1. THE HOME STRETCH – The S&P 500 has closed at its calendar year high in the second half of the year (i.e., during the 6 months of July-December) 74% of the time since 1950. In 15 of the last 25 years, the index’s calendar year high has occurred during the month of December. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).
  2. JUST BELOW AVERAGE – With 1 trading week remaining in the first half of 2018, the S&P 500 is up +4.0% YTD (total return) through Friday 6/22/18. Over the last 25 years (i.e., 1993-2017), the S&P 500 has produced an average gain of+9.7% per year. The first 6 months of the year (i.e., January-June) have gained an average of +4.5% over the last 25 years (source: BTN Research).
  3. YIELD SPREAD – In the last 5 months, the 2-year Treasury note yield has increased 0.48 percentage points while the 10-year Treasury note yield has increased only 0.24 percentage points. Some, but not all financial strategists have concluded that the bond market believes near-term Fed action (impacting the 2-year note yield) will slow the economy longer-term (impacting the 10-year note yield) (source: Treasury Department).
  4. BIG IMPROVEMENT – The US unemployment rate was 3.8% as of May 2018. The US “unemployed and underemployed” rate was 7.6% as of May 2018, i.e., the combination of jobless individuals plus workers who are part-time purely for economic reasons. The US unemployment rate was 10.0% as of October 2009. The US “unemployed and underemployed” rate was 17.1% as of October 2009 (source: Department of Labor).
  5. BEST AND WORST – Alaska has the nation’s highest unemployment rate in May 2018 (7.2%) while Hawaii (2.0%) has the lowest (source: Department of Labor).
  6. MORE OUT THAN IN THIS YEAR – For the last 35 years (1983-2017), the total income of our nation’s Social Security program (i.e., payroll taxes collected plus interest income) has exceeded the total cost of the program (i.e., benefits paid out plus administrative expenses), a streak that is projected to end in 2018 (source: Social Security Trustees Report 2018).
  7. THE SAME NUMBER – There are as many Americans with outstanding student loan debt (45 million) as there are retired American workers (45 million) who are receiving monthly Social Security retirement benefits (source: Social Security Trustees Report 2018).
  8. GASOLINE – The national average price of gasoline peaked at $2.97 on 5/26/18, just short of $3 a gallon. As of last Friday (6/22/18), gas prices had fallen 25 consecutive days to an average of $2.86 a gallon (source: AAA).
  9. A THOUSAND A WEEK PER HOUSEHOLD – Retail sales, tracked monthly in the USA, exceeded $500 billion for the first time ever in May 2018 ($502 billion). That’s equal to $4,184 for every household in the country for the month of May. Retail sales include purchases of groceries, prescription drugs, appliances, furniture, gasoline, clothes, dining out, etc.(source: Commerce Department).
  10. IMPORTS – American consumers bought $2.41 trillion of imported goods in 2017. 22% of that total ($526 billion) were purchases of Chinese products, including cell phones, computers and TVs (source: Commerce Department).
  11. OLDER FOLKS – The population of the United States has doubled since 1950, while the number of Americans at least age 65 has quadrupled since 1950 (source: Social Security).
  12. BOYS AND GIRLS – A baby girl born in the United States in 2017 has a “life expectancy at birth” of 81.4 years, 55 months longer than the “life expectancy at birth” (76.8 years) of an American baby boy born last year (source: Social Security).
  13. IN THE BLACK – From October 2008 through March 2012, the US government had 42 consecutive months of deficits. Since then (i.e., April 2012 through May 2018), the US government has generated a surplus in 23 of 74 months or 31% of the time (source: Treasury Department).
  14. BEFORE TRADE DISPUTES – US farm income has dropped by 52% over the last 5 years because of falling commodity prices (source: Department of Agriculture).
  15. MAJOR CHAMP – Golfer Brooks Koepka won the US Open in Southampton, NY on Sunday 6/17/18. Koepka, 28 years old, won $2.16 million, the same amount he received when he won the same tourney a year earlier. Koepka has the 5th fastest average clubhead speed (122 mph) on the men’s pro circuit this year (source: PGA).

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: The information contained in this material has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. Any mention of particular stocks or companies does not constitute and should not be considered an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Any forward-looking statements presented in this material are inherently uncertain and cannot be relied upon as statements of actual performance.

Reproduction Prohibited without Express Permission – Copyright © 2018 Michael A. Higley. All rights reserved