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@theMarket: Beware the Hikes of March
By Bill Schmick,
03:08PM / Friday, January 14, 2022
There is a more than an even chance that the Federal Reserve Bank hikes interest rates at least 25 basis points by the end of March 2022. Several analysts expect another three hikes by the end of the year. As an equity investor, this should concern you.   This week, both the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and the Producer Price Index (PPI) came in as expected. But "expected" does not mean anything like good on the inflation front. On a year-over-year basis CPI was up 7 percent, while PPI hit 9.7 percent for all of 2021.   And while economists debate whether inflation and economic growth will subside over the course of this year, the Omicron variant is

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The Retired Investor: No-Shows Threaten Economy
By Bill Schmick,
04:18PM / Thursday, January 13, 2022
Last week, economists calculated that almost 5 million workers failed to show up at their jobs. Given the present upsurge in cases of the Omnicom variant, that should come as no surprise. However, it clearly has Wall Street economists reducing their estimates of first quarter 2022 GDP.   Slower economic growth normally has a negative impact on everything from the stock and bond markets, interest rates and employment. How this will ultimately affect the economy in the months ahead is a question worrying every trader and portfolio manager in the financial markets.   The first warning sign that this wave of coronavirus infection was impacting business came during

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@theMarket: Fed Meeting Notes Throw Markets a Curve
By Bill Schmick,
03:11PM / Friday, January 07, 2022
Investors were set back on their heels this week after reading the latest member comments from the Federal Open Market Committee's December 2021 meeting. It suggests that the Fed is prepared to tighten far sooner than most expected.   Members seem to say that the Federal reserve bank central bank was prepared to shrink its $9 trillion balance sheet "much sooner and faster" than anyone expected. This is in addition to the already announced plan to reduce its asset purchases faster than they first planned. Couple that with expectations that we could see three interest rate hikes this year and one can understand why stocks dropped this week.   The

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The Retired Investor: My Dog's Medical Bills Are Higher Than Mine
By Bill Schmick,
04:23PM / Thursday, January 06, 2022
On the surface, it was a good year if you were in the veterinary business. Year-over-year sales grew by 9.1 percent, while patient visits increased by 3 percent. For pet owners, however, not so much.   Owners found that the cost of keeping their pets healthy jumped by about 10 percent. Some of that price increase was due to higher fees, but consumers were also purchasing more products and services.   My chocolate Labrador Retriever, Titus, is now 13 years old. The rule of thumb: every year of a dog's life equals seven years of my life. That would put Titus' age at 91, versus my age of 73. I won't detail all his health ailments, suffice it to say that

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@theMarket: Markets Up on Thin Holiday Trading
By Bill Schmick,
03:15PM / Friday, December 31, 2021
The Santa Rally continued this week with the S&P 500 Index hitting a new record high. Most stocks that gained did so on little volume. Don't read too much into this week's gains, however.   There is an old, rarely used term called "painting the tape." It is a mild form of market manipulation where market traders buy and sell securities among themselves to create an appearance of substantial trading activity. The goal is to fool investors into buying into stocks, sectors, or the market thereby driving prices higher.   These kinds of tactics often result in an unsustainable spike higher in the averages, followed by a period of consolidation,

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