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Stocks traded in a wide range yesterday and finished lower after the Federal Reserve slashed its rate-hike outlook for 2019 to zero and said it expects the U.S. economy to grow at a slower rate this year.
 
The Fed brought down its 2019 rate-hike forecast to no increases down from two hikes.  The central bank also indicated it intends to end the reduction of its massive $4.2 trillion balance sheet by September.  Stocks initially rallied off their lows of the day on the announcement as traders cheered a more accommodative policy stance from the Fed, which is typically supportive of equity prices. However, the Fed’s announcement also dragged down yields, which in turn knocked bank stocks lower.  Shares of all the major US banks traded sharply lower. 
 
A new class-action lawsuit takes aim at real estate agents and their 6% commission.  The suit was filed in Chicago on behalf of anyone who sold a home through one of 20 of the largest listing services in the country over the past five years. It charges that the mighty Washington-based lobby National Association of Realtors, as well as the four largest national real estate brokerages, and the Multiple Listing Services they use, have conspired to require anyone selling a home to pay the commission of the broker representing their buyer “at an inflated amount,” in violation of federal antitrust law.  The suit is being brought by the lawyers who won some big cases against big tobacco.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



US Stocks closed mostly lower yesterday in a bumpy trading session as investors await news on what the Federal Reserve is going to do with interest rates later today.
 
US factory orders rose a paltry .1% last month, another sign pointing to slower economic here in the US in the 1st quarter.  Economist had forecast a .5% increase.  Non-durable goods dropped by .5% last month.
 
The FDA has approved the first drug specifically developed to treat postpartum depression after childbirth.  Shares of Sage Therapeutics the company that developed the drug shot higher on the news.  The drug is likely to be priced at $35,000 per treatment.
 
Shares of FedEx dropped 6% yesterday after the company reported earnings that missed expectations.  The company also lowered expectations for the rest of the year for the 2nd time in 3 months over serious concerns about the global economy slowing down.
 
Google is planning to ask all Android smartphone users in Europe whether the want to switch to competing search engines.  One of two concession the search giant is offering to stave off complaints and fines from the European Union antitrust regulators.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



The Fed’s plans for its multitrillion-dollar balance sheet are in focus ahead of its two-day meeting starting today. The pace at which the Fed has been offloading debt was a factor behind the turbulence in financial markets last year. Fed chairman Jay Powell said last month that an announcement on the future of the balance sheet would come “fairly soon”.  (FT)

 

Looking to diversify its revenue sources, Google will take a stab today at revolutionizing the $130B+ gaming industry currently dominated by incumbents like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.  Reports suggest that the main focus isn't on a console - rumored to be called "Yeti" - but instead on a streaming platform that can be likened to a "Netflix for video games." Cloud gaming can let users stream wherever they are - on a phone, computer or tablet - with a speedy internet connection. (SA)

 

Things are relatively quiet on the trade front, but there are signs of progress. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described negotiations as “dynamic,” saying China could triple its 2017 purchases of U.S. farm goods in the next five years. Perdue also confirmed that there would have to be an agriculture deal as part of any trade deal with the EU. (Bloomberg)

 

With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, a Registered Investment Advisor I am Josh Fenili.



US Stocks traded 3% higher last week and are at their highs for 2019 up over 12% year-to-date.  Investors will have plenty of economic reports to digest this week including a decision from the Federal Reserve on interest rates.
 
Job openings in the US reached 7.6 million in January the 3rd highest ever, which is a sign that companies are still eager to add new employees.  The most job openings are in wholesale trade, real estate, and IT.  The number of job openings outnumbered the ranks of the unemployed for the 11th straight month which has never happened.
 
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index moved higher in March for the 2nd straight month, with the index rising to 98.  The gain in March was due to households in the bottom two-thirds of income.  Those households felt better about their finances than wealthy households as wage growth has been more pronounced in lower-income households.
 
More proof that investors can't successfully time markets.  The average investor that owned and S&P 500 Index fund since 1989 received a 7.61% average annual return.  In that 30 year period if that investor had missed only the 50 best trading days their return would have fallen to a negative .47% per year.  It's time in the market, not trying to time the market which is the key to success.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks turned lower yesterday as investors digested headlines suggesting progress toward a U.S.-China trade deal has stalled against the backdrop of weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data.  The reports come against the backdrop of a grounding of a key Boeing jet and a Brexit saga playing out in the U.K.

 

U.K. lawmakers have voted in favor of seeking a delayed departure from the EU, marking another step in a political crisis that has ripped through the heart of England.  Members of Parliament voted for an extension beyond its current March 29 deadline. The vote was non-binding, however, and the EU will have to agree to a delay. Brussels has already stated that Britain needs to justify requesting such an extension.

 

Sales of new homes in the U.S. dropped almost 7% in January, indicating the housing market has gotten off to a slow start in early 2019 amid a partial government shutdown and patches of unusually harsh weather.  New-home sales declined to a 607,000 annual rate in January.
   
Flir Systems, one of the few big technology companies that still calls Oregon home, said Wednesday it will open a new headquarters near Washington, D.C.  The defense contractor said it will still refer to its Wilsonville campus as a “headquarters” and will retain the 350 employees who work there. But the company’s top leadership, including its chief executive and chief financial officer, will work at the new, 65-person office in Arlington, Virginia.

 

With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks rose yesterday, putting the S&P and the Nasdaq on track for a third straight day of gains, as investors weighed conflicting data on the U.S. economy with concerns tied to the U.K.’s exit from the European Union.
 
Shares of Boeing fell again yesterday, after President Trump executed an executive order grounding all 737 Max planes.  The drop has erased roughly $41 billion in market value from the aviation and defense giant's shares since last Friday.  Trump said the grounding would be temporary but didn't specify when it would be lifted.
 
Orders for long-lasting durable goods rose in January for the third month in a row and business investment posted the biggest increase since last summer, indicating a key segment of the economy is still expanding at a steady if unspectacular pace.
 
Spending on U.S. construction projects in January posted the biggest gain in nine months, as strength in nonresidential construction and government projects offset continued weakness in home construction.  The Commerce Department says that construction spending rose 1.3 percent in January following two months of declines. It was the biggest gain since construction spending rose 1.7 percent in April.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones
 



U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were higher as a new reading on consumer prices reaffirmed muted inflation risk, while the Dow fell back into the red as declines in shares of Boeing pressured that index.
 
British lawmakers crushingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's deal to quit the European Union yesterday, thrusting Brexit into turmoil just 17 days before the planned departure date.  Lawmakers will now vote today on whether Britain should quit the world's biggest trading bloc without a deal, a scenario that business leaders warn would bring chaos to markets and supply chains, and other critics say could cause shortages of food and medicines.
 
Americans paid more for rent, food, gas and clothes in February, triggering the biggest increase in inflation in four months. But the cost of living more generally is still rising very slowly.  The consumer price index climbed 0.2% in February following three straight months of no change, that matched the forecast of economists.


The National Federation of Independent Business said its small-business optimism index inched higher in February after January saw the worst levels since the 2016 presidential election. The optimism index rose 0.5 point to 101.7, with 5 out of the 10 components increasing, led by a 5-point gain in those who expect the economy to improve.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks posted healthy gains yesterday, though the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s rise was muted by declines in shares of Boeing after the second deadly crash in about six months involving its 737 Max 8 aircraft.
 
A month after the biggest decline in 10 years, sales at U.S. retailers rebounded slightly in January, but not enough to alter an emerging picture of an economy that slowed sharply at the beginning of 2019.  Retail sales rose 0.2% in January, led by home centers and Internet stores.  Economists had forecast a .1% increase.
 
Workers are receiving the fattest wage increases since the Great Recession as employers struggle to find enough people to fill their ranks and employees have more leverage to demand higher pay and jump to better jobs.  Wages grew 3.4 percent in the past year, the fastest pace in nearly a decade and well above inflation, suggesting employers are hustling to lure and retain workers. 


Shares of Boeing fell 7% after Indonesia joined China in grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft following Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash, a sharp break from traditional air-safety practice that divided experts and ratcheted up pressure on the U.S. plane maker.
 

With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



US Stocks broke their 10 week winning streak last week after investors got a slew of economic data showing the global economy continues to slow.
 
Construction on new homes, known as housing starts, leaped 19% in January, rebounding from a big drop at the end of 2018.  Single-family starts increased at an even faster 25% pace in January as the housing market try's to keep up with demand.
 
Small business owners in the US added the most jobs per business in 45 years.  But plans for future hiring fell to a 10-month low, suggesting tight labor markets and wage costs are weighing on efforts to add employees.  22% of small business owners said difficulty finding qualified workers was their most important business problem.
 
The oldest stock index in America, the Dow Transportation Average, saw its 11th straight drop on Friday which hasn't happened since 1972.  The transport index is closely followed because it is often used as a proxy for the health of the US economy.
 
And more proof that the housing market in San Francisco is crazy, 81% of the houses in the city are worth $1mm or more.  And with 9 tech companies in the Bay Area slated to go public this year minting 5,000 more millionaires, prices aren't likely to go down anytime soon.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



Stocks retreated yesterday, with the Dow sliding more than 200 points, as investors weighed mounting evidence of a slowing global economy after the European Central Bank slashed its gross domestic product forecasts and pledged continued support for the flagging eurozone economy.
 
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the bear market low hit on March 9th, 2009.  The S&P 500 has risen 347% over the10 years since the financial crisis low, period richly rewarding investors.
 
The European Central Bank announced new measures to support a slowing economy, including a new round of long-term loans to European financial institutions, while issuing a surprise pledge to hold off on any interest-rate increases until at least the end of the year.  The announcement follows updated growth projections from the central bank, with the ECB forecasting growth of just 1.1% in 2019, down from a previous estimate of 1.7%. Analysts and economists, however, questioned whether the moves will be enough to stop the slowdown of the eurozone economy.
 
The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits in early March fell slightly, keeping so-called jobless claims near the lowest levels in a half-century.
 
The productivity of the American workforce rose solidly again in the fourth quarter, reflecting a recent upturn that could bode well for the U.S. economy if it’s sustained.  U.S. productivity advanced at an annual pace of 1.9% in the final three months of 2018.  The rate of productivity — the key to a higher standard of living for American families — rose 1.8% year-over-year. That’s the fastest 12-month gain since 2015.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



Stocks closed lower for a third session in a row Wednesday on tepid U.S. data as the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, an anecdotal account of business conditions, showed the partial government shutdown had weighed on economic activity.
 
Private-sector employment “throttled back” last month, according to the payroll company ADP who prepared the data released yesterday. Employers added 183,000 jobs in February, compared with a revised 300,000 in January. The gain in February was close to forecasts from economists who expected a gain of 180,000.
 
Lots of American companies have stopped paying for Facebook and Instagram ads since the start of last year. Some said they quit due to concerns related to Facebook's privacy policies while others said they've become fed up with the unpredictability in how Facebook applies its ad policies.  Despite a year in crisis, the company's financials have held up just fine. Net income jumped 61 percent in the fourth quarter and 39 percent for the full year.
 
The Blockbuster video rental store in Bend is no longer the last one in the United States.  It’s the last one in the world.  Sandi Harding, general manager of the Bend Blockbuster on third st, received a call Monday from an Australian radio station sharing the news that the Blockbuster in Perth, Australia — the only other Blockbuster on Earth — is closing at the end of the month.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones
 



U.S. stocks struggled for a foothold in positive territory Tuesday in a session during which major benchmarks flipped between gains and losses as investors monitored developments from U.S.-China trade talks and China’s domestic economy.
 
China lowered its economic growth target for 2019 to between 6% and 6.5%, acknowledging a deepening slowdown. The Chinese Premier, outlined plans to support the economy, including an increase in deficit spending, new tax cuts, lowering fees for businesses, and a 30% boost in bank lending to small and private companies.
 
Shares of Target jumped 5.7% toward a 3 1/2-month high, after the discount retailer reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and sales that topped expectations, helped by strong traffic growth and digital sales.  The company also offered positive guidance as the company has seemed to figure out consumer preferences better than most retailers.
 
The Commerce Department said new home sales increased 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000 units, the highest level since May 2018.  Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for about 11.2 percent of housing market sales, falling 8.7 percent to a pace of 600,000 units in December.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks retreated yesterday as investors turned cautious after initially cheering reports that the U.S. and China were close to completing a landmark trade deal. Concerns that stocks are becoming too expensive on the back of a two-month rally from December lows are also weighing on sentiment.
 
Construction spending fell a sharp 0.6% in December, according to a report long delayed by the partial government shutdown earlier this year. Economists had forecast a 0.3% increase. Despite the decline at year end, construction spending rose 4.1% in 2018 compared to 2017.
 
Stocks of managed-care companies continued their sell-off yesterday, in the aftermath of the “Medicare-for-All” bill introduced last week.  The bill proposes a simplified health-care system by moving to a single-payer model, with the transition from the current multi-payer system taking just two years. Although analysts suggest the legislation has little chance of progressing, investors remained unnerved as Congress continues to feel pressure to take action on cutting health-care costs.
 
According to the American Association of Individual Investors 6 days before the start of current record-breaking bull market over 70% of investors didn’t want to own stocks, today only 20% of investors don’t want to own stocks.  Proving yet again investors have terrible timing.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



US Stocks traded higher last week with the S&P 500 on a 10 week winning streak, the longest since 1995.  The S&P 500 is now up 21% since the December 24th low.
 
Electric car maker Tesla announced the long-awaited $35,000 Model 3 sedan and said they were shifting all of their sales to online-only, leading to more retail layoffs.  The company also announced a 4th quarter loss.  Shares of Tesla traded 8% lower on the news.
 
The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index faded in February to a 93.8 level which was lower than the 95.6 that economists had expected.  Long-term inflation expectations remain near the lowest level recorded in the last half century.
 
The institute for supply management said that American manufacturers grew their businesses in February at the slowest pace since the election in November of 2016.  Offering more proof the US economy has gotten off to a slow start this year.
 
And this Friday March 9th marks the 10th anniversary of longest bull market on record.  Investors have been richly rewarded since the March 2009 low, with the S&P 500 gaining 312% over those 10 years.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management I'm Tyler Simones
 



Stocks declined yesterday, but were higher in the month of February, amid stronger-than-expected economic data and after talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fell through.
 
The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter 2018. Economists had expected the economy to grow at a pace of 2 percent.  A slumping housing market and bigger trade deficit softened up the economy in the final three months of 2018 after a torrid spell of growth in the middle of last year, but consumers and businesses still showed plenty of resilience despite stiffer headwinds.
 
The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits in late February rose modestly but remained near the lowest level in decades, suggesting the labor market is still rock solid.  Jobless claims, a rough measure of layoffs, rose by 8,000 to 225,000.


Shares of the retailer Gap skyrocketed more than 20% after the retailer said it would split itself into two companies, one consisting of its Old Navy brand and a yet-to-be-named company with its Gap, Athleta, Banana Republic, Intermix, and Hill City brands, as sales at Gap brand fell 5% globally in 2018. Gap also plans to close about 230 specialty Gap stores over the next two years as part of an effort to "revitalize" its Gap brand.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks bounced off intraday lows but still traded mostly lower yesterday as investors monitored separate congressional testimonies from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on U.S.-China trade negotiations and a second day of Congressional hearings featuring Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell, plus Michael Cohen’s house oversight committee testimony.
 
During his testimony, Lighthizer said the U.S. will take steps to formally abandon plans to increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25%, from 10% now, while the two sides continue talking. President Trump indicated Sunday that the tariff hike, which could have taken effect at 12:01 a. m. Saturday, would be suspended.
 
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in December compared to November and was 4.2% higher compared to a year ago. That was the slowest pace of annual growth since November 2014.  Home price growth is screeching to a halt, and yet prices are still increasing much faster than wages.  The amount of homes actually sold were 2.3% lower than a year ago, making January the 13th straight month of year-over-year declines.
 
Amazon does not plan to pay the IRS anything this tax season.  That’s not because of the new tax law. Rather, the world’s largest retailer simply took advantage of long-standing, low-profile tax deductions. It paid its employees in stock, built new warehouses and used tax breaks granted when the company wasn’t profitable.  Amazon’s projected $129 million refund highlights how companies can use the complexities of the U.S. tax code for their own benefit.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



US Stocks edged slightly lower yesterday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the central bank's wait-and-see approach in congressional testimony.  The Fed boss's comments come as some economic data have pointed to slower US economic growth.
 
Consumer confidence surged in February and rose for the first time in 4 months, a sign that Americans have regained optimism after the recovery in the US Stock market, the end of the government shutdown and diminished worries about a recession.  The consumer confidence index climbed to 131.4 this month, economist has forecast a 124.7 reading.
 
Shares of Home Depot fell yesterday, after the home-improvement retailer reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that were weaker that expected.  The company blamed poor weather for 4th quarter comp weakness, along with foreign-exchange rates and price deflation.
 
Traveling to the Hawaiian Islands could soon be easier - and less expensive.  Southwest Airlines has been running test flights to the islands as part of its approval process with the FAA to expand routes there.  The budget airline's entrance into the market could lead fares to the state to decrease by 30% across all carriers.  Southwest said it will offer low cost flights to the islands by the end of 2019.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones 



Globally stocks traded higher yesterday as the US and China appear to be closer to reaching a trade deal.
 
Shares of General Electric traded sharply higher yesterday after they reached a deal to sell their biopharma business to Danaher for $21.4 Billion in cash.  GE said the deal will help them pay down debt faster as they continue to try to strengthen their balance sheet.
 
Shares of Tesla dropped sharply after the SEC asked a federal judge to hold the companies CEO Elon Musk in contempt over a recent tweet.  Musk sent another inaccurate and material information Tweet about the company after doing the same thing last fall.
 
The Chicago Fed's Index of national economic activity was lower in January for the first time in 8 months.  Factory output dropped significantly in January pulling down a broad measure of the US economy.  The Chicago Fed Index is a collection of 85 economic indicators.
 
Wholesale inventories rose 1.1% last month.  The rise in inventories could prompt an increase in forecasts for 4th quarter GDP.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management I'm Tyler Simones
 



US Stocks sold off yesterday with the Nasdaq snapping an eight-session win streak, as a batch of disappointing manufacturing and housing data unsettled investors. However, the market remains in an uptrend, for now as talks between the U.S. and China progress and the Federal Reserve appears to be in a wait-and-see posture with interest rate hikes.

U.S. home sales fell in January to their lowest level in more than three years and house prices rose only modestly.  The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales dropped 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million units last month.  That was the lowest level since November 2015 and well below analysts' expectations of a rate of 5.0 million units.  The median existing house price increased 2.8 percent from a year ago to $247,500 in January. That was the smallest increase since February 2012.
 
Autos and airplanes boosted orders for U.S. durable goods in December, but demand was weak in other key manufacturing segments and business investment tailed off at the end of the year.  Orders for long-lasting goods rose 1.2% in December which was worse than expected.

 

While most Americans are struggling to save for retirement and employee pension programs non-existent, members of congress, who are doing such a great job, receive a lifelong pension of $139,200 which is 100% tax payer funded.  More evidence of a disconnect between lawmakers and mainstream America.  
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



Stock indexes closed moderately higher yesterday, with the Nasdaq up for an eighth session in a row, following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January meeting, which showed the policy-setting committee was split on the path for interest rates.
 
Federal Reserve officials broke into two camps about future interest-rate hikes at their January meeting.  One camp of Fed officials argued that rate increases might be needed only if inflation outcomes were higher than their baseline forecast. However, other Fed officials thought it would be appropriate to raise the federal funds rate later this year if the economy evolved as they expected.
 
Samsung introduced its new lineup of premium and pricey Galaxy S10 phones, which will take on Apple's latest iPhone lineup.  The S10 lineup has 4 options including a Foldable option that is going to cost almost $2,000.
 
The ride-hailing company Lyft plans to launch the roadshow for its initial public offering during the week of March 18, making it the first U.S. ride-hailing company to debut in the stock market.  Lyft's larger rival Uber still needs several more weeks for its IPO preparations.  Lyft now expects to be valued at between $20 billion and $25 billion in its IPO. 
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks edged higher yesterday following a three-day weekend as another round of U.S.-China trade talks begin in Washington. The market’s gains were led by the consumer staples and materials sectors.

 

The December retail-sales numbers reported by the government may have panicked financial markets, but Walmart the largest U.S. retailer isn’t sweating it.  The company reported that U.S. comparable-store sales in the January-ending quarter were up 4.2%, beating the company’s previous guidance.  Walmart continues to step up their investment in e-commerce to compete against Amazon and it appears to be working as their e-commerce sales grew 43% last quarter.

 

The National Association of Home Builders’ monthly confidence index jumped 4 points to a seasonally adjusted reading of 62 in February.   Any reading over 50 signals improvement. Builders are in a sweet spot right now with economic conditions like a strong job market helping them sell more homes and falling mortgage rates making that job even easier.

 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is considering selling the state’s workers compensation insurance corporation (also known as saif) or tapping its substantial capital surplus to hold down future pension costs for school districts around the state.  If Brown moves forward with such a plan, it would be her boldest move yet to rein in the runaway costs of PERS.   It’s also one that would face substantial blowback from the business community.

 

With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



The capital markets here in the United States were closed yesterday in observance of the Presidents Day Holiday.
 
Investors this week will be looking for lots of potentially market moving events including the release of the Fed Meeting minutes, and 46 companies in the S&P 500 reporting earnings including retail bell weather Walmart.  As usual Fed watchers will be closely listening to the potential for where interest rates are headed.
 
University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for February rebounded, with the index rising to 95.5 from 91.2 in January, which was the worst since November 2016. Economists had expected a 94.0 reading.  The consumer sentiment rebound may be a bit of a relief after the depressing retail sales numbers for December, which showed the worst plunge in nine years. Low inflation expectations, combined with continued confidence in the jobs market and rising wages, should set the stage for consumption.
 
A record seven million Americans are more than 90 days late on their auto loan payments, and millennials are clearly leading delinquency rates, according to a report by the New York Fed.  The NY Fed found that the number of new auto loans and leases appearing on credit reports in 2018 reached a new peak — the highest level in the 19 years they have monitored the data — at $584 billion.

 

With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management I'm Tyler Simones



Stocks struggled for direction yesterday vacillating wildly with investors trying to digest a slew of mixed economic reports, earnings reports, and some good news on trade negotiation between the US and China.

 
The US Census Bureau said that retail sales sank 1.2% in December, the largest drop since September 2009, a few months after the end of the Great Recession.  Economists had expected sales to be flat.  Retailers faced plenty of headwinds in December, including a stock-market meltdown, sudden talk of recession, the start of the partial government shutdown and a bout of unusually poor weather.
 
Shares of the Hillsboro based Lattice Semiconductor jumped nearly 30 percent after the company issued a strong outlook for the coming year. Its shares are now at their highest point since 2004.  One of the few publicly traded tech companies still headquartered in Oregon, Lattice makes programmable computer chips used in cameras, phones, telecommunications equipment and other applications.


The IRS released data yesterday showing that the average refund size for the first 12 days of this year’s tax-filing season was smaller than it was during a similar period last year.  The average refund size through Feb. 8 was $1,949, which was 8.7 percent smaller than the same period last year. Some taxpayers that had gotten refunds in the past owe taxes this year.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stocks extended gains yesterday, with the Nasdaq on track to exit bear market territory, after President Donald Trump said he may let a China trade-deal deadline “slide” if the two sides were making enough progress in their meeting this week in Beijing.

 

The cost of consumer goods and services were unchanged in January largely thanks to falling gas prices, another sign inflation poses little threat to the economy right now.  The government said that the consumer price index was flat last month.  What’s more, the increase in the cost of living over the past 12 months slowed to 1.6% from 1.9%.  Waning inflation has persuaded the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates for the time being amid fresh worries about the economy’s future.

 

The U.S. national debt topped a record $22 trillion this week, less than a year after it crossed the $21 trillion mark, indicating a further deterioration in the nation’s finances.  The Peterson Foundation said the U.S. national debt has risen by $1 trillion in the past 11 months, calling it “the latest sign that our fiscal situation is not only unsustainable, but accelerating.”

 

The Wilsonville-based Flir Systems is moving aggressively into robotic military equipment, paying $385 million for Endeavor Robotic Holdings.  Monday’s deal follows Flir’s purchase last month of  aerial drone company Aeryon Labs for $200 million.  Flir, best known for night-vision equipment, enjoyed booming sales early this century as the United States fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the wars ebbed, though, military spending declined and Flir sought to find civilian applications for its technology.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones



U.S. stock indexes closed at their highest levels in 2019 yesterday after lawmakers reached a tentative deal to prevent a government shutdown and as optimism grew over a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China.

 

The number of job openings in the U.S. surged at the end of 2018 to an all-time high, reflecting the resilience of an economy that keeps growing despite rising headwinds at home and abroad.  Job openings climbed to 7.34 million, an all-time record, in December from 7.17 million in the prior month.

 

The January small-business optimism index of the National Federation of Independent Business fell 3.2 points to a seasonally adjusted reading of 101.2, the worst reading since the election in Nov. 2016. The expectations components fell particularly sharply, with a 10-percentage point decline in those expecting the economy to improve. "Overall, the January data reveal a solid small business sector that has some increased concern about how uncertainties may resolve themselves later in the year.

 

The Oregon Senate voted 17-11 Tuesday to make Oregon the first state in the nation to adopt statewide rent control and make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without a reason.  Under Senate Bill 608, landlords across the state could raise rent no more than 7 percent per year, plus the annual change in the consumer price index. The bill carves out an exemption for rental properties that are less than 15 years old.
 
With Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management, I'm Tyler Simones


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