Stocks edged higher Friday. Although financials dropped following disappointing reports from three big banks, gains in industrials and other areas helped the S&P 500 hit its highest close in more than five months. The Dow logged its best week in nearly a month. And the NASDAQ closed at a historical high. For the week, the Dow rose 2.32 percent to close at 25,019.41. The S&P gained 1.55 percent to finish at 2,801.31, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.79 percent to end the week at 7,825.98.
Not a Record We Want – The total U.S. debt is projected to reach $21.5 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2018 (i.e., Sept. 30, 2018), equal to 107 percent of the size of the U.S. economy. That’s the highest level of debt relative to the size of our nation’s economy since 1947 (source: Office of Management and Budget, BTN Research).
Look Back – As of June 30, the total return of the S&P 500 was +14.4 percent for the trailing one year, +11.9 percent per year for the last three years, +13.4 percent per year for the last five years and +10.2 percent per year for the last 10 years (source: BTN Research).
Weekly Focus - What to Know About Interest Rates
During much of the extended Bull Run preceding 2018, cheap money flows and low-interest rates helped drive the market. But that tide has turned. Thanks to a growing economy and positive jobs reports, the Federal Reserve made its seventh interest rate hike in two years in June and signaled two more increases are probably coming this year. Here’s how climbing rates may affect different groups:
Credit Card Holders: Rising interest rates can be bad news for Americans with considerable credit card balances. Bankrate reports average credit card rates are at a record high of 17 percent. Credit card borrowers will want to shop around for better rates or a zero-interest balance transfer and aggressively pay their cards down.
Millennials: Individuals with variable-rate school loans will also feel the pinch. They may want to combine their federal and private loans into one fixed-rate, lower-interest loan. But they should weigh that choice carefully since they could lose federal loan benefits, such as deferment, forbearance and forgiveness.
Homeowners: Although longer-term loans like mortgages react more slowly to increases, home shoppers may want to move soon in the likelihood of future hikes. Since home equity loans are more directly linked to the prime rate, baby boomers may prefer to downsize to a home that allows them to age in place rather than financing a remodel of their present home.
Investors: One might expect rising interest rates to impact equities negatively as conservative investments like bonds and Treasury notes become more appealing. But stock prices also reflect investors’ outlook on the economy and may retain their appeal when rising rates are tied to economic confidence. And certain sectors can actually benefit from rising rates, such as financial institutions, which generally raise interest on loans faster than the interest they pay.
When interest rates rise or are expected to rise, bond prices often fall, particularly longer-term bonds. But investors must weigh the risk of falling prices with longer-term bonds against smaller returns with short-term bonds. Some invest in bonds with varying maturities to reduce these risks. Often, a 401(k) bond fund will recoup potential losses over time as it acquires new bonds at higher yields.
Every economic environment provides challenges and opportunities. Give me a call if you have questions about the best choices for your situation in light of climbing interest rates.
The Dorion-Gray Team
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisory Firm. Dorion-Gray Retirement Planning is a trade name of Dorion-Gray Financial Services, Inc. located at 2602 IL Route 176, Crystal Lake, IL 60014. Dorion-Gray and the Securities America companies are separate, unaffiliated entities.
Diversification seeks to reduce the volatility of a portfolio by investing in a variety of asset classes. Neither asset allocation nor diversification guarantee against market loss or greater or more consistent returns.
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* 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 index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright July 2018. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#2179969.1