Good Riddance, 2022

The combination of Covid-19 concerns in China and the fourth consecutive month of housing price declines in the U.S. led to lackluster trading in the financial markets. In the equity indices, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1%, the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3%, and the Russell 2000 was unchanged. For the year, the declines were 19.4%, 33.1%, and 21.6% respectively. The bond market had an equally awful year, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury jumping from 1.51% to 3.88%, including the 17-basis point increase in the final week. Short term rates advanced even more dramatically, as the Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate at the fastest pace in history from zero percent to 4.5%. Gold inched up for the week, and finished essentially unchanged for the year, while the dollar inched lower for the week, but advanced approximately 8% for the year. Crude oil was a double-digit winner for the year but has dropped over 30% since peaking in June.

In short, it was a quiet week to wrap up a year that provided one of the worst returns on record for investors. Recent economic reports showing slowing inflation, some improvement in  consumer confidence, and the re-opening of China, certainly suggest some optimism is warranted for 2023.

Speaking of record worst years, the Chicago Bears lost  their ninth straight game, 41-10 to the Detroit Lions, representing the longest losing streak in the franchise’s 102-year history. Optimism is warranted in Chicago for the 2023 season as the Bears have $135 million of salary cap room to rebuild the roster. Plus, Justin Fields could develop into a fantastic quarterback.

It was also a rough end of the year for the Big 10 with both Michigan and Ohio State suffering heartbreaking losses in their FBS playoff games. We are uncertain how the combination of Wolverine and Buckeye losses will affect the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. Perhaps the two offset each other?

Jumpstarting 2023

The financial markets were closed on Monday for the New Year’s Day holiday. The economic calendar includes the highly anticipated release of the December jobs report on Friday. Despite some high-profile announcements of job layoffs in recent months, so far, the unemployment rate in the U.S. has remained near historic lows at 3.7%. Whereas a stronger-than-anticipated jobs report could lead to even more hawkish jawboning from the Federal Reserve, we believe that any unexpected significant softening in the labor market would be of greater concern. The Jobs Opening Labor Turnover Survey on Wednesday will also provide some color as to the employment market. The ratio of jobs open to unemployed people has been at record levels, but recently has been normalizing with fewer companies looking for workers.

The Institute of Supply Management will release its Manufacturing PMI and Service PMI on Wednesday and Friday respectively. These data points in recent months have indicated that the economy was moving towards contraction.

Several FOMC members will be on the speaking circuit near the end of the week that could also impact investor sentiment. Given the recent weakness in numerous economic indicators, it is possible that there could even be a faint whiff of dovishness that the market would warmly embrace.

Stocks on the Move

-11.1% Hamilton Beach Brands Holding Company (HBB), through its subsidiaries, markets and designs electric household and specialty houseware appliances, as well as commercial products for restaurants, bars, and hotels. There was no significant company news last week.

-13.1% Weyco Group Inc (WEYS) imports and distributes men’s footwear, including mid-priced leather dress and casual shoes, sold under the Florsheim, Nunn Bush, and Stacy Adams brands. It also offers casual footwear for women and children under the BOGS and Rafters labels. There was no significant company news last week.

The stocks mentioned above may be holdings in our mutual funds. For more information, please visit www.nsinvestfunds.com.

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