Last week was an excellent week for the world’s stock market. iShares International Developed Markets ETF (EFA) increased by 7.07% and the S&P 500 by 6.14%. The increases were primarily due to Joe Biden winning the presidential election by a wide enough margin to avoid too much litigation. Furthermore, the Republicans have a strong possibility of controlling the Senate and have gained seats in the House of Representatives. Historically, a split congress typically results in higher stock market returns.
The U.S. markets extended the gains today as Pfizer announced a vaccine with a 90% efficacy. The S&P 500 increased 2.07% to an all-time high of 3,579. Other positives may push stocks higher as the U.S. consumer is flush with cash, and unemployment is dropping like a rock.
U.S. Savings Rate Surge
COVID19 has caused the U.S. savings rate to increase dramatically (click here to learn more). Americans have historically saved from 6% to 7.5% of their pay. The savings rate increased to 33.6% in April of 2020 and now sits at 14.1% in August. Americans are usually not good savers, so we know this will reverse and turn into spending.
Bank Deposits Surge
U.S. consumers have a ton of cash sitting in banks that are earning very little interest. Bank deposits have increased $3.6 trillion since a year ago. Once the consumer feels confident that we are beyond COVID, they’ll deploy this cash. Some will spend the money in retail stores, and others will invest the money into more aggressive instruments such as stock, bonds, and real estate.
Retail Sales Surge
Retail sales numbers are looking very good this year. September 2020 sales came in at $549.3 billion, an increase of 1.9% from the previous month and an 8.1% increase compared to September 2019.
People have been going back to work in record numbers. The unemployment rate peaked at 14.7% in April and dropped to 9.6% in October. The enhanced unemployment benefits expired on July 31. Losing the enhanced unemployment benefits may have increased the rate people went back to work as desperation is a great motivator.
ETF of the Week: iShares International Developed Markets (EFA)
The iShares EAFE (EFA) invest in developed international markets, not including the U.S. and Canada. It invests in Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Far East. International developed markets haven’t seen their markets recover as the U.S. markets have. This is partially due to the U.S. having a large percentage of the world’s technology-related companies. China also has a fair amount of tech companies; however, China is considered a developing market, so it is not part of the fund.