On Our Minds

Investable funds fuel financial markets

The S&P 500 index was up slightly in the month of May due to growing investor confidence in higher 2021 corporate revenues and earnings. With the receding COVID pandemic, consumers and businesses are emerging from social-distancing protocols and accelerating their spending. This strong growth in demand for goods has led to inventory shortages in many cases. Temporary delivery delays for raw materials and components are constraining global growth. Employment is expanding, however, which means goods manufacturing should improve and service industries should gain momentum.

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Economic recovery is underway

With the completion of the fourth quarter of 2020 corporate earnings releases, investors are monitoring daily COVID headlines, rising interest rates, and the potential for a new stimulus program. Corporate earnings were mostly better than expected and guidance for the year ahead was surprisingly strong.

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Avoid Corporate Account Takeover

Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses with increasingly sophisticated attacks. “Corporate account takeover” is a form of identity theft of a business. Criminals phony emails pretending to be someone you know to trick you into clicking on links or attachments that can lead to malicious software being installed on your computer. Once this happens, they will ask you to enter credentials where they will gain access to your email account. At that point, they will send emails to the bank appearing to be from you to initiate ACH and wire transactions.

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Initial market in President Biden's first days

The S&P 500 Index was down 1% in January based on investors’ revised expectations of corporate revenue growth and earnings. First, the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and inoculation process is proceeding slowly while the virus is mutating. The new strains appear to be slightly more virulent and the vaccination timeline will take longer and delay economic normalization. Second, the peaceful installation of the Biden Administration with impactful policy changes have added uncertainty. New executive orders are being launched daily with an emphasis so far on changing carbon emissions, raising the minimum wage and bringing about social justice. Third, the expectation for further fiscal stimulus in the next 100 days is losing its enthusiasm. The passage of another $1.9 trillion relief package so soon after the recently passed $900-million package seems excessive even for the new Congress.

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Why should I use my debit card?

One reason is our new “Use It. Love It. Win It.” Sweepstakes.* You can earn $500 just by using your Englewood Bank & Trust Visa® Debit Card for everyday purchases. Sound good? Check out the official rules and details.

The sweepstakes is not the only reason to use your debit card. You may already be using it for dining and entertainment, groceries, gas, shopping online, and monthly bills like utilities, cell phone plans, gym membership, auto insurance, and much more.

What are some of the other advantages of using a debit card?

  • Convenience. Regular debit card users appreciate how fast and easy transactions are made.
  • Reduced dependency on cash and checks. Writing checks is time consuming and antiquated. Many vendors no longer accept personal checks, and even if they do, you have to be careful and monitor your account balance to avoid overdraft fees. It only takes a moment to complete a purchase with a debit card.
  • No debt. With a credit card, it's easy to purchase anything you want, even if you don't have the funds, which can lead to enormous credit card debt. WalletHub.com reports that Americans began 2020 owing more than $1 trillion in credit card debt.
A debit card draws on money you already have. Retailers know people usually spend more when using plastic than if they were paying cash. By using debit cards, impulsive spenders can avoid the temptation of credit and the interest, late fees, and other charges paid by those who do not pay off their credit card balances each month. With debit cards, you don't have to remember to pay the credit card bill every month.

  • No approval necessary. If you have poor credit, it can be difficult to be approved for a credit card and the interest rate will likely be sky high. Debit cards require no application or minimum credit score, and most just require you to have a checking account.
  • Fraud protection. Insert your card rather than swiping it. The introduction of chip card technology for debit and credit cards has stopped a lot of point-of-sale fraud.
Downloading the bank’s MobiMoney app allows you to manage your Visa® Debit Card from the palm of your hand. You can receive instant card usage alerts, turn your card on or off, limit the use of your card based on location or merchant, and place spending limits. Learn more and download the app.

Why choose an Englewood Bank & Trust Visa® Debit Card? Visa’s industry leadership is your assurance of capability and quality at the highest level. Here’s what sets Visa apart:

  • The Visa Network – widely accepted around the world, with over 46 million merchant locations globally.
  • A commitment to uncovering debit potential and increasing usage.
  • Sophisticated risk and fraud detection techniques to safeguard transactions.
All this, PLUS the chance to win $500! That’s a real win-win for everybody.

*No Purchase Necessary | See Official Rules at http://www.uselovewin.com.

Click here to see some recent winners.

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Investment Market Update, Q3 2020

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq index had wonderful performance during the third quarter, with returns of 8.5% and 11%, respectively. However, pre-election politics obstructing a new federal stimulus package and an escalation in COVID cases caused both indexes to decline in September. The political stalemate over aid to bailout states and cities is dampening confidence. A multi-trillion-dollar stimulus package will eventually be implemented that should focus support for small businesses and unemployed individuals. The interminable wait for a COVID vaccine is also weighing on the markets and suppressing economic activity. The year-end target for a vaccine is unlikely, although a “cocktail” of antibiotics and steroids has shown to help patients recover, so the management of the virus is becoming more tenable. With the health crisis reduced, we should expect a gradual return to a stable growth economy.

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Market Starting to Show Improvement

I hope you are having a healthy summer and thought I would provide a summary of the August market activity.

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Market showing resiliency in some sectors

Despite the concerns about strained relations with China, increased COVID infections, social protests, weaker earnings, high U.S. unemployment and the November election, the S&P 500 Index is up 1% for the year while the Nasdaq Index is up 19.7%. The increasing spread of the virus is suppressing a healthy economic recovery as consumers and businesses remain conservative in their spending.

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Growth is on the Horizon

The S&P 500 Index has rebounded 35% from the low on March 23 and is now only down 6% year-to-date. The rally was slow and deliberate as the headlines shifted from a virus-induced economic lockdown to a gradual re-opening. The economic re-start will revitalize small and large business activity and inspire consumers to emerge from their shelter-in-place.

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Growth Poised to Follow Re-opening of the Economy

Investors reconsidered the emotionally-oversold market in the month of April and bravely pushed the market higher by 12.7% even before news about the virus infection curve flattening. Since the “shelter-at-home” policies have reduced the infection rate, government policymakers are announcing dates for re-opening the economy. After an economic full-stop and 26 million Americans losing jobs, an economic restart will be a slow process.  By staging a deliberately slow ramp-up in economic activity, the government hopes to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. While Wall Street and the markets are anticipating a “V-shaped” economic recovery, Main Street may experience more of a Nike “swoosh-shaped” recovery. 

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