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September 1, 2020
Market Commentary - 8/31/2020

August has been a good month for stock investors. At the end of last week, the S&P 500 Index was up 6.8 percent for the month. The Index is poised to deliver its best returns for the month since 1986, when it gained 7.1 percent, reported Financial Times.

The performance of U.S. stock markets is remarkable, in part, because, so far, company earnings – the profit that publicly-traded companies earn and report each quarter – haven’t been great in 2020. Earnings were down 31.9 percent during the second quarter of the year, reported FactSet. The decline in earnings reflected the impact of coronavirus closures.

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August 25, 2020
Pandemic Changing the Way We Do Things

You don’t have to look very far to see how quickly innovation changes our world. The greatest generation saw the advent of credit cards, power steering, and transistor radios. Baby Boomers remember the arrival of electronic fuel injection, audio cassettes, and an oral vaccine for polio. Gen Xers witnessed the emergence of the worldwide web (www), which has become a defining feature of modern life. Millennials and Gen Z saw the arrival of smartphones, social media, and video gaming competitions.

Sometimes change is gradual. Other times – like today – it occurs at an accelerated pace.

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August 25, 2020
Market Commentary - 8/25/2020

The shortest bear market in history is over.

The Nasdaq Composite and Standard & Poor’s 500 Indices finished at new highs last week. The stock market is considered to be a leading economic indicator, so strong stock market performance suggests economic improvement ahead.

There was a caveat to last week’s gains, though.

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August 18, 2020
Market Commentary - 8/18/2020

The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index finished the week within a whisker of its February high, reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s.

It’s a remarkable feat. The stock market has recovered in just 175 days. Historically, comparable recoveries (those following market drops of 20 percent or more) have taken about four years, reported Vildana Hajric, Lu Wang, and Claire Ballentine of Bloomberg Quint.

“The sharpness and speed of the downturn – and the immediacy of the overwhelming liquidity and fiscal response from the Federal Reserve and Congress – forestalled the kind of grinding, purgative action of typical bear markets, which wrings out excesses and resets valuations lower. There was also not the shift in market leadership that usually occurs in the crucible of a bear market,” reported Michael Santoli of CNBC.

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August 11, 2020
Market Commentary - 8/11/2020

There was good news and bad news in last week’s employment report.

The good news was the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered better-than-expected data about employment. In July, the U.S. economy added about 1.8 million new jobs.

That’s about 300,000 more than the Wall Street consensus forecast, according to Jeff Cox of CNBC, who reported, “…there were wide variations around the estimates as the pandemic’s resurgence dented plans to get the shuttered U.S. economy completely back online. Forecasts ranged from a decline of half a million jobs to a rise of 3 million…”

The flip side of employment is unemployment. The U-3 unemployment rate, which reflects unemployed people who are actively seeking a job, declined in July.

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July 28, 2020
Market Commentary - 7/28/2020

Where are we on vaccines and treatments? During 2020, the United States government has spent more than $13 billion on Operation Warp Speed (OWS), which is focused on accelerating the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, according to The Economist. The United States is not alone. Governments around the world are funding similar research. […]

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July 21, 2020
Market Commentary 7/21/2020

Is the United States economy recovering or faltering?

It depends on who you ask and which data you consider. For example, last week, the Department of Labor reported fewer people applied for first-time unemployment benefits during the week of July 11. That could be a tick in the positive data column. Week-to-week the number declined from 1.31 million to 1.30 million. The lackluster decline could be a tick in the negative data column since the long-term weekly average is about 20 percent of that number.

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July 17, 2020
6 Options for Distribution from a Company Plan

Whether you are changing employers or reaching retirement, deciding what to do with your company retirement plan is an important decision with more options than you may expect—six to be exact.

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July 14, 2020
Market Commentary 7/14/2020

Please don’t scream inside your heart.

Last week, a reopened Japanese theme park asked patrons to wear masks to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. It also asked them not to scream while riding the rollercoaster. “Please scream inside your heart,” park management urged.

During 2020, stock markets in the United States have taken investors on an emotional rollercoaster ride. By late March, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index had lost more than 30 percent. The Index has since regained most of those losses, although there have been many ups and downs along the way.

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