March 14, 2011 Weekly Market Commentary

The Census Bureau says that retail sales climbed 1.0% in February. That matched the median forecast of economists polled by Bloomberg News. Department store sales improved by 1.0% last month and restaurant sales improved by 1.2% (the best monthly gain in that category in a year). Auto sales saw a 2.3% gain in February. Overall U.S. retail sales were up 8.9% from a year before.1,2

Sometimes economic releases seem completely contradictory. While retail sales have improved, consumer sentiment has dipped – at least according to the University of Michigan’s initial March survey, which came in at 68.2, way below the final February mark of 77.5. Soaring gas prices would seem to be a factor. The index had been making progress back toward its 2002-2007 average reading of 89.3

Last week’s run from risk sent the prices of these commodities downward. Oil futures settled at $101.16 a barrel Friday – that was a 3.12% week-over-week drop. The decrease reflected concern over reduction of refinery capacity and demand in Japan, one of the world’s leading oil importers. As for gold, it had its poorest week since mid-January, with prices slipping $6.70 on the COMEX over five days – a 0.47% weekly loss. Gold settled at $1,421.50 Friday as its five-week winning streak was snapped.4

In light of last week’s momentous seismic and political events, the ups and downs of Wall Street seem relatively trivial. Somehow, the Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ managed to remain above the psychologically significant 12,000, 1,300 and 2,700 benchmarks Friday. For the week, they performed as follows: DJIA, -1.03% to 12,044.40; NASDAQ, -2.48% to 2,715.61; S&P 500, -1.28% to 1,304.27. The CBOE VIX gained 6.56% last week.5

THIS WEEK: No major economic releases are scheduled for Monday. Tuesday, there is an FOMC meeting at the Federal Reserve. Wednesday, we learn what happened with producer prices in February, and get data about February building permits and housing starts. Thursday brings the February edition of the Consumer Price Index and the Conference Board’s February leading indicator index, plus new initial and continuing claims data and a report on February industrial output. Also in the mix Thursday: before-the-bell earnings from FedEx and after-the-bell earnings from Nike. No major economic releases are scheduled for Friday.

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”
– John Gardner

Try setting a specific dollar amount as a goal for your emergency savings, rather than just contributing to it here and there as it's convenient. A solid goal may help you stick with steady, ongoing contributions.

Best Regards,
Kevin Kroskey

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This material was prepared by Peter Montoya Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer. This information should not be construed as investment advice. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services. The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world's largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards.

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Any future blog posts will be done at . Thank you, Kevin Kroskey, CFP, MBA