The following economic awareness entry is based on short-term events and therefore should not be taken as information towards making investment decisions, which are of a long-term nature. It is only meant to provide clarity regarding current economic events, as there is often a large degree of incorrect information dispersed through the media or other sources.
As several reports deepened our understanding of the economy's underlying health, investors balanced the news with updates on Turkey and trade disputes. Here are some key highlights of the various developments:
Economy: Mixed Picture
The latest unemployment data beat expectations, indicating continuing strength as the labor market is near full employment. However, new home construction missed its 7.4% projected growth, increasing only 0.9% in July - following June's 12.3% decline. Nevertheless, more positive news emerged: Thanks to tax cuts, a solid labor market, and economic growth, retail sales increased 6.4% in July year-over-year. Retail sales have now risen for the past 6 months.
Turkey: Sanctions and a Tumbling Lira
On Monday, August 13, the Turkish lira hit its lowest point ever against the U.S. dollar. The U.S. has threatened more sanctions on Turkey if the country does not release U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson. In addition, Turkey's inflation is swelling, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be suppressing the central bank's ability to increase interest rates. The lira may continue to decline in value until interest rates rise. Some analysts are optimistic that these developments won't create contagion in other markets. Not only is Turkey's economy relatively small and investors have priced in some risk, opportunities still exist to help calm Turkey's challenges.
Trade Update: Positive Movement
Later in the week, we received positive updates on trade challenges with China and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexican economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, announced that he hoped to finalize some NAFTA negotiations by this week. In addition, officials from the U.S. and China will be meeting in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss the ongoing trade disputes. These talks come before the anticipated meeting in November between President Trump and Chinese Leader Xi. A trade war with China has been one of the market's largest concerns, so if the tension lessens, that is likely good news for equities.
This week, we'll receive more information about the housing market that reveals how this key industry is currently performing. We will also continue to track developments in trade and Turkey. As always, if you have any questions about what you read here or what you're hearing elsewhere we're available to talk.
Wednesday: Existing Home Sales
Thursday: New Home Sales, Jobless Claims
Friday: Durable Goods Orders
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The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.
The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies.
The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.
The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is a 96-bond index designed to represent the market performance, on a total-return basis, of investment-grade bonds issued by leading U.S. companies. Bonds are equally weighted by maturity cell, industry sector, and the overall index.
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The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are the leading measures of U.S. residential real estate prices, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate. The index is made up of measures of real estate prices in 20 cities and weighted to produce the index.
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