Weekly Market Commentary January 22, 2018

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Global stock markets kept climbing last week. The S&P 500 rose 0.9% and is now up 5.1% this year. Global stocks climbed even more as the MSCI ACWI rose 1.1%. The Bloomberg BarCap Aggregate Bond Index slid 0.4% last week and is down 0.9% this year. Concerns over higher rates pushed bonds lower.   As of this writing, the U.S. Senate was unable to muster enough Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown. Whether or not it is resolved by publication, we are not overly concerned. Past government shutdowns have had little effect on the stock market, and we do not expect this one to be different.

Carson Group Research

2017 produced an extremely calm year with very steady returns. There were only eight days when the market moved by more than 1% during the calendar year. As the year moved, the calmness grew. None of the eight 1% moves occurred in the fourth quarter. The last one happened on August 17. While markets continue to deliver more of the same in 2018, we expect volatility to increase during the year and the number of 1% moves to rise substantially.

Source: Carson Group, Morningstar Direct

 Key points for the week

  • Global stocks remain in rally mode.
  • Economic recovery is mostly benefitting low-skilled workers.
  • Chinese GDP comes in above expectations, while risks remain.

What are we reading?

Below are some areas of the market we paid particularly close attention to this week. For further information, we encourage our readers to follow the links.

December Jobs Report Shows Broader Wage Recovery

Low-wage workers are beginning to generate more rapid wage gains than those at higher levels. As the slow and steady economic growth continues to push unemployment lower, the scarcity of entry-level workers is driving wages of low-skill positions higher. Walmart’s recent decision to raise its starting wage from $9 to $11 an hour is one example of the trend towards higher wages.

Chinese GDP Growth Remains Robust while Risks Remain

The Chinese economy grew 6.9% in 2017 and 6.8% in the fourth quarter. Both numbers were above expectations, and 2017’s growth was slightly higher than 2016’s. But economists expect the robust growth to slow in 2018. Debt levels continue to climb and government-sponsored infrastructure projects remain too large a percentage of overall growth.

Fun story of the week


In Canada, KFC is promoting a special that allows customers to buy buckets of chicken with bitcoin. The bitcoin bucket costs .0010272 bitcoin or $20 Canadian dollars. KFC Canada’s website posted a bitcoin page, which provides live updates on how much bitcoin is required to purchase a bitcoin bucket. KFC’s announcement that it “sold out” of the buckets came as no surprise as transaction fees exceeded $50 and processing times took nearly two hours.

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