December Market Insights and Identity Theft Awareness Month
Stocks surged higher in November on rising optimism that the Federal Reserve would slow down future interest rate hikes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 5.67 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index picked up 5.38 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 4.38 percent.
As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the branch of the Federal Reserve System that determines the direction of monetary policy, ended its November 1–2 meeting announcing its fourth consecutive 0.75 percentage point hike while also suggesting a potential easing in subsequent rate hikes. Stocks rallied on that news then did an abrupt reversal when Fed Chair Jerome Powell struck a more hawkish tone in his post-meeting press conference.
Markets turned around the following week, however, when on November 11 a lower-than-expected inflation report triggered the biggest one-day stock market gain in more than two years. The November inflation report revived hopes of a slowdown in the pace and size of future rate hikes.
As November progressed, public comments by Fed officials appeared to pour cold water on investors’ hopes. Despite these hawkish comments, stocks rallied during Thanksgiving week and picked up momentum following the release of the Fed’s meeting minutes the day before Thanksgiving.
The meeting minutes suggested that an easing in rate hikes may be coming and revealed that most Fed officials felt a slowdown in the pace of rate hike increases was appropriate. Fed officials pointed to the growing risk that the Fed may increase rates beyond what was required to reduce inflation.
As this year comes to a close, the advisors at Charter Oak will be paying close attention to the November Consumer Price Index, to be released on December 13, as well as Fed Chair Powell’s comments following the FOMC’s two-day meeting on December 14. Inflation is still high but appears to be trending lower, and the job market is showing signs of cooling, which may help influence the Fed’s decision.
December is Identity Theft Protection Awareness Month
Identity theft can happen in a number of ways: in-person, online, through email or over the phone. However it occurs, identity theft affects a large number of people per year. Below are helpful tips on how to protect your identity and sensitive information online and in-person.
- Don’t Assume Your Identity Will Never Get Stolen. No matter how careful you are with your personal information, never assume that you are immune to identity theft. According to a recent report, nearly 33 percent of Americans have experienced at least one identity theft attempt in their lives. That figure only includes the cases of identity theft that were properly reported. There could be other cases that were either never reported or never even discovered.
- Don’t Use the Same Password for Multiple Sites. Don’t use the same password for multiple sites, especially if it contains identifying information such as your address, children’s names or pet names. A strong password is long, contains a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, contains numbers and symbols, has no ties to your personal information, and doesn’t contain any dictionary words.
- Sign Up for 2-Factor Authentication. In addition to creating a strong password, always sign up for two-factor authentication when possible. Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) is an extra layer of protection for your login info. It usually requires you to sign in with your password and then use a second method to verify it’s you. For example, Google can send a unique code to your phone number or backup email address to confirm it’s really you trying to sign in.
- Be Careful About How Much Personal Information You Share on Social Media. It’s important to be aware of what personal information you are sharing online. Hackers can easily get information from your Facebook or Instagram profile and use it to hack into your other accounts. Never share your address, phone number, photos of personal IDs (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.) or full date of birth on social media.
We live in a very connected world, and it’s more important than ever to protect your information and your family’s information. Staying safe online and practicing these tips will help prevent you from falling victim to increasing identity theft scams.
The advisors at Charter Oak hope you enjoy connecting with family and friends this holiday season, hopefully in person. We are continually grateful for the pleasure and privilege of serving our growing client base and we are thrilled to announce the addition of James Bossieux, MBA, CFP®, CIMA® as Financial Advisor. James joins us after more than a decade at Vanguard and brings a tremendous amount of financial experience and wisdom to our team. Please click here to read our press release announcing James’ arrival.