The Week on Wall Street
Stocks retreated last week on rising COVID-19 infections and slow progress on an economic relief bill. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.57%, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.96%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.69% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, declined 0.05%.
FACT OF THE WEEK
Originally, an underdog was a shipbuilder who stood in a dark pit and helped to saw planks of wood from beneath whilst the "overdog," a supervisor of sorts, sawed the planks from above. The first recorded uses of the term occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century. An “underdog bet” was a bet on the underdog for which the odds were always considerably higher. Established by Peter Moeller in 1976, Underdog Day occurs on the third Friday in December, and is the time to honor all of life’s unrecognized hard-workers.
Stimulus Stalls, Stocks Stumble
The market grappled all week with worries over rising COVID-19 cases and the economic restrictions that followed. Nevertheless, there were moments of optimism — such as the starting of vaccinations in the U.K.— that drove markets to record highs.
But gains could not be sustained as an agreement on a fiscal stimulus bill remained elusive and daily news regarding COVID-19 cases undermined investor sentiment.
Markets were also challenged by having to absorb a number of new and secondary stock offerings last week, including two high-profile technology IPOs. The Energy sector continued its strong run, while small and mid-cap stocks posted another week of positive performance.
A “No-Deal” Brexit More Likely
The prospects of an agreement to manage Britain’s exit from the European Union by year end dimmed as the two parties failed to narrow their differences in a meeting held last week.
Though primarily a European issue, a no-deal Brexit may hold consequences for U.S. businesses and investors. The failure to reach an agreement has the potential to disrupt an already fragile supply chain and cause issues in the financial markets. A supply chain disruption may weaken European economies (e.g., Germany) that are important to American companies. Another consequence may be a stronger U.S. dollar, which would make American exports more expensive and less competitive.
Little time remains in striking an agreement since the prevailing framework ends December 31, 2020.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
The coronavirus pandemic has delivered a punch to many Americans’ wallets. And if you’re self-employed, you may be wondering what it all means for your finances.
Though some aspects of the CARES Act have expired, Congress is negotiating a second stimulus package that will likely contain similar benefits. If you are self-employed, these tips can help you manage your finances and credit wisely as you navigate the economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
Self-employment tax breaks are expanded
The CARES Act provides a couple of tax benefits for the self-employed. First is the option to defer paying the Social Security portion of self-employment tax. Social Security represents 12.4% of self-employment tax; the rest consists of Medicare taxes.
The CARES Act rules would let you put off paying Social Security tax, with half the amount owed due at the end of 2021 and the rest due at the end of 2022. Deferring taxes temporarily could help you keep more money in your pocket if your business has taken a significant hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Consider credit cards carefully
A cash-back business credit card could prove most valuable right now, with so many restrictions on travel. If you have an existing balance on a business credit card, a balance transfer card could help you save significant interest.
What you can do
The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way everyone manages their finances. It can be even more complicated for those who are self-employed. Cutting spending and getting rid of expenses you can do without, either personally or in your business, is an obvious step. When you can’t cut an expense, look for a lower-cost alternative.
As always, please let us know if there is anything we can help with along the way or any financial concerns you may have.