Equities generally continued to push upward in November. The small caps of the Russell 2000 were the exception; they ended the month flat and were up less than 1% for the year. However, the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials once again hit new record levels, while the Nasdaq increased its year-to-date lead.
Meanwhile, the Global Dow had its best month since February.Oil prices already on the decline continued to fall, especially after members of the Organization of the Petroleum exporting Countries (OPEC) decided not to cut oil production levels, sending the price plummeting to roughly $66 a barrel. The price of gold continued its year-long downward trend
despite a partial rebound from a dip in early November; it ended the month down roughly 4% at approximately $1,175 an ounce. Meanwhile, low yields overseas continued to lure investors to U.S. Treasuries, sending yieldsdown as prices rose despite the prospect of an eventual Fed rate hike.
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The Employees of Indiana Trust Company met with other volunteers on Saturday, October 18, 2014 in downtown Muncie, IN to help beautify our community and pick up trash and litter. Muncie Clean and Beautiful sponsors the effort each month to build pride in the community and clean one of Muncie's most historic and unique areas. Pictured are Rob Santoni, Lavone Whitmer, Brad LaTour, Archie Spangler, and Marty Hillery (and his wife, Rose).
October lived up to its reputation for volatility as triple-digit intraday swings in the Dow became almost commonplace. Despite being spooked for much of the month--at one point the S&P 500 was down almost 8% from its most recent high--both the S&P and the Dow industrials rallied strongly to end the month at fresh all-time records. Generally encouraging corporate earnings from U.S. companies, a strong Q3 GDP, and increased central bank support overseas helped equities markets overcome fears about the end of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing and global concerns about slowing growth and the threat of Ebola.
Increased U.S. energy resources and reduced global demand meant that oil prices continued to drop, ending the month at roughly $80 a barrel. The dollar maintained its September gains against a basket of six foreign currencies; since oil is traded in dollars, a stronger dollar also helped keep oil prices in check.
Meanwhile, after a bounce at mid-month, the price of gold plummeted to roughly $1,170 an ounce. Not surprisingly, the volatility in equities caused the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury to fall briefly to its lowest level since June 2013 as investors sought the relative safety of Treasury securities.
The Month in Review
• The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.5% during the third quarter, according to the initial estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That was slightly less than Q2's 4.6%, but still much stronger than during 2014's first quarter.
• The 248,000 new jobs created in September helped cut the U.S. unemployment rate from 6.1% to 5.9%; it's the first time since July 2008 that joblessness has been below 6%. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said hiring during the prior two months was stronger than previously thought. However, at least some of the decline in the unemployment rate resulted from 97,000 people, such as retiring baby boomers, dropping out of the labor force. That brought the percentage of people in the workforce to 62.7%--the lowest participation rate since 1978.
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Veterans were honored and aided by the Michiana Military Stand Down held in South Bend in September. Because of the vast difficulty that many veterans face when tours-of-duty are over, these events have been popping up all over the country in an effort to help. While geared toward homeless vets in particular, all veterans were welcomed and thanked for their service. Colonel Kent Laudeman, Director of the Robert Miller Sr. Veteran’s Center, helped to organize this wonderful event. Many organizations were there to represent veteran service agencies as well as various employment agencies. Veterans were also given donations of free food, clothing, hygiene products and even health related services such as haircuts and health screenings. “I am just truly impressed with the service people that have come together to make this day the first day for this stand down,” said Laudeman.
Indiana Trust employees were on hand to help the event run smoothly. From setting up tables, organizing and handing out donations, helping with paperwork, all the way to helping clean up, the Indiana Trust family was there to be of service. Not only did our tireless employees help with the various events of the day, Indiana Trust also gave a donation to help with on going outreach. “Our service men and women give their all to keep our country safe. This is just one of the many things we can do to help thank them,” said Amy Jordan. Many thanks to Debbie Klosowski, Jon-Michael Plennert, Nikki Anderson, Tina Patton, and Amy Jordan for all their energy and kindness put in to making this event such a success.