Weekly Market Commentary February 24, 2021

Weekly Market Commentary February 24, 2021

The Markets

It’s a contrarian’s dream come true.

Contrarian investors like to buck the trend. They buy when other investors are selling and sell when others are buying.

Last week, Bank of America (BofA) delivered a contrarian’s dream. BofA’s monthly survey of 225 global asset managers, who are responsible for $645 billion in assets under management, showed the managers were almost fully invested, according to CNBC.

The survey showed asset managers’, “…cash levels at the lowest since March 2013, global equity allocations at a 10-year high, and a record number of respondents reporting taking a ‘higher than normal’ level of risk,” reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s.

Asset managers’ optimism reflects central banks’ monetary policies, governments’ fiscal stimulus programs, and positive signs of economic recovery.

Central bank actions are supporting low interest rates. Low interest rates encourage economic growth by making money inexpensive for companies and individuals to borrow. In the United States, the real (adjusted for inflation) 10-year Treasury yield finished last week at -0.80 percent, according to the U.S. Treasury.

Government stimulus is flooding world markets with cash. “Although percentage cash levels held by investment managers are falling, they are not falling fast enough to keep up the rapid expansion of money still flooding the system…U.S. household savings at the end of 2020 were still almost $1 trillion above pre-COVID levels…,” reported Mike Dolan of Reuters.

Economic recovery is gaining steam. While the virus continues to be a risk, last week much of the economic data in the United States was positive, with retail sales exceeding expectations and manufacturing holding steady, reported Nicholas Jasinski of Barron’s. Economic growth is forecast to be about 6 percent in 2021, reported Reuters.

Last week, yields on 10-year Treasuries moved higher and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite both finished the week lower.

Data as of 2/19/21
1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) -0.7% 4.0% 15.4% 12.9% 15.3% 11.5%
Vanguard Total Intl Index (Foreign Stocks) -0.2 6.2 18.7 6.4 12.1 5.3
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 1.4 NA 1.6 2.9 1.8 3.5
Gold (per ounce) -1.7 -5.4 11.4 9.9 7.7 2.4
Bloomberg Commodity Index 1.5 9.3 11.4 1.6 2.6 -6.3

S&P 500, Vanguard Total Intl Index, 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.

IT’S BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Throughout the month of February, people in the United States celebrate the achievements of Black Americans. President Gerald Ford started the tradition in 1976 to “…seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Test your knowledge by taking this brief quiz.

1. In 1972, the first Black woman elected to Congress launched a campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination with the slogan: Unbought and Unbossed. She once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” What was her name?
a. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke
b. Shirley Chisholm
c. Barbara Jordan
d. Gwen Moore

2. Eugene Bullard was the first African American pilot to serve in the Armed Forces. He worked as an air gunner for the French Army and served in two American wars. Which wars did he serve in?
a. World War I and World War II
b. World War II and Korean War
c. Korean War and Vietnam War
d. Vietnam War and Grenada

3. One Black American author, who has won the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the MacArthur Genius Grant, and many other awards, described the work this way, “When you write, it’s like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse unruly strands and attempting to bring them unity.” What is the author’s name?
a. Candace Carty-Williams
b. Marlon James
c. Edwidge Danticat
d. Ta-Nehisi Coates

4. Alabamian Percy Julian didn’t attend high school, but he earned a PhD from DePauw University. Julian graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the top of his class. Historically, he is regarded as one the most influential leaders in his field. What was his field of study?
a. Law
b. Medicine
c. Chemistry
d. History

Quiz Answers:
1. B – Shirley Chisholm.
2. A – World War I and World War II.
3. C – Edwidge Danticat.
4. C – Chemistry.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

–Alice Walker, American novelist and poet