The Independent Market Observer

What Mattered This Week? All About Interest Rates

September 22, 2023

This week was all about interest rates. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose to the highest level since 2007, topping 4.5 percent after running up from about 4.1 percent at the start of the month. That is a big jump, driven by a growing market realization that the Fed is serious about keeping rates higher for longer.

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What Mattered This Week? Inflation, UAW Strike, and Consumers

September 15, 2023

I thought this was going to be an easy week. Clearly, we would be talking about inflation, right? And we will, but we also should discuss the UAW strike and consumer confidence. So, let’s get right to it.

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What Mattered This Week? Economic News on the Upswing

September 8, 2023

What mattered this week? Well, on top of it being a short week, there simply wasn’t much happening. The one piece of economic data that mattered, the ISM Services survey, surprised to the upside. This result indicated that service businesses, on the whole, are not only still in expansion mode but are even feeling better. That is good news from an economic perspective and, on top of the last jobs report, signals that the economy continues to grow.

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Looking Back at the Markets in August and Ahead to September 2023

September 7, 2023

August saw modest market pullbacks across the board, as investors were nervous about risk. The U.S. indices were down by low single digits, with the Nasdaq doing the worst. International markets also pulled back—developed markets were down slightly more than U.S. markets, and emerging markets performed worst of all. Even fixed income declined, as higher interest rates drove the U.S. Aggregate Bond Index down slightly. Financial markets spent the month in a risk-off mode, hurting riskier investments like tech stocks and emerging markets at the expense of more boring ones.

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What Mattered This Week? Fed Is Likely Done with Rate Hikes

September 1, 2023

With the end of summer drawing near, it has been a busy couple of weeks. We had the Fed’s annual conference in Jackson Hole and a whole bunch of economic data, including a new inflation release and the jobs report this morning. When we last talked, the markets were selling off. So, let’s look at where we are now and what mattered in the past couple of weeks.

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Index Concentration: A Tricky Problem for Investors

August 24, 2023

Brad here. One of the big market topics these days is how concentrated the stock market indices have become, with a handful of companies composing a larger and larger part of each index. This is certainly a problem—but why? And what do we do about it? In today’s post, my colleague, Wayne Richardson, has some thoughts on both. Thanks, Wayne!

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What Mattered This Week? China, Interest Rates, and Fundamentals

August 18, 2023

This has been a busy week, with a number of developments that, at first glance, seem concerning. But how worried should we be? Let's get right to what mattered.

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An Optimistic Outlook for Markets?

August 15, 2023

Brad here. One of the things I have learned is that while history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, it does rhyme—even in the financial markets. My colleague, Tom Logue, is a student of how the market behaves. Here, he lays out some reasons for optimism as we enter the fall. Thanks, Tom, and I hope you are right!

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What Mattered This Week? Mixed News on Inflation

August 11, 2023

Once again, this week was all about inflation—and the data was more mixed this time. Most of the news was good, as core inflation continued to tick down, while the monthly figures were in line with expectations. But the year-on-year headline number rose for the first time in months. It didn’t rise by a lot, only 0.2 percent. Still, that wasn’t a drop. It also raises the possibility that inflation could be bouncing back. Spoiler alert: I don’t think so.

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Is Inflation on Its Way Back Up?

August 10, 2023

This morning’s inflation data came in pretty much in line with expectations. Headline inflation was up 0.2 percent for the month and 3.2 percent for the year. Core inflation (excluding energy and food) was up 0.2 percent for the month and 4.7 percent for the year. So far, so good. At 0.2 percent per month, that would mean an annual inflation rate of between 2 percent and 3 percent. Pretty good, yes?

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