Weekly Market Commentary July 8, 2019

Fast Facts

Bee-Boop, Police Here!- The police department in Huntington Park, Calif., swore in its newest officer last week: a bullet-shaped bot called HP RoboCop. Fitted with 360-degree cameras that can feed live video to police HQ, the robot will trundle around city parks and buildings, searching for lawbreakers. RoboCop has been trained to interact with members of the public and can recite simple phrases such as “Excuse me” and “Good day to you.” The bot, says Chief Cosme Lozano, will “fit right in” with the rest of the force.

Get Candy, Get Candy, Get Candy- A 4-year-old boy from Minnesota stole his great-grandpa’s SUV and took a joyride to the store so he could satisfy his hunger for candy. Sebastian Swenson backed the car out of a driveway in the town of Blaine and cruised for 1½ miles down a four-lane road at 15 mph during morning rush hour. After clipping several mailboxes and a tree, the sweet-toothed Sebastian eventually pulled into a parking lot, where he was met by police. “I’ve never seen a driver this young before operating a vehicle,” said officer Mark Boerboom.

Jumping with Joy- The first time Tom Rice parachuted into Normandy, he didn’t get a warm reception. A member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, he was dropped into Nazi-occupied France in June 1945 as part of the D-Day invasion. The paratroopers were met with a hail of German bullets—one of which struck Rice’s parachute. Now 97 and living in San Diego, Rice returned to Normandy earlier this month to help mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. He jumped again from a World War II–era C-47 transport plane. But this time, Rice was strapped to a partner and was greeted with cheers on landing. “It went perfect,” he said. “I’d go up and do it all again.”

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“One thing I’ve learned through all the ups and downs is that if you’re doing things right, then you have a core group of people. Not just a core group like your homies or your buddies, but a group of people that has a good influence on you, who you respect and admire, and you know that if they’re on your side, you’re doing something right.”
-Hope Solo, former United States national soccer team goalkeeper

The Markets

What will the Federal Reserve do now?

There was unexpected economic news last week. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 224,000 new jobs were added in June, which was more than analysts had anticipated. The gains were offset a bit by reductions in April and May employment estimates. However, overall, the pace of jobs growth during second quarter was fairly consistent with jobs growth during the first quarter, reported Matthew Klein of Barron’s.

Strong employment numbers invigorated some investors. As a result, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq Composite finished the week near record highs.

Not everyone was jumping for joy, however.

The performance of the bond market continued to indicate some investors are worried about the possibility of recession. The yield curve remained inverted last week with the 10-year Treasury note trading at lower yields than 3-month Treasury bills. Yield curve inversions have been harbingers of recession in the past, reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.

Time may provide greater clarity about the strength of the American economy. April Joyner of Reuters reported,

“It will likely take several months of economic data – along with results from the corporate earnings season later this month – to clarify the picture, investors say. In contrast to Friday’s upbeat employment report, data earlier this week showed U.S. manufacturing and service activity in June declined to multi-year lows… Future data…may end up either confirming recession fears or altogether dashing the hopes for interest-rate cuts that have buoyed stocks.”

In its July meeting, the Federal Reserve will examine economic data and decide whether to lower rates. Investors have been anticipating a rate cut, reported Greg Robb of MarketWatch. If it doesn’t happen, stock markets could be a bit volatile.

Succumbing to the power of digital persuasion or not. A lot has been written about Americans and smartphones – the crowd favorite among mobile devices. Eighty-five percent of U.S. participants in the 2018 Deloitte Global Mobile Survey owned smartphones and checked their phones about 14 billion times a day.

Which amounts to approximately 52 times each. If you figure Americans are awake about 960 minutes each day, they check their phones every 18 minutes.

Almost three-in-ten Americans say that what they see on social media influences their decisions to buy or not buy. The percent rises to five-in-ten for millennials, according to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Survey™.

It is little wonder social media influencers have become a staple of digital marketing.

What are influencers? The Influencer Marketing Hub describes an influencer like this:

“An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.”

Influencing has become a bona fide career path, a job with has its own set of Federal Trade Commission guidelines. For example, truth in advertising requires influencers to indicate when they’ve being paid to promote a product and also when they’ve received the product for free. Consumers should see the letters #ad before a comment or tweet when the influencer is promoting a brand or product.

Not everyone is impressed with the influence of influencers. CBC reported the owner of a Los Angeles ice cream truck got fed up with requests for free ice cream in exchange for online exposure. His solution was to start charging influencers twice the going rate.

The lesson may be that influence should be used judiciously.


Best regards,

John Klevens, CFP


P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Sources: The Week Magazine
Portions of this newsletter has been prepared by Peak Advisor