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

January 8, 2020

As I do every month, it’s time to take a look back at what happened in the previous one and what it could mean going forward. With the start of a new year, we have a lot to cover.

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Investing in an Election Year

January 7, 2020

Brad here. Today, Rob Swanke, an analyst with Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, shares his insights. Enjoy!

It’s 2020, the beginning of a presidential election year. As the months unfold, the election will likely become the primary market risk to worry about for many people. Democratic primary voting will begin in February with the Iowa caucuses, but only 4 percent of the delegates will be chosen that month. The party’s direction won’t begin to unfold until March 3, when 34 percent of the delegates will be chosen by 14 states. But we still won’t have clarity at that point, as delegates are distributed proportionally for each state by the Democratic Party. With several candidates polling in the double digits, a lot of uncertainty regarding the Democratic nominee may exist right up to the July convention. Although the bull market has lasted more than a decade, will valuations keep moving higher in this uncertain political climate?

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Monday Update: Consumer and Manufacturer Confidence Fall

January 6, 2020

Last week, we saw both consumer and manufacturer confidence fall unexpectedly in December, despite minutes from the Fed’s December meeting showing central bankers are satisfied with the current economic expansion. This week marks a return to normal for economic updates following two holiday-shortened weeks. We’ll be focusing on international trade, service sector confidence, and the December jobs report.

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What Would a War with Iran Mean for the Markets?

January 3, 2020

The news this morning that a top Iranian commander was killed in a U.S. drone strike sent global markets reeling. According to news reports, Iran is now vowing to retaliate, which means terrorism and cyberattacks are likely. Here in the U.S., apparently, Congress was not notified of the strike ahead of time. The heightened risk factors we must now consider include increased domestic political dysfunction, a rising risk of military action (either by us or against us in an already troubled area), and a probable disruption of the oil markets.

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Market Thoughts for January 2020 [Video]

January 2, 2020

We closed out the year and the decade on a burst of strength. December was a great month, and it capped a great 2019. U.S. markets were up more than 2 percent and, in some cases, considerably more than that. For the year, they were up more than 20 percent. International markets also had a strong year. In December, job growth came in much better than expected, continuing a trend that has more and more people joining the labor force. For the ninth month in a row, both income and spending went up. The housing sector did very well, and there’s a lot of confidence baked into that. So, December was a great handoff to 2020.

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Approaching Economics with Humor: Some Favorite Videos

December 31, 2019

I suspect not too much work will get done today, at least in my house, so let’s have some fun. Below are links to some of my favorite economic and investing videos. In true economist fashion, I have categorized them appropriately. Note that I may not agree with the content—especially for the funny ones! Start at the top.

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Monday Update: Durable Goods Orders Down, New Home Sales Up

December 30, 2019

Last week was slow on the economic update front, with only two major updates being released. This week will also be quiet as we finish 2019 and enter the new year. We’ll be focusing on consumer and manufacturer confidence, as well as the minutes from the most recent Fed meeting in December. 

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