The Markets (as of market close August 25, 2017)
Amid a scarcity of economic data and the lightest trading levels of the year, stocks managed to end the week in positive territory, as measured by the indexes tracked below. The Russell 2000 was the week’s leader, notching a weekly gain of nearly 1.5%, with all other indexes posting advances of between 0.5% and 1%.
The price of crude oil (WTI) closed at $47.87 per barrel, down from the prior week’s closing price of $48.73 per barrel. The price of gold (COMEX) reached $1,296.50 by early Friday evening, $6.20 higher than the prior week’s price of $1,290.30. The national average retail regular gasoline price decreased to $2.360 per gallon on August 21, 2017, $0.024 lower than the prior week’s price and $0.167 more than a year ago.
||As of 8/25
|Fed. Funds target rate
Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.
Last Week’s Economic Headlines
- New home sales fell by a whopping 9.4% in July to a total of 571,000 (from 630,000 in June), the lowest rate in seven months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That figure is also 8.9% below the July 2016 sales figure of 627,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2017 was $313,700, while the average sales price was $371,200. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 276,000. This represents a supply of 5.8 months at the current sales rate.
- The National Association of Realtors® reported that existing home sales followed a similar trend for the same month, as large demand drops in the Northeast and Midwest outweighed increases in the South and West. Overall, total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, fell 1.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million in July from a downwardly revised 5.51 million in June. July’s sales pace is still 2.1% above a year ago, but is the lowest of 2017.
- New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased $16.7 billion, or 6.8%, to $229.2 billion in July, reported the U.S. Census Bureau. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed a 6.4% June increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 7.8%. Transportation equipment, also down three of the last four months, drove the decrease, $17.4 billion, or 19.0%, to $74.3 billion.
- In what could be her last appearance at the Federal Reserve’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, chair Janet Yellen defended regulations enacted in the wake of the financial crisis, while noting that the Fed remains open to possible “improvements” that would help “efficiently maintain a resilient financial system.” At the same meeting, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi voiced similar sentiment. He criticized a global trend toward economic protectionism and warned that looser financial regulations could reinvigorate the types of incentive scenarios that led to the financial crisis.
- In the week ended August 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 234,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.4% for the week ended August 12, unchanged from the previous week’s unrevised rate. During the week ended August 12, there were 1,954,000 receiving unemployment insurance benefits, unchanged from the previous week’s revised level.
Eye on the Week Ahead
Observers will be monitoring the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf region and the storm’s potential economic and market impacts, including possible increases in oil and gas prices. Other potential influences during the week will likely include the second estimate of Q2 GDP figures and the August employment figures.
Data sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market data: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.comMarket Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.