Grappling with the Coronavirus September 24, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsThe stock market has gone through a bit of an identity crisis over the past week. Investors have been grappling with a litany of concerns, including seemingly expensive valuations, a lack of new fiscal stimulus and rising trade tensions with China. Monday provides a good example of the market’s seesaw behavior: During the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 900 points… then recovered by market close to finish “only” a little more than 500 points down.Furthering investor angst is the continued rise in new COVID-19 cases in Europe, most notably in the U.K. This renewed surge in cases prompted U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to implement a series of new restrictions that may last up to six months. While reversing the country’s reopening plan is necessary for public health, it has led to renewed fears the U.K’s economy may go through yet another lockdown driven hiccup.On a more positive note, health care giant Johnson & Johnson announced it is moving onto the final trials of a COVID-19 vaccine. Results for the 60,000-person trial are expected by late this year or early 2021. J&J’s vaccine is unique relative to the potential vaccines of its competitors; it is a single shot vaccine, which can ease administration and accelerate immunization.Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG, as she was affectionately known, was an icon and inspiration for women of all ages. She will be missed by many. Sadly, her death also was quickly politicized as the Trump administration seeks to fill her Supreme Court seat before the election, a move most Democrats vehemently oppose. This is an example of the political fighting that could lead to further stock market volatility as election day approaches. As such, I continue to believe diversification to be a prudent course of action. Market comments based on the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite indexes which are unmanaged and cannot be directly invested into.The information provided, including references to individual companies is for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a recommendation of any kind or investment advice.Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time and cannot be guaranteed.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal.August 27, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsStocks got off to a strong start Monday after the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 blood plasma treatment. However, two days later the FDA commissioner walked back comments about the treatment’s efficacy. Importantly, the market’s initial reaction shows that American investors are still clamoring for good news regarding potential coronavirus vaccines or treatments.Economic news was mixed this week. New home sales shattered expectations and reached levels not seen since late 2006, as housing continues to be a bright spot in the recovery. Conversely, consumer confidence came in at a six-year low. Confidence weakened in August based on a confluence of events, namely an increase in new coronavirus cases leading to renewed business closures and the expiration of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit. Furthermore, unemployment remains high, leaving consumers cautious about the labor market and subsequently their income.Investors’ eyes were also on U.S.-China trade relations this week, where things appear to be trending in a positive direction. This week marked the six-month review of the U.S.-China trade deal and both sides signaled they were generally pleased with how things were progressing. As part of the deal, China is expected to purchase a record amount of soybeans from the U.S.In other market news, Exxon Mobil was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average this week. The removal is an historic event as Exxon first joined the index as Standard Oil in 1928 and was the largest company in the nation as recently as 2011. However, as the economy has shifted away from oil-related businesses and toward cloud computing and biotechnology, Exxon’s long-standing placement in the Dow appears to have run its course.The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index that cannot be directly invested into. Past market performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal. This information is being provided as a general source of information and is not intended as investment advice or a recommendation of any kind.August 20, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsThe S&P 500 closed at a new all-time high this week, officially making the bear market that began in late February the shortest in history. This is an astoundingly swift comeback given the toll – personal and economic – that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken. But the market reached these new heights cautiously. While the U.S. has seen the number of new coronavirus cases begin to fall in recent weeks, European nations such as Germany, Spain, and Italy have seen modest upticks, demonstrating that the global economy isn’t necessarily in the all-clear yet.Helping to drive U.S. stocks higher was housing data showing a surge in new home construction. Housing has been a notable bright spot in the recovery: Record-low mortgage rates have paired with increased demand from families moving to the suburbs and created a strong housing market. Stocks were also buoyed by strong earnings from big box retailers whose businesses benefited from rising online sales and increasing traffic at brick and mortar stores.Democrats and Republicans struck a more conciliatory tone regarding a potential financial stimulus package this week. Both sides signaled they may be willing to come to terms on a moderately scaled-back stimulus package for now and consider another stimulus package after the November elections.The market has risen more than 55% from its March 23 low. While this is excellent news for stock investors, the rise has been uneven. A notable portion of the gains have been driven by a small group of large, high-growth technology companies. Similarly concentrated gains happened in the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and the “Nifty Fifty” era of the 1970s. In both instances, the dominant players that led the market in the boom struggled in the decade that followed. Whether we will see a similar pattern play out in the years ahead is unknown. However, it is nearly always prudent to diversify portfolio holdings – in bull and bear markets – to help manage risk. Please feel free to contact my office with any questions about your portfolio or investments – I’m always happy to provide answers and offer insight.The S&P 500 Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that measures the large-capitalization U.S. equity market. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Diversification is an investment strategy that can help manage risk within your portfolio but it does not guarantee profits or protect against loss in declining markets.This is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation or investment advice or any kind. Please consult with a professional prior to making investment decisions.Opinions and forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time and cannot be guaranteed.August 13, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsThis week the market again reacted positively to vaccine-related news. On Tuesday, Russia announced the first COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, to be approved for use by the public. Shortly thereafter the U.S. government inked a deal with biotechnology company Moderna to procure 100 million doses of its vaccine. However, there are still significant questions regarding the safety and efficacy of Russia’s vaccine, while Moderna’s drug has yet to receive regulatory approval. Despite these concerns, the S&P 500 Index moved within striking distance of the all-time highs it reached in February.Within the market, more economically sensitive sectors started to show signs of life again. Airline stocks performed well, as travel traffic finally started to show some directional improvement. The much-beleaguered financials sector also fared well. Conversely, technology stocks, which up until recently had been performing notably well, cooled off a bit this week. With valuations of tech-related names running high this could simply be a sign of investors locking in some near-term profits.Investors were briefly leery in the middle of the week after it was announced that Congress was gridlocked regarding any new rounds of stimulus, which are viewed as critical to maintaining the current recovery. Also, the Trump administration said it was considering reductions to the capital gains and middle-income taxes. This was in addition to the payroll tax deferrals and expanded unemployment benefits announced this past weekend.The market has come a long way since the dark days of late March, and stocks are in solid positive territory for the year. While potential vaccines and fiscal stimulus debates continue to dominate the headlines, investors’ attention will soon be focused on the election. As can happen in any election year, market volatility may rise as the candidates lay out their platforms. As such, we believe it could be prudent to remain diversified in the near term, which could help minimize the impact of volatility while still participating in any potential rallies as they occur.The S&P 500 Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that measures the large-capitalization U.S. equity market. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. This information is not meant as investment advice or to predict or project the future performance of any investment product. The opinions are subject to change at any time based on market and other current conditions, and no forecasts can be guaranteed. This information is being provided as a general source of information and is not intended as a recommendation to purchase, sell, or hold any specific security or to engage in any investment strategy. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific objectives, financial needs, risk tolerance and time horizon.August 6, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsAugust kicked off with a fairly strong start, as manufacturing data from the U.S., China and Europe came in stronger than expected early in the week. U.S. factory orders in July rose to their highest levels in a year and a half and Chinese orders grew at the fastest pace since 2011. While expectations have been rightfully low, manufacturing data continues to show that the state of the global economy may not be as bad as many had predicted.On the fiscal stimulus front, the Trump administration is considering taking executive action to enact a payroll tax holiday in an effort to keep the recovery going. They are also looking into whether they can extend the enhanced unemployment insurance payments that were enacted in March. Time will tell whether executive action may supersede the actions of Congress, but even members of the Federal Reserve Bank stated this week that without more fiscal stimulus, further economic damage could ensue.Regarding the virus itself, the number of new cases is continuing to fall in states such as Arizona and California, and the good news is that the positivity rate (the rate of those being tested showing up as positive) is also dropping. The latter is important because it means we are seeing real improvement, not just a lesser number of individuals being tested.Lastly, this week the price of gold passed $2,000 per ounce for the first time – a historical event in the investing world. Gold has been a notably strong performer this year, for reasons that almost feel diametrically opposed. The first being that gold is often considered a safe haven for those concerned about an uncertain economic future, which seems rather intuitive given everything that has gone on in 2020. However, gold prices have also been driven higher as some investors are concerned about inflation. In the current environment, with historically high unemployment, the thought that there might be inflation in the system seems rather unlikely. However, with the U.S. government pumping so much stimulus money into the system, it is possible that inflation could indeed rear its ugly head should a more stable economic recovery take hold.Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The price of gold is subject to substantial price fluctuations over short periods of time and may be affected by unpredicted international monetary and political policies.This is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation or investment advice or any kind. Please consult with a professional prior to making investment decisions. Opinions and forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time and cannot be guaranteed.July 30, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsThough the markets were somewhat directionless this week, potential fiscal stimulus was a key driver of investor sentiment. On Monday, the Senate released details on a new $1 trillion legislation package titled the Health Economic Assistance, Liability Protection & Schools (HEALS) Act. The bill consists of another round of $1,200 direct payments for those who qualify, expanded unemployment benefits (albeit at a lower level), more paycheck protection for small businesses, continued student loan deferment, and funding for schools and universities. As robust as $1 trillion may sound, the fight in Congress is over whether it is enough.On the COVID-19 front, the news remains mixed. From a positive perspective, there are increasing signs that some of the harder-hit states in the South and West may be plateauing. The number of new cases in these areas is slowing as public health measures such as mandated mask wearing and business closures appear to be paying off. Conversely, China saw its first new case in three weeks.While a plateauing number of new cases is good news in the U.S., the continuing tug of war between public safety and economic growth remains in full effect. It was announced on Tuesday that consumer confidence fell more than expected in July as business reopenings were rolled back nationwide. Confidence further waned on renewed job and income concerns. The number of individuals claiming unemployment benefits also ticked up for the first time since the heart of the COVID-19 storm in March, further dampening consumers’ spirits.In the midst of all this, the CEOs of four of the world’s largest technology companies headed to Washington to testify in front of Congress. In a rather unlikely alliance, the top executives at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google testified alongside one another in an effort to make the case that they are not deploying anticompetitive behaviors, and that they provide benefits to American consumers and businesses. These four companies are dominant to be sure – and they are not without flaws – but they have also connected individuals in ways that had never been done before. The hearing felt a bit surreal alongside of the health and economic woes seen this year – but I suppose that’s on par for 2020.The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation or investment advice. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal.July 23, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsWhile choppy, the markets have continued to grind higher in recent days. Discussions, both domestic and foreign, concerning fiscal stimulus were one of the primary drivers of stocks this week. First, after four long days of talks, the European Union reached a new stimulus agreement totaling an unprecedented €750 billion (approximately $860 billion). The EU plans to distribute the funds in the form of loans and grants to its member countries and to the market sectors most in need. By contrast, the U.S. is facing a “fiscal cliff” as the initial round of stimulus is set to expire at the end of July. Getting a second stimulus package through Congress is proving difficult, however, as the two parties continue to hash out the underlying details. At this point, equity investors are expecting a deal will ultimately come together.There continues to be encouraging news regarding development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of particular note, Oxford University in concert with AstraZeneca, a large pharmaceutical company, published data showing a vaccine they have in development generates an immune response. While not without side effects – and keeping in mind there is still much testing to be done – the efficacy and safety of the vaccine sound promising. Domestically, the federal government placed a $2 billion order for 100 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by Pfizer and BioNTech, a German company. The U.S. government hopes to have a COVID-19 vaccine widely available by January.From a geopolitical perspective, tensions between the U.S. and China moved to the front burner again this week as the State Department ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston. The closure was ordered in an effort to protect intellectual property and information, a move that a Chinese Foreign Ministry representative characterized as an unprecedented escalation. Time will tell if this will further damage the already rocky trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.Through all the recent tumult and economic strain, the stock market is within striking distance of the highs it reached in February, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold. This is an amazing feat and speaks to the optimism of the American investor. News about a new stimulus package and ongoing vaccine efforts should continue to dominate the mindset of investors, not to mention the headlines, in the weeks ahead. I am hopeful for positive outcomes regarding both.Market comments based on the S&P 500 index which is unmanaged and cannot be directly invested into. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal.The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation or investment advice.Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time and cannot be guaranteed.July 16, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsComing into the week, COVID-19 news was mixed. Over the weekend, New York City reported its first day with no coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began– while Florida set a single-day record for the number of new cases in a state. The market got off to strong start on Monday, but stocks reversed course after California ordered all indoor entertainment, including bars and restaurants, to close, frightening investors and pushing the markets into negative territory by close.Equities renewed their upward march on Tuesday as a number of large banks reported earnings. Here too, the news was mixed. Some banks reported poor numbers as they have had to increase their provisions for potential bad loans, while others, whose fortunes were more tied to trading revenues, fared much better as the market’s volatility worked in their favor.On a more clearly positive note, stocks surged Wednesday morning after a large biotechnology company reported that its coronavirus vaccine had produced promising immune responses. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, characterized the results as good news. As in prior weeks, stocks in travel and entertainment spiked upward on encouraging vaccine data. This shows the market believes that the travel and entertainment industries’ recovery hinges on the successful development (and deployment) of a vaccine.Coming full circle, while Florida did have a large number of new cases this past weekend, daily cases have since begun to trend lower statewide for the first time in recent weeks. That said, cases are still rising on a national level and Thursday’s jobs number came in worse than expected. As such, concerns still exist that we could very much have a second wave economic slowdown as some businesses close again. While our expectation is that the U.S. in aggregate will get the new case count under control, we recognize it may take some time to get there.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal.Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time and cannot be guaranteed.July 9, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsThis week the markets were torn between positive economic news and the nationwide resurgence in COVID-19 cases. On the economic front, it was announced last Thursday that a record 4.8 million jobs were added in June, the second month in a row that the jobs data had a strong surprise to the upside. Of particular note was that a significant portion of the job gains were seen in areas such as leisure and hospitality – two industries hard-hit by the initial coronavirus lockdown.While the strong economic data seen in May and June was welcome, the rising number of COVID-19 cases has investors on high alert as we move into July. In some instances, business owners are increasingly nervous that the pandemic – and its associated economic pressures – may go on much longer than they initially hoped. If it is necessary for businesses to reclose, a marked slowdown in the economic recovery could occur.One bright spot for global equities of late has been China. Chinese equities have spiked as economic data has been strong, with improvements on both the manufacturing and services front and, by appearances, the containment of COVID-19. While it remains to be seen whether China’s relative strength will be sustainable, it does speak to the benefits that diversification and a modest investment in emerging market equities may bring.While the market on the whole has been a bit directionless over the past month, some subtler trends have developed. Harkening back to the heart of the downturn, technology stocks have resumed their market leadership while more economically sensitive sectors such as energy and financials have begun to struggle. This could be an early sign that the market is sniffing out a second-wave slowdown. As such, I continue to believe diversification to be the best course of action. Spreading assets across various investment classes allows investors to participate in market rallies when they occur while managing risk should the markets decline.Stay safe and be well.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal. International investing is not suitable for all investors. International investing involves increased risk and volatility due to potential political and economic instability, currency fluctuations and differences in financial reporting and accounting standards and oversight. Risks are particularly significant in emerging and developing markets. Please consult with your financial advisor prior to making investment decisions.Diversification is an investment strategy that can help manage risk within your portfolio, but it does not guarantee profits or protect against loss in declining markets.Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks, and uncertainties, which change over time and cannot be guaranteed. July 2, 2020 Update - Coronavirus and the MarketsAfter a rough finish last Friday, stocks headed upward this week. On Monday, it was announced that the index of pending home sales was up a record 44.3% in May. Paired with the strong new home sales numbers from the week before, it appears home buyers are reentering the housing market – a good sign for the economy at large.Adding to investor optimism is some encouraging study data on a coronavirus vaccine. While the results of the study are still very much preliminary, the market’s positive reaction shows it believes a viable and deployable vaccine will augur the end of the pandemic and its economic downturn.News on the hiring front was also generally positive this week. The May jobs numbers were revised higher, showing more than three million jobs were added in the month. June’s numbers did not meet consensus expectations, but they were still in solidly positive territory, with payrolls rising by 2.369 million. A notable recovery was seen in jobs tied to leisure and hospitality, the areas initially hit the hardest by shelter-in-place orders.However, in spite of all the good news, the number of new COVID-19 cases is up 80% nationwide in the past two weeks. In response, a number of state and local governments have begun to slow reopenings and mandate wearing masks. For many restaurants and small businesses this is a frustrating development, as a resurgence of cases may force many businesses to close again after recently reopening.This week we also saw the second quarter come to a close. From a stock market perspective, equities fared well having their best quarter since the technology boom of the late 1990s. Time will tell if the market moved too far too fast, but for now, it feels like the markets are heading in the right direction.The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation or investment advice. All opinions and forward-looking statements are subject to change without notice based on market/economic conditions. Data contained herein is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.Past performance is no guarantee of future results and the opinions presented cannot be viewed as an indicator of future performance. Investing involves risk and the potential to lose principal. March 26 update: Coronavirus and the marketsFor the third consecutive week, the markets began with a Monday sell-off followed by a Tuesday bounceback. All eyes were on both monetary and fiscal stimulus, and early in the week the markets viewed both with disdain. However, that changed as the week progressed.From a monetary perspective, the Federal Reserve (Fed) took some extraordinary steps – colloquially called its “bazooka” moment – announcing the removal of caps on its purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, and that it would purchase corporate bonds for the first time. While supportive in concept, the markets initially viewed this negatively, believing that the Fed may be running out of ammunition. However, this sentiment changed on Tuesday as investors began to see improving liquidity in the markets and, thus, everything from municipal and corporate bonds to equities performed very well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 11%, its strongest single day percentage gain since 1932.On the fiscal front, the week began with investors hoping Congress would reach a deal on a massive stimulus plan to support those impacted by the coronavirus. Negotiations stalled out on Monday, but that changed Wednesday morning when the Senate came to a bipartisan agreement for a $2 trillion stimulus package. While yet to be voted on by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President, the proposed package consists of direct payments to individuals, small business loans, and unemployment insurance benefits.The amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus being pumped into the economy is unprecedented. While the economic impacts of the coronavirus will likely be damaging, government entities are doing everything in their power to bridge the economic gap until the crisis passes. Nevertheless, wide day-to-day market swings can be disconcerting for an investor. Please do not hesitate to give me a call if you have any concerns about your current investment plan._________________________________________________________________________________In your investing lifetime, you may only see a situation like the recent novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a few times. This is a circumstance where complete candor is necessary. The truth is that we can’t yet gauge the full economic impact, and by the time we can, the volatility may have passed.It’s important to remember that, in terms of market declines, the recent drop isn’t unprecedented. In fact, in the last six day-to-day declines of 3% or greater, the market rebounded higher a month later. Past performance is no indication of future returns, and it’s uncertain whether history is a good teacher in this instance.1Markets Have the VirusRight now, markets are reacting to the news because the outcome is unknown. In a way, COVID-19 has “infected” markets all around the world. In times of market uncertainty, some traders believe the best approach is to sell. Fear is driving decisions. Nobody would blame you if this uncertainty gave you a bit ofanxiety, as well.You Don’t Buy Snow Tires in a BlizzardBy working together to develop an investment strategy that fits your risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals, we have been preparing to weather turbulence. When a blizzard hits, the people who already own snow tires are usually happier than those venturing out into the cold, hoping they’re still in stock. In the same way, it’s generally best to make decisions during periods of low market volatility. We’re in the middle of the storm right now.Here to Support YouThis may be the time you need a trusted financial professional most. During most volatility, we advise you to “Be a long-term thinker, not a short-term worrier,” and that generally proves to be the best course of action. In times like this, however, it’s easy to question conventional wisdom.Remember, we are here to help you and your family during this time. Whatever decisions you make, please allow us to support you through them. Feel free to reach out to our team with any questions or concerns.1. wstreet.com, February 27, 2020 Have a Question Name Email Address Phone Question Thank you! Oops!