tim peterson

Weekly Market Commentary October 5th, 2015

Dear Investor, As the volatility continues, we are working vigilantly to protect and grow your money. For example, Anchor Hedged Fixed Income, which is one of the few investments in the market that is up 2% this year,  just introduced a new strategy to more efficiently trade in the high yield market. This could significantly increase your bottom line results every year.

Chart of the Week

Our Chart of the Week displays the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Option-Adjusted spread. As we can see in the chart below, the yield premium over US government securities has risen to levels not seen since 2012, as shown by the red line. A firm uptrend, as shown by the green lines, in the high yield premiums is now in place making the high yield asset class unattractive at this time. High yield spreads have even had a breakout, as denoted in purple, above the upper line of the uptrend channel suggesting higher spread levels are probably ahead. So things are most likely going to get worse before they get better, especially with concerns over slowing world growth being reinforced with the weak US September jobs report released on Friday. Now is a time for extreme caution.  


Articles of Interest: 

"Nothing Is Working" - The Markets Just Aren't That Into You

With less than 100 calendars days – and only 69 trading days – left in 2015 it’s not too early to consider what kind of year we’ve had in capital markets. Simply put, it stinks. That assessment isn’t just because of the -5.22% return for the S&P 500 year to date. Rather, it is because essentially nothing has been working. Consider:

U.S. stocks, regardless of market cap range, are down on the year. The S&P 400 Mid Caps are down 4.3%, and the 600 Small Cap Index is down the same amount. The Russell 2000 is 5.3% lower. Read more here.

Medicare Open Enrollment Starts October 15th. Please Schedule Your Appointment.

Medicare open enrollment begins October 15th and ends December 7thPlease book an appointment between those two dates. By law, we can't talk to you about your options before October 15th.  This is our annual review of your Medicare coverage to ensure that you have the best coverage possible.
 
Please schedule your appointment on our new website here or give us a call at 424-288-4254. 
 
Regular Open Enrollment under the ACA Affordable Care Act starts November 1 –January 31, 2016. 
 
You should be receiving your renewal packet in the mail shortly. Whether you are on Covered California or directly covered with the carrier please speak to us prior to submitting your renewal so we can make sure you’re on the best carrier for your needs. Click here to schedule or call us 424-288-4254. Please schedule your appointment after November 1st. We will not have the new rates until then. 
 
Assurant is ending so if you are covered by Assurant please schedule an appointment here or call us so we can move you to another carrier.
 
Anthem is changing from EPO to PPO for Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Orange Counties.  This is a very positive change because you will now have out of network benefits with Anthem.
 
Blue Shield will also only offer a PPO throughout the entire state of California for all of 2016. They will no longer be offering their EPO policies in Northern California. 

United Health Care is coming to California in a few counties in Northern California but will not include Los Angeles, San Diego or Orange Counties.

How To Wreck Your Estate

One of the best things about celebrities is that they live their lives so publicly that, hopefully, the rest of us can learn from their mistakes.  When it comes to famous people who mismanaged their considerable estates, regrettable stories abound: 

Guitarist Jimi Hendrix left no will and no instructions.  It took 34 years of court battles to come to some resolution, and, according to biographers, relatives closest to Hendrix during his lifetime didn’t get a dime.  Attorneys got plenty. 

Actor Heath Ledger failed to update his will after the birth of his daughter, Matilda.  His legal will left all of his assets to his parents and sisters.  Confusion and recriminations abounded until the family (much to their credit) decided to gift the entire estate to then two-year-old Matilda. 

James Gandolfini, the actor who played Tony Soprano, left behind a much criticized will that reportedly did not protect large portions of his hefty estate from probate and exposed his heirs to millions of dollars in tax liability.                  

You Too Can Easily Wreck Your Estate...and, in doing so, you may also compound grief issues and soil your legacy among family members and friends whom you hold closest to your heart.  Let us spell out some of the most common examples of bad advice that can cost you and your family so much. 

#1 “Don’t worry!  You’re too young to worry about a will.  You don’t own enough yet to protect.”

Death, injury and illness are not reserved just for the elderly.  There are vital reasons now to address your estate.  Dying without a will may subject your assets to a potentially very expensive and time-consuming probate process.  Your neglect also adds significant stress to the hearts of your loved ones, perhaps in a time of nearly unendurable grief. Your plan should also include documentation to designate who cares for your children in your absence, who cares for you if you are incapacitated, and the quality and limits of your own medical care in the final season of your life. 

#2 “Let someone sign a signature card at your bank so that, if anything happens, at least they can pay your bills.” 

Not a good idea.  Allowing someone else to “fill out a signature card” on a financial account immediately makes him or her a full co-owner of that asset. Not only do countless stories exist about “loved ones” abusing such privilege, but, if either one of you becomes embroiled in a lawsuit, bankruptcy or divorce, you and your “co-owner” are very much at risk.   

#3 “Don’t worry.  All of your money will go to the person listed in your will.” 

Not so fast!  Even if you have a will designating your intended heir, he or she may not get the money you have stashed in specific accounts.  If you own an insurance, brokerage or investment account which cites a beneficiary, that other document will trump the value of your will.  If, for example, you write out a will leaving your whole estate to your cat BUT your former wife is still listed as the beneficiary on your 401(k), your ex-wife will get the cash in that 401(k) account.  

#4 “You don’t need a planner. You can do it yourself with some help from an attorney.”
  

Many people approach estate planning in a piece-meal process, only addressing those issues which impress them as important at the time.  They consult an attorney only if (A) legal documents are required and (B) they can’t find a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) solution on the Internet.  Not good.  Estate planning should never be a patchwork process.  

The lapses or well-intended messes you leave behind may very possibly impact the quality of your final days and compound the tragedy of your departure.  Your estate plan may involve the entirety of your financial profile and, done well, absolutely maximizes your personal wealth for the duration of your life.  Only after your security is settled, should you plan then to maximize the amount of wealth that you pass on as a legacy to those whom you love the most.

Attorneys are often a vital part of this process but are not equipped in many financial matters.  You need a team led by a financial professional.  Don’t compromise the quality of your later years.  Don’t short-change the people you love.  Let’s meet and talk about your good intentions.  

Sources:  (1)  “Six Costly Estate-Planning Minefields, and How to Avoid Them.” Consumer Reports.  consumerreports.org. 4/14/15.  (2)  Goldman, L. “10 Celebrities Who Made Terrible Mistakes Planning Their Estates.  Business Insider.  businessinsider.com.  12/7/10.  (3)  Fabio, Michelle. “The Battle over the Jimi Hendrix Estate.” legalzoom.com.  12/1/09.  (4)  Davis, C. and Ambrose M., “Heath Ledger’s Daughter to Inherit Entire Estate.”  People Magazine.  people.com.  9/29/08

Investment advice is offered by Horter Investment Management, LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Insurance and annuity products are sold separately through TWP Financial. Securities transactions for Horter Investment Management clients are placed through Pershing Advisor Solutions, Trust Company of America, Jefferson National Monument Advisor, Fidelity, Security Benefit Life, ED&F Man Capital Markets and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. 

 

 

 

Articles of Interest: Don't Trust the Market's Big Up Days

Given all of the green on the screen during these days, this could be a good time to think about what big up days usually mean. Typically, they occur when the market has already run into trouble, and are often technical in nature. An analysis by Michael Batnick at The Irrelevant Investor, showed that 22 of the 25 best days since 1970 occurred under the 200-day moving average. That implies they were oversold rallies with some element of short covering. Traders may like them, but long-term investors would much rather see three 100-point days than one 300-point day. The more gradual gains reflect a healthier accumulation and not a reflexive reaction. 

Click here to read more on Bloomberg View

Weekly Market Commentary Sept 8, 2015

Stocks declined across the board, giving back the prior week's modest gains and falling further into the red for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing the week down 541 points, shedding -3.3% to 16,102. The S&P 500 Index fell 68 points, dropping -3.4% to end the week at 1,921.  

The Nasdaq Composite dropped -3.0% to close at 4,684. The S&P MidCap 400 Index closed the week at 1,386, down -2.8%. The Russell 2000 fell -2.3% to end the week at 1,136.  

The MSCI ETF "EFA", the proxy for developed international equity markets, was off -4.7% for the week. Emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI ETF "EEM", plunged 4.9%.  

Domestic High Yield corporate bonds gained 0.3% for the week, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index.  

Equity Markets continued to sell off after more negative data from China intensified fears of a slowdown in global growth.  The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note dropped to 2.12%.  Oil prices continued to fluctuate but ended the week only moderately higher at around $46.50 for West Texas Intermediate and $50 for Brent Crude.  Pressure on prices remains heavy, with global drillers continuing to pump.  Both Russia and Venezuela commented this week that they would not reduce output, with the latter citing plans to increase production after receiving a $5 billion loan from China.    

In high-yield bond markets, the volatile market environment of recent weeks caused issuers to pause on new deals, as no new high-yield debt was issued for the week ended August 28th.  Investors pulled $714 million from high-yield investments during the week ended September 3rd.  As of September 3rd, the Effective Yield on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II index stood at 7.3% with the Option-Adjusted Spread at 5.7%.  Energy companies continue to show weakness in the high-yield space, accounting for 7 out of 11 high-yield issuer rating downgrades from Moody's in August.      

Rival rating agency Standard and Poor's downgraded 25 highyield issuers, with energy firms also representing 7 of the downgrades.  The US trailing 12-month speculative default rate rose to a two-year high in August at 2.4%.  Alpha Natural Resources Inc., ASG Consolidated LLC, SandRidge Energy Inc., Samson Resources Corp., Wilton Holdings Inc., SAExploration Holdings Inc., and Halcon Resources Corp. each defaulted in August.  Also of note, the S&P US distress ratio rose to 15.5% in August, its highest level in more than four years.    

In US economic news, the August jobs report showed a gain of 173,000, positive but below expectations.  The unemployment rate declined to its lowest level since April 2008 at 5.1%.  It should be noted that the August jobs report is notoriously subject to sharp upward revisions.  Over the past five years August jobs data has been revised upward by an average of 79,000 and the revisions have been as high as 128,000.  The mixed report has economists divided on the likelihood of a September rate hike; while the report shows evidence of the job growth that the Fed has been waiting for, the current volatile markets could give them reason to pause until year-end.  In other economic reports, the ISM manufacturing index for August came in at 51.1, indicating the slowest rate of growth for the factory sector since May 2013.  The US trade gap narrowed to -$41.9 billion in July following a revised -$45.2 billion reading in June, a positive reading that will likely provide some lift to third-quarter GDP estimates.

Weekly Market Commentary Sept.14, 2015

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the week up 331 points, adding 2.1% to close at 16,433. The S&P 500 Index gained 40 points, up 2.1% to end the week at 1,961.  

The Nasdaq Composite advanced 3.0% to close at 4,822. The S&P MidCap 400 Index closed the week at 1,414, up 2.0%. The Russell 2000 ended the week up 1.9% at 1,158.  

The MSCI ETF "EFA", the proxy for developed international equity markets, rose 3.2% for the week. Emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI ETF "EEM", bounced back from last week's loss with a 4.1% gain.  Domestic high-yield corporate bonds gained 0.5% for the week, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index.  

Volume was light and volatility remained elevated as stocks fluctuated over the holiday-shortened week but failed to make significant headway in either direction.  The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note rose to 2.18%.  Oil prices declined to $45.16 for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and $48.70 for Brent Crude.  Goldman Sachs issued revised oil price projections through 2016, with median projections indicating that WTI will still be at $45 a barrel 12 months out and a worst case estimate of $20 a barrel, noting that production has not declined fast enough to resolve the massive oversupply.    

For the second consecutive week, there was no new highyield debt issued in the primary market.  High-yield bond issuance has dropped off significantly since mid-August and now stands at $205.6 billion year-to-date, 3% lower than the same period in 2014.  Investors cautiously returned to highyield funds, which reported a net inflow of $186 million for the weekly period ended September 9th.  The Effective Yield on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II index declined slightly for the week, to 7.22% as of September 10th, down from 7.3% a week prior.  The OptionAdjusted Spread (OAS) over the risk-free Treasury rate was 5.58%.        

The OAS of highly speculative CCC-rated bonds is currently 11.35%, 7.58% greater than that of BB-rated debt, considered the least risky of the high-yield rating tiers.    

This spread stood at 6.38% at the beginning of the year, so investors seem to be demanding a greater relative risk premium for the lower rated, riskier debt.  High-yield markets are clearly flashing warning signs despite a relatively low rate of defaults, which have thus far been contained to energy and mining companies.  The Moody's high-yield bond Covenant Quality Index (CQI), which tracks the quality of investor protection mechanisms embedded in high-yield bond transactions on a rolling 3-month basis, weakened to 4.53 in August, a new record low.  The CQI measures bond covenant quality on a five point scale, with 1.0 denoting the strongest level of investor protection and 5.0 being the weakest.  Of the bonds issued in August, 29% were considered "covenant-lite", a term used when the bond indenture lacks traditional investor protection clauses, therefore making the bond issuance more risky to the investor.    

In US economic news, inflation remains muted in advance of next week's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The August producer-price index (PPI) was unchanged after rising 0.2% in July.  The Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed a spike in job openings from 5.323 million in June to 5.753 million in July.  The rate of workers quitting their jobs, an indicator of worker confidence, was unchanged for a fourth consecutive month at 1.9%.  The rise in job openings is indicative of tightening in the labor market, and will likely be cited by hawkish FOMC members in next week's meeting.  Consumer sentiment data, however, may give the Fed reason to pause.  The preliminary September flash index fell sharply from 91.9 to 85.7, the lowest level in nearly a year.  New York Fed President William Dudley singled out this report as an early indicator of the effect of Chinese stock market turbulence on US consumers.  Weekly jobless claims fell 6,000 to 275,000 for the week ended September 5th.  The less-volatile four-week moving average rose slightly to 275,750.  Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, rose 1,000 to 2.260 million.

Weekly Market Commentary

After beginning the week deep in the red, The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 183 points, gaining 1.1% to 16,643. The S&P 500 Index also finished in positive territory, advancing 18 points, or 0.9%, to finish at 1,989.  The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.6% to close at 4,828. The S&P MidCap 400 Index closed the week at 1,426 up 0.2%. The Russell 2000 added 0.5% to end the week at 1,163.  

The MSCI ETF "EFA", the proxy for developed international equity markets, was up 0.8% for the week. Emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI ETF "EEM", bounced back 3.2%.  

Domestic High Yield corporate bonds gained 0.3% for the week, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index.  

Stocks experienced severe price fluctuations, beginning with a Monday selloff that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummet more than 1,000 points before ending the day down 588 points, or -3.6%.  The S&P 500 Index posted a one-day loss of -3.9% on Monday and the Nasdaq fell -3.8%.  Stocks bounced back sharply on Wednesday and Thursday, with the Dow posting 619 and 369 point gains, the largest two-day point increase in the history of the index.  Monday's panic selling drove the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note below 2% for the first time in nearly four months, down to an intraday low of 1.976%.  The 10-year note ended the week at 2.18%, up from the prior week.  Oil prices were extremely volatile, crashing to below $38 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate early in the week before surging 10% on Thursday, the largest one-day rally in six years.  West Texas Intermediate finished the week around $45.23 and Brent Crude was trading at $50.00 as of Friday.  

Investors withdrew $1.602 billion from high-yield bond funds during the week ended August 26th.  New high-yield issuance ground to a halt with just $1.3 billion issued across three transactions.  Spreads continued to widen and the average bid on high-yield bonds dropped to 96.78 according to S&P Capital IQ's LCD.  The Moody's Liquidity Stress Index (LSI) for US speculative-grade companies, a measure of high-yield corporate liquidity, reached a five-year high of 4.8% in mid- August as low oil prices took their toll on energy   
companies.  LSI rises when corporate liquidity weakens and falls when it improves.  Energy-related debt is clearly dragging down the high-yield market as a whole, and conditions for stressed oil producers could worsen in the coming months if oil prices remain depressed.  Credit lines issued by banks to oil drillers typically take into account the value of the borrowers' oil reserves.  With crude prices at their current depressed levels, many drillers will likely see their credit lines significantly reduced.          

In US economic news, second-quarter GDP was revised higher from 2.3% to 3.7%, exceeding analysts' estimates of a 3.2% revision.  Consumer demand was strong, largely driven by vehicle spending.  A strong increase in residential investment also contributed to the higher-than-expected revision.  New home sales rose in July, up 5.4% to an annual pace of 507,000.  Year-on-year sales are up 26%.  Weekly initial jobless claims fell 6,000 in the week ended August 22nd to 271,000.  The four-week moving average rose slightly to 272,500.  Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, rose 13,000 to 2.269 million.  New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley, in a mid-week press conference, categorized a September rate hike as "less compelling" in the wake of global market volatility.  Both Dudley and Fed Chair Janet Yellen have indicated a preference for a rate hike some time in 2015, but current market conditions have made anything prior to December unlikely.    

In international markets, the roller-coaster ride in Chinese equities continued as the Shanghai Composite plunged -8.5% on Monday.  Chinese stocks continued to sell off until midweek, then reversed course in response to gains in the US equity markets and 140 billion yuan in fresh government stimulus.  Despite the late week surge, The Shanghai Composite still ended the week nearly -8% lower.

Good News: Blue Shield Individual (Under-65) Plans are Now Accepted at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai

Blue Shield of California has reached a long-awaited agreement with University of California Health System (Hospitals and IPA/Medical Groups), including UC Davis Medical Group, UC Davis Medical Center, UCLA Medical Group, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center Santa Monica, UC Irvine, UCSD Medical Center, UCSD La Jolla, UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Mt. Zion, Langley Porter Neuro Psychiatric Institute, and UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.

Effective July 1, 2015 the University of California Health System providers will be participating in Blue Shield's Individual and Family Plan (IFP) Exclusive PPO Network and IFP EPO Network with Covered California on-Exchange and off-Exchange directly through Blue Shield.

This is great news! Blue Shield’s network is finally growing and now has a similar size network to Anthem’s. Blue Shield is also a PPO plan so it will also pay for out of network services. This can be very important especially if you see a therapist since most therapists do not take insurance. In this situation, we recommend a gold or platinum plan so you do not need to meet a deductible before getting a reimbursement.

Get Ready for Open Another Open Enrollment!

The Fall Open Enrollment will be here before we know it. This is our busy season and our goal is that each one of you feels you are given white-glove service. We will be contacting you to set up an appointment to talk about your health plan during the open enrollment periods.

Here is the schedule:

Medicare Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans: October 15 – December 7

Individual Plans: November 1 – January 31, 2016

Update on Assurant:

Unfortunately, Assurant is closing their doors for health insurance business so we will be contacting all of our Assurant clients to make sure they are successfully moved to a new plan by December 15, 2015.  Let us know if you know someone that could also use our help in moving from Assurant to a new plan. As always, there is never any extra fee for our services when we help with insurance related products.

Please give us a call at 424-288-4254 if you have any questions.

Weekly Market Commentary

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1,018 points for the week, declining -5.82% to 16,460. The S&P 500 Index was also down sharply, dropping 121 points, or -5.8%, to finish at 1,971.  

The Nasdaq Composite fell -6.8% to close at 4,706. The S&P MidCap 400 Index closed the week at 1,423, off -5.2%. The Russell 2000 was down -4.6% to end the week at 1,157.  

The MSCI ETF "EFA", the proxy for developed international equity markets, was down -6.4% for the week. Emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI ETF "EEM", fell -7.8%.  

Domestic High Yield corporate bonds were off -0.8% for the week, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index.  

US stocks sold off dramatically in their worst week of 2015 as the S&P 500 turned negative for the year. Sinking commodity prices and poor manufacturing data out of China prompted investors to exit international and emerging market stocks in favor of safe-haven US Treasuries and gold.  Gold rose to a five-week high.  The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note fell to 2.05%.  Oil prices continued to slide, with West Texas Intermediate breaking below $40 a barrel for the first time since 2009, before closing the week around $40.23.  Brent Crude fell to below $45.50.  High-yield bond funds saw a net inflow of $111.3 million for the week ended August 19th, reversing course after three consecutive weeks of net outflows.  High-yield bond issuance was up marginally in the week ended August 14th, with $4.6 billion in new debt issued across 9 transactions.  The Effective Yield on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High-Yield Master II Index stood at 7.38% as of August 21st.  

In US economic news, market expectations of a September interest rate hike have been all but erased after the release of rather dovish Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes from July.  The minutes showed most Fed policymakers believe the conditions for a rate hike have not been met.  While FOMC members noted some improvements in the labor market, they cited a lack of inflation and concern over China in their decision to pause on implementing an interest rate policy liftoff.  The July Consumer Price Index rose only 0.1% in July, failing to meet expectations of a 0.2% increase.  Existing home sales data was positive, up 2% in July to an annual rate of 5.59 million.  Year-on-year sales are up 10.3% and the median price is up 5.6% at $234,000.  The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey index reading for August was stronger than expected at 8.3, compared to July's measure of 5.7.  The positive Philly Fed data was contradicted by Friday's Flash PMI report however, which showed a reduction to 52.9 in August from July's reading of 53.8.  Weekly jobless claims for the week ended August 15th were up 4,000 from the prior week at 277,000.  The lessvolatile four-week moving average was up 5,500 to 271,500.  Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, fell 24,000 to 2.254 million.  

In international economic news, concern over a weakening Chinese economy sent global stocks into panic mode after the Caixin China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index fell to a six-and-a-half year low.  The Shanghai Composite Index ended the week down -11.5% in response.  In European news, Greece cleared one of the final obstacles in securing a third bailout after the plan won approval from the German and Dutch parliaments.  With the bailout secured, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced he would be stepping down.  While a majority of Greeks still support Tsipras, his concessions to the Eurozone during the bailout negotiations caused a great deal of friction in the left-wing Syriza party and will likely lead to further political uncertainty for the struggling nation.  Elsewhere in the Eurozone, manufacturing data was generally positive for August according to Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index, which rose to 54.1 in August from 53.9. 

Weekly Market Commentary

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 104 points for the week, up 0.6% to 17,477. The S&P 500 Index was up 14 points, or 0.7%, to finish at 2,092.  The Nasdaq Composite added 0.1% to close at 5,048. The S&P MidCap 400 Index closed the week at 1,502, up 0.9%. The Russell 2000 advanced 0.5% to end the week at 1,213.  

The MSCI ETF "EFA", the proxy for developed international equity markets, was down -0.9% for the week. Emerging markets, as represented by the MSCI ETF "EEM", fell -2.1%.  Domestic High Yield corporate bonds were off -0.6% for the week, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index.  

US Stocks moved marginally higher for the week, while global stocks turned slightly negative after a series of surprise currency devaluations from China's central bank sparked concerns over a potential global currency war.  The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note slipped to a threemonth low of 2.08% before recovering to close out the week at 2.19%.  Oil prices were relatively flat for the week, with West Texas Intermediate at $42.56 a barrel and Brent Crude at $49.02.  High-yield bond funds posted their third straight week of net outflows as investors withdrew $1.2 billion in the week ended August 12th.  Investors are clearly going "riskoff" across asset classes, as investment-grade funds also saw large outflows of $1.8 billion and US equity funds experienced a $1.5 billion outflow.  Investors are parking their cash in safe-haven money market and US Treasury funds, which saw inflows of $6 billion and $601 million, respectively, during the same time period.    

High-yield bond issuers returned to the market in the week ended August 7th, issuing $4.135 billion over 8 transactions.  The Effective Yield on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch US High-Yield Master II index spiked to 7.69% as of August 13th.  The Option-Adjusted Spread (OAS) rose to 6.04%, the highest level since August of 2012.  OAS is a measure of the spread on high-yield debt over the risk-free rate, accounting for prepayment risk via embedded options.  While investors are receiving relatively greater yields in the high-yield market as of late, they are foregoing traditional investor protections in the process.     

The Moody's high-yield bond Covenant Quality Index (CQI), which tracks the quality of investor protection mechanisms embedded in high-yield bond transactions on a rolling 3month basis, weakened to 4.37 in July.  The CQI measures bond covenant quality on a five point scale, with 1.0 denoting the strongest level of investor protection and 5.0 being the weakest.  The single month measure in July was 4.6, the worst-ever reading.    

In US economic news, Producer Price Index data for July pointed to a 0.2% rise for the month, with the year-on-year change at -0.8%.  Energy prices, which fell -0.6% in July and are down -17.6% for the year, will likely continue to decline next month and keep the Fed hawks at bay.  Industrial production posted a solid gain of 0.6% in July, beating the consensus estimate of 0.4%.  Retail sales rose 0.6% in July, largely driven by a 1.4% increase in vehicle sales.  The Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed a contraction in job openings from 5.357 million in May to 5.249 million in June.  Layoffs increased from 1.2% to 1.3%.  Weekly jobless claims remain low, at 274,000 for the week ended August 8th.  The less-volatile four-week moving average was down 1,750 to 266,250.  Continuing claims, reported on a one-week lag, rose 15,000 to 2.273 million.  

In international economic news, China's central bank initiated currency controls, devaluing the yuan in successive moves by 1.9%, 1.6%, and 1.1% over the course of three days.  Asian currencies sold off sharply in response, over fears that the weaker Chinese yuan will negatively impact the competitiveness of neighboring countries.  In European news, Eurozone GDP rose 0.3% in the second quarter, below the anticipated pace of 0.4%.