Stocks Rally for Third Week – Weekly Update for March 7, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/cuteimage

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/cuteimage

Markets closed out a third week of gains, putting the Dow at a two-month high and erasing much of the year’s losses. Higher oil prices and an upbeat February jobs report contributed to the rally.[i] For the week, the S&P 500 increased 2.67%, the Dow added 2.20%, and the NASDAQ grew 2.76%.[ii]

Investors cheered at a reasonably solid jobs report. The February Employment Situation report showed that the economy gained 242,000 new jobs last month. That’s the 65th straight month of job increases, and the trend shows that the labor market continues to improve.[iii] The headline unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9%; however, the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 62.9% as a greater percentage of Americans joined the labor market by working or actively looking for jobs.[iv] A declining participation rate had worried economists, and an uptick could indicate that discouraged workers are returning to the search.

 

2016-03-07 chart

The report showed that the biggest job gains were in healthcare, retail, and hospitality. The construction industry also added thousands of new jobs, which is a sign that builders expect economic demand to pick up in the coming months. Unsurprisingly, the mining sector was the biggest job loser.[v]

However, the news wasn’t all rosy.

Digging deeper into the data, we also see that wages slipped last month. Average hourly wages are up just 2.2% from 12 months ago, slower than the 2.5% rate we have seen recently and well below target rates of 3-4%. Though the decline might be a seasonal issue or involve data technicalities, it could be a sign that jobs growth isn’t being reflected in wages. It could also mean that employers are offering incentives like benefits or vacation time that aren’t reflected in income.[vi]

Overall, the report is a mixed bag for the Federal Reserve, though the data shows that there isn’t a slowdown in the labor market and will help tamp down fears of a recession. Is a March interest rate hike in play? Realistically, the data probably isn’t solid enough for the Fed, which is looking for positive economic data to counterbalance global concerns and the recent market declines. Current bets on the next hike are all over the place. Some economists believe an April or June hike is likely while some futures traders are placing bets on a November hike.[vii]

This week’s economic calendar is thin, highlighted by trade data on Friday and a speech by Federal Reserve Vice President Stanley Fischer. Though the Fed isn’t likely to raise rates at next month’s meeting, Fischer may give some insight into the timing of the next rate hike. Most attention will be on presidential debates, caucuses, and the primary race.[viii]

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Wednesday: EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Treasury Budget

Friday: International Trade

2016-03-07

HEADLINES:

Motor vehicle sales jump in February. Sales of cars and trucks soared by 7% last month, soaring to a 15-year high for the month of February—traditionally a slow time for auto sales.[ix]

U.S. factory activity slows for fifth straight month. A gauge of manufacturing activity shows that the sector contracted again in February, but the pace of decline slowed, indicating that relief may be on the horizon.[x]

Beige book shows economic activity increased. A mid-quarter indicator of U.S. economic growth showed that overall activity increased, but it varied widely by region. This mixed picture may be a headache for the Fed.[xi]

Oil prices jump 10%. Benchmark oil prices logged their biggest weekly gain this year as traders digested news of falling U.S. production and possible supply freezes. West Texas Intermediate closed at $35.92 on the likelihood of lower production in the coming weeks.[xii]

[i] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/04/us-markets.html

[ii] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=01&b=29&c=2016&d=02&e=4&f=2016&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=29&c=2016&d=02&e=4&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=29&c=2016&d=02&e=4&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[iii] https://www.glassdoor.com/research/jobs-report-feb-2016/

[iv] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[v] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[vi] https://www.glassdoor.com/research/jobs-report-feb-2016/

[vii] http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-could-hike-as-early-as-april-economists-after-jobs-report-2016-03-04 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fed-futures-idUSKCN0W61MR

[viii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/03/04/week-ahead-fed-speech-debates-and-primaries.html

[ix] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-autos-idUSKCN0W34LC

[x] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/03/01/u-s-manufacturing-remained-in-contraction-in-february.html

[xi] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/03/02/fed-u-s-economic-activity-expanded-but-conditions-mixed.html

[xii] http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hope-that-us-production-is-shrinking-drives-gains-for-oil-2016-03-04

Stocks End Higher for Second Week – Weekly Update for February 29, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/cooldesign

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/cooldesign

Markets closed out another solid week of gains on the back of higher oil prices and some positive economic data. For the week, the S&P 500 increased 1.58%, the Dow grew 1.51%, and the NASDAQ added 1.91%.[i]

Investors got their second look at fourth-quarter 2015 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last week. The latest data shows that the economy grew 1.0% last quarter versus the 0.7% originally reported. Economists had forecast a drop in GDP growth to 0.4%, so the increase was a welcome surprise and helped tamp down recession worries.[ii]

In another positive sign, consumer spending rose steadily in January and inflation increased closer to the Federal Reserve target of 2.0%. These encouraging indicators could support another rate hike since they bolster the growth picture for this year.[iii] Though the Fed could technically raise rates at the next meeting in March, most economists don’t expect to see higher rates until June at the earliest.[iv]

Though we expect volatility to continue over the next weeks and months, one contributor to volatility may be losing its grip. Over the last few months, U.S. equities have followed Chinese stocks over the edge, responding to worries about the health of the world’s second-largest economy. However, last week, though Chinese equities tumbled again, American stocks closed out the week positive. The divergence is a relief because it could indicate that the short-term connection between U.S. and Chinese markets is breaking down as investors return to fundamentals.[v]

Does this mean that what happens in China will cease to affect American investors? Probably not, but we can hope that investors stop worrying about every little twitch in China’s markets.

The week ahead holds more economic data, the highlight being the February jobs report that comes out on Friday. Based on the weekly gains reported so far, we’re expecting a solid showing and hoping for continued increases in wages, which could help boost consumer spending this year. Investors will be looking for signs that the domestic economy can withstand trouble abroad and hoping for signs of increased economic activity in the first quarter of 2016. Election-year politicking may add uncertainty when votes are tallied on Super Tuesday this year.


 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: Chicago PMI, Pending Home Sales Index, Dallas Fed Mfg. Survey

Tuesday: Motor Vehicle Sales, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg. Index, Construction Spending

Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, EIA Petroleum Status Report, Beige Book

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Productivity and Costs, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg. Index

Friday: Employment Situation, International Trade

02292016


HEADLINES:

New home sales fall sharply. Sales of newly built homes plummeted from a 10-month high in January. However, the fall seems to be largely because of unusually low activity in the West and the overall housing market appears to be healthy.[vi]

Consumer confidence declines in February. A measure of how Americans feel about the economy fell last month as consumers grew more pessimistic about their financial prospects.[vii]

Durable goods orders rise. New orders for long-lasting manufactured goods like electronics, appliances, and vehicles rose in January by the most in 10 months. The uptick in demand is a positive sign for the manufacturing sector this quarter.[viii]

Jobless claims rise, but remain stable. The number of Americans filing claims for new unemployment benefits rose last week, but the overall trend remains positive. Continuing claims also fell, indicating that workers are finding jobs and moving off benefits.[ix]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=01&b=22&c=2016&d=01&e=26&f=2016&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=22&c=2016&d=01&e=26&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=22&c=2016&d=01&e=26&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/26/us-q4-2015-revised-gdp.html

[iii] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-idUSKCN0VZ1RP

[iv] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#qa=20160201001

[v] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/25/are-chinese-stocks-losing-hold-over-us-markets.html

[vi] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/24/new-home-sales-fell-sharply-in-january.html

[vii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/23/consumer-confidence-gauge-declines-in-february.html

[viii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/25/january-durable-goods-orders-rise-4-9.html

[ix] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/25/us-weekly-jobless-claims-feb-23-2016.html

Stocks Post Best Week of 2016 – Weekly Update for February 22, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/krishna arts

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/krishna arts

Markets closed out their best week of the year last week, buoyed by higher oil prices and positive economic data that reassured some recession worriers. For the week, the S&P increased 2.84%, the Dow grew 2.62%, and the NASDAQ added 3.85%.[i]

After tumbling for weeks, oil prices stabilized close to $30/barrel after several major oil producers—including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar, and Venezuela—announced their willingness to freeze production levels to fight low prices. It’s not clear that the deal will go anywhere since other countries are refusing to participate. [ii] Since cutting production will only work if all or most oil producers commit to collective action, it’s not certain that oil prices have ended their declines. However, the temporary pause was enough to give markets a boost.

A key barometer of prices in the U.S.—the Consumer Price Index—showed that core inflation rose 2.2% over the last 12 months.[iii] A modest rise is good news because it shows that there is demand pushing up prices. Demand means that the economy continues to grow. However, the increase is small enough that it’s not likely to trigger another interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve any time soon.

On the negative side, the current manufacturing picture is bleak. Two reports released last week show that the manufacturing sector is still contracting, a victim of a decline in global demand for manufactured goods. However, some portions of the sector that depend on domestic demand are doing well.[iv]

The official minutes from January’s Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting show that officials are concerned by how global risks may affect the domestic growth picture. This isn’t news to investors, and markets didn’t react very much to the release. Overall, the FOMC intends to be cautious in moving ahead with rate increases, though they are holding to their medium-term positive outlook on the U.S. economy.[v] We’re not likely to see a rate increase in March or April. Currently, the latest Wall Street Journal poll of economists shows June as the odds-on favorite for the next rate hike.[vi] We’re not holding our breath.

The week ahead is packed with important economic data, including the second release of fourth-quarter GDP, consumer sentiment, international trade, and consumer spending. Will last week’s optimism hold? Possibly, if we get more good news. However, it’s likely that we’ll see additional volatility in the days and weeks ahead.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

 

Monday: PMI Manufacturing Index Flash

Tuesday: S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence, Existing Home Sales

Wednesday: New Home Sales, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Durable Goods Orders, Jobless Claims

Friday: GDP, International Trade in Goods, Personal Income and Outlays, Consumer Sentiment

2-22-2016


HEADLINES:

Housing starts drop in January. Groundbreaking on new homes fell 3.8%, surprising economists who expected to see a rise. Seasonal factors like the large blizzard that blanketed the East Coast could be responsible.[vii]

Jobless claims fall unexpectedly. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to renewed strength in the labor market.[viii]

Mortgage applications rise on lower rates. Falling rates on mortgages continue to drive purchase applications and refinancing activity. Applications for home purchases are up 30% over the same period last year.[ix]

Home builders may be losing confidence. An indicator of optimism among the nation’s home builders shows that though current and future sales expectations are strong, a lack of labor and available lots may be dragging on future building.[x]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=01&b=15&c=2016&d=01&e=19&f=2016&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=15&c=2016&d=01&e=19&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=15&c=2016&d=01&e=19&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/18/oil-prices-fall-on-oversupply-concerns-after-us-crude-stocks-hit-record.html

[iii] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-fed-analysis-idUSKCN0VS2H5

[iv] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/19/rumblings-oil-output-freeze-extend-momentum-to-wall-street.html

[v] http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenblitz/2016/02/17/january-fomc-minutes-they-agree-uncertainty-has-increased-but-hold-to-medium-term-outlook/#2160521b288e

[vi] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#qa=20160201001

[vii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/17/january-housing-starts-fall-3-8.html

[viii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/18/weekly-jobless-claims-fall-by-7000.html

[ix] http://wsj-us.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=471989&cust=wsj-us&year=2016&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top

[x] http://online.barrons.com/mdc/public/page/9_3063-economicCalendar.html

Are Recession Fears Just Hype? – Weekly Update for February 16, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/pat138241

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/pat138241

Markets ended another volatile week lower despite a bounce in oil prices. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 0.81%, the Dow fell 1.43%, and the NASDAQ dropped 0.59%.[i]

Amid volatile stock prices and disappointing global economic news, you may have heard a lot of chatter on media networks about whether the U.S. economy is facing another recession. In this week’s market update, we wanted to share our views.

Why is there so much talk about a recession?

With oil prices barreling below $27 amid a global slowdown, a lot of financial commentators are talking more seriously about the potential for a U.S. recession.[ii] These recession fears are not baseless and we’re taking them seriously.

Predicting a recession is always a difficult exercise because it relies on balancing positive and negative indicators, many of which are based on old data. We heard from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen last week that the Fed sees a mixed economic picture ahead. She further warned that the U.S. economy could feel the effects of economic turmoil abroad.[iii] Though Fed economists aren’t currently worried about a recession, you can bet that they are taking a close look at potential recession triggers. What are they looking at?[iv]

  • Continued weakness in oil and commodity prices that are hurting energy producers.
  • Emerging market issues (particularly in China) that affect exports and U.S. firms.
  • Falling demand in the manufacturing sector.
  • Worries that central banks are out of bullets.

So, what’s the good news?

Despite all the doom and gloom in markets right now, the U.S. economy is not lying down and giving up. Here are a few of the things experts see in the pro-growth column: [v]

  • The economy is approaching full employment and employers are still hiring.
  • Wages are increasing, Americans are taking home bigger paychecks, and household savings are growing.
  • Consumers are still spending money on big-ticket items like electronics and motor vehicles.[vi]
  • S. exports to Brazil, Russia, India, and China — four of the largest emerging markets — totaled just 1.14% of U.S. GDP in 2014. That’s a drop in the bucket of total economic activity.[vii]

Will the economy slide into recession in 2016?

We don’t know, but we do know that recessions don’t just happen for no reason. As Yellen put it in her remarks to Congress: “The evidence suggests that expansions don’t die of old age.”[viii] In short, something has to happen to cause a recession and the Fed doesn’t see anything on the horizon yet.

That’s not to say that the economic picture is rosy. Economists are not predicting breakout growth in 2016. However, they’re also not predicting a recession. The Wall Street Journal forecasts first-quarter 2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.0%.[ix] The Atlanta Fed is more optimistic, predicting 2.7% growth.[x]

However, recession risk is rising; the latest Wall Street poll of economists put the risk of a recession in the next 12 months at 21%, double where it was in June.[xi] However, the same poll reported recession probabilities of 16% in January 2011 and 17% in January 2012.[xii] Neither year ushered in a recession. The reality is that we won’t know when a recession starts or ends until it has already happened, and there is no way to predict it with any certainty.

Our View

2016 has been a very rocky road for equities, and the volatility is likely to stick with us for a while. Bad news has dominated markets for weeks and we don’t know when sentiment will swing the other way. However, let’s remember that the current correction is coming after years of sustained growth.

We’re keeping a close eye on economic and market fundamentals and making investment decisions based on our analysis as well as our clients’ individual situations. We know that corrections are uncomfortable and that you may have questions about the economy and how it may affect your portfolio. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to us directly, we’d be happy to talk to you.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: U.S. Markets Closed for Presidents Day Holiday

Tuesday: Empire State Mfg. Survey, Housing Market Index, Treasury International Capital

Wednesday: Housing Starts, PPI-FD, Industrial Production, FOMC Minutes

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Friday: Consumer Price Index

021616

HEADLINES:

Supreme Court Justice Scalia passes away. The conservative justice’s death leaves a gap in the nation’s highest court and ups the stakes in this year’s presidential election. It is not clear whether it will be President Obama or his successor who will nominate the next justice.[xiii]

Retail sales rise more than expected. Consumers spent more than forecasted in January across many categories of goods, easing fears about consumer spending this year.[xiv]

Consumer sentiment drops. Worries about the economy took their toll on a measure of consumer optimism though long-term prospects remain stable.[xv]

Chinese exports slump in January. China’s exports – a major driver of the economy – dropped 11.2% from the previous January. The fall was larger than forecast and highlights China’s growing economic woes.[xvi]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=01&b=8&c=2016&d=01&e=12&f=2016&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=8&c=2016&d=01&e=12&f=2016&g=d&s=DOW%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=8&c=2016&d=01&e=12&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=1&c=2016&d=01&e=5&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=1&c=2016&d=01&e=5&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/11/investing/oil-price-crash/

[iii] http://fortune.com/2016/02/10/yellen-economy-congress-federal-reserve/

[iv] http://fortune.com/2016/02/11/recession/

[v] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/14/fed-ecb-pboc-need-to-be-cheerleaders-for-their-economies.html

[vi] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-idUSKCN0VL1CT

[vii] https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/2015pr/12/exh4as.xls

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD

[viii] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/11/fed-chair-yellen-theres-always-some-chance-of-recession.html

[ix] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#ind=gdp&r=20

[x] https://www.frbatlanta.org/cqer/research/gdpnow.aspx?panel=1

https://www.frbatlanta.org/-/media/Documents/cqer/researchcq/gdpnow/GDPTrackingModelDataAndForecasts.xlsx?la=en

[xi] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#qa=20160201002

[xii] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#e=52&ind=recession&r=60

[xiii] http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/13/politics/antonin-scalia-supreme-court-replacement/

[xiv] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/12/retail-sales-rose-more-than-expected-in-january.html

[xv] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/12/consumer-sentiment-dips-in-february.html

[xvi] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/14/china-releases-trade-data-for-january-yuan-denominated-and-us-dollar-imports-and-exports.html

Is This What Full Employment Looks Like? – Weekly Update for February 8, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/mapichai

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/mapichai

Markets dropped last week on mixed economic data and a big selloff in the tech sector amid weak earnings. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 3.10%, the Dow fell 1.59%, and the NASDAQ dropped 5.44%.[i]

In this week’s update, we wanted to dig deeper into a major economic indicator that drives market analysis and activity: the monthly jobs report. On Friday, investors got a look at January’s jobs report, which showed that the economy gained 151,000 jobs last month.[ii] The gains pushed the headline unemployment rate down to 4.9%, the lowest it has been since February 2008.[iii]

At 4.9% unemployment, the economy is now in the range of what economists call “full employment,” defined as a point at which the economy no longer faces demand-related job scarcity. At full employment, most (not all) job seekers can find and keep the jobs they want and employers can find the workers they need.[iv] This point should represent an ideal state for the labor market and a victory for the Federal Reserve.

While progress is great news, is the economy really at full employment?

One problem with “big picture” indicators is that they leave out a lot of detail and don’t capture the full complexity of the economy. The jobs market has been a riddle for some time; though we’ve seen consistent job creation since 2010, wage gains have been weak and the quality of jobs created is worse than that of previous post-recession periods.[v]

The jobs created after the 2001 recession were well-distributed among lower- and higher-wage industries; in contrast, the recent job recovery has been largely driven by lower-wage industries.[vi] For example, bars, restaurants, and retailers picked up 105,000 new workers last month, while white-collar jobs grew by just 9,000, the smallest gain in over two years.[vii] Another problem is that we have about 6 million people who want jobs and haven’t found them. Another 6 million are working part-time for economic reasons.[viii] Details like these matter to Americans and help explain some of the anxieties that remain about the labor market recovery.

Now – that’s not to say that the labor market hasn’t made significant progress over the last year. Wages increased by 2.5% over the last 12 months, which is consistent with growing demand for workers. Unemployment is down across the board, and job gains continue.

Bottom line: The January jobs report was basically positive, but we’re not ready to believe that the labor market is completely recovered. Though it’s clear structural issues remain, the data also doesn’t indicate that a recession is on the horizon.

This week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before Congress will be the highlight of the economic calendar. Analysts are expecting the House and Senate to grill her over the December rate hike and the Fed’s plans for further interest rate increases this year. Realistically, it’s not likely that Yellen will reveal much beyond the Fed’s intention to carefully weigh data, but it promises to be an interesting Q&A.[ix]

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

 

Tuesday: JOLTS

Wednesday: Janet Yellen Speaks 10:00 AM ET, EIA Petroleum Status Report, Treasury Budget

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Janet Yellen Speaks 10:00 AM ET

Friday: Retail Sales, Import and Export Prices, Business Inventories, Consumer Sentiment

02082016


HEADLINES:

Cold weather freezes motor vehicle sales. U.S. automakers posted modest sales numbers in January as winter weather kept car shoppers out of car lots. However, underlying trends are still positive, indicating that Americans are still spending on big-ticket items.[x]

Consumer spending fell flat in December, but savings increase. Spending by U.S. consumers remained unchanged in December. However, a three-year high in savings growth could spell higher spending in the months to come.[xi]

Construction spending rises slightly. Spending on new construction barely rose in December, though it increased significantly in 2015 – growing 10.5% versus 9.6% in 2014.[xii]

Global factory activity muted. Weak global demand is still affecting factory activity around the world as manufacturers struggle to find orders.[xiii]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=01&b=1&c=2016&d=01&e=5&f=2016&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=1&c=2016&d=01&e=5&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=01&b=1&c=2016&d=01&e=5&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[iii] http://fortune.com/2016/02/05/full-employment/

[iv] http://www.marketplace.org/2016/02/05/economy/strong-jobs-report-still-has-some-idle

[v] https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PAYEMS

http://www.marketplace.org/2016/02/05/economy/strong-jobs-report-still-has-some-idle

[vi] http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/2015/03/Low-Wage-Recovery-Industry-Employment-Wages-2014-Report.pdf

[vii] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-four-reasons-the-january-jobs-report-is-fishy-2016-02-05

[viii] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t08.htm

[ix] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/05/week-ahead-yellens-congressional-testimony-should-be-lively.html

[x] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/02/fiat-chryslers-january-sales-rise-7.html

[xi] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/01/us-personal-income-dec-2015.html

[xii] http://www.reuters.com/article/usa-economy-construction-idUSL2N15D2C4

[xiii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/02/01/global-factories-parched-for-demand.html

Hixon Zuercher January 2016 Monthly Video Update

Stocks Drive Higher Amid Uncertainty – Weekly Update for February 1, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Pansa

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Pansa

Stocks experienced another volatile week with high daily swings in value. Despite the lingering uncertainty, stocks ended the week higher on the back of better-than-expected earnings reports and higher oil prices. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 1.75%, the Dow grew 2.32%, and the NASDAQ added 0.50%.[i]

Fourth-quarter earnings season is in full swing and will continue to play a role in stock performance in future weeks. With reports in from 201 S&P 500 members, overall earnings are down 3.2% on 3.6% lower revenues from Q4 2014. The overall picture so far is one of growth challenges from a slowing global economy, a strong U.S. dollar, and weak commodity prices. However, despite the challenges, 72.5% of firms have been able to beat their earning targets, indicating that managers are doing a good job of managing expectations.[ii] On the other hand, reports show that the headwinds that dogged earnings last year will affect performance in 2016 as well.

We also got our first look at fourth-quarter economic growth, which showed that the economy grew at a lukewarm 0.7% pace in the final months of 2015. Low consumer spending weighed on growth, suggesting that Americans are pocketing gasoline savings instead of spending them.[iii] We certainly can’t fault folks for financially prudent behavior, but consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic activity. While we can attribute some of the slow economic growth to seasonal factors like an unusually warm winter, analysts will be closely watching data releases in the weeks ahead for signs of deeper weakness.

After meeting for the first time in 2016, the Federal Reserve declined to raise interest rates last week but gave no indication that it intends to abandon rate hikes later this year. Predictably, talking heads exploded on all sides. Some believe that the Fed made a mistake by not raising rates and giving markets more confidence in the economy. Others believe that the Fed is being appropriately cautious given the market turmoil and concerns about economic growth. What’s clear is that the Fed is telling investors: “We’re aware of the uncertainty and we’re keeping an eye on many indicators.”[iv]

Bottom line: In our view, market volatility will remain with us for the foreseeable future. While investors appear to be cheerful about earnings that are consistently beating expectations, sentiment could turn on a dime.  We’re keeping an eye on fundamentals and are suggesting prudent changes where we deem necessary.

Looking ahead, we expect attention to remain on earnings releases as well as a raft of economic reports that could show whether the economy is slowing or not. Traders will be especially interested in seeing if Friday’s January jobs report shows sustained strength in the labor market.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

 

Monday: Personal Income and Outlays, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg. Index, Construction Spending

Tuesday: Motor Vehicle Sales

Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, ISM Non-Mfg. Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Productivity and Costs, Factory Orders

Friday: Employment Situation, International Trade

2016-02-01


HEADLINES:

Consumer confidence edges up. A measure of consumer optimism about the economy improved slightly in January, indicating that Americans are (so far) brushing off concerns about financial markets.[v]

Durable goods orders slump. New orders for long-lasting factory goods plummeted 5.1% in December, showing that the manufacturing sector slowed considerably last quarter.[vi]

Weekly jobless claims fall. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply after reaching a six-month high two weeks ago, suggesting that labor market growth remains strong.[vii]

China set growth target for 2016. For the first time, Chinese leaders set economic growth targets of 6.5-7.0% for this year as they attempt to support a transition to a more modest pace of growth.[viii]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=25&c=2016&d=00&e=29&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EGSPC%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=25&c=2016&d=00&e=29&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=25&c=2016&d=00&e=29&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.zacks.com/commentary/69841/q4-earnings-season-all-around-growth-challenges

[iii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/29/weak-4q-gdp-temporary-dip-or-is-u-s-recession-bound.html

[iv] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/27/the-fed-holds-rates-unchanged.html

[v] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/26/consumer-confidence-edges-up-in-january.html

[vi] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/28/market-reacts-to-sharp-decline-in-durable-goods-orders.html

[vii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/28/weekly-jobless-claims-fall-by-16000.html

[viii] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/29/china-set-to-adopt-65-7-percent-growth-target-range-for-2016-sources.html

Stocks End Choppy Week Higher – Weekly Update for January 25, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/steafpong

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/steafpong

After a volatile week, markets regained some steam, helped by a recovery in oil prices and some upbeat earnings reports. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 1.41%, the Dow grew 0.66%, and the NASDAQ added 2.29%.[i]

Though the headwinds that roiled markets since the beginning of the year remain, investors found their footing last week and closed out a positive week for the first time in 2016. What caused the uptick in investor sentiment?

Oil prices rebounded to settle at their highest close since the first week of January. While oil is likely to remain volatile, a rally helped investors settle their nerves.[ii] Markets also got some help from the European Central Bank, which hinted at further stimulus measures to boost the European economy.[iii]

We’re also in the early stages of U.S. earnings season, which is stealing attention away from China and oil prices. So far, with 73 members of the S&P 500 reporting in, earnings are already up 1.4% on 0.8% higher revenues. While those aren’t stellar results, 71.2% of reporting firms beat earnings estimates, suggesting that corporate leaders set expectations low enough to be able to beat them amid challenging conditions.[iv]

However, the overall fourth-quarter earnings picture is likely to be less rosy. U.S. companies are struggling to achieve growth goals in a shaky global business environment, and analysts expect overall Q4 earnings to come in below Q4 2014 levels.[v] What do these challenges spell for investors? Volatility. While we can’t predict the future, we think that the first few months of 2016 are likely to be rocky for equities.

Looking ahead, the Federal Reserve’s January meeting will take center stage this week, though economists expect them to hold pat on interest rates. Though it’s possible that Fed economists may vote to raise rates further, a raft of weak data and ongoing concerns about global growth are likely to trigger a wait-and-see approach.

The first look at Q4 economic growth will be released on Friday, and it’s likely to show weak growth in the last three months of the year.[vi] Earnings season will also continue, and investors will be looking forward to reports from heavy-hitters like Apple [AAPL], Facebook [FB], and Ford [F].[vii]

Will stocks be able to hold the gains and move out of the pullback? We’ll see. The news has been negative for several weeks, and it’s possible that investors are poised to jump on any positive surprises.

 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: Dallas Fed Mfg. Survey

Tuesday: S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence

Wednesday: New Home Sales, EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Meeting Announcement

Thursday: Durable Goods Orders, Jobless Claims, Pending Home Sales Index

Friday: GDP, International Trade in Goods, Employment Cost Index, Chicago PMI, Consumer Sentiment

01-25


HEADLINES:

Housing starts drop in December. Groundbreaking on new houses fell 2.5% last month and permits fell 3.9%, adding to concerns about economic growth in the fourth quarter.[viii]

Existing home sales surge. Home resales skyrocketed in December by a record 14.7%, boosted by warmer weather and a stronger labor market that is supporting household formation.[ix]

Consumer prices fall in December. A measure of inflation fell last month as lower gasoline prices weighed on energy costs. Tepid inflation could delay further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.[x]

Winter storm Jonas slams East Coast. A blizzard covered large swathes of the East Coast in historic levels of snow. The economic disruption of short-lived storms are usually minor, and Jonas may be a win for grocery stores, though it could be a loss for hourly workers.[xi]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=00&b=18&c=2016&d=00&e=22&f=2016&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=18&c=2016&d=00&e=22&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=18&c=2016&d=00&e=22&f=2016&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/22/us-markets.html

[iii] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35373365

[iv] http://www.zacks.com/commentary/69041/q4-earnings-season-spotlights-growth-challenges

[v] http://www.zacks.com/commentary/69041/q4-earnings-season-spotlights-growth-challenges

[vi] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-21/fed-meeting-u-s-gdp-home-data-tennis-week-ahead-jan-23-30

[vii] http://www.zacks.com/commentary/69041/q4-earnings-season-spotlights-growth-challenges

[viii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/20/u-s-housing-starts-permits-fall-in-december.html

[ix] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/22/existing-home-sales-surge-record-14-7.html

[x] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/20/december-consumer-prices-fall-slightly.html

[xi] http://www.forbes.com/sites/samanthasharf/2016/01/22/economics-of-a-blizzard-winter-storm-jonas-is-a-win-for-whole-foods-but-a-loss-for-hourly-workers/#63366ed5384a

Stocks End Rocky Week Down – Weekly Update for January 19, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Vlado

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Vlado

Stocks closed down again Friday ahead of the long holiday weekend after disappointing earnings, more China worries, and plunging oil prices added to fears about slowing global growth. For the week, the S&P 500 dropped 2.17%, the Dow fell 2.19%, and the NASDAQ lost 3.34%.[i]

It’s certainly been a rough start to the year with multiple weeks of losses and several indexes pushing into 10%+ correction territory. During some market declines, a single culprit is responsible and attention can quickly shift to other issues. In this pullback, multiple factors are contributing to weakness:

Persistent lows in oil prices due to the combination of a supply glut and slowing global demand for oil. After plummeting for more than a year, oil prices have now hit 12-year lows below $30/barrel.[ii] Cheap oil is a boon to consumers who pay less at the pump, but it hits oil producers and ancillary sectors hard.

A Chinese economy in transition from a manufacturing and export-led high-growth period to a more stable, mature model based on services and domestic consumption.[iii] We’ve never seen a hybrid economy quite like it – halfway between Communism and Capitalism – undergo such a shift. The issues at stake are serious: Can Chinese leaders usher in a new period of growth without sending the economy into recession? Can China’s immature financial sector keep up? Answers will come eventually, but we can expect a lot of uncertainty along the way.

We should also keep in mind that markets have enjoyed multiple years of fairly reasonable volatility. Since volatility events tend to occur in clusters, it’s not so surprising that we’re seeing back-to-back events in financial markets.[iv]

Have stocks hit bottom? We can’t know for sure. This week, we’ll probably see more poor data out of China that could continue to rattle markets.[v] However, it’s possible that earnings season may help turn the tide. While Q4 profits are expected to be down on lower revenues, the bar may already be set so low that earnings surprises could give stocks a boost.[vi] When negativity is already baked into stock prices, even small surprises can shift investor sentiment.

Bottom line: Market corrections happen. They can be stressful and can test your resolve as an investor, but they are normal and healthy. We don’t know how long this correction will last or how low markets will go, but we are continually monitoring markets and will suggest prudent changes to investing strategies as necessary. If you have questions or concerns about your portfolio, please reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you.

 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: U.S. Markets Closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Tuesday: Housing Market Index, Treasury International Capital

Wednesday: Consumer Price Index, Housing Starts,

Thursday: Jobless Claims, EIA Petroleum Status Report, Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey

Friday: PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, Existing Home Sales

1-15-16HEADLINES:

Gasoline prices drop below $1 per gallon. Residents in some parts of Michigan officially became the first Americans to buy gas for less than a dollar in over a decade. High oil supplies and low demand may lead to more cheap gas this year.[vii]

Retail sales disappoint. December retail sales slumped unexpectedly as warmer weather cut into sales of winter gear and cheap gasoline weighed on service station business. After a 0.4% rise in November, sales dipped by 0.1% in December.[viii]

Consumer sentiment ticks upward. Despite stock market pullbacks and global worries, Americans’ view of the economy and their financial prospects improved slightly in January. Hopefully, that optimism will translate into more spending this quarter.[ix]

Business inventories fall. U.S. businesses sold through their stockpiles rather than replenishing as sales slipped. The decline in inventories could weigh on economic growth in the fourth quarter.[x]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=00&b=8&c=2015&d=00&e=15&f=2015&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=8&c=2015&d=00&e=15&f=2015&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=00&b=8&c=2015&d=00&e=15&f=2015&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/17/stock-futures-fall-anew-suggesting-more-weakness-in-major-markets.html

[iii] http://blog-imfdirect.imf.org/2015/10/05/managing-chinas-economic-transition/

[iv] http://www.proba.jussieu.fr/pageperso/ramacont/papers/clustering.pdf

[v] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/18/china-gdp-the-elephant-in-the-market.html

[vi] http://www.zacks.com/commentary/68003/weak-earnings-backdrop-for-stocks

[vii] http://abc7.com/news/price-for-gas-hit-47-cents-in-michigan-/1163995/

[viii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/15/u-s-retail-sales-end-2015-with-whimper.html

[ix] http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/01/15/consumer-sentiment-ticks-slightly-higher-in-january.html

[x] http://www.myfoxboston.com/news/us-business-stockpiles-and-sales-fall-in-november/21455657

Special Update: 2015 in Review – Weekly Update for January 4, 2016

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/sscreations

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/sscreations

Now that 2015 is in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a look at some of the factors that influenced markets last year. Though markets closed essentially flat, it’s important to realize what a small miracle that is given the many challenges that markets faced in 2015. For the year, the S&P 500 lost 0.73%, the Dow lost 2.23%, and the NASDAQ gained 5.73%.[i]

market events

Let’s review some of the major events of last year:

The Federal Reserve Raised Interest Rates

After months of anticipation, the Fed finally pulled the trigger and raised interest rates in mid-December for the first time since 2006.[ii] After years of near-zero rates to stimulate business spending and economic activity, the Fed is finally confident enough to raise rates to keep prices from rising too fast.

How will the Fed’s move affect bond yields? Short-term rates will likely start inching up, which we will hopefully see reflected in higher bond and CD rates, but long-term bonds are much harder to predict. Overall, bond yields should head higher if the Fed continues its stable, predictable process of raising rates.

Oil Plummeted to Historic Lows

2015 was another volatile year for oil prices and continued weakness highlighted concerns about global growth. At the end of December, Brent Crude closed at $37.08, down nearly 70% from a high of $115.19 in mid-June 2014.[iii] Weak global demand and high supply volume battered oil prices, even as the total number of oil rigs fell.

Cheap oil is a mixed bag for the market.  On the one hand, it’s a win for consumers who benefit from low gasoline prices and cheaper goods; on the other hand, oil-producing countries, energy companies, and ancillary industries have been hard hit by prolonged lows in oil prices. Weak demand for oil is also seen as another sign of the global economic slowdown.

Global Jitters Contributed to Volatility & Pullbacks

As the U.S. continued to improve economically in 2015, markets were dogged by the realization that much of the rest of the world isn’t faring so well. It has become very clear that Europe, China, and many emerging markets are struggling with protracted economic weakness.

Emerging market economies like Brazil, Turkey, and South Africa benefited from years of low interest rates, during which investors flooded their markets looking for higher returns. Now that the easy money party is ending, these investors are pulling their money out. Emerging market countries are dealing with the one-two punch of higher interest rates (increasing their borrowing) and debts that are denominated in a strengthening dollar, making it harder to pay back existing loans.[iv]

These global worries came to a head in August when the Chinese central bank shocked the world by devaluing the yuan.[v] By making the Chinese currency cheaper against other currencies, central bankers hope to boost demand for Chinese goods. The move was widely viewed as an admission that the world’s second-largest economy is in trouble, and markets reacted by plummeting. Between August 10th and August 25th, the S&P 500 dropped over 11%, officially entering correction territory.[vi]

crash

However, markets didn’t stay there; investors quickly regained their optimism and bought the dip, sending the S&P 500 up nearly 9.5% by the end of the year.[vii] The lesson? Corrections are normal, healthy parts of the market cycle. While the sky can seem like it’s falling at times, taking a deep breath and looking at underlying fundamentals is key to avoiding emotional reactions.

 

The U.S. Economy Continued to Improve

Though the global economy struggled in 2015, the U.S. economy continued to do well, even after a rocky start to 2015. Though economic growth slowed, hampered by global headwinds, the economy turned out respectable second- and third-quarter growth. Though we don’t have fourth-quarter data yet, economists project that the economy grew 2.2% in the final three months of the year.[viii]

The labor market also continued to make progress last year. Overall, the economy is projected to have gained 2.5 million new jobs in 2015 and trimmed the unemployment rate to 5.0%. After 2014’s 3.1 million new jobs, we can say that 2015 ends the best two-year period for the labor market since the dot-com boom days of 1998-1999. Though wage growth still isn’t spectacular, hourly earnings increased 2.3% over the year. [ix]

Comparing the jobs growth to the previous year’s total might suggest that the labor market growth slowed down in 2015. However, the rate of voluntary “quits” increased in 2015, indicating that people feel comfortable enough in their prospects to leave their jobs for greener pastures.[x] All told, the labor market did a lot to boost the economy last year.

Headwinds and Tailwinds in 2016

While we have been largely optimistic about markets in past years, we’re shifting to a more guarded stance for 2016. Many of the headwinds that dragged on market performance last year are still with us; while the “plow horse” U.S. economy is projected to grow moderately this year, global challenges remain.[xi]

Overall, Wall Street is also cautious about stocks in 2016. A poll of top Wall Street analysts forecasted an average S&P 500 gain of 6.28% growth in 2016.[xii] As always, it’s best to treat these predictions with caution as projections this early in the year are always nebulous. What we can do right now is take a look at fundamentals and think about how these factors might play out in market performance.

In the coming weeks, investors will be looking hard at fourth-quarter numbers to see how U.S. companies performed in the final months of the year. In the week ahead we’ll see the December jobs report and learn more about the Fed’s decision-making process around rates. We’ll also see whether higher interest rates affected demand for vehicle sales and other big-ticket items at the end of the year.[xiii]

As always, if you have any questions about markets or your personal situation, please give us a call. We are honored by the trust you place in us and look forward to serving you in 2016.

 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg. Index, Construction Spending

Tuesday: Motor Vehicle Sales

Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, International Trade, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg. Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Minutes

Thursday: Jobless Claims

Friday: Employment Situation

010416

HEADLINES:

Consumer confidence rebounds in December. A measure of consumer optimism rose at the end of the year, indicating that the improving labor market is giving Americans more confidence in their prospects.[xiv]

Jobless claims jump sharply. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits jumped by 20,000, likely because of seasonal holiday factors.[xv]

Midwestern manufacturing slips. A measure of the manufacturing industry in the Midwest indicates that December activity fell to the lowest level since mid-2009. While seasonal factors could affect the data, it could indicate sustained weakness in the factory-heavy region.[xvi]

Puerto Rico makes bond payments. The U.S. territory, which has been struggling to make debt payments, will make full bond payments on its General Obligation (GO) bonds in January.[xvii]

[i] http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=%5EGSPC&a=11&b=28&c=2015&d=11&e=31&f=2015&g=d

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=11&b=28&c=2015&d=11&e=31&f=2015&g=d&s=%5EDJI%2C+&ql=1

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?a=11&b=28&c=2015&d=11&e=31&f=2015&g=d&s=%5EIXIC%2C+&ql=1

[ii] http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/16/fed-raises-rates-for-first-time-since-2006.html

[iii] https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/DCOILBRENTEU#

[iv] http://www.ibtimes.com/us-fed-rate-hike-worried-investors-emerging-markets-prepare-impending-turmoil-2227581

[v] http://fortune.com/2015/08/19/what-chinas-currency-devaluation-means-for-the-worlds-trade-deals/

[vi] Source: Yahoo Finance. S&P 500 price performance between 8/10/15 and 8/25/15.

[vii] Source: Yahoo Finance. S&P 500 price performance between 8/25/15 and 12/31/15.

[viii] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#ind=gdp&r=20

[ix] https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PAYEMS#

http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/ceshighlights.pdf

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/december-jobs-report-could-cap-best-2-years-since-1998-1999-2016-01-01

[x] https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/JTSQUR

[xi] http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#ind=gdp&r=20

[xii] http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wall-streets-forecast-for-2016-worse-than-last-year-2015-12-28

Average S&P 500 return calculation: 2,063.36 12/31/15 close to 2,193 average 2016 price target

[xiii] http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2015/12/29/week-ahead-december-jobs-report-auto-sales/?intcmp=bigtopmarketfeatures

[xiv] http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2015/12/29/consumer-confidence-rebounds-more-than-expected-in-december/

[xv] http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2015/12/31/weekly-jobless-claims/

[xvi] http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2015/12/31/midwest-manufacturing-slips-deeper-into-contraction/

[xvii] http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2016/01/01/puerto-rico-begins-to-make-payments-on-debt-due-in-early-january/