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The Markets This Week

November 13, 2018 | Weekly Commentary

by Connor Darrell CFA, Assistant Vice President – Head of Investments
Aside from a few “upsets” in individual races, there were no major surprises in the results of the U.S. midterm elections last Tuesday. Democrats managed to take control of the House of Representatives with Republicans maintaining control of the Senate. The initial reaction from markets was positive as the uncertainty surrounding the election results was lifted, although some of those gains were given up during Friday’s trading session. All in all, the U.S. equity market (as measured by the S&P 500) gained 2.21%, with international markets unable to keep pace. Bonds traded relatively flat as interest rates were largely unchanged following the Fed’s decision to stand pat at its November meeting. However, most market forecasters expect the Fed to implement one more rate hike before the end of the year.

Wages on the Rise
Earlier this month, the October jobs report came in much stronger than many expected (255,000 new jobs vs. the consensus forecast of 188,000), but the number that caught Wall Street’s attention was the change in Average Hourly Earnings (AHE). AHE rose 3.14% year over year, the first time throughout this entire economic expansion that AHE growth exceeded 3%. For more than six months now, there have been more job openings available in the economy than there are unemployed workers. The logical consequence is that employers need to offer prospective employees more money in order to entice them to join their company as opposed to competitors, and it appears that the wage growth numbers are finally beginning to reflect that reality. Wage growth is an important contributor to late cycle inflation, which will be top of mind for many market strategists, as well as the Federal Reserve, over the next few months.

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