Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, September 18, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. This week, we had some mixed news on the medical front. Although the pandemic remains under control, case counts have started to rise again, as post-Labor Day infections begin to register and as schools and universities reopen. Still, case growth remains well below July and August levels, and the positive test rate has continued to decline and is now around the recommended 5 percent level. Turning to the economy, the recovery continues, but it looks likely to slow. Improvement in the jobs market remains a relative bright spot, although job growth is slowing even as layoffs remain high. Consumer confidence also remains at low levels, and consumer spending has ticked back down again. So, have markets readjusted their expectations as the risks have moved back into focus? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, September 4, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. We had good news on the medical front, as the pandemic remains under control. Case growth is down, and the case growth rate remains well below the lows seen in mid-June. Still, testing continues to be an area of weakness, and the possibility that school reopenings will lead to more infections is a concern. Turning to the economy, we’ve seen improvements in the data. Layoffs dropped back down, and unemployed people moved back to work at a faster rate. Plus, consumer confidence showed signs of bottoming after some recent weakness, even as consumer spending ticked back up to a post-pandemic high. Despite worries about the effects of the second wave and the expiration of federal income support programs, the economy remains on track. The markets have certainly responded to this good news, hitting new highs before the recent turbulence. But what can we expect ahead? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, August 28, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the effects on the economy and markets. On the pandemic front, we’ve had some good news. Case growth is down significantly, and the case growth rate is below the lows seen in mid-June. Further, outbreaks in most states have been contained, although there are emerging worries in the Midwest. Testing does remain a weak spot, as the number of tests has trended down and the positive rate remains well above what it should be. Nonetheless, the big picture is that, for the moment, the pandemic is under control. Turning to the economy, the data continues to be somewhat softer. Improvement in the jobs market remains a relative bright spot, and layoffs have remained much lower than earlier in the pandemic. Still, there are signs of weakness. Consumer confidence has ticked down again, apparently due to worries about the expiration of federal income support programs. This metric is definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward. Despite those concerns, the stock market has been moving steadily upward and is now at new highs. Does this rise make sense in the current environment? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, July 31, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. On the pandemic front, we had some good news this week. At the state level, case growth in most of the worst affected states appeared to have peaked. Nationally, the number of new cases was about 70,000 (almost the same as last week), and the daily spread rate improved from just under 2 percent to 1.5 percent per day. Overall, the national risks remain under control, and the possibility of another national shutdown is very unlikely. Turning to the economy, the data continued to be softer. Layoffs stopped declining, and unemployment claims rose. Further, there are signs that consumer confidence has pulled back. Still, much of the data remains better than in recent weeks, with business confidence and investment beating expectations. So, how have the markets reacted to this mixed bag of medical and economic news? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, July 24, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, discusses the coronavirus, including its implications for the economy and markets. On the pandemic front, this week was much the same as last week. Nationally, the number of new cases per day held at just above 70,000, and the daily spread rate has been below 2 percent per day for the past five days. These numbers are still too high, but they’re not getting worse. This is good news, as stabilization represents real progress. While the medical news has shown slow improvement, the economic data has softened slightly. Layoffs have stopped declining, and there are signs that consumer confidence may be pulling back. These two factors explain a recent drop in consumer spending growth. So, how have the markets responded to these signs of a slowdown, and is the recovery still on track? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

2020 Midyear Outlook

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, gives his 2020 midyear outlook. The rest of 2020 will be about the virus. We’re seeing localized outbreaks, but the necessary countermeasures are in place. So, we can reasonably expect the virus to remain under control. Despite the medical setbacks, millions of jobs have returned, along with consumer confidence and spending. The recovery remains on track and is likely to continue. And that’s exactly what the markets are expecting. But will there be volatility ahead? Watch this video to find out. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, July 17, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus, including its effect on the economy and markets. On the medical front, it was another bad week. The viral outbreaks continued to get worse, with several health care systems getting close to capacity. So far, however, most of the damage remains localized. And with affected states starting to impose restrictive measures, we’ve started to move in the right direction, and the likelihood of another national shutdown remains small. Turning to the economy, things were better. Layoffs continued to decline, and job growth remained strong. Plus, consumer confidence recovered sharply, which has supported spending growth. In fact, the most recent retail sales report showed that consumer retail spending is now back to pre-pandemic levels, which is a remarkable recovery. So, how have the markets responded? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from CIO Brad McMillan, July 2, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, discusses the coronavirus, including its effects on the economy and markets. Over the past week, we had some bad news on the pandemic front. There were growing viral outbreaks in several states, and the national number of new cases broke the 50,000 per day level for the first time. Although the risks are certainly rising, the appropriate measures are being taken, and we can reasonably expect the outbreaks to peak and start to decline in the next couple of weeks. Turning to the economy, the news was better. Job growth came in much stronger than expected for the second month in a row, with 4.8 million new jobs created last month. Plus, consumer confidence, consumer spending, housing, and auto sales all continued to show improvement. So, how have the markets reacted to this mixed bag of medical and economic news? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, June 26, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, discusses the coronavirus, including the economic and market implications. We’ve had some setbacks on the pandemic front this week, with notable outbreaks in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. Although we’re not yet seeing a national second wave, the risks are rising. Both the daily spread rate (now at 1.6 percent per day) and daily case growth (about 40,000 per day) have jumped from last week, in large part due to the four outbreak states. Despite this concerning medical news, the economic news was good. Layoffs continued to decline, while hiring continued to improve. Plus, with metrics like consumer confidence, consumer spending, and housing all showing signs of improvement, it appears the overall recovery remains well on track. But will this positive economic data be enough to cushion any market volatility caused by the most recent outbreaks? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

Coronavirus Update from Commonwealth CIO Brad McMillan, June 12, 2020

Brad McMillan, Commonwealth’s CIO, provides an update on the coronavirus pandemic, including the economic and market implications. The virus remains under control, with the case growth rate at about 1 percent per day and daily case growth at about 20,000 per day. But while we didn’t see any signs of a national wave of second infections, it was a different story at the local level. Infection rates started to tick up in some states, which is something we need to keep an eye on. The news on the economic side, however, was better. Thus far, the reopening has been happening faster and more successfully than most imagined. In fact, last week’s jobs report revealed 2.5 million jobs were created in May. With economists anticipating a loss of 7.5 million jobs, this result was certainly a positive surprise. Plus, we saw a bounce in consumer and business confidence, as well as a rise in consumer spending. The financial markets had been rising in response to this tailwind of good news, but then we saw some volatility at the end of the week. Is there reason to expect more turbulence ahead? Watch this video to learn more. Follow Brad at blog.commonwealth.com/independent-market-observer.

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