Last Week in Brief: August 29

August 29, 2014

Labor Day has passed. Summer recedes like a hitchhiker in the rearview mirror. The president's vacation has ended. Our children have returned to school. Yet, the United States Congress remains in recess for another week. Good work, if you can get it.

In a week where the economic data was positive, the S&P 500 broke through the 2000 milestone. Despite the torrent of negative geopolitical news. Point is, geopolitics rarely steer markets. Yes, they can sway the trend here and there. Hell, I can dump a bucket of water on your head and, for a split second, have you believe it's raining. More on the historical relationship between markets and mayhem here.

Anyways. There was no abatement of flash points over the Labor Day weekend. ISIS fundamentalists beheading western journalists. Russian-backed separatists fighting in Ukraine. Central bank policy decisions on the horizon. And corporate bonds under pressure. Yet, despite that, stocks posted a solid August gain.

 The Good

Durable goods orders posted record growth... Consumer confidence hit a new high... Business investment increased... Car sales posted their best results since January 2006...

 The Bad

Durable goods orders ex-transportation disappointed... The Russian economy is faltering... Bullish sentiment has spiked (a contrarian indicator)... Personal income and spending disappointed... New home sales declined...

The Ugly

Isis... Putin... Ebola... Each worsening this last week.

Weekly Results

Major markets finished higher last week. The DJIA rose 0.57%, the S&P 500 added 0.75%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.92%.  Small cap stocks climbed 1.21%.  And the 10-year Treasury bond yield fell six basis points to 2.34%. Gold rose $7.54 per ounce, or 0.59%.

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