Economic Market/Portfolio Happenings
Hello and welcome to this week’s Jones Financial Blog! Our goal at Jones & Associates is to help keep you up to date with interesting current economic/market happenings as well as some proprietary portfolio happenings. Knowledge is power and thought we would share some of ours with you. Enjoy!
All data is for the week ended September 4, 2020.
Equity markets were weaker across the globe, with the S&P 500 down 2.27%, the NASDAQ declining 3.25% and the Russell 2000 down by 2.70%. The international developed markets index (MSCI EAFE) dropped 2.07% as the emerging markets (MSCI EM) were down 1.95%. Energy and technology were the biggest drags on performance while materials and utilities produced small gains. Value stocks outperformed growth stocks. (1)
Interest rates rose slightly, and values fell for the benchmark 10-year Treasuries as the annual rate rose by 2 basis points to 0.72%. (1)
The price of West Texas crude oil fell 7.6% last week to $39.70 per barrel. (2) The drop occurred despite a 9.4 million barrel decline in U.S. crude inventories from the previous week. (3)
The non-manufacturing index (an indicator for nearly 2/3 of our economy) grew for the third consecutive month to 56.9, in line with consensus expectations. Fifteen of its 18 service industries reported gains, and prices rose ahead of expectations. (4)
The manufacturing index came in much higher than expected, particularly in the new orders subset, for the month of July. It rose to 56.0 versus the 54.5 consensus expectation. This is the fourth consecutive month of gains after April’s drop. Prices and backlogs also jumped higher than expected. Staples showed the largest gain followed by chemicals and electronics. (5)
Weekly new jobless claims for unemployment benefits were much better than expectations at 881,000 versus consensus expectations of nearly 1 million. This is the lowest points since mandatory government lock downs for COVID-19 began in mid-March. However, a change in methodology cast doubts on the accuracy of the report. (6)
For the month of August, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4% from 10.2% as the labor market rebounded from the effects of the pandemic. About half of the 22.5 million jobs lost during March and April have now been regained. (7)
Proprietary portfolio happenings:
Five Below (FIVE), a Core Select and G33 holding, reported sales and earnings that were far ahead of consensus expectations. Management said sales momentum continues and new store openings will occur at more compelling rent and location opportunities. Shares rose 11.6% for the week. (8)
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), a G50 and Core Select holding, announced a 1.6% increase in their quarterly dividend, its 14th consecutive year of dividend hikes. Yield on the new rate is 4.51%. The announcement came a day after the Federal Communications Commission announced Verizon won access to additional bandwidth in an auction for 46% of the U.S. population in roughly 5% of the land area. (9)
WalMart (WMT), a Core Select and G50 holding, rose 1.8% last week after the company said its new subscription service, Walmart+, will make its debut in two weeks, with a yearly subscription priced below Amazon Prime in the retailer’s latest push back against Amazon.com. (10)
Did You Know? The largest known living organism is an aspen grove. Pando (Latin for "I spread out") is a group of genetically identical quaking aspens in Utah with an interconnected root system. It's an estimated 80,000 years old and takes up more than 100 acres.
Sources: (1) JP Morgan Weekly Market Recap 9-8-20, (2) Oilprice.com, (3) US Energy Information Administration Weekly Status Report 9-2-20, (4) Institute for Supply Management 9-3-20, (5) Institute for Supply Management 9-1-20, (6) US Department of Labor 9-3-20, (7) Bureau of Labor Statistics 9-4-20, (8) Five Below Inc. press release 9-2-20, (9) Verizon Communications press release 9-3-20, (10) CNBC: “Walmart to Launch its Membership Program, Walmart+” 9-1-20