Monday Tuesday Morning Market Insights: Last Week in Review with Rusty Vanneman, Vol. 3

Happy Monday Tuesday! Hope you had a nice long weekend. 

Last week, the global financial markets took a bit of a break, though there were plenty of notable news events to digest, along with events this coming week to consider. 

Some Good News

The COVID numbers seem to be hopefully cresting in the United States as vaccine distribution continues to ramp up. Much work is still ahead, but I hope we can finally say that the peak is behind us.

Another key event last week was a larger-than-expected stimulus package ($1.9T) being proposed by the incoming administration—although as with all stimulus packages, don’t count any chickens until the eggs are hatched. It’s not a given that this package will survive its current form either. Nonetheless, it’s bigger than what was proposed before. 

Growth on the Horizon

The market’s price action seems to not have taken too seriously a couple economic releases that showed some economic softness, including slower Retail Sales and inflation numbers that were lower than expected. And it’s easy to see why the markets looked past both of these numbers. 

Regarding consumers, there is light at the end of the tunnel given the combination of vaccines, plus consumers in the aggregate having their strongest financial position in quite some time.  That combination would suggest excellent growth prospects for the economy.  

As mentioned last week, don’t be surprised if we experience the best economic growth in the U.S. in over 30 years. There is an even a real possibility of the best growth since World War II.

As for inflation, the bulk of data is still showing a clear uptrend, albeit from COVID-induced low levels.  Higher interest rates, as evidenced by 10-year Treasuries remaining above 1%, also suggest potential reflation concerns. 

What’s Going on in the Market?

For the year, the major indices (Dow and S&P 500) have gains of less than 1%, and the Nasdaq has a loss of not quite -1%. But those returns hide some interesting YTD numbers.

For instance, small cap stocks are up about 8% year-to-date, with small cap value stocks up over 9%. Value sectors like Energy and Financials are up nearly 13% and 5% respectively.  Emerging markets (EM) are also up over 5%.  The technology sector and long Treasury bonds currently sport YTD losses*. 

And the gains don’t even include commodity prices, such as grain prices.  While many recent family holiday dinners (or Zoom calls or both) had cryptocurrencies as part of the conversation, I married into a Missouri farm family, where the hot topic was skyrocketing corn and soybean prices. 

But back to cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin nearly lost 20% off its highs last week, but is still up over 20% on the year.  Surveys show more investors are interested in buying.  Given this sort of volatility, though, it’s probably best for most investors to watch, learn, and hope the asset class matures more before acting too decisively.  

Coming Up This Week

Washington D.C. will, of course, remain in the news, including the inauguration and the first days of the new administration. There will also be notable confirmation hearings, including the Senate holding a hearing to consider the nomination of Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary on Tuesday.  Yellen is an advocate of aggressive fiscal stimulus. 

Fourth quarter earnings will also be in the news. The week will get started with some large financial names, Netflix reports after Tuesday’s close. 

Speaking of Netflix…

I did watch two more movies that are on many “top movies of 2020” lists: First Cow and Soul. Both were worthy of being on those lists in my opinion. You could say both movies were about Memento Mori.

Your Weekly Scoreboard

Okay, Tom Brady might really be the NFL GOAT (greatest of all-time), especially if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can beat the red-hot Green Bay Packers. What an upcoming slate of NFL conference championship games this weekend and amazing quarterback match-ups: Brady vs Aaron Rodgers, along with the Kansas City Chief’s Patrick Mahomes (hopefully) vs the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen. 

Finally, here’s your Big East college basketball update: Villanova nationally ranked #3 (USA Today), Creighton #11 and Xavier #34. 

Have a great week! For more insights and commentary, visit our Financial Advisor Success Hub.




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About Rusty Vanneman
Rusty Vanneman, CFA, CMT, serves as Chief Investment Strategist of Orion Portfolio Solutions. He has been with Orion since 2012, previously serving as President and Chief Investment Officer of CLS Investments. Prior to joining the Orion organization, Mr. Vanneman served as Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director for an RIA in the greater Boston area. His 11-year tenure at the RIA included a five-year span during which the firm was owned by E*TRADE Financial, where he also served as Senior Market Strategist for E*TRADE Capital. He also served as a Senior Analyst at Fidelity Management and Research in Boston. Mr. Vanneman received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Babson College, where he graduated with high distinction. He is a CFA charterholder and member of the CFA Institute. He also holds the Chartered Market Technician® (CMT) designation and is a member of the CMT Association.