George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

January 30, 2015

Wall Street is putting the wraps on January today and, despite media reports, it hasn't been a really bad month. The key word for January is "volatile," as we have seen a majority of sessions finish with the Dow industrials posting gains or losses of 100 points or more. Yesterday, the seesaw was up 225 points and today things have opened slightly lower. So far in January, the Dow is down 2.4 percent this month while the S&P 500 is off 2.1 percent and the Nasdaq has slipped 1.1 percent.

*****

Wall Street is putting the wraps on January today and, despite media reports, it hasn't been a really bad month. The key word for January is "volatile," as we have seen a majority of sessions finish with the Dow industrials posting gains or losses of 100 points or more.

The markets do seem a bit disappointed by the report today that the nation's economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, rose 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. This follows the 5.0 percent growth in the GDP in the previous quarter. The number will be revised two times as more data is available and most revisions are higher. What growth there was in the last three months of 2014 was on the shoulders of the consumer. Household spending rose 4.3 percent, the biggest quarterly increase since 2006.

*****

Speaking of consumers, Visa reported last night that it processed 17.6 billion credit card transactions in Q4, an increase of 10 percent. The dollar volume of all those swipes was a staggering $1.2 trillion. Things are going so well for Visa that the company also announced a 4-for-1 stock split.

*****

And the closely watched report on wages and benefits for Q4 showed an increase of 0.6 percent. For all of 2014, wages and benefits rose 2.2 percent, hardly enough to make Janet Yellen and the Fed throw the switch and start raising short-term rates. If anything, it suggests rates will stay low. After the announcement, the yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond fell to an all-time low of 2.24 percent. The 10-year note dropped to 1.69 percent, the lowest level in 18 months.

*****

Ringing the opening bell at the NYSE was the management team from Shake Shack, an East Coast hamburger joint famous, obviously, for the milk shakes. The stock was priced at $21 a share and the first trade after the opening was $49. Shake Shack is sort of the eastern version of In 'N Out here on the West Coast. I talked with someone who lived in New York and he swore the company makes the best burger out there. The closest one to us here is in Las Vegas on The Strip, right in front of New York New York. I'm headed to Sin City in a few months so I will do my duty as a reporter and check it out.

*****

Gold bugs were all excited earlier this week when the yellow metal moved back above $1,300 an ounce, causing the hopeful to declare a big run up in prices was at hand. Not so fast. Gold dropped $31.30 an ounce yesterday to finish at $1,254. Silver was even worse, dropping 7.3 percent in just one day and falling to $16.77.

*****

Costco shareholders are getting a little something special from the company. It announced it will pay a special dividend of $5 a share to owners at the end of February. "Our strong balance sheet and favorable access to the credit markets allow us to provide shareholders with this dividend, while also preserving financial and operational flexibility to grow our business globally," CFO Richard Galanti said. Costco pays a modest quarterly dividend on top of the special payment.

*****

Apple shares are up slightly today to $120, enough to take the stock to a new all-time high. The shares had been below $110 on Wednesday before the company announced record profits in Q4 and record sales for the iPhone 6. Apple reached its previous high of $705 in September 2012 and went into a decline after that. In June of last year, when the shares were at $645, the company did a 7-for-1 stock split, resetting the price at $92. Longtime shareholders have been rewarded for the patience.

*****

So, here's the deal on the Super Bowl. You may remember I told you about a study showing, at the beginning of the playoffs, that the team with the highest median home prices would win each game. Well, it was completely accurate through each game. Using the same system for the Super Bowl, the winner should be the New England Patriots, slightly edging out the Seahawks based on home values. Hey, it's as good as any other predictor for the game.

More George Chamberlin Columns

Tax season brings out scam artists, so be careful

It won't take very long for April 15 to roll around, and with it the annual rush to get state and federal tax returns filed on time. And as each year passes, it seems the process becomes more and more complicated.

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Wall Street is putting the wraps on January today and, despite media reports, it hasn't been a really bad month. The key word for January is "volatile," as we have seen a majority of sessions finish with the Dow industrials posting gains or losses of 100 points or more.

Stocks rebound amid corporate earnings as energy reverses

The stock market rebounded on Thursday, recovering a big part of the losses in the two previous trading sessions as earnings boosted consumer and materials shares.

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Like the highways in Boston, the stock market just doesn’t seem to have any traction. Several times lately, the markets have opened with decent gains -- only to drift lower as the session progressed. Yesterday was another example.

Weekly Updates

George Chamberlin on the Markets

Jan. 26, 2015 -- Executive Editor George Chamberlin recaps last week's financial events and looks at the week's upcoming announcements.

San Diego Stock Exchange

U.S. Markets

Index Value Change
{{name}} {{value}} {{daychange}}
Updated: -/-/---- -:-- --

San Diego Stock Exchange

Best Performers

Company $ Chg % Chg
{{companysymbol}} {{changefrom}} {{percentchange}}

Worst Performers

Company $ Chg % Chg
{{companysymbol}} {{changefrom}} {{percentchange}}
Updated: -/-/---- -:-- --

Video Interviews

Voit Real Estate's Eric Northbrook on commercial real estate

Jan. 13, 2015 -- George Chamberlin speaks with Eric Northbrook, managing director at Voit Real Estate Services, discuss the commercial real estate market and how the industrial segment is the strongest.

Subscribe Today!