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August Market Insight
With Congress in recess and many of Wall Street’s prognosticators and pundits soaking up the last rays of summer, August is traditionally a time to reflect and, if necessary, reposition. The major themes impacting investor behavior remain the same, but current perspectives are decidedly different. The Fed’s battle against inflation remains their primary priority and more work is required to reach their 2% goal, though remarkable progress has been made. Headline inflation is hovering just over 3%, which is far below the 6.5% reading of last December and the 9.1% reading of last summer. To achieve this inflation progress, the Fed has attempted to slow the economy by raising interest rates. While the Federal Funds rate has increased 100 basis points since the start of the year, both the 2- and 10-year Treasury rates have increased only about 60 basis points. This relatively nominal increase has not impacted economic conditions as employment remains strong and the consumer continues healthy buying. Third Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be the strongest since 2021. Despite dire forecasts made by many economists and analysts over the last 24 months in reaction to increasing interest rates, the economy continues to produce quality jobs, goods, and services. Average GDP for the past four quarters exceeds 2.5% and overall corporate earnings remain stable. At this time, we are encouraged by these factors and do not see any major impediments to continued growth into 2024.