Weekly Commentary — March 11, 2019
The Week on Wall Street
As in February, investors spent most of the first full trading week of March hoping for new details in U.S.-China trade negotiations. While they waited, stock benchmarks drifted downward. From Monday’s open to Friday’s close, the S&P 500 lost 2.55%, while the Dow Industrials took a 2.66% fall, and the Nasdaq Composite weakened 3.12%. The MSCI EAFE index tracking developed markets outside the U.S. and Canada fell 1.09%.[i],[ii],[iii],[iv]
Why did stocks lose momentum? In a hint that global economic growth might be slowing, the European Central Bank abruptly reduced its 2019 Gross Domestic Product forecast for the eurozone from 1.7% to 1.1%. A disappointing reading on U.S. hiring also raised questions.[v]
Perplexing Jobs Data
According to the Department of Labor, the economy generated only 20,000 net new jobs in February. This was the smallest monthly gain since September 2017. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, while underemployment declined sharply to 7.3%. (These decreases could reflect furloughed federal employees returning to work.) The average wage rose 3.4% in 12 months, the largest year-over-year increase in a decade.
Harsh winter weather may have impeded hiring last month, and February’s payroll growth could be revised in the Department of Labor’s next report.[vi]
Earnings Season Recap
The fourth-quarter reporting season is all but over. FactSet notes that the S&P 500 has seen earnings growth of 13.4% in Q4, marking the fifth straight quarter with a double-digit rise.[vii]
Stocks lost ground last week, breaking a long string of weekly advances. The extended rally partly reflected optimism that the U.S.-China trade dispute would soon be resolved, but a deal may or may not happen. The week offered a reminder that Wall Street sees both ups and downs. Day-to-day market fluctuations should not cause you to alter your long-term approach.
THE WEEK AHEAD: KEY ECONOMIC DATA
Monday: January retail sales.
Tuesday: The Consumer Price Index, tracking monthly and yearly inflation.
Thursday: January new home sales and February retail sales.
Friday: The University of Michigan’s initial March consumer sentiment index, measuring consumer confidence.
Source: Econoday / MarketWatch Calendar, March 8, 2019
THE WEEK AHEAD: COMPANIES REPORTING EARNINGS
Tuesday: Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS)
Wednesday: Smart & Final (SFS)
Thursday: Adobe Systems (ADBE), Broadcom (AVGO), Dollar General (DG)
Source: Morningstar.com, March 8, 2019
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
― Thomas Jefferson
Reconstructing Your Records After a Natural Disaster
Fire, hurricanes, and earthquakes– sometimes disaster strikes before we can get prepared. Making an emergency preparedness kit with food, supplies, radio, prescriptions, and important documents is your best bet before a disaster happens. Getting your records together and providing an accurate account of losses after a disaster will help with general tax purposes and will also be required for obtaining federal assistance, grants, loans, or insurance reimbursements. Here are a few tips:
- Take photos and/or video as soon as possible after the disaster.
- Contact title, escrow, or banks to get copies of needed documents. Your real estate broker may have these records as well.
- Research comparable homes in your neighborhood for value.
- Review insurance policies; they can contain a base value for replacement.
- If you made improvements to your home, contact the contractor for verification of costs.
- You can check the county assessor’s office for old records.
Reconstructing your records will help you to get re-established should your home be affected by a disaster.
Tip adapted from IRS.gov[viii]
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