Last week, rising tension between North Korea and the U.S. rattled the world's markets. As the two countries traded tough words, concerns escalated and markets reacted emotionally to the news. Though stress is building internationally, we remain committed to focusing on the market fundamentals that drive long-term value.
Amidst the pressure last week, volatility returned to markets - and all three major U.S. market indexes turned south. The Dow dropped 1.06%, the S&P 500 fell 1.43%, and the NASDAQ declined 1.50%. Global markets also reacted as the MSCI EAFE lost 1.59% for the week. History shows that markets can fall in the wake of alarming news but do recover, given time.
Though international developments dominated headlines, economic news important to markets and investors continued to roll out. The data reflects a solid economy, but some possible headwinds are on the horizon. Here are the highlights:
- Impressive Corporate Earnings: Q2 corporate earnings reports both domestically and internationally were impressive. Reported corporate earnings in the U.S. increased an average of over 10% for the second quarter in a row - their first time doing so since 2011.
- Low Inflation: The consumer price index, which measures changes to the average price of specific goods and services, rose only 0.1% in July. Expectations for a 0.2% increase failed to materialize as housing and travel costs, wireless services, and auto sales all slumped in July. At 1.7%, year-over-year inflation remains below the Federal Reserve's targeted 2% growth rate. Continued low inflation may cause the Fed to rethink its plans to raise interest rates.
- Rising Demand for Labor: Labor markets continue to be a key economic driver as evidenced by sharply rising job openings. June's job openings jumped to 6.2 million from 5.7 million in May. Year-over-year, job openings climbed an impressive 11.3%. Moreover, jobless claims remain at historic lows.
- High U.S. Household Debt: The current outstanding consumer debt of $12.7 trillion is now higher than the previous record reached in 2008. This debt load could wind up being a drag on consumer spending and the economy as a whole.
What Is Ahead
Tense geopolitical headlines may continue, but there will be plenty of market news, too. Retail, manufacturing, and housing data will come out this week, and Friday's August consumer sentiment numbers will be of interest. Though the markets may move with emotions, economic fundamentals should continue to be the base for long-term value.
No matter what questions you may have, we always welcome you to reach out and contact us. We are here to help.
Quote of the Week
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
Golf Tip of the Week
Improve Control in Fairway Sand
Fairway bunkers intimidate many golfers. Fortunately, a few simple tweaks to your set-up can give you confidence and control to hit the ball out of the sand with a smooth swing. Here are some tips to help you improve your control in these challenging situations.
- Step 1 - Select the right club: Your goal is to hit the ball before you make contact with the sand. A key to doing this is choosing a club longer than what you typically use. You still need to ensure the club can get the ball out of the bunker.
- Step 2 - Open the clubface: You don't want to dig into the sand, so make sure you open your clubface. Keeping it open will add loft to your shot. Gripping your club lightly to free your swing also will help avoid tension.
- Step 3 - Stay centered on the ball: Make sure you center the ball so it's in line with your hands and club shaft, and never ground your club. In your backswing, stay centered by making a full shoulder turn while minimizing movement in your lower body. This focus will keep you from laterally moving away from your target while not hurrying the through swing.
Tip courtesy of GolfDigest
Financial Question of the Week
What is diversification and why is it important?
If you invest in a single security, your return will depend solely on that security; if that security flops, your entire return will be severely affected. Clearly, held by itself, the single security is highly risky.
If you add nine other unrelated securities to that single security portfolio, the possible outcome changes - if that security flops, your entire return won't be as badly hurt. By diversifying the investments in your personal financial plan, you have substantially reduced the risk of the single security. However, that security's return will be the same whether held in isolation or in a portfolio.
Diversification substantially reduces your risk with little impact on potential returns. The key involves investing in categories or securities that are dissimilar: Their returns are affected by different factors and they face different kinds of risks.
Diversification should occur at all levels of investing. Diversification among the major asset categories - stocks, fixed-income and money market investments - can help reduce market risk, inflation risk and liquidity risk, since these categories are affected by different market and economic factors.
Diversification within the major asset categories - for instance, among the various kinds of stocks (international or domestic, for instance) or fixed-income products - can help further reduce market and inflation risk. Diversification among individual securities helps reduce business risk.
Please contact my office if you or someone you know would like help diversifying your portfolio.