Market & Economic Commentary

Market Commentary For the week of November 27, 2023


  • In a light week of economic data releases, the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) and October’s initial jobless claims drew the most attention as investors monitor slowing growth and the possibility of realizing a soft landing.
    • Despite the Thanksgiving holiday interruption, stocks notched their fourth consecutive week of gains, and all three major U.S. indices are on pace for their best monthly performance in more than a year.2
  • LEI fell by 0.8% in October, more than the expected decline and the previous month’s drop of 0.7%.
    • Consumer Expectations for Business Conditions and ISM New Orders pulled the broader index to its largest decline since April.
    • LEI has now been negative for 19 consecutive months and resumed signaling a recession after a pause in September.
  • The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits (initial claims) fell by 24,000 to 209,000 in the week ending November 18th.
    • Jobless claims dropped sharply from a three-month high (233,000) the previous week and well below market expectations (225,000).

How do LEI and the jobless claims impact you?

  • To some degree, LEI seems to have lost its predictive power of late, so yet another negative reading should not overly worry investors.
    • The index heavily weights manufacturing data, which has become less critical to U.S. economic activity through the years.
    • On average, there is a lag of 10.6 months between a peak in the index and a recession – we are currently 22 months beyond the most recent peak in 2021, and many are still hopeful for a soft landing.
  • Initial claims demonstrated that the labor market remains strong as Americans applying for benefits fell to a five-week low.
    • However, hiring also slowed; employers added just 150,000 jobs in October – the smallest monthly increase since June.3


  • The first revision of Q3 GDP figures, Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), and a plethora of Fed speakers highlight a more normal slate of data this week.

How do GDP, PCE, and ‘Fed speak’ impact you?

  • Economic growth, inflation, and the labor market are significantly important to the Fed as committee members contemplate the end of this monetary tightening cycle, so it will be important for investors to monitor how these central bank officials discuss and weigh these new data points as they emerge.


Market Index Returns as of 11/24/2023WTDQTDYTD1 YR3 YR5 YR
S&P 5001.02%6.59%20.52%15.14%9.60%13.55%
Dow Jones Industrial Average1.29%5.95%8.84%5.27%7.97%10.18%
Russell Mid-Cap1.11%3.74%7.80%3.10%4.47%9.27%
Russell 2000 (Small Cap)0.56%1.47%4.05%-1.75%0.63%5.38%
MSCI EAFE (International)1.06%4.71%12.12%11.13%3.56%6.17%
MSCI Emerging Markets0.47%3.08%4.96%6.93%-4.61%2.73%
Bloomberg US Agg Bond-0.09%1.68%0.46%0.20%-4.76%0.50%
Bloomberg High Yield Corp0.46%2.31%8.31%7.65%1.09%4.04%
Bloomberg Global Agg0.17%2.66%0.39%0.66%-6.62%-0.95%


  • The major averages each notched their fourth consecutive positive week. The S&P 500 added just over 1%, while the Nasdaq trailed slightly (0.9%) and the Dow led the way (1.29%), supporting the broadening market theme market participants have seen of late.
  • Small-caps recorded more tepid returns (0.56%) after a very strong previous week, while Mid-Caps were middling (1.11%).
  • Both Developed International and Emerging Market stocks were positive on the week.
  • The U.S. Aggregate Bond Index was slightly negative while global fixed income and corporate credit were positive.


  • Bill Belichick Is on the Verge of becoming the NFL’s Biggest Loser: When the New England Patriots routinely churned out double-digit win seasons, Bill Belichick’s march toward becoming the NFL’s winningest coach ever seemed like an inevitability. But the team’s recent nosedive has put him on the verge of a less desirable record: most all-time losses. The Patriots’ loss to the Giants on Sunday marked a new low for the franchise under Belichick. Their offense remained helpless, even against one of the NFL’s worst teams, and it dropped them to 2- 9 on the season. It also added the 161st regular-season loss to his ledger, putting him four shy of the historic mark. If New England keeps losing at its current rate, Belichick will reach the record before the season is over. And with 300 wins, he’s still years away from potentially chasing down Don Shula’s 328 regular-season victories—if he’s actually afforded the opportunity to continue coaching.5
  • Investors See Interest-Rate Cuts Coming Soon, Recession of Not: Wall Street is gearing up for rate cuts. Twenty months after the Federal Reserve began a historic campaign against inflation, investors now believe there is a much greater chance that the central bank will cut rates in just four months than raise them again in the foreseeable future. Interest-rate futures indicated last week a roughly 60% chance the Fed will lower rates by a quarter-of-a-percentage point by its May 2024 policy meeting, up from 29% at the end of October, according to CME Group data. The same data has pointed to four cuts by the end of the year.6

Reprinted with permission from BTN. Copyright © 2021 Michael A. Higley.

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