some areas of concern became apparent at month-end, the progress was real—and significant.

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Market Thoughts for March 2021 [Video]

March 2, 2021

Markets climbed in February, although they faced some turbulence on a spike in interest rates. While markets were choppy, the medical news improved. New cases and hospitalizations dropped, and vaccinations more than doubled. On the economic front, unemployment remains high, but companies are hiring again. Plus, stimulus payments hit bank accounts, and consumer confidence is moving up.

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Monday Update: Economic Recovery Picks Up Steam

March 1, 2021

Last week saw the release of a number of important economic updates, with most pointing toward faster growth to start the new year. Highlights included better-than-expected consumer confidence reports, a strong durable goods orders report, and a return to personal spending growth in January. This will be another busy week for updates, with a focus on business confidence and the February employment report.

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