The Week on Wall Street
Stocks slipped in the final days of trading last week on higher jobless claims and rising tensions in the U.S.-China relationship.
FACT OF THE WEEK
The completion of the transatlantic cable expedition is an imperative milestone in the history of communication. After the first two failed expeditions, the third expedition attempt successfully placed the cable on the ocean floor on July 27, 1866.
The cable made it possible for North America and Europe to transmit communications in a matter of a few minutes, compared to the average ten days each way for transatlantic ship passage.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.76%, while the S&P 500 dropped by 0.28%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index saw a dip of 1.33% for the week. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed stock markets overseas, rose 1.24%.
Stocks Lose Momentum
Stocks marched higher to begin the week on progress with a COVID-19 vaccine and a string of upbeat corporate quarterly reports. Firming oil prices and the passage of a fiscal stimulus bill by the European Union also helped buoy investors’ spirits.
However, market sentiment turned negative after Thursday morning’s report of an uptick in new unemployment claims, suggesting a possible slowdown in hiring. The market was led lower by the technology sector than earlier reports from some of the sector’s biggest names.
U.S.-China Tensions Escalate
Last week, tensions continued to escalate as the U.S. ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, following White House claims of stolen information. A day earlier, the U.S. accused China of attempting to steal COVID-19 research data. China responded by ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu.
Investors appear to be focused on the apparent deteriorating relations between the two nations, and a potential repeat of the trade battle in 2018 is likely to remain a top concern for investors in the weeks ahead.
The mega-cap technology companies’ market dominance is a concern to some. Last week it was reported that six of these mega-cap stocks represent 41% of the Nasdaq market capitalization. Five mega-cap names included in the S&P 500 Index account for 22% of that index’s market capitalization.
Investors have embraced these firms because they appear to show substantial financial performance amid an economy coping with COVID-19.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
INVESTING FOR IMPACT
Many investors are looking to build a portfolio that reflects their socially responsible values while giving them regular returns. That is where ESG Investing, Impact Investing, and SRI Investing may play a role.
In the past, some investors regarded these investment strategies as too restrictive. But over time, improved evaluative data and competitive returns made these strategies more mainstream. Although the three investing strategies share many similarities, they differ in some fundamental ways. Read on to learn more.
ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Investing
ESG Investing stands for environmental, social, and governance investing. The model assesses investments based on specific criteria, such as ethical business practices, environmental conservation, and local community impact.
The popularity of ESG investing has grown: in the United States alone, there are more than 350 ESG mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Just a decade ago, there were only 100 ESG funds.
Also known as thematic investing, impact investing differs from the other two types of investing. The main goal of impact investing is to secure a desirable outcome regardless of profit. For example, an impact investor may use ESG criteria to find and invest in a company dedicated to developing a cure for cancer no matter the outcome of that investment.
SRI (Socially Responsible Investing)
SRI uses criteria from ESG investing to eliminate or select investments according to ethical guidelines actively. SRI investors may use ESG factors to apply negative or positive screens when choosing how to build their portfolio. For example, an investor may wish to allocate a portion of their portfolio to companies that contribute to charitable causes. According to SRI strategies, current investments exceed $46.5 trillion in the U.S., an increase from the $12 trillion invested in SRIs by the end of 2017.
The biggest takeaway? There are plenty of choices to keep your investments aligned with your personal beliefs. No matter how you choose to structure your portfolio, we encourage you to discuss any potential changes with us before making any adjustments to your investment plan.
As always, please contact my office with any questions or financial concerns you may have.