Consumer Spending Boosts Q3 GDP Above Expectations
Sources: Sources for data in tables: Equity Market and Fixed Income returns are from JP Morgan as of 11/01/19. Rates and Economic Calendar Data from Bloomberg as of 11/01/19. International developed markets measured by the MSCI EAFE Index, emerging markets measured by the MSCI EM Index. Sector performance is measured using GICS methodology.
Global equity markets had another strong week, as all major indexes finished higher last week. In the U.S., the S&P 500 Index propelled to a level of 3,067, representing a gain of 1.49%, while the Russell Midcap Index gained 1.18% for the week. The Russell 2000 Index, a measure of the Nation’s smallest publicly traded firms, returned 1.99% over the week. On the international equities front, developed markets increased by 1.19%, while emerging markets rose 1.30%. Finally, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield finished the week at 1.73%.
In the U.S., equities enjoyed another week of strong performance thanks in large part to better than expected 3rd quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures. The United States economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.9% in the 3rd quarter of 2019, well above the 1.6% rate that forecasters expected. The majority of this growth can be attributed to the strength of the American consumer. In fact, consumer spending grew by about 2% throughout the quarter. Government spending and residential fixed investment were both positive contributors, whereas business investment and net exports detracted from Q3 GDP growth.
Favorable economic growth wasn’t the only thing pushing stock markets higher last week. On Wednesday, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Fed), Jerome Powell, announced that the Fed would, once again, loosen monetary policy by reducing the Federal Funds Target Rate by another 0.25%. This move places the Fed Funds Target Rate in a range of 1.50% to 1.75%. We’ve argued extensively against continual reductions in the Fed Funds rate, and it appears we may finally get our way based on Chairman Powell’s comments last Wednesday. Updated language in the Chairman’s press conference verbiage indicates that additional rate cuts will be placed on the back burner, only to restart should the economy begin to show repeated signs of deterioration.
These economic results support our belief that the U.S. consumer is resilient and remains optimistic, while also underpinning our “Slowing but Growing” theme for 2019. With that said, we recognize that during such periods volatility is likely to persist which is why we continue to encourage investors to stay disciplined and work with experienced financial professionals to help manage their portfolios through various market cycles within an appropriately diversified framework that is consistent with their objectives, time-frame, and tolerance for risk.
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