The Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ stock indexes all hit new highs this week. Lessening trade tensions, tepid inflation, an accommodative Federal Reserve on hold, and positive company earnings expectations are driving stock prices higher. And investors have tuned out the noise coming out of DC and will continue to do so unless it affects the economic news. All that and more in this week's The Friday Buzz!
- The Long-Awaited Phase One Trade Deal Signed: The U.S. and China signed their first trade agreement since the start of the trade war. In the deal, tariffs on Chinese goods will be reduced and previously announced additional tariffs will not go into effect. China also agreed to purchase more U.S. products. U.S. companies will have additional protections regarding intellectual properties and more access to the Chinese financial services market. Both sides will be monitoring the success of this deal as future deals are discussed. CNBC WSJ
- Time to Stock up on European Wines? Speaking of trade, last month the Trump administration announced potential new tariffs of up to 100% on European wine. They are in retaliation for European digital taxes that the administration feels are unfair because they mostly hit high-tech U.S. companies. There is no timetable for the proposed tariffs which would cripple distributors and greatly reduce the availability of imported wines. Maybe it's time to stock up on your favorite Burgundy and Barolo wines? WSJ Visual Capitalist – World of Wine
- Women are the Majority of the Workforce: While last week's job report showed a modest increase it also signaled a demographic shift – women are now the majority of workers in the U.S. The last time this happened was ten years ago. One reason for the shift is the strong growth of the healthcare industry which traditionally has employed a greater number of women than men. That fact, along with women consistently earning more college degrees than men will continue to shape the modern workplace. WSJ NPR
- New Retirement Contribution Limits for 2020: Retirement plan contribution limits for 2020 have been increased. If you contribute to a 401(k) the new limit is $19,500 (those over 50 years old can contribute an additional $6500), SIMPLE plan limits move up to $13,500 ($3000 more for those 50+), and defined-contribution plan limits are now $57,000. Traditional and Roth IRA limits remain at $6000 ($1000 more for those 50+). So this is your friendly reminder that you may have to adjust your contributions to take advantage of the new higher limits. Click on the link for a full listing of the limits along with other Key Financial Data. RSWA
- I Spy a… New Planet! A teenage intern on his third day of work at NASA found a new planet. His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by satellites as part of a citizens science project to search for undiscovered worlds. And in a few days – bingo! It is difficult for computers to parse the satellite data which is why humans have to do it. They are looking for volunteers to help, so you too can join the search for new worlds. CNBC Planet Hunters Tess
- Why the Issues at Boeing Matter: A new Boeing CEO started this week. Many are hoping he rights the airline after a host of problems with the new 737 Max airplane. Currently, production on the Max has stopped until safety, training, and work processes are corrected. Boeing airplanes are the biggest export for the U.S. and a cornerstone of the manufacturing sector. The ripple effects from the production halt is expected to lower first quarter U.S. GDP by 0.5%. And that's why Boeing matters. Reuters BBC
- International Articles That May Only Interest Me: I came across a couple of articles that caught my fancy. The first is how the Swiss used their special neutral status to pass messages between the U.S. and Iran to deescalate the crisis last week. The other is a detailed article on Mohammed bin Zayed who is the very influential and secular leader of the United Arab Emirates and his bold vision for the Middle East. Maybe some of you will enjoy them too. WSJ NYT Magazine
- Lower Your "Heart Age" Four Years by Running! Researchers studied novice runners who trained for their first marathon and found it made them more youthful. The runners trained six months for a marathon. Their arteries were measured for stiffness and afterward, were found to be more elastic, and younger, by four years. Their blood pressure also dropped as much as if they had been on prescription medication. I sometimes run with the SIX03 Endurance club here in Portsmouth - maybe it's time to lace up the sneakers more often! BBC REI – How to Train for a Marathon SIX03 Endurance
Thank you for reading The Friday Buzz! Have a great weekend!