What I’m Watching This Week – 4 January 2016

The Markets (as of market close January 1, 2016)

As the year came to a close, the final week of 2015 saw each of the indexes listed here finish in negative territory compared to the prior week. Since the week closed on a holiday, the closing values for 2015 are in fact the closing values for the week ending January 1, 2016, so there is no year-to-date change.

The price of gold (COMEX) fell, selling at $1,060.50 by late Thursday afternoon, down from $1,075.80 a week earlier. Crude oil (WTI) prices also dropped, selling at $37.07 per barrel by week’s end. The national average retail regular gasoline price increased for the first time in several weeks to $2.034 per gallon on December 28, 2015, $0.008 above the previous week’s price but $0.265 under a year ago.

Market/Index 2015 Close Prior Week As of 1/1 Weekly Change YTD Change
DJIA 17425.03 17552.17 17425.03 -0.72% 0.0%
Nasdaq 5007.41 5048.49 5007.41 -0.81% 0.0%
S&P 500 2043.94 2060.99 2043.94 -0.83% 0.0%
Russell 2000 1135.89 1154.76 1135.89 -1.63% 0.0%
Global Dow 2336.45 2357.18 2336.45 -0.88% 0.0%
Fed. Funds 0.50% 0.50% 0.50% 0 bps 0 bps
10-year Treasuries 2.26% 2.24% 2.26% 2 bps 0 bps

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 Headlines

  • The Census Bureau’s advance report on U.S. international trade in goods for November revealed that the seasonally adjusted deficit decreased from $61.3 billion in October to $60.5 billion in November. Compared to October, the advance numbers showed exports of goods were down about 2.0%, while imports of goods fell roughly 1.8%.
  • Consumer confidence bounced back in December following November’s moderate decline. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® stands at 96.5, up from 92.6 in November. The Present Situation Index increased from 110.9 last month to 115.3 in December, while the Expectations Index improved to 83.9 from 80.4 in November. Survey respondents expressed optimism about the labor market, although consumers’ expectations about their financial outlook were mixed.
  • Rising prices and limited inventory continued to slow pending home sales (those under contract for sale) in November, according to the latest Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors®. The index for November fell 0.9% from October–the third time in four months the index has declined. However, the index is 2.7% ahead of November 2014.
  • For the week ended December 26, there were 287,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance, an increase of 20,000 from the prior week’s revised total. For the week ended December 19, the advance number for continuing unemployment insurance claims was 2,198,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.6% for the week ended December 19.

Eye on the Week Ahead

The first full week of the new year will reveal how last year ended in the manufacturing sector. Also of note will be the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis report on international trade for November.