Market Thoughts April 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, recaps the market and economic news for March. We saw a strong end to a healthy first quarter for stock markets. Both the Dow and S&P 500 here in the U.S. showed gains, while developed markets abroad showed lower but still positive returns. We also had good news on the economic front. Hiring rebounded, layoffs dropped, and consumer confidence rose to post-pandemic highs. But with more work to do to contain the medical risks, when will the economy return to full health? Stay tuned to find out. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, April 1, 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. After several weeks of improvement on the medical front, we’re starting to see modest deterioration as the country reopens. Case counts and positive test rates are back to early March levels, while hospitalizations and death rates have stabilized. While the short-term risks are real, we do have a better outlook for the next two to three months. At that point, between vaccinations and existing exposure, we should be at or close to herd immunity. Turning to the economy, we’ve had some good news. Businesses are hiring again, and the jobs data looks much more positive as we move into the spring, with strong gains expected for March. Quit rates, an excellent indicator of worker confidence, are back to pre-pandemic levels, and consumer confidence saw a strong bounce. So, while the medical risks are still very real, the economy continues to get better. What does this all mean for the markets as we look ahead? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, March 19, 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. The medical situation continues to improve, as the vaccination campaign moves forward. Still, case growth remains above the levels seen between the second and third waves, and positive rates have not improved in weeks. We still have a very real pandemic on our hands. Turning to the economy, state reopenings have helped the job market and spending. Businesses are hiring again, and we saw a strong jobs report for February. The federal stimulus payments are now hitting bank accounts, and all of these positives should keep the economy going—and even accelerate it. As for the markets, this economic improvement is largely what they have been expecting, but now they’re dealing with the problems of success. The prospect of inflation and higher interest rates have rattled markets over the past couple of weeks. Even as the fundamentals of demand and earnings improve, that improvement is calling current valuations into question. So, while the overall trend remains positive, will we see more volatility ahead? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Market Thoughts March 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, recaps the market and economic news for February. Markets climbed last month, although they faced some turbulence on a spike in interest rates. While markets were choppy, the medical news improved. New cases and hospitalizations dropped, and vaccinations more than doubled. On the economic front, unemployment remains high, but companies are hiring again. Plus, stimulus payments hit bank accounts, and consumer confidence is moving up. Could a return to normal be in sight? Stay tuned to find out. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, February 19, 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. On the medical front, we appear to be well past the peak of the third wave, with daily infection rates and hospitalizations down. A more contagious variant of the virus could start another wave of infections, although there are no signs of that happening yet. Turning to the economy, we had more positive developments. States have reopened, which has helped job growth. This better employment picture combined with the federal stimulus payments pushed retail spending up sharply last month, and business confidence has also remained very strong. With all of this good news, the markets have held near all-time highs, and analyst earnings estimates continue to be adjusted upward. So, are we finally nearing the light at the end of the tunnel? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, February 5, 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. On the medical front, new daily infection rates and hospitalizations were down, and we saw improvement in positive testing rates. Although the threat of a more contagious variant of the virus remains, substantial progress on vaccinations should help offset that risk. On the economic front, there are signs that the trends are starting to turn for the better. Layoffs have trended down for three weeks in a row, job growth looks to be improving again, and business confidence improved last month. As the markets take note of these fundamental shifts, will they continue to rise? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Market Thoughts February 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, recaps the market and economic news for January. Most developed markets were down slightly, including the Dow and S&P 500 in the U.S., as well as developed markets abroad. Despite the weak January numbers, markets remain near all-time highs. On the economic front, layoffs were high and retail spending dropped. But with federal stimulus payments, consumer confidence has begun to recover, boosting higher-frequency spending data. So, will the recovery remain resilient? Stay tuned to find out. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, January 22, 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. On the medical front, the holiday infection surges have faded. Case growth remains high, but we saw improvements in positive testing rates, as well as a decline in hospitalizations. Absent a sudden appearance of the more infectious strain of the virus, we are likely to see more progress in the next couple of weeks as vaccine deployment accelerates. Despite the positive medical news, the economic data remains soft. Government shutdowns and changes in consumer behavior hit the economy hard in recent weeks. Job growth went negative for December, and layoffs remain very high. With the job market down, consumer confidence got even softer, and we saw a drop in retail spending. But with more stimulus likely and markets continuing to hit all-time highs, will the economic risks soon be moving behind us? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Market Update

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, January 8, 2021

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. On the medical front, holiday travel effects have kept infection growth at high levels, and positive results also moved to new highs. Still, we should see vaccinations ramp up by the end of the month, and we could approach herd immunity as soon as June. Turning to the economy, job growth looks likely to go negative for December, as shutdowns slowed hiring and increased layoffs. Plus, consumer confidence dropped further, along with retail spending. Overall, the data suggests the pandemic is still acting as a significant drag on the economy. Despite this weaker data, markets have continued to stay near all-time highs and expect better times ahead. Do they have it right? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, December 23, 2020


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Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including what it means for the economy and markets. On the medical front, there were signs the third wave may be cresting, as both new cases and positive tests have ticked down. Further, people are now getting the Pfizer vaccine, and the Moderna vaccine will soon be available. Turning to the economy, the news wasn’t positive. Layoffs continued to rise, and consumer confidence dropped further, along with retail spending. Overall, the data suggests the pandemic is still a significant drag on the economy. In response, Congress has passed another stimulus bill, which should provide economic support until the medical news improves further. Meanwhile, markets continue to expect better times ahead. But do they have it right? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

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