By: Gene Walden, Senior Finance Editor November 21, 2017
Ah…there’s nothing like Thanksgiving, the last day before your next diet. Time to give thanks and dig in for the annual holiday food fest.
Even amidst the devastating hurricanes, wild fires, manmade tragedies, political discord, and global tensions we’ve faced recently, Americans still have plenty of economic and market news to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
Economic conditions are so favorable, in fact, that future generations may someday harken back to this era as “the good old days.” Let’s take a moment to count our blessings:
- The gross domestic product (GDP) grew by a healthy 3.0% in the 3rd quarter, following a 3.1% gain in the 2nd quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- The stock market (the S&P 500®1) continues to hit record highs nearly every month and is currently in the second longest bull market in modern market history. Dating back to March 7, 2009, the current bull market is 104 months old (as defined by prices that continue rising without being interrupted by a decline of 20% or more).2
- Mortgage rates are still near historic lows, with mortgages available at interest rates of under 4%.3
- Bond yields are finally moving up after many years of historically low rates.
- Banks and money market funds are finally paying a yield above 0%. While rates are still fairly low, some institutions have raised their savings and CD rates to about 1%.3
- The unemployment rate recently dipped to 4.1% -- the lowest rate since 2000. The number of employed Americans had increased for 85 consecutive months through October 2017.
- Initial jobless claims recently fell to their lowest point in 44 years, and claims have remained under 300,000 per week for more than 140 consecutive weeks – the longest stretch since 1970.4
- Corporate earnings continue to climb, with record earnings recently reported by dozens of blue chip companies.5
- Personal consumption expenditures have risen for more than 31 consecutive months beginning February 2015.6
- Inflation remains at under around 2% (1.7% as of October 2017).7
- Wages continue to edge up as the economy heats up.8
- The oil industry has begun to recover from a severe slump, yet prices at the pump for consumers are still below $2.60 per gallon (regular unleaded) in most parts of the country.9
As you may be aware, economic prosperity can be a fleeting blessing, so try to enjoy it while it lasts this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!
Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
1 The S&P 500® Index is a market-cap weighted index that represents the average performance of a group of 500 large-capitalization stocks.
2 Standard & Poor’s
4 The Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report
6 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
7 Bureau of Labor Statistics
8 Bureau of Labor Statistics
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