Week in Review
Despite a 1.3% gain in the S&P 500 on Friday, the equity markets took another dip in what was a very turbulent week for equities. After a loss on Monday, the Dow rebounded on Tuesday climbing early to 17,900, followed by an intra-day drop of about 500 points before the day was out. The rest of the week was choppy after the Swiss National Bank sent shock waves through the currency markets on Thursday by ending its policy cap of 1.2 Swiss francs to the euro. Swiss stocks sank and the franc soared following the news, as it began to trade in parity against the European currency. Closer to home, there was a flight to safety as shares in utilities and telecoms saw some inflows as did a number of healthcare stocks, but all other sectors were lower on the week led by technology and financials. Speaking of which, JPMorgan Chase reported disappointing results for the fourth quarter followed by Citigroup and Bank of America. Oil stabilized a bit, but is still hovering around $48.50 after another OPEC oil minister said the cartel would not cut output to shore up prices. There still appears to be questions as to how lower energy prices are effecting stocks. Consumer spending figures have not responded to lower gasoline prices, as most analysts had expected. December retail sales fell by 0.9% and the ongoing glut of oil signals weak global growth ahead. For the week, the Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 were lower by 1.25% and the tech-heavy NASDAQ fell close to 1.5%. Gold traded higher by $61.00/oz. to $1,277, as the yield on the 30-year Treasury fell to 2.44%. Looking ahead at the holiday-shortened week, the International Monetary Fund releases its snapshot of the global economy on Monday; the National Association of Home Builders issues housing data; China reports a slew of economic data including fourth-quarter GDP; the State of the Union address; and the European Central Bank may launch a large-scale asset-purchase program. In earnings news, we will hear from Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday with estimates for the fourth quarter of $1.26 vs. $1.24 last year; followed by Verizon Communications on Thursday ($0.75 vs. $0.66); and later in the week we will see what Kimberly-Clark has to say about its end of the year quarter ($1.37 vs. $1.44). I expect a lot more volatility ahead, as markets never react well to uncertainties. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday.
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