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February 9, 2015 - Prices At Pump Help Drive Savings

| February 09, 2015
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Markets shook off losses last week and ended with strong weekly gains on the back of a positive January jobs report. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 3.03%, the Dow rose 3.84%, and the Nasdaq grew 2.36%.[1]

January's monthly Employment Situation report showed that the economy gained 257,000 new jobs last month. Though the unemployment rate rose to 5.7%, it went up for the right reasons as Americans rejoined the labor force and began searching for jobs again. Best of all, average earnings grew 0.5%; since economists have been worrying about the slow pace of wage growth in the recovery, a jump in earnings is good news for the economy.[2]

Though wages went up, consumer spending in December dropped to its lowest level in five years as Americans cut spending and used extra gas money to boost their savings. Higher incomes, lower prices at the pump, and falling inflation are giving American households a much-needed boost in spending power this year. Though the drop in consumer spending could hit Q4 economic growth numbers, the underlying factors set the stage for a strong 2015 for American consumers.[3]

Stocks lost a little steam on Friday due to growing concern over a standoff between Greece's new anti-austerity government and Eurozone leaders. Greek leaders are seeking to tear up the agreements signed by the previous government in favor of debt forgiveness from the EU. However, the message from EU leaders to Greece is clear: Uphold your financial commitments and stick to the plan.[4]

Though Greek voters are unequivocally tired of painful austerity cuts, Greece still depends on EU money, and its new leaders must tread carefully. Citing concern about how a liquidity crunch would affect Greece's ability to repay debts, Standard and Poor's downgraded Greek sovereign debt from B to B-.[5] What will the outcome of the showdown be? Hard to know at this stage, but the conclusion will likely affect how future negotiations with Spain, France, and Italy play out.

Looking ahead, though the week ahead is light on economic reports, analysts will be closely monitoring the January retail sales report to see how Americans are spending. The Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that comes out Tuesday will also give some more insight into the overall health of the jobs recovery.[6] Positive data could renew focus on the Federal Reserve and a possible interest rate hike this year.


ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Tuesday: JOLTS
Wednesday: EIA Petroleum Status Report, Treasury Budget
Thursday: Jobless Claims, Retail Sales, Business Inventories
Friday: Import and Export Prices, Consumer Sentiment

Notes: All index returns exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. Sources: Yahoo! Finance and Treasury.gov. International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Corporate bond performance is represented by the DJCBP. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

HEADLINES:

Q4 earnings reports show revenue weakness. Though overall earnings are positive, U.S. firms are still struggling with weak demand. Including reports from 274 S&P 500 companies, overall earnings are up an optimistic 6.7% from Q4 2013; however, revenues are up just 0.2%.[7]

U.S. motor vehicle sales catch fire in January. U.S. automakers reported the strongest January car and truck sales in seven years. Ford and GM had strong months, showing that sales increased 15% and 18%, respectively, over last year.[8]

U.S. productivity falls in Q4 2014. Hourly output per worker, a measure of the productivity of the U.S. economy, fell 1.8% in the final three months of 2014. This could mean that employers have eked out every drop of labor from their workers (and may be forced to raise wages).[9]

Brent crude has best gains in 17 years. Oil rallied again and showed the best two-week performance since 1998, gaining 19%. Price volatility was stoked by falling oil production and violence in Libya.[10]


These are the views of Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.


Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.

The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies.

The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.

The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is a 96-bond index designed to represent the market performance, on a total-return basis, of investment-grade bonds issued by leading U.S. companies. Bonds are equally weighted by maturity cell, industry sector, and the overall index.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are the leading measures of U.S. residential real estate prices, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate. The index is made up of measures of real estate prices in 20 cities and weighted to produce the index.

The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

Google Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

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  1. http://goo.gl/qrk64M
  2. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102404264
  3. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/consumer-spending-falls-by-most-in-5-years-2015-02-02
  4. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/07/us-eurozone-greece-leaders-idUSKBN0LB09420150207
  5. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/06/us-s-p-ratings-greece-idUSKBN0LA22320150206
  6. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102405815
  7. http://pdf.zacks.com/pdf/ZR/H4773042.PDF
  8. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/03/us-usa-autos-idUSKBN0L71BN20150203, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-03/fiat-chrysler-rides-jeep-ram-pickups-to-14-january-sales-gain
  9. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102400089
  10. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/06/us-markets-oil-idUSKBN0LA02920150206
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