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 March 5, 2021.

Economic/Market happenings:

Stocks

  • Stocks were mixed last week as interest rates rose, putting pressure on equities with higher valuations. The NASDAQ dropped 2.05%, the Russell 2000 edged down 0.38% and the S&P 500 rose 0.84%. Overseas, the international developed markets (MSCI EAFE) declined 0.47% while emerging markets (MSCI EM) rose 0.06%. Within the U.S., energy and financials were the best performing sectors and consumer discretionary and real estate were the poorest performers. Small cap value stocks were the best performers by style. (1)

Fixed Income

  • Interest rates rose and bond values fell, with the benchmark 10-year treasuries yields rising 12 basis points to 1.56%. This is a 63 basis point gain since the start of the year as inflation is becoming apparent in manufacturing and services as states lift restrictions while COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available. (2)

Commodities

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their Russia-led allies on Thursday reached a decision to continue current production cuts through April. The decision surprised many who expected the high price of oil to entice producers to boost production. As a result, West Texas crude oil rose 7.46% to close the week at $66.09 per barrel. (3)

​Economic Data

  • The jobs data was surprisingly strong for February as 379,000 new positions were created, concentrated in leisure and hospitality along with retail and entertainment as states eased restrictions and the weather eased from the unusually extreme January. Most other industries also added workers and the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 6.2%. (4)

  • For February, the U.S. manufacturing index came in at 60.8, about 2 points higher than estimated, to record the strongest output growth in nearly three years. Even more notable, its Prices Paid index climbed to a decade high, indicating rising inflation pressures due in part to a shortage of certain key materials. (5) The services index, however, showed subdued activity last month due to the continued lockdown and extreme cold weather conditions. (6)

Proprietary portfolio happenings:

Company News (7)

  • Energy holdings across the Gradient strategies climbed last week after the OPEC+ decision (see Commodities above). For example, Core Select and G50 holdings, Chevron (CVX), Conoco Phillips (COP), and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) rose 9-12% on rising prices for crude oil.

  • Dollar Tree Inc. (DLTR) a Contrarian Choice and Core Select holding, reported revenues and earnings that were in line with consensus expectations. Management was positive about its newer, smaller stores, noting a substantial lift in same store sales and profits. Shares rose 6% for the week. (8)

  • Johnson & Johnson, a G50 and Core Select holding, will collaborate with Merck, a G50 holding, to manufacture JNJ’s newly approved one-shot Covid-19 vaccine in Merck’s existing facilities. The U.S. government is helping to fund the adaption of Merck’s plants for a speedy ramp-up in production to boost supply and expand access to such vaccines. (9)

  • Target Corp. (TGT), a Core Select holding, reported sales and earnings that exceeded expectations including online sales growth of 118% and comparable sales growth of 7%. Shares were down 6% for the week because management revealed plans to spend $4 billion per year for distribution centers, supply chain, new stores and store remodels over the next several years. (10)

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Sources: (1) JP Morgan Weekly Market Recap 3-8-21

2 US Treasury

3 World Oil, “Oil Prices Surge Past Recent Highs on OPEC’s Crude Price Decision” 3-4-21

4 Bureau of Labor Statistics 3-5-21

5 Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index 3-3-21

6 Institute for Supply Management Services Index 3-3-21

7 All weekly changes in company stock prices: Yahoo Finance

8 Dollar Tree Inc. press release 3-3-21

9 Merck press release 3-2-21

10 Target Corp. press release 3-2-21

11 Bloomberg, “What Does ESG Really Mean?” 2-26-21

Herstle Jones, LUTCF, CLTC President & Founder

With over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry,

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