Market Roundup: Week’s Gains Push S&P 500 into Positive Territory Year to Date

The week began with mixed results as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ added marginal gains, while the S&P 500 closed slightly in the red. Investors likely traded with caution in anticipation of comments coming from the Federal Reserve meeting that were due later in the week. Mixed results continued the following day as West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 2.3% to settle at $36.34 a barrel and a variety of economic news was released. U.S. retail sales decreased in February, falling 0.1%, which was in line with estimates. Sales for January were downwardly revised to a 0.4% retreat. Stocks were up midweek on comments from the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting. Policymakers held interest rates unchanged and now anticipate two rate hikes this year versus December’s forecast of as many as four. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude tacked on 4%, providing a boost to Energy sector stocks. The Consumer Price Index dipped 0.2%; however, the core measure, which discounts food and energy, ticked up 0.3%. Thursday saw Energy stocks increase as crude oil touched $40.20 a barrel. The rally continued on Friday, spurred by a variety of economic news. In a preliminary measure, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index fell 1.7 points in March to a reading of 90, which was shy of the consensus forecast for a slight uptick. The rally from Wednesday to Friday was able to push the S&P 500 into positive territory year to date.

Money Talks – March 12, 2016

This week on “Money Talks,” Associate Jarrett McKenzie, CFP®, CWS®, joins hosts Matt Hames, CTFA, and Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, to discuss February’s employment situation, International trade, wholesale trade and interest rates and regulation in the banking industry. The hosts delve into a case study about accessing retirement accounts before age 59 ½ using substantially equal periodic payments, which will allow an investor to avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Our experts also answer listeners’ questions on mutual funds Sound Shore Fund, SSHVX, and Boston Partners All Cap Value Fund,  BPAIX, drug makers Bayer AG and Merck, and whether or not using a home equity loan to pay off student loans is a good idea. 

Market Roundup: Positive Returns Despite Continued Worries about Oil Production

The week began with both the S&P 500 and the Dow increasing for a fifth session in a row, marking their longest winning streaks since October. A rebound in commodities prices helped stoke the recent rally. Oil prices have risen steadily since Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Qatar agreed last month to freeze their output at January levels. Additionally, Friday’s strong U.S. jobs report calmed concerns, helping interest rates edge higher. The next day, the five-day winning streak was snapped as supply woes weighed on oil prices and worries about a prolonged slowdown in China resurfaced. Crude-oil tumbled, leading the market to resume its doubts over the potential for an output freeze. Gains in utilities and consumer-staples stocks imply that investors remain cautious in the wake of the recent rally. Stocks ticked higher Wednesday, led by a rise in energy shares after government data showed inventories of gasoline and other fuels fell, reflecting strong demand. In a pleasant surprise, wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in January, the first increase after three months of declines. Analysts expect Fed officials will likely to keep short-term interest rates unchanged at their March meeting, but leave open the possibility of rate rises in April and June. The European Central Bank cut interest rates in the Eurozone to zero, expanding its money printing program as it seeks to revive the region’s economy and fend off deflation. Indices closed the week well into the green zone on Friday. Energy stocks traded up on a jump in crude oil.

Money Talks – March 5, 2016

This week on “Money Talks,” Principal Jennifer Thomas, CFP®, joins hosts Matt Hames, CTFA, and Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, to discuss the week’s many economic releases including GDP, Consumer Sentiment and the ISM Manufacturing and Services indices. They also take a look at a case study involving making the most out of a pension plan benefit, and when it makes sense to consider a lump sum benefit over annuity payments. The experts also tackle listeners’ questions on several Vanguard funds, toy maker Jakks Pacific, and convenience stores CST Brands, Inc. and Travel Centers of America.