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Stocks grew for the third straight month as each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid returns in November. Despite unrest in Washington as the impeachment process drones on, investors were encouraged by the possibility of favorable movement toward a resolution of the trade war between the United States and China. While inflation remained stymied, consumer spending remained solid and business fixed investment perked up.

By the close of trading on the last day of the month, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted gains, led by the Nasdaq, which climbed close to 5.0%. The small caps of the Russell 2000 advanced nearly 4.0%. The large caps of the Dow and S&P 500 also posted solid monthly gains of well over 3.0%. Year-to-date, the Nasdaq is more than 30.0% ahead of its 2018 closing value. In fact, of the indexes listed here, only the Global Dow has not gained at least 20.0% for the year.

By the close of trading on November 29, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $55.17 per barrel, up from the October 31 price of $54.09 per barrel. However, as OPEC meets at the end of November, it is expected that major oil-producing nations will extend production cuts, which may impact prices moving forward. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.579 per gallon on November 25, down from the October 28 selling price of $2.596 but $0.040 more than a year ago. The price of gold fell by the end of November, dropping to $1,465.60 by close of business on the 29th, down from its $1,515.10 price at the end of October.

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Investors continued to buy stocks, pushing values higher in October. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid monthly gains despite signs that the economy is slowing, both domestically and globally. Businesses remain hesitant to invest in nonresidential structures, equipment, and software, exports are lagging in volume, and prices remain subdued. Manufacturing continues to wane, and residential sales have been erratic at best. However, there may be headway in the negotiations between the United States and China, as the two economic giants try to resolve their ongoing trade war (although rhetoric from either side changes almost daily). The labor market continues to add new jobs, although wage inflation was muted last month. Since the beginning of the year, interest rates have been reduced by 75 basis points to their lowest levels since May 2018. The last day of the month saw the House of Representatives pass a resolution establishing a framework for a new phase of the impeachment inquiry.

By the close of trading on the last day of the month, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted gains, led by the tech stocks of the Nasdaq, which climbed more than 3.50% from its September closing value. The large caps of the S&P 500 and the small caps of the Russell 2000 each gained over 2.0% by the end of October, while the Global Dow was close behind. The Dow advanced on the month, but by less than 0.50%. The yield on long-term bonds fluctuated during the month, ultimately closing October about where it began.

By the close of trading on October 31, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $54.09 per barrel, down from the September 30 price of $54.37 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.596 per gallon on October 28, down from the September 30 selling price of $2.642 and $0.215 less than a year ago. The price of gold rose by the end of October, climbing to $1,515.10 by close of business on the 31st, up from its $1,479.30 price at the end of September.

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Stocks ran hot and cold in July, influenced by worsening global economic conditions, ongoing trade negotiations with China, and lagging domestic business investment. While the Fed's decision to reduce short-term interest rates was not unexpected, stocks were sent reeling, closing out the month on a bit of a sour note. Despite analysts and Wall Street predicting the interest rate reduction, some experts questioned the timing, particularly in the event of a deeper economic downturn in the future. Corporate earnings reports in July were generally positive, driving stock prices higher. Low unemployment, increased consumer spending, and moderate wage increases helped insulate domestic investors from an otherwise global economic downturn.

By the close of trading on the last day of the month, only the Global Dow was unable to surpass its June closing value. Otherwise, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted monthly gains, led by the Nasdaq and the S&P 500. Year-to-date, the tech stocks of the Nasdaq continue to lead the way, climbing over 23% above their 2018 closing mark. In fact, each of the benchmark indexes listed here are well above their end-of-year values. While long-term bond yields inched up in July, for the year, escalating bond prices have kept yields down.

By the close of trading on July 31, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $57.88 per barrel, down from the June 28 price of $58.16 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.715 per gallon on July 29, up from the June 24 selling price of $2.654 but $0.131 less than a year ago. The price of gold rose by the end of July, climbing to $1,426.10 by close of business on the 31st, up from its $1,413.30 price at the end of June.

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On our nation's birthday

Hope you have a blast on the 4th of July!

Mike Hackett
Harbour Trust & Investment Mgmt

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