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 December 25, 2020. The markets were closed on Thursday afternoon and Friday in observance of Christmas. Economic/Market happenings:
The markets were mixed last week as investors tried to determine whether the President would agree to the fifth attempt at a year-end stimulus bill out of Congress. (It was approved over the weekend.) The S&P 500 declined 0.52%, the NASDAQ added 0.31% and the Russell 2000 added 1.88%. Overseas, international developed markets index (EAFE) increased 0.57% while the emerging markets index (EEM) declined 1.21%. (1)
Interest rates were fairly steady last week in limited trading. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note saw a 1 basis point decline to 0.94% while the 30-year bond yield declined 4 basis points to 1.66%. (2)
The price of oil declined 2.05% last week to close at $48.23 per barrel of West Texas crude. The discovery of a potentially faster-spreading COVID-19 in the UK and the possibility of further economic weakness pressured prices lower. (3,4)
The Consumer Sentiment index rose 3.8 points from November to 80.7, however it was down versus a reading earlier this month. (5)
New weekly unemployment filings dropped to 803,000 which was a positive surprise versus expectations of 885,000. It is also well below the peak of almost 7 million back in March. (6)
Consumer spending fell 0.4% in November after a revised 0.3% gain in the prior month, the government said Wednesday. The decline in November was in line with economists’ forecasts. (7)
Personal income slumped 1.1% in November—much higher than the consensus estimate for a 0.3% decline—after a revised 0.6% decline in the prior month. The drop was led by a decrease in government social welfare benefits. (8)
Proprietary portfolio happenings:
AstraZeneca (AZN), a G40i holding, announced that their coronavirus vaccine should be effective against the new variant of the virus. The company’s vaccine (in collaboration with Oxford University) has been submitted for UK authorization and is likely to receive results shortly in its journey toward global approval. (10)
Palo Alto Networks, Inc. (PANW), a Core Select and G33 holding, shares rose 10.8% last week in response to recent cyberattacks in which a competitor was unable to protect U.S. federal agencies from malicious code inserted into software updates. As a result of the attacks, the U.S. government issued a rare emergency order asking federal agencies to delve into the breach. (11)
Unilever Plc. (UL), a G40i holding, announced an extension to its partnership with Restaurants Brands International (QSR)—the 5th largest restaurant chain in the world and owner of Burger King, Tim Horton’s and Popeye’s Fried Chicken. Unilever will provide plant-based meats to QSR in Latin America, the Caribbean and China. (12)
Did You Know? Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. The top resolutions are: to lose weight, get organized, to spend less and save more, to stay fit and healthy, and to quit smoking. While nearly half of all Americans make resolutions, 25 percent of them give up on their resolutions by the second week of January.
Sources: (1) Morningstar.com 12-28-20, (2 )US Treasury, (3) Oilprice.com, (4) World Oil 12-24-20, (5) University of, Michigan Survey of Consumers 12-23-20, (6) US Department of Labor 12-23-20, (7) US Bureau of Economic Analysis 12-23-20, (8) US Bureau of Economic Analysis 12-23-20, (9) All weekly changes in company stock prices: Yahoo Finance, (10) BBC: “Oxford AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine” 12-23-20, (11) Business Insider: “SolarWinds Hack” 12-24-20, (12) Reuters: ”Unilever Expands Burger King Tie-Up” 12-23-20