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Financial Commentary

Insight & Market Analysis.

  • Overview Greece at the World’s Center Stage

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    OverviewGreece at the World’s Center Stage

    June 29, 2015 — Stocks ended mixed last Friday, as investors sought the relative safety of the sidelines ahead of critical weekend negotiations between Greece and international creditors. Troika creditors, including the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), proposed a five-month loan extension, offering to unlock up to €15.5B (US$17.3B) in Greek aid in exchange for required reform measures. Negotiators were said to be at odds over measures valued at approximately €2B. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rejected the offer and called for a referendum vote on July 5th. A possible debt payment default may occur this week, which could threaten Greece’s continued membership in the Eurozone.

    In highlights of U.S. weekly economic data, existing home sales jumped 5.1% in May, bringing YTD sales soaring 9.2% to the second strongest 12-month gain in two years. The first quarter GDP shrank less than earlier projected as a Wednesday final revision came in at -0.2% versus the -0.7% previously estimated. Lastly, the University of Michigan’s final June reading of consumer confidence rose to a five-month high of 96.1 from 90.7 in May.

    The benchmark S&P 500 Index finished a ninth week without a move of more than 1%, the longest such stretch since August 1993. For the week, the S&P 500 and the Dow Industrials each fell 0.4%, and the NASDAQ Composite lost 0.7%. Seven of the ten major equity sector groups ended negative last week, led by Utilities (-2.3%) and Materials (-1.7%). Only Telecom (+1.2%) and Consumer Discretionary (+0.5%) advanced. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose by 21.5 basis points last week, finishing at 2.474%.

  • Overview Stocks End the Week Positive as Rate Lift-Off Delayed

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    Overview Stocks End the Week Positive as Rate Lift-Off Delayed

    June 22, 2015 —U.S. stocks gained last week, sending the NASDAQ Composite to 5,133 on Thursday, a fresh high surpassing even its highest intra-day record set back in March 2000. The S&P 500 ended the week within 20-points (0.1%) of its 2,130 all-time high set May 21, 2015. The week was noted by mixed economic data amid uncertainty over credit negotiations between Greece and its international creditors. Economic highlights include a robust June housing market report that matched last September as the strongest reading of the recovery. Meanwhile, last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve showed it was in no hurry to raise interest rates and is waiting for more solid signs of growth before acting on its vowed lift-off of rate hikes by year-end. Notably, Fed policy makers issued their new quarterly forecasts, trimming this year’s GDP outlook to 1.8%-2% from a March view for 2.3%-2.7%. Quite comforting to Wall Street, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that no matter when the eventual rate normalization actually begins, it will be gradual. Regarding Greece, Yellen said she hopes an agreement will be reached to avert a default, and while the U.S. has little direct exposure to Greece, we may experience spillover effects from Greek trouble. For the week, including the effect of dividends, the Dow Industrials rose 0.66%, the S&P 500 rose 0.78% and the NASDAQ Composite rallied 1.31%.