Weekly Updates

Market Update: November 10, 2021-Fed Says Tapering Ahead, Plus SFG News and Events

November 11, 2021


Table of Contents



Fed Says Tapering Ahead


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Fed Says Tapering Ahead

A Federal Reserve announcement on tapering, a fresh batch of corporate profits, and encouraging economic data lifted stocks to another weekly gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.42%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 advanced 2.00%. The Nasdaq Composite index led, tacking on 3.05%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, added 1.58%.

Stocks Power Higher
Stocks marched higher throughout the week, lifted by a succession of positive corporate earnings surprises, optimistic forward guidance by some companies, and healthy economic data. Continued strong third-quarter profits reinforced the narrative that businesses were able to meet strong consumer demand and maintain robust profit margins, despite the headwinds of inflation and supply-chain knots.
Investors were unfazed by the Fed’s mid-week announcement that it would begin its bond purchase tapering plans, in part, because it had long been telegraphed and Fed Chair Powell’s optimistic analysis of the current state of the economy. Also cheered was the announcement of a new COVID-19 antiviral pill and a powerful rebound in job creation, driving stocks to new heights to close out the week.
The Fed Speaks
In an eagerly awaited November meeting of the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee), the Fed pulled the trigger on its plan to taper monthly bond purchases. Fed tapering will begin this month with reductions of $15 billion per month ($10 billion in Treasurys and $5 billion in mortgage-backed securities) that will end this pandemic-era policy response by July 2022.
The Fed reiterated its belief that inflation remained transitory, though conceding it had underestimated…

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Market Update: November 2, 2021-Earnings Build; GDP Slows, Plus SFG News and Events

November 3, 2021


Table of Contents



Earnings Build; GDP Slows


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Earnings Build; GDP Slows

A fresh wave of positive corporate earnings surprises sent markets to new record highs last week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.40%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 1.33%. The Nasdaq Composite index picked up 2.71% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 0.68%.

Earnings Drive Market
The week kicked off with the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 index setting record highs as the financial markets carried over the previous week’s price momentum.

Stocks continued to climb on a string of forecast-beating earnings results. With about half of the S&P 500 constituent companies having reported earnings, more than 80% of them have beaten W.all Street analysts’ consensus estimates. Based on these results, earnings for all S&P 500 companies are expected to come in approximately 39% above the third quarter of last year. (Forecasts are based on assumptions, and may not materialize.) Stocks overcame disappointing earnings from two mega-cap tech names on Friday to maintain the week’s solid gains.
GDP Growth Slows
While businesses managed to post strong earnings in the third quarter, the first look at economic growth came in below consensus estimates. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a 2.0% annualized rate in the third quarter, a slowdown from the two previous quarters, each of which posted …

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Market Update: October 26, 2021-Strong Week on Wall Street, Plus SFG News and Events

October 26, 2021


Table of Contents



Strong Week on Wall Street


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Strong Week on Wall Street

Stocks rallied last week on a stream of positive corporate earnings surprises.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.08%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 advanced 1.64%. The Nasdaq Composite index gained 1.29% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 0.23%.

Earnings Ignite Rally

Fears over inflation, supply shortages, and slowing economic growth in China were pushed aside last week as investors reacted to a daily succession of positive corporate earnings surprises. After the Dow Industrials reached an all-time high intraday on Wednesday, fresh earnings reports, an increase in existing home sales, and a new pandemic low in initial jobless claims–and continuing claims–propelled the S&P 500 index to a new record high the following session.

Disappointing earnings before the market opened on Friday hurt a few social media stocks, resulting in a choppy trading session and a selloff in the Nasdaq to close out the week.

Solid Start to Season

Investors came into the earnings season anxious about whether businesses could extend the earnings growth momentum of recent quarters amid an increase in Delta infections, inflation, labor shortages, and supply-chain bottlenecks. The early results were encouraging. Of the 23% of companies comprising the S&P 500 index that have reported, 84% beat Wall Street consensus earnings estimates by an average of more than 13%.

The earnings season may get more uneven in coming weeks since…

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Market Update: October 20, 2021-Fed Unveils Tapering Plans, Plus SFG News and Events

October 20, 2021


Table of Contents



Fed Unveils Tapering Plans


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Fed Unveils Tapering Plans

A strong opening to the third-quarter earnings season sparked a late week, broad-based rally that helped stocks finish the week with solid gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.58%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 1.82%. The Nasdaq Composite index led, gaining 2.18% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 1.37%.

Investor Optimism Returns
After beginning the week on a lackluster note, stocks turned higher on Wednesday as companies kicked off a new earnings season and details about the Fed’s taper plans emerged. Investor enthusiasm shifted into high gear the following day on positive economic data and earnings reports that exceeded investor expectations. Buying continued through Friday on fresh earnings surprises and a better-than-expected retail sales report.
The economic data allayed some concerns about inflationary pressures and economic deceleration, while early earnings results provided hope that companies had weathered the surge in summer Covid infections. Nevertheless, worries about how supply-chain disruption and higher prices may impact corporate earnings guidance haven’t gone away.
Let the Tapering Begin
Minutes from September’s Federal Open Market Committee released last week provided detail around the Fed’s plans to taper its $120 billion monthly bond purchase program. The Fed expects to reduce its purchases by $15 billion each month, beginning in mid-November/December and ending in June 2022.
This tapering schedule is somewhat faster than what investors were anticipating, reflecting the Fed’s concern that inflation has been somewhat higher and more persistent than it had anticipated, with continuing supply-chain bottlenecks raising that risk level. Fed Chair Powell’s commitment to …

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Market Update: October 12, Debt Ceiling Raised, Plus SFG News and Events

October 12, 2021


Table of Contents



Debt Ceiling Raised


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Debt Ceiling Raised

The overhang of bumping against the federal debt ceiling was lifted last week with an agreement to extend the debt ceiling through early December, helping propel stocks to a weekly gain.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by 1.22%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.79%. The Nasdaq Composite index gained 0.09%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was flat (+0.11%).

Debt Ceiling Concerns Evaporate, for Now

After suffering losses on concerns over delays with raising the federal debt ceiling, stocks rebounded as the Senate moved toward finalizing a debt ceiling agreement. While the agreement is only a short-term solution, it was enough to embolden investors to buy stocks.
The week’s rally ran out of gas on Friday, however, on a surprisingly weak employment report. Though the debt ceiling was the dominant concern in the markets last week, the market grappled all week with the headwinds of higher energy prices, rising bond yields, inflation, and less robust economic growth.

Fuzzy Employment Picture

Employment remains a confusing and unpredictable element of this post-pandemic economic recovery. Automated Data Processing’s employment report showed private sector jobs rose by a robust 568,000. This hiring surge may have been aided by the end of extended unemployment benefits and the …

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Weekly Update: September 21, Stocks Lackluster Despite Positive Outlook, Plus SFG News and Events

September 21, 2021


Table of Contents



Stocks Lackluster Despite Positive Outlook


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Stocks Lackluster Despite Positive Outlook

Stocks weakened ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting and amid persistent concerns about the Delta variant’s impact on the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat (-0.07%), while the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.57%. The Nasdaq Composite index lost 0.47% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, dropped 0.65%.

Stocks Struggle
Despite a string of economic reports painting a healthy picture of the U.S. economy, investor sentiment remained cautious. While tamer inflation and higher-than-expected retail sales may typically be constructive for the market, any investor enthusiasm it generated was fleeting.
The market appeared all week to be encumbered by a tentative, apprehensive mood. The Delta variant remained an overhang, but it was more than that. Investors appeared concerned about September, which historically has been a weak month for stock prices. The market also was concerned about fiscal and tax policy proposals emanating from Washington D.C., news of an economic slowdown in China, and by what the Fed may announce following its September 21-22 Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
Taking the Economic Pulse
A series of economic reports released last week provided investors with a broad snapshot of the state of the economic recovery.
Inflation showed signs of moderating, rising 0.3%—an elevated rate, but well below June and July’s increases of 0.9% and 0.5%, respectively. The consumer remained strong as retail sales rose 0.7%, an unexpected jump. Manufacturing reached pre-pandemic, while the labor market continued …

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Weekly Update: September 14, Delta Variant Concerns Markets, Plus SFG News and Events

September 14, 2021


Table of Contents



Delta Variant Concerns Markets


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Delta Variant Concerns Markets

In a quiet week of news, stocks moved lower amid simmering concerns over the Delta variant’s effect on the progress of economic reopening.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 2.15%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 1.69%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 1.61% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slipped 0.63%.

Stocks Weaken
In a holiday-shortened week of trading, markets were choppy as investors grew cautious in the face of a potential Fed tapering decision later this month and the impact of Delta on the economic recovery.
What little news there was, it was decidedly mixed. Job growth showed real strength coming off a shaky employment report the previous Friday, while the Producer Price Index surged by 8.3% year-over-year, representing the largest annual increase since November 2010. The release reminded investors that inflation remained a market risk. Stocks tried to stage a rebound on Friday before sagging to close out the week.
Jobs Improvement
After a disappointing employment report, two labor market reports last week appeared to show that the labor market recovery appeared intact. The JOLTS report (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) showed 10.9 million open jobs, a number that exceeded the number of unemployed by more than two million. The rate of hiring, however, decelerated, perhaps explaining why the …

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Weekly Update: September 7, 2021-Data and Delta Scramble Stock Results, Plus SFG News and Events

September 7, 2021


Table of Contents



Data and Delta Scramble Stock Results


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Data and Delta Scramble Stock Results

Stocks were mixed last week amid conflicting economic data and continued spread of Delta variant infections.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.24% during the five trading days. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 tacked on 0.58% and the Nasdaq Composite index rose 1.55%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, gained 1.51%.

Mixed Market
Investors gravitated toward the high growth technology and communication services sectors, as well as the more defensive sectors, such as utilities and real estate. Reopening stocks were weighed down by Delta variant fears and a retreating consumer, while energy struggled to bounce in the wake of Hurricane Ida shutting down energy production and refining capacity.
Stocks appeared to shrug off a shaky employment report on Friday, despite the questions it raised about economic growth in the months ahead.
Mixed Employment
After initial jobless claims reached a new pandemic low on Thursday, the August employment report on Friday came in below expectations as payrolls expanded by 235,000. Adding to the subdued report was a 4% decline in the number of hours worked by employees. On the positive side, the Friday report showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.2%, while wage growth rose 0.6% from July and increased 4.3% from August 2020.
The weak employment report may reflect a …

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Weekly Update: August 31, 2021-Tapering Likely in 2021, Plus SFG News and Events

August 31, 2021


Table of Contents



Tapering Likely in 2021


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Tapering Likely in 2021

The stock market powered to record levels last week amid talk of Fed tapering and a deceleration in new Delta variant cases.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.96%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 increased 1.52%. The Nasdaq Composite index led, picking up 2.82%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, rose 1.39%.

Pushing Higher
Stocks surged to begin the week as investor sentiment improved on news of the FDA’s approval of its first COVID-19 vaccine, a strong housing number and comments by the Federal Reserve Bank-Dallas president that he would support delaying tapering if the Delta variant spread worsened.
Stocks continued their climb through midweek, pushing the S&P 500 to another record high and the NASDAQ Composite above 15,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite closed the week at record highs following Fed Chair Powell’s comments that Fed is likely to begin winding down its monthly bond purchases (aka tapering) by year-end, though no interest rate hikes were imminent.
Powell Speaks
At last week’s Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium, Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday provided further insights into Fed plans to begin tapering. Powell said that the Fed may likely commence tapering prior to year-end, adding that the wind down of bond purchases should not be seen as a signal for future rate hikes. Powell emphasized that labor market conditions remain short of the Fed’s target for maximizing employment. He also reiterated his case for why inflation remains a transitory phenomenon.
With a number of Regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents already…

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Weekly Update: August 24, 2021-Will the Fed Taper in 2021?, Plus SFG News and Events

August 24, 2021


Table of Contents



Will the Fed Taper in 2021?


Food for Thought


Tax Tips


Healthy Living


Weekly Riddle


Photo of the week


Will the Fed Taper in 2021?

Stocks turned lower last week amid the increasing probability of a Fed tapering, mixed economic data, and growing concerns about the economic impact of the Delta variant.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 1.11%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 0.59%. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.73%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, surrendered 2.94%.

Unsettling News

After the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 index climbed to new record highs to begin the week, stocks pulled back amid weaker-than-expected retail sales, festering concerns about the Delta variant, and slowing growth in China.

The stock market retreat accelerated mid-week with the release of the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting minutes, which signaled that Fed officials may be ready to begin reducing its monthly bond purchases before the end of the year. Stocks managed to stabilize on Friday, paring some of the week’s losses. Consumer staples, health care, real estate, and utilities were the top-performing groups.

Taper by Year End?

Two weeks ago, multiple regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents suggested that the economy was strong enough to justify tapering the Fed’s monthly bond purchases.

Last week, that chorus grew a bit louder with the release of minutes from July’s FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting. The precise timing was left undecided, with some officials believing …

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