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The Weekly Flyer: Monday, March 11th, 2024



The Markets


The week got off to a good start...

 

In testimony before House and Senate committees, Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell noted that prices had been falling and unemployment rates remained quite low. As a result, he expected the Fed to begin lowering the federal funds rate in 2024.

 

“I think we’re in the right place,” he said. “We’re waiting to become more confident that inflation is moving sustainably at two percent. When we do get that confidence—and we’re not far from it—it’ll be appropriate to begin to dial back the level of restriction so that we don’t drive the economy into recession rather than normalizing policy as the economy gets back to normal.”

 

After Powell’s comments, the likelihood of a June rate cut rose, and so did U.S. stock indices. The bond market rallied, too, with yields across all maturities of U.S. Treasuries dropping lower through Thursday.

 

On Friday, a mixed bag of employment data arrived. It showed that:

 

  • Hiring was stronger than expected in February. Employers added 275,000 new jobs over the month – 75,000 more than expected – although gains in December and January were revised lower.

  • Wage growth was slower than expected, rising 4.3 percent year-over-year in February when economists had predicted a 4.5 percent annual increase, according to Meghan Leonhardt of Barron’s.

  • The unemployment rate rose, increasing from 3.7 percent to 3.9 percent. (The unemployment rate is derived from a separate and smaller survey of households.)

 

The data suggested that the labor market was strong but cooling, and bolstered hopes that a soft landing might be ahead. While that was positive news, it was overshadowed by weakness in technology stocks. Sarah Hansen of Morningstar reported, “The stock market started 2024 with a blistering rally…But the relentless pace of gains has some watchers worried about soaring valuations on stock prices and frothy trading.”

 

On Friday, major U.S. stock indices finished the week lower. However, U.S. Treasury bonds rallied as yields declined over the week.


A REMINDER ABOUT SCAMS. Scams usually start with a phone call, email, text, or another form of communication. The person typically claims to be from an agency or organization you know – or one that sounds like it might benefit you, such as the National Sweepstakes Bureau or a lottery.

 

The person may know your name and address. They may give you their official title or an identification number. No matter how official they seem, you can be confident it’s a scam if the person contacting you: 

 

  • Indicates there is a problem with your benefits.

  • Asks you to pay to receive a prize.

  • Suggests that paying will increase the chance of winning.

  • Requests financial information, such as a bank account or credit card number.

  • Pressures you to act immediately.

  • Tells you to pay using a specific method, such as a gift card or cryptocurrency.

 

If this happens, remember that the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Medicare, and your bank do not call, email, or text to ask for money or personal information. They do not demand that you pay immediately, and they do not accept payment by gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, or another untraceable form of money transfer.

 

When you suspect a scam:

 

  • Hang up or close the message. Do not respond in any way.

  • Remain calm.

  • Think back over the call. Write down any personal information you may have inadvertently shared.

  • Report the scam. Contact the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You may also want to report the incident to your state’s attorney general or your local consumer protection agency.

  • Share your knowledge. Talk with family, friends, and neighbors about your experience so they know what to look out for.

 

When you receive a digital message, no matter how official it seems, do not click on any links. Do not give or confirm any personal information, including your name, birth date, phone number, address, email address, place of birth, driver’s license, passport, or Social Security numbers, bank or other account numbers, and PIN numbers.

 

Being skeptical can keep you safe. Remove yourself from the situation. Do not share information. If you feel anxious and need to confirm that it was a scam, contact the organization using a method provided on their official website.


Weekly Focus – Think About It 

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Philosopher









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