Weekly Commentary — December 6th, 2019
The Week on Wall Street
Key Wall Street benchmarks were up and down last week – or rather down and then up. A Tuesday retreat was offset by a Friday rally spurred by the Department of Labor’s November jobs report.
While the S&P 500 managed to rise 0.16% for the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.13%, and the Nasdaq Composite ceded 0.10%. MSCI’s EAFE benchmark for international stocks retreated 0.25%.,
Hiring Surpasses Expectations
Employers added 266,000 net new jobs last month, 79,000 more than economists surveyed by Dow Jones had projected. The main jobless rate ticked down 0.1% to 3.5%. The U-6 rate, counting both the unemployed and underemployed, also declined 0.1% to 6.9%. Wages grew 3.1% year-over-year, above the 3.0% Dow Jones estimate.
These numbers do not indicate an economy cooling off. While they were influenced by the return of striking General Motors workers to their jobs, November hiring gains were spread across several categories.
Markets Might Wait Well into 2020 for a China Trade Deal
The U.S.-China trade dispute has gone on for 21 months. Wall Street would like to see a new phase-one trade agreement signed this month, but the timeline could lengthen. On Tuesday, President Trump said that he was considering the option of waiting until after the 2020 election to sign off on such a pact.
On December 15, the U.S. is slated to impose a new set of tariffs on around $160 billion of Chinese products. Tech companies are eyeing this date with concern.
Holiday shopping is critical to the economy, accounting for about 20% of annual retail sales. This year’s calendar, however, does not favor retailers. The 2019 holiday shopping season is six days shorter than last year’s, as Thanksgiving fell on November 28. So, expect traders to keep close tabs on the pace of holiday spending, even with consumer confidence indices and stock benchmarks at high levels.
THE WEEK AHEAD: KEY ECONOMIC DATA
Wednesday: The Federal Reserve makes its latest monetary policy statement, followed by a press conference featuring Fed Chairman Jerome Powell; also, the November Consumer Price Index appears.
Thursday: The Department of Commerce releases its November retail sales report.
Source: Econoday, December 6, 2019
THE WEEK AHEAD: COMPANIES REPORTING EARNINGS
Tuesday: AutoZone (AZO)
Wednesday: Lululemon Athletica (LULU)
Thursday: Adobe Systems (ADBE), Broadcom (AVGO), Costco (COST)
Source: Zacks, December 6, 2019
“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.”
– Rainbow Rowell
What to Know About Flexible Spending Accounts at the End of the Year
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are savings accounts reserved for out-of-pocket health care costs. They are offered through an employee benefit plan and allow you to use pretax dollars to pay for medical costs that insurance might not cover.
FSAs can save you money because they are funded with pretax dollars, but they are “use it or lose it,” meaning that if you don’t use the funds by the end of the year, they don’t roll over into the next. There is some flexibility, and employers may extend the deadline to use funds until March 15, but participants might want to aim for the end-of-year deadline to be safe. That means, come December, you should have a plan of how to maximize your FSA funds.
Not sure how to spend your remaining FSA dollars? FSA Store has thousands of items that are eligible, including first aid items, travel essentials, pain relief items, and much more.
* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.
Tip adapted from TurboTax
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