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March 2, 2015 - What's Grown At the Fastest Pace in 4 Years?

| March 02, 2015
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Stocks ended the week mixed after losses related to a lower fourth-quarter Gross Domestic Product estimate. However, after a lackluster January, the major indices ended February on an upbeat note, with the S&P 500 posting a 5.5% gain.[1] For the week, the S&P 500 lost 0.27%, the Dow lost edged down 0.04%, and the NASDAQ gained 0.15%.[2]

Though we're two-thirds through with the first quarter of 2015, investors were thinking about fourth-quarter 2014 GDP last week. The revised estimate shows that the economy grew 2.2% in the final three months of the year, lower than the 2.6% originally reported. However, the good news is that consumer spending, one of the largest contributors to the economy, grew at the fastest pace in four years.[3] A significant downward revision of business inventories, a measure of how optimistic U.S. firms are about future demand, was mostly responsible for the lower GDP report.[4]

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen gave investors some more guidance about interest rates in speeches before the House and Senate. Though she still preaches patience, she also indicated that the central bank might raise rates as early as July. Though the rate raise may give stocks the jitters, banks may respond by raising consumer rates to compete for your business. On the other hand, higher rates could drag on the housing market.[5]

With earnings season largely over, we can start drawing some conclusions about how U.S. companies did in the fourth quarter. Overall, Q4 earnings gave us a mixed picture. Out of 465 S&P 500 companies, earnings were up 6.5 percent over fourth quarter 2013, but revenues were up just 1.6 percent.[6] These results suggest that many firms are still struggling with weak demand. Many firms also issued low guidance for the first quarter of 2015, indicating that they're worried about their growth prospects this year - this squares with the lower business inventories data found in the Q4 GDP report.[7] Hopefully, we'll see lower energy prices push up spending and help U.S. companies beat their earnings estimates.

Looking ahead, analysts will be focusing on the February jobs report this week, which they hope will show that the labor market continues to recover. Investors will spotlight wage growth, a key figure that indicates how much more money workers have in their wallets.[8] Economists anticipate that improving job prospects and low gasoline prices could support increased consumer spending this quarter.

 

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: Personal Income and Outlays, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg. Index, Construction Spending
Tuesday: Motor Vehicle Sales, Janet Yellen Speaks 8:15 PM ET
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, SM Non-Mfg. Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report, Beige Book
Thursday: Jobless Claims, Productivity and Costs, Factory Orders
Friday: Employment Situation, International Trade

Notes: All index returns exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. Sources: Yahoo! Finance and Treasury.gov. International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Corporate bond performance is represented by the DJCBP. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

 

HEADLINES:

Pending home sales rise to highest level since 2013. A measure of houses under contract rose in January as better credit conditions and more jobs boosted housing market activity. Since we are approaching prime home buying season, analysts hope the trend will continue into the spring.[9]

New single-family home sales drop slightly. Sales of newly built houses edged downward in January, possibly because of cold winter weather in the Northeast. However, sales are up 5.4% since January 2014 in a hopeful sign for the sluggish housing market.[10]

Durable goods rise in February. Orders for long-lasting manufactured products - like cars, refrigerators, and electronics - climbed 2.8% from January, indicating that businesses expect to be able to sell big-ticket items in coming months.[11]

Consumer sentiment drops slightly in February. Icy weather caused a gauge of consumer sentiment to slip last month. Despite the harsh weather, American confidence in the economy remains near eight-year highs.[12]


These are the views of Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.


Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.

The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies.

The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.

The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is a 96-bond index designed to represent the market performance, on a total-return basis, of investment-grade bonds issued by leading U.S. companies. Bonds are equally weighted by maturity cell, industry sector, and the overall index.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are the leading measures of U.S. residential real estate prices, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate. The index is made up of measures of real estate prices in 20 cities and weighted to produce the index.

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  1. http://goo.gl/7djSNs
  2. http://goo.gl/xuK4x9
  3. http://www.bloomberg.com/
  4. http://www.cnbc.com/
  5. http://www.foxnews.com
  6. http://www.zacks.com/
  7. http://www.zacks.com/
  8. http://www.cnbc.com/
  9. http://www.foxbusiness.com/
  10. http://www.foxbusiness.com/
  11. http://www.foxbusiness.com/
  12. http://www.foxbusiness.com/
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