Weekly Market Commentary

Weekly Market Commentary

Last week, major United States stock indices finished at historic highs.

According to a source cited by Barron’s, U.S. stock markets are responsible for creating $6 trillion in paper wealth this year. ‘Paper’ wealth is when an asset is estimated to be worth a specific amount. The wealth becomes ‘real’ when the asset is sold.

If you’re having difficulty comprehending $6 trillion, imagine this: 3,786 miles of stacked $100 bills. That’s about 15 times higher than the space station. It’s roughly the distance of a drive from the East Coast to the West Coast of the United States and about halfway back again.

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

They did it.

The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates last week, as expected. There were no enthusiastic fans singing the Baby Shark song, but the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision was well received.

Reuters reported, “Gaps between market expectations and the Fed’s own outlook have been wide at times this year, a source of concern for policymakers who don’t want to kowtow to markets, but also don’t want to surprise or disrupt them. But, the two are now roughly in line with the idea that the Fed is on hold and the economy continuing to chug along, a fact highlighted by data showing 128,000 jobs were created in October…”

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

Last week was like an overstuffed suitcase that busts open on the baggage carousel. A lot was unpacked in a surprising and disorderly fashion.

There was some positive news for investors who prioritize fundamentals. Third quarter’s earnings season – the period of time when companies let investors know how they performed during the previous quarter – got off to a strong start.

Fifteen percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have reported so far and 84 percent had earnings that beat analysts’ expectations. FactSet said better than expected earnings from companies in the Healthcare and Financials sectors balanced the weaker performance of companies in the Energy sector.

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

From trade wars to impeachment inquiries, investors had a lot to ponder during the third quarter. Toward the end of September, they appeared to become more cautious, although it’s difficult to say which issues weighed most heavily. Here are a few questions they may have been asking:

Is recession looming closer?

While there are signs of slower economic growth – including last week’s weakening economic data – the chance of the economy moving into a recession during the next 12 months remained relatively low, according to the New York Federal Reserve. It put the probability of recession by August 2020 at 38 percent. In other words, the likelihood there would not be a recession was 62 percent.

“We would recommend a little less focus on the ‘recession on/off’ debate and position on a slowdown thesis,” suggested a research director cited by Barron’s.

Weekly Market Commentary

They say bull markets climb a wall of worry.

Investopedia’s Will Kenton explained the idea like this:

“…a bull market isn’t a peaceful place. When times are good, investors are constantly tense, wondering how long they will keep rolling, fretting about when a seemingly inevitable correction will finally put a stop to the market elation. As a market continues ascending, the decision can become increasingly agonizing whether to take profits in a position or let it ride.”

Last week, the wall of worry gained a few feet.