Last week’s economic data was about what you might expect in the midst of a virus crisis that has shut down businesses and forced people to stay home:
- Retail sales were down 8.7 percent in March. Retail sales track demand for everything from clothing to refrigerators. The March decline was the worst monthly performance on record, according to Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.
- Oil prices fell further. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and other nations agreed to reduce oil production, but that may not be enough to steady prices. The Economist explained, “Global demand may fall by 29 [million] barrels a day this month, three times the OPEC deal’s promised cuts.”
- Earnings season began with a whimper. Just a sliver (9 percent) of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have reported first quarter earnings. So far, blended earnings (actual results for companies that have reported plus estimated results for companies that have not) are down 14.5 percent for the first quarter, reported John Butters of FactSet.
There were some bright spots, though, that boosted optimism in financial markets.
New York state, where more than 13,000 residents have died as a result of the coronavirus, may be entering a period of deceleration. The number of hospitalizations and deaths moved lower late last week, reported MarketWatch.
Germany announced it is slowly beginning to reopen shops and schools. Guy Chazan of Financial Times reported, “Germany has managed to contain coronavirus more effectively than other European countries, partly thanks to a comprehensive testing regime that allowed authorities to identify and isolate those infected with the virus at an early stage. It has the capacity to run 650,000 tests a week.”
Major U.S. stock markets moved higher last week and expectations for future volatility moved lower.
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
FIVE THINGS TO DO IF YOU JUST LOST YOUR JOB. During the past four weeks, 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. It’s an enormous number that reflects the staggering magnitude of job losses due to the coronavirus.
Job loss is painful in any circumstances. It’s particularly intimidating when it occurs in the midst of a pandemic and economic downturn. If you are recently unemployed, here are five things you can do:
Consider doing volunteer work or freelancing until you find a new position. Work of any kind will help you stay busy during the times you’re not hunting for a new job.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
–Theodore Roosevelt, 26th American President
Daniel J. Murphy, CFP®
Murphy Wealth Management Group
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Fishkill, NY 12524
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