by Clare Market Investments on Sep 1, 2021
- The S&P 500 Index of large cap stocks returned 3% during August, while the Russell 2000 Index of small cap stocks returned 2.2%.
- Financials was the top performing sector during August, returning 5.1% as the 10-year Treasury yield rose by 0.1%. Energy was the only sector to trade lower during August, declining -2% as oil prices fell -7.4%.
- Investment grade bonds produced a -0.3% total return compared to high yield bonds’ 0.6% total return.
Federal Reserve Provides Monetary Policy Update
The Federal Reserve held its annual Jackson Hole meeting on August 27th. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech made the case for the Fed to start reducing its monthly bond purchases, which were started during the pandemic to keep interest rates steady, increase bond market liquidity, and keep credit flowing. He said the Fed has made progress toward its goals of average inflation running above 2% and maximum employment in the U.S. labor market. While Powell laid the groundwork to start tapering (i.e., reducing) the Fed’s monthly bond purchases, he went to great lengths to make clear tapering is a separate decision from raising interest rates. He warned that raising interest rates to tame inflation pressures could disrupt the recovery and said the Covid-19 delta variant poses a risk to the economy.
Financial markets were anxious leading up to the Jackson Hole meeting. The last time the Fed reduced bond purchases in 2013, investors threw what came to be called a ‘taper tantrum’ out of fear the Fed would remove support too soon and stall the recovery. This time around, Chairman Powell’s speech appears to have settled investors’ jitters. His tightrope act provided advance notice of the Fed’s intent to reduce monthly bond purchases, which markets already believe is providing limited benefit, but reassured investors interest rates will remain low to support the recovery.
Economic Data Decelerates as Pandemic Disruptions Create Friction
Recent economic data indicates the Covid-19 recovery is moderating. The incoming data paints a picture of an economy reverting back toward pre-pandemic trends amid supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. Regional manufacturing surveys from Federal Reserve bank branches in Dallas, Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia, and Richmond missed the market’s estimates during August. The U.S. Census Bureau reported July retail sales declined from June, while the National Association of Realtors announced July housing starts declined -7% compared to June. While the data is cooling, it does not point to an imminent economic slowdown. Even after declining from June levels, retail sales and housing starts both remain well-above pre-pandemic levels. The recovery will continue to be bumpy and the data will be lumpy, but the economy is forecasted to keep making positive progress in the months ahead.
Clare Market Investments, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as and should not be used to provide investment advice and is not an offer to sell a security or a recommendation to buy a security. This summary is based exclusively on an analysis of general market conditions and does not speak to the suitability of any specific proposed securities transaction or investment strategy. Judgement or recommendations found in this report may differ materially from what may be presented in a long-term investment plan and are subject to change at any time. This report’s authors will not advise you as to any changes in figures or views found in this report. Investors should consult with their investment advisor to determine the appropriate investment strategy and investment vehicle. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s specific financial needs and objectives, goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Except for the historical information contained in this report, certain matters are forward-looking statements or projections that are dependent upon risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to such factors and considerations such as general market volatility, global economic risk, geopolitical risk, currency risk and other country-specific factors, fiscal and monetary policy, the level of interest rates, security-specific risks, and historical market segment or sector performance relationships as they relate to the business and economic cycle. See claremarket.com for additional information and disclosures. © 2021 Clare Market Investments, LLC
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