Certified Financial Planner Blog

Market Week: February 26, 2018

The Markets (as of market close February 23, 2018)

For the second week in a row, stocks closed the week ahead. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here ended the holiday-shortened week with marginal gains, led by the Nasdaq, which climbed 1.35%. While equities may have advanced modestly, volatility was prevalent during the week, as investors may be concerned that rising inflation will prompt the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates next month.

The price of crude oil (WTI) continued to climb last week, closing at $63.57 per barrel early Friday evening, up from the prior week’s closing price of $61.67 per barrel. The price of gold (COMEX) fell last week to $1,330.70 by early Friday evening, down from the prior week’s price of $1,350.40. The national average retail regular gasoline price decreased for the second week in a row to $2.557 per gallon on February 19, 2018, $0.050 lower than the prior week’s price but $0.255 higher than a year ago.

2017 Close
Prior Week
As of 2/23
Weekly Change
YTD Change
S&P 500
Russell 2000
Global Dow
Fed. Funds target rate
0 bps
0 bps
10-year Treasuries
-1 bps
45 bps

Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Last Week’s Economic Headlines

  • Home sales have slowed over the winter months, as existing home sales fell 3.2% in January following a 3.6% drop in December. According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of existing homes are 4.8% below a year ago, which is the largest annual decline since August 2014. The NAR suggests that a lack of inventory has driven prices higher, pushing some potential buyers out of the market. Nevertheless, total housing inventory at the end of January rose 4.1%, which is still 9.5% lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply (3.6 months a year ago). The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $240,500, up 5.8% from January 2017 ($227,300).
  • In the week ended February 17, there were 222,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s level, which was revised down by 1,000. The advance insured unemployment rate slipped to 1.3% for the week ended February 10. The advance number of those receiving unemployment insurance benefits during the week ended February 10 was 1,875,000, a decrease of 73,000 from the prior week’s level, which was revised up 6,000.

Eye on the Week Ahead

The week opens with the January report on new home sales, which slid in December. The second report on the fourth-quarter gross domestic product is out mid-week. The first installment showed annualized economic growth at 2.6%, with consumer spending up a strong 3.8%. This week’s report is based on more detailed information and may change noticeably from last month’s account.

Data sources: News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. Market data: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

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