THE WEEK ON WALL STREET
A late-week, two-day rally left stocks higher, adding to November’s gains as the last month of trading for 2023 began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat (+0.01%), while the S&P 500 gained 0.21%. The Nasdaq Composite index advanced 0.69% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 0.37%.
FACT OF THE WEEK
Two years after it was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Mona Lisa is recovered inside Italian waiter Vincenzo Peruggia’s hotel room in Florence. Peruggia had previously worked at the Louvre and had participated in the heist with a group of accomplices dressed as Louvre janitors on the morning of August 21, 1911.
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the great Italian Renaissance painters, completed The Mona Lisa, a portrait of the wife of wealthy Florentine citizen Francesco del Gioconda, in 1504. The painting, also known as La Gioconda, depicts the figure of a woman with an enigmatic facial expression that is both aloof and alluring, seated before a visionary landscape.
After the recovery of The Mona Lisa, Peruggia was convicted in Italy of the robbery and spent just 14 months in jail. The Mona Lisa was eventually returned to the Louvre, where it remains today, exhibited behind bulletproof glass. It is arguably the most famous painting in the world and is seen by millions of visitors every year.
Stocks Extend Gains
The relationship between the bond and stock markets–which pushed stocks higher in November (i.e., falling bond yields, rising stock prices)–disappeared last week, with stocks falling in the first three days of the week despite declining yields. Yields dropped following a weak job openings report, the ADP employment update, and a substantial productivity revision. On Thursday, investor enthusiasm returned with force on Artificial Intelligence (AI) related news. One AI chip manufacturer announced a new AI chip, followed by a mega-cap tech company unveiling an enhanced version of its AI model for business use. Stocks continued their climb on Friday despite rising yields, as investors viewed a stronger-than-expected employment report as increasing the potential for a soft landing.
Higher productivity may be the most effective and preferred way to reduce inflation. Last week’s revised third-quarter productivity report saw an upward revision of the annualized productivity growth from the initial report of 4.7% to 5.2%; this was welcome news on the inflation front and an encouraging development for future corporate profits. The 5.2% jump in productivity represented the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2020. The report also showed unit labor costs falling at a 1.2% annualized pace, reflecting a cooling of wage-growth inflationary pressures. Productivity has increased for two straight quarters, potentially allowing the Fed to ease its restrictive monetary policy.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes, and with the distraction of the holidays, it’s easy to fall victim to identity theft scams. Here are some tips to help keep your information and accounts safe from fraudsters:
- Exercise caution when shopping online by making purchases from legitimate sellers. If a deal is too good to be true, it’s likely to be a scam.
- Review your financial accounts regularly to make sure you don’t have any charges you didn’t make. Turn on fraud alerts for your bank and credit accounts so you’ll know about any unusual activity immediately.
- When reviewing your financial accounts or shopping online, avoid using public Wi-Fi, which is likely to be unsecure.
- Don’t reuse your passwords across your online accounts. To help you store your passwords safely, consider using a password manager app.
- Make sure your charitable donations are going to a reputable organization. CharityNavigator.org is a great resource to verify an organization before submitting a donation.
Navigating the financial landscape can sometimes feel like a journey into the unknown. If you need more information about these tips or how they play a part in your overall financial plan, give us a call – we’d be happy to help. If you’ve been considering making changes to your financial plan or have questions about your current strategy, let’s schedule a meeting.