1/5/18 – Happy New Year! Strong Start to 2018 for Stocks

Stocks kicked of the year in great fashion, with both major indices increasing more than 2%. It was a big week for milestones as well. The Dow Jones index topped 25,000 for the first time, the S&P 500 exceeded 2,700 and the NASDAQ went above 7,000. For the week the Dow gained 2.3% while the S&P 500 added 2.6%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the December jobs report this morning and the headline number was lower than expected. The economy added 148k net new jobs in the month, well below the 190k estimate. The unemployment rate remained at 4.1%. Interestingly, retail employment fell 20k jobs last month. Retail losing jobs during the Christmas shopping season really shows how much traditional brick and mortar retail is struggling. Wages increased at a 2.5% annualized rate, the same as November. While not a great number, 148k jobs in a month is still above the level needed to meet population growth. This was the 87th consecutive month of positive job growth. The US labor market continues to do quite well, regardless of the occasional less impressive month. The last month to see employment decrease was September 2010. Read More

Oil increased 2.4% this week to close at $61.56/barrel. The yield on the 10-yr Treasury moved higher, to 2.47% from 2.41% last week. The average rate on a 30-yr fixed rate mortgage moved lower to 3.95% from 3.99% a week ago.

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