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 February 26, 2021. Economic/Market happenings:
Rising interest rate concerns were apparent in the stock markets as yields rose quickly for the benchmark Treasuries and the broad U.S. index (S&P 500) retreated 2.41% for the week. The Russell 2000 retreated 2.87% and the NASDAQ declined 4.90%. Overseas, the international developed market index (MSCI EAFE) declined 2.79% and emerging markets (MSCI EM) dropped 6.33% as China appeared ready to hike interest rates. Hardest hit sectors in the U.S. were utilities and discretionary while energy and financials were the best performers. (1)
Interest rates rose and bond values dropped due to upbeat expectations for an economic recovery fueled by the rollout of multiple vaccines and the likelihood of additional stimulus from the government. The yield on benchmark 10-year treasuries finished the week at 1.44%, a gain of 10 basis points and 51 basis points higher since year end. (2)
Rising government yields pushed down the value of Gold (ETF: GLDM) last week, with the Precious Metals and ETF Endowment Series holding down 2.69% to $1,739 per troy ounce. As the U.S. dollar has firmed up against foreign currencies, this has also pushed down gold’s value. Year-to-date the yellow metal is down 8.81%. (3)
Consumer income rose 10% and spending jumped 2.4% in January, the largest increase since last June’s rebound. The entire increase in income was accounted for by government payments due to the pandemic. Spending was led by recreational goods and vehicles along with food and beverages at home and in restaurants. (4)
Orders for durable goods – a proxy for manufacturing – rose faster than expected in January with a 3.4% gain vs. consensus expectations for a 1.2% gain over December. After stripping out the more volatile transportation sector, orders also beat expectations by rising 1.4% vs. a 0.6% gain anticipated. This marked the ninth consecutive report of month-over-month gains. (5)
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city price index posted a 10.1% year-over-year gain in December, the first double digit increase in seven years. Once again, Phoenix, Seattle and San Diego experienced the largest gains and the western states were the strongest of any region. (6)
Proprietary portfolio happenings:
Company News (7)
Energy and travel-related stocks across all GI strategies rose between 4% and 10% last week based on the reopening of the U.S. economy based on the effectiveness of already approved COVID-19 vaccines and the expectation of further approvals from two major pharmaceutical companies.
Allstate Corp. (ALL), a G50 holding, boosted its dividend by 50% based on its very high return on equity vs. peers in the insurance industry. Shares yield 3.04% on the new rate which is about double the yield for the S&P 500 average. (8)
AstraZeneca Plc (AZN), a G40i holding, expects its COVID-19 vaccine could receive U.S. Emergency Use Authorization at the beginning of April and could immediately deliver 30 million doses of the shot here, gearing up to 50 mil doses by the end of April. (9)
EOG Resources Inc., an Energy Sector Focus holding, reported revenues and earnings that exceeded expectations as oil prices have been moving higher for the past several months, part of a global economic recovery. The board also increased the dividend by 10%; current yield is now 2.56%. Shares rose 3.3% last week and are up 45% year-to-date. (10)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), a G50 and Core Select holding, created the only single-shot vaccination which was deemed effective against COVID-19 and its South African variant. Emergency authorized use was approved for the US unanimously by the FDA over the weekend. The company expects to have 100 million doses by June. (11)
Did You Know? The bill with the highest denomination ever produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the $100,000 Gold Certificate, Series 1934. It was used only for transactions between Federal Reserve banks.
(7) All weekly changes in company stock prices: Yahoo Finance