George Noorey

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George Noorey

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U.S. stocks advanced modestly yesterday with investors somewhat reluctant to make big bets in a preholiday week while the main benchmarks were sitting near all-time highs set last week.  Trading volumes were thinner than usual, with the New York Stock Exchange reporting volume at 60% of normal.

In her first speech after raising interest rates last week for only the second time this decade, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said signs of a healthy job market abound, including steady job creation, a low layoff rate and more job openings. But Yellen also noted the economy is growing more slowly than in past recoveries and productivity growth “has been disappointing.”

Shares of Walt Disney were up 1.3% after “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hauled in an estimated $155 million in the U.S. and Canada at the box office over the weekend. Ticket sales were the second-biggest ever for a December opening.

Top executives of hedge fund Platinum Partners were arrested yesterday morning and charged with defrauding investors in one of the biggest such cases since Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.  As recently as this fall, Platinum told investors it oversaw more than $1 billion scattered in eclectic investments like loans to bankrupt companies and thinly-traded pharmaceutical stocks. It boasted one of the steadiest performance track records in the hedge-fund industry, with no down years for its funds.  More proof that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

President-elect Donald Trump's ambitious plans to revive exports, return jobs to the United States and increase oil drilling are running up against a home-grown threat:  The surging U.S. dollar.  Since the Nov. 8 election, the dollar has shot up 5 percent. An index that tracks the dollar against other major currencies reached a 14-year high after the election.

With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management I’m Tyler Simones

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