Now that September is here, it feels like summer is already in the rearview mirror. It went fast, didn’t it? Beginning with the autumnal equinox on the 22nd of the month, we’ll start to see the days grow shorter and the weather get cooler.
Speaking of a change in the weather, we certainly had an abundance of weather-related news in August. Climate change worries continued as we saw historic flooding in South Korea and Pakistan, and record heat and drought in the UK and China. In addition, intense wildfires ravaged France and burned more than 18,000 acres in the Bordeaux region (you might want to stock up on Bordeaux reds, as wine prices and availability will undoubtedly be impacted).
In political headlines, FBI agents conducted a search for classified documents at Donald Trump’s Florida home. Joe Biden signed new legislation with $370 billion of spending and tax cuts intended to combat climate change. And Californians voted to ban the sale of all new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. Meanwhile, the stock market continued its down-then-up-then-down-again roller coaster.
On August 26, Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell suggested the Fed would continue with an aggressive path of raising interest rates and tightening financial conditions to try and combat inflation. Markets reacted adversely to the news, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Composite Index, and S&P 500 tumbling downward, resulting in the weakest August performance in seven years. The comments by Chairman Powell were nearly a complete reversal of his June comments, where he hinted at interest rate hikes possibly ending in the near future. This time around, Chairman Powell stated that they plan to keep rates higher for longer, and that the Fed will continue to use its tools forcefully to bring down inflation.
There was a bit of good news in August, thankfully. We saw a sharp drop in gas prices, as the national average dropped below $4.00 a gallon for the first time in over a month. Similarly, airline fees and hotel fares plunged -7.8% and -3.2%, respectively, making travel more affordable for most folks.
The changing seasons mean kids are back in school, and the holidays are just around the corner. We hope you had a memorable summer, and we’re grateful to count you as a client. If there’s anything you need, please schedule some time with our office.
US equities declined in August after Federal Reserve (Fed) chair Jerome Powell said the US central bank would need to keep monetary policy tight “for some time” in a bid to tackle soaring inflation. This dashed any market hopes that further interest rate increases would be more modest, which led to sharp declines in share prices and volatile trading. The S&P 500 rose in early August but reversed course at midmonth, resulting in an overall decline of 4.2%.
Energy was the strongest performer at the sector level with a +2.8% gain; information technology was the weakest with a -6.1% decline. While oil prices pulled back in August, the U.S. energy industry had a banner second-quarter earnings season. Those results led to a 12% increase in the S&P 500 energy sector’s consensus earnings-per-share estimate for 2023.
In late August the Federal Reserve (Fed) held its annual conference at Jackson Hole; it was set against a backdrop of multi-decade high consumer price inflation across major economies. While concerns of an economic downturn are rising, Fed Chair Powell nevertheless stuck to a hawkish message. Powell said the Fed would not “pivot” (shift course from raising rates), though the US may see slower growth for a sustained period. Some markets, particularly the labor market, have so far been remarkably resilient, although the housing market continued to deteriorate. The US 10-year Treasury yield rose from 2.64% to 3.13%, and the two-year rose from 2.90% to 3.45%. As a result, shorter term bonds outperformed longer term bonds.
US inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), increased by 8.5% year-over-year in July, down from 9.1% in June. The US jobs market remains strong, with non-farm payrolls growing by a larger-than-expected 315,000 in August. With economic data looking good, we acknowledge that September is typically a volatile month for stocks. Counting back to 1994 from calendar year 2021, economists tallied 13 Septembers that saw a negative return for the S&P 500 and 15 Septembers when the S&P 500 delivered a positive return.
Found 22 Years Later, Teen Returns Sunken Safe to Owner
Have you ever heard of “magnet fishing”? This hobby, a combination of environmentalism and treasure hunting, involves searching outdoor waters for buried items that are attracted to a large magnet’s pull. And that’s just what happened last spring when a young British teen was combing the river bottom with his father, and they dredged up a safe!
Much to their surprise, the safe contained a fair amount of money. But rather than keeping the loot for themselves, the pair pieced together information from other documents in the safe and were able to track down its rightful owner. As it turns out, the safe had been stolen 22 years earlier. Its owner was beyond surprised, not only that someone had found the safe, but that they had taken the time to track him down to return it. Read more of their heartwarming story.
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
Dow Jones Industrial Average: The Dow Jones Industrial Average® (The Dow®), is a price-weighted measure of 30 U.S. blue-chip companies. The index covers all industries except transportation and utilities.
Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Total Return Index: The index is designed to track the performance of real estate investment trusts (REIT) and other companies that invest directly or indirectly in real estate through development, management, or ownership, including property agencies.
NASDAQ Composite: The NASDAQ Composite is a market-cap weighted index of all issues listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. It is heavily weighted towards the technology sector.
S&P 500 Bond Index: The S&P 500® Bond Index is designed to be a corporate-bond counterpart to the S&P 500, which is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large-cap U.S. equities. Market value-weighted, the index seeks to measure the performance of U.S. corporate debt issued by constituents in the iconic S&P 500.
S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary: The S&P 500® Consumer Discretionary comprises those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the GICS® consumer discretionary sector.
S&P 500 Consumer Staples: The S&P 500® Consumer Staples comprises those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the GICS® consumer staples sector.
S&P 500 Energy: The S&P 500® Energy comprises those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the GICS® energy sector.
S&P 500 Financials: The S&P 500® Financials comprises those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the GICS® financials sector.
S&P 500 Index: The S&P 500® index is a market-cap weighted index of the largest 500 companies headquartered in the United States. The index covers approximately 80% of available market capitalization.
S&P 500 Utilities: The S&P 500® Utilities comprises those companies included in the S&P 500 that are classified as members of the GICS® utilities sector.
S&P U.S. Aggregate Bond Index: The S&P U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is designed to measure the performance of publicly issued U.S. dollar denominated investment-grade debt. The index is part of the S&P AggregateTM Bond Index family and includes U.S. treasuries, quasi-governments, corporates, taxable municipal bonds, foreign agency, supranational, federal agency, and non-U.S. debentures, covered bonds, and residential mortgage pass-throughs.
S&P U.S. Treasury Bond Index: The S&P U.S. Treasury Bond Index is a broad, comprehensive, market-value weighted index that seeks to measure the performance of the U.S. Treasury Bond market.
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