Market Week: December 30, 2014

December 29th, 2014

The Markets

Grinches were few and far between on Wall Street last week as the Dow industrials topped 18,000 for the first time and the S&P 500 also set yet another new record. Even the small caps of the Russell 2000 participated in the merriment, turning in the best performance of the week. The price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury slipped a bit as the yield rose.

Market/Index

2013 Close

Prior Week

As of 12/26

Weekly Change

YTD Change

DJIA

16576.66

17804.80

18053.71

1.40%

8.91%

Nasdaq

4176.59

4765.38

4806.86

.87%

15.09%

S&P 500

1848.36

2070.65

2088.77

.88%

13.01%

Russell 2000

1163.64

1195.96

1215.21

1.61%

4.43%

Global Dow

2484.10

2508.43

2529.85

.85%

1.84%

Fed. Funds

.25%

.25%

.25%

0%

0%

10-year Treasuries

3.04%

2.17%

2.25%

8 bps

-79 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

· The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in 11 years during the third quarter. The Bureau of Economic Analysis said the 5% annualized growth of gross domestic product outpaced Q2’s 4.6% and represented the strongest growth since Q3 2003’s 6.9%. Health care and business investment in buildings and equipment were a large part of the increase. After-tax corporate profits also were up, rising 2.8% from Q2.

· Personal income rose 0.4% in November, but consumer spending rose even more. According to the Commerce Department, consumer expenditures were up 0.6% as falling gas prices left consumers with more money to spend. Meanwhile, disposable income was up 0.5% after adjusting for taxes and inflation.

· Existing home sales slowed a bit in November as the number of homes available for sale fell almost 7%. The National Association of Realtors® said total sales were down 6.1% for the month, but were 2.1% higher than the previous November. The Commerce Department said new sales of single-family homes also fell 1.6% during the month, and were down 1.6% from a year ago.

· An 8.1% drop in military spending helped cut orders for durable goods 0.7% in November, according to the Commerce Department. It was the third straight month of declines in orders for goods intended to last three years or more. Also, business spending on equipment was basically flat.

Eye on the Week Ahead

As the year winds down in yet another abbreviated week of trading, volumes are likely to continue to be light. A few economic reports are due out, but many traders will be off toasting 2014’s string of record highs and hoping 2015 will bring more of them.

Data sources: All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market data: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Market Week: December 22, 2014

December 22nd, 2014

The Markets

Patience is a virtue: The Federal Reserve’s announcement that it would be “patient” with interest rate hikes was Santa’s cue to drop off gifts a little early. Equities regained much of what they had lost the week before. The Dow industrials’ 288-point gain on Wednesday was its best day of 2014–that is, until Thursday’s eye-popping 421-point increase left it in the dust. The Russell 2000 had its best week of the year, and the S&P is less than 5 points from the all-time high set two weeks earlier. Meanwhile, oil prices continued to fall, ending the week at roughly $57 a barrel.

Market/Index

2013 Close

Prior Week

As of 12/19

Weekly Change

YTD Change

DJIA

16576.66

17280.83

17804.80

3.03%

7.41%

Nasdaq

4176.59

4653.60

4765.38

2.40%

14.10%

S&P 500

1848.36

2002.33

2070.65

3.41%

12.03%

Russell 2000

1163.64

1152.45

1195.96

3.78%

2.78%

Global Dow

2484.10

2459.30

2508.43

2.00%

.98%

Fed. Funds

.25%

.25%

.25%

0%

0%

10-year Treasuries

3.04%

2.10%

2.17%

7 bps

-87 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

·The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee replaced its promise to wait “a considerable time” before raising interest rates with a promise to be “patient” before doing so. Almost all committee members expect higher rates to hit in 2015, but investors paid more attention to members’ belief that rates may rise more slowly than previously thought. The committee’s median forecast for the fed funds rate at the end of 2015 is now 1.125%, while the median expectation for December 2016 is now 2.5%.

· The Russian ruble plunged 20% on Tuesday, prompting the country’s Central Bank to hike its key interest rate from 10.5% to 17% to try to support the currency. Concerns about the currency accelerated after bonds issued by Russia’s largest oil company received favorable treatment from the Central Bank; that raised questions about whether the action was essentially a government bailout of the company, which has been hard-hit by both economic sanctions and lower oil prices.

· Plummeting oil prices were good news for U.S. consumers in November. The 0.3% drop in the Consumer Price Index was fueled largely by the 6.6% decline in gas prices, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics called the sharpest decline since December 2008. Lower energy costs more than offset the 0.2% increase in food and 0.3% rise in housing, and helped cut the inflation rate for the previous 12 months to 1.3% from 1.7% a month earlier. Meanwhile, November’s 0.6% increase in inflation-adjusted hourly wages accounted for almost all of the 0.8% increase in wages over the last 12 months.

· President Obama announced that the United States will move to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were cut off in 1961. However, congressional action would be needed to lift the decades-old trade embargo against Cuba.

· Both housing starts and building permits slipped in November, by 1.6% and 5.2% respectively. According to the Commerce Department, single-family housing was responsible for most of the decline in housing starts, while multi-unit buildings caused most of the decline in permits.

· U.S. industrial production rose 1.3% in November, helped by cold weather that pushed up heating demand and thus output from utilities. The Federal Reserve also said that industrial output from June through October was stronger than previously reported, and usage of the nation’s industrial capacity finally reached its long-term average of 80.1%. However, manufacturing growth measured by the Philly Fed survey slipped slightly, while the Empire State survey showed its first negative reading in nearly two years.

Eye on the Week Ahead

With a holiday-shortened week ahead, it might be difficult for equities to match last week’s blockbuster performance. The final Q3 GDP number and data on housing as well as consumer income and spending are on tap.

Data sources: All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market data: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Market Week: December 15, 2014

December 15th, 2014

The Markets

Concerns about the global economic impact of the ongoing turmoil in oil helped prompt a sharp drop in equities. The decline in oil prices, which accelerated last week, has left crude down more than 45% from its mid-June high. After seven straight weeks of gains in the S&P 500, equities investors took some money off the table, handing both the S&P 500 and Dow industrials their worst weekly point losses since 2011 and dragging the Russell 2000 small caps back into negative year-to-date territory. The Global Dow also suffered because of lower oil prices’ potential ramifications for emerging markets and their currencies. The turbulence renewed demand for the security of the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note; its yield plunged as prices rose.

Market/Index

2013 Close

Prior Week

As of 12/12

Weekly Change

YTD Change

DJIA

16576.66

17958.79

17280.83

-3.78%

4.25%

Nasdaq

4176.59

4780.76

4653.60

-2.66%

11.42%

S&P 500

1848.36

2075.36

2002.33

-3.52%

8.33%

Russell 2000

1163.64

1182.43

1152.45

-2.54%

-.96%

Global Dow

2484.10

2565.63

2459.30

-4.14%

-1.00%

Fed. Funds

.25%

.25%

.25%

0%

0%

10-year Treasuries

3.04%

2.31%

2.10%

-21 bps

-94 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

· The International Energy Agency forecast that increased oil supplies and continued weak global growth would mean higher oil inventories during the first half of next year. Coupled with an announcement that Saudi production levels will remain at current levels, that helped cut oil prices to less than $60 a barrel; as recently as mid-June it was roughly $107. Those losses in turn prompted Russia and Norway to take measures to support their respective oil-dependent economies. Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate to try to support the ruble while Norway’s central bank cut rates to try to stimulate domestic growth.

· Despite a lackluster Black Friday weekend, retail sales shot up 0.7% in November, and the Commerce Department said they were 5.1% higher than in November 2013. Auto sales were almost 10% higher than a year earlier, and nonstore retail sales rose 8.7% in the same time.

· Wholesale prices fell an average of 0.2% in November; a 3% drop in energy costs during the month was responsible for most of the decline. November’s lower prices left the annual inflation rate at 1.4% for the last 12 months; according to Bureau of Labor Statistics records, that’s the lowest annual rate since February. Even aside from the volatile food and energy sectors, producer prices were down 0.1% for the month.

· The U.S. Congress passed a spending bill for the next fiscal year, eliminating the threat of a government shutdown. Conflicts over the bill’s rollback of some Dodd-Frank banking regulations, higher limits on donations to political parties, and funding for the Homeland Security Department threatened to derail the legislation, which the White House has said the president will sign.

· Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received a vote of confidence for his so-called “Abenomics” fiscal policies; despite Japan’s recent slide into recession, voters once again gave Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party a majority in the country’s parliament.

Eye on the Week Ahead

Investors are likely to focus on crude and “considerable time”: whether oil prices are likely to stabilize, even temporarily, and whether the Federal Reserve will drop its “considerable time” estimate of how long it might preserve current interest rates. And as the end of 2014 draws closer, year-end tax-related profit-taking and/or tax-loss harvesting also could play an increasing role in market movements.

Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Merv’s word: December 13th, 2014

December 15th, 2014

Ebola and the End of QE – Not to Worry

December 10th, 2014
Homo sapiens are natural worriers, and the subspecies Homo sapiens investor even more so. The world is a dangerous place, filled with economic calamities and potential calamities, not to mention environmental, political and other risks. As professional investors, we at KCS have to synthesize a great deal of economic, financial, political and other data from numerous sources to make investing decisions. We also have to perform our due diligence on companies, governments and other entities.
In addition, every once in a while we have to spend additional time investigating an unexpected event or situation (sometimes called a “black swan”). Here in California, we have local concerns such as our drought and high income taxes, both of which can affect our investment positioning. Nationally, the news media have recently been focusing on Ebola and the end of quantitative easing (QE), hyping them to near fever pitch. We, however, are not at all concerned about them (from an investment perspective), and don’t think you should be, either.
Doctor’s Orders: Stop worrying about Ebola in the US
Many of you know that Dr. Ken Waltzer, Managing Director and co-founder of KCS Wealth Advisory, was formerly an internal medicine physician with a specialty in preventive care. Putting his stethoscope back on temporarily, he is telling you that unless you plan on traveling to a handful of countries in West Africa, you should stop worrying about Ebola. For some reason, despite there having been only 10 cases of Ebola in the United States (as of this writing), we have been led to believe that not only is Ebola highly contagious, but that it also presents a threat to the average American. This is simply not true.
Of the 10 cases of Ebola in the US, 8 were contracted in West Africa, while 2 cases were in nurses treating infected patients in one Dallas hospital. (It is now thought that those 2 nurses were infected when they improperly removed their protective gear.) There have been 12 other cases of Ebola outside West Africa, but all but one (a nurse in Spain) also contracted it in West Africa. Of these 22 total cases, 5 have died, 12 have fully recovered, and the remaining 5 are still in treatment. Thus, even for those who are infected, the current strain of Ebola is far from a death sentence.
Subsequent to that handful of cases, US and foreign efforts at containment have been stepped up dramatically, making future cases in the US even less likely. And note that Ebola is far less infectious than airborne viruses such as influenza and measles. Of everyone who came in contact with the first patient diagnosed in the US, only the two nurses that cared for him contracted the disease. No friend or family member, including his fiancée, was infected. Thus, Ken is here to tell you that a potential Ebola outbreak in the US, without a doubt, does not belong on your list of things to be worried about. Even in a worst-case scenario, you are 5 times more likely to be killed by lightning this year than Ebola.
Things are not so rosy in West Africa, where Ebola is prevalent and continuing to spread. The reasons are several, and not all known. The affected West African countries (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) have seen over 15,000 cases so far, although the number of new infections finally appears to be declining. These countries have virtually no public health infrastructure, plus social practices that contribute to the virus’ spread. Obviously, their GDP will be highly affected, but all 3 countries combined represent only 0.01% of global GDP. Thus, while the human toll is substantial, the economic effects will barely be felt.
Perception, however, often equals reality. From an economic standpoint, the most significant effect of Ebola will come from people’s fears, however irrational. Will air travel and tourism decline because of this fear? While there is some anecdotal evidence of people canceling or changing travel plans, the overall effect appears to be minimal so far. Will people stay away from the mall fearing infection from an Ebola patient that happens to be out holiday shopping? So far, demonstrations about the Ferguson grand jury verdict have done more to disrupt mall shopping than Ebola. While Ebola fear is an economic concern, so far people appear to be acting rationally, with little impact on the global economy.
(Data on Ebola cases are sourced from the following: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28755033)
Quantitative easing is over(rated)
In January we devoted an entire newsletter to debunking the myths surrounding quantitative easing. Now that QE has officially ended, neither the financial markets nor the US economy has fallen apart—in fact, the S&P 500 hit a new all-time high. Some pundits have referred to QE as “life support,” yet the financial system is still breathing after the Federal Reserve pulled the plug on this alleged life support. While there is rarely a shortage of matters to concern investors, we believe that neither the end of quantitative easing nor Ebola in the US should be high on anyone’s list of economic anxieties.
As far as whether or not the market has “reached a peak”—a question we have heard quite a few times lately—we have no idea, and we doubt anyone else does either. Rather, we continue to be inspired by technological advances and good corporate earnings growth, as well as generally positive macroeconomic trends. In addition, the recent rapid decline in oil prices is probably a net positive for the global economy and the markets, despite the harm it has done to energy company prices and the economies of oil producers such as Russia and Venezuela.
Please let us know if you have questions or suggestions for future content, and thanks for reading.
Dr. Ken Waltzer, MD, MPH, AIF®, CFA, CFP®
Managing Director, KCS Wealth Advisory
​Laura Gilman, CFP®, PFP, MBA
Managing Director, KCS Wealth Advisory

Adam Bragman
Director of Investment Research, KCS Wealth Advisory

Market Week: December 10, 2014

December 9th, 2014

The Markets

An unexpectedly strong jobs report on top of generally positive U.S. housing and manufacturing numbers helped nudge the Dow and S&P to new records yet again at the end of the week. However, the report also may have helped bring on a dip in the price of the benchmark 10-year Treasury by raising questions about whether the employment gains would bolster the case for a Federal Reserve rate hike in the first half of 2015.

Market/Index

2013 Close

Prior Week

As of 12/5

Weekly Change

YTD Change

DJIA

16576.66

17828.24

17958.79

.73%

8.34%

Nasdaq

4176.59

4791.63

4780.76

-.23%

14.47%

S&P 500

1848.36

2067.56

2075.36

.38%

12.28%

Russell 2000

1163.64

1173.23

1182.43

.78%

1.61%

Global Dow

2484.10

2571.40

2565.63

-.22%

3.28%

Fed. Funds

.25%

.25%

.25%

0%

0%

10-year Treasuries

3.04%

2.18%

2.31%

13 bps

-73 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

· The U.S. economy created 321,000 new jobs in November, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the prior two months’ gains were higher than previously thought. November’s gains also surpassed the 241,000 monthly average so far this year. Job increases were widespread, led by professional/business services, retail, health care, and manufacturing. However, the unemployment rate remained at 5.8%. Hourly wages were up 0.4% during the month and have grown 2.1% over the last year.

· Accelerated promotions may have lured shoppers out early and cut into Black Friday retail sales. The National Retail Federation said sales over the Thanksgiving weekend were down 11% from 2013, but the trade group said it still anticipates total holiday sales to be up more than 4% by the end of the year.

· The latest data from the International Monetary Fund showed that China is expected to be the world’s largest economy as of this year. The country’s anticipated $17.6 trillion in real GDP edged out the United States’ $17.4 trillion.

· A 1.8% increase in construction of single-family homes in October helped send total construction spending up 1.1% for the month, according to the Commerce Department. However, total spending was up just 1.9% over the last 12 months.

· The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of activity in the U.S. services sector showed growth accelerating in November. The 59.3% reading was 2.2% higher than in October. However, the Commerce Department said orders at U.S. manufacturers slid 0.7% in October and would have been worse if not for a 21.2% jump in orders for military equipment, especially aircraft.

· The U.S. trade deficit saw little change in October, edging downward to $43.4 billion from $43.6 billion in September as exports increased more than imports.

· European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the ECB expects Europe’s slow growth to slump even further next year and that opposition from some of the eurozone’s stronger members (i.e., Germany) would not keep the ECB from adopting supportive measures.

Eye on the Week Ahead

In a data-light week, the Commerce Department’s retail sales report could help clarify interpretations of last week’s Black Friday sales data. The results of an upcoming auction of loans to European
banks could influence whether the ECB eventually adds corporate and sovereign bond purchases to its current bond-buying activities.

Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller
20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Market Week: December 2, 2014

December 2nd, 2014

The Markets

The Nasdaq had a good week, but other equity indices saw little change, though the Dow and S&P 500 remained in record territory. The biggest news came from falling oil prices in the wake of a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to keep its oil supplies at current levels, which cut the price of oil to roughly $66 a barrel.

Market/Index

2013 Close

Prior Week

As of 11/28

Weekly Change

YTD Change

DJIA

16576.66

17810.06

17828.24

.10%

7.55%

Nasdaq

4176.59

4712.97

4791.63

1.67%

14.73%

S&P 500

1848.36

2063.50

2067.56

.20%

11.86%

Russell 2000

1163.64

1172.42

1173.23

.07%

.82%

Global Dow

2484.10

2559.75

2571.40

.46%

3.51%

Fed. Funds

.25%

.25%

.25%

0%

0%

10-year Treasuries

3.04%

2.31%

2.18%

-13 bps

-86 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Headlines

· U.S. gross domestic product grew during the third quarter at a slightly faster rate than the Bureau of Economic Analysis had previously estimated. However, the 3.9% increase in GDP was less than Q2’s 4.6%.

· Led by Saudi Arabia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to maintain current production levels to try to maintain market share in the face of U.S. competition. The decision hurt not only oil prices around the world but the currencies of countries that depend on oil exports. It also raised concerns about whether falling prices would lead oil companies to curtail investments in future exploration and development.

· Home prices in cities measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index were flat in September. Though there was a 4.9% year-over-year increase, that figure continued to show an overall downward trend; that 4.9% gain was lower than the 5.6% annual increase seen a month earlier.

· U.S. manufacturers saw a 0.4% increase in orders for durable goods in October, according to the Commerce Department. However, a 3.4% gain in the typically volatile aircraft sector was responsible for most of that; excluding transportation, new orders were down 0.9%.

· Sales of new homes were up 0.7% in October; according to the Commerce Department, that put them 1.8% higher than a year earlier.

· Both personal income and personal consumption were up 0.2% in October, according to the Commerce Department.

Eye on the Week Ahead

With traders back at their desks and the end of 2015 on the horizon, reports from last week’s retail battlefields will be of special interest for what they suggest about how the U.S. economy might fare through the end of the year. Given the freefall in oil prices last week, investors will be assessing the implications for the global economy and the energy sector. And as always, Friday’s unemployment figures will be of interest for what they might mean for Fed action in 2015.

Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.