Read the highlights of this week’s commentary from Helios:

  • On Friday, the S&P 500 reached a new all-time high, rising by 1.2% and surpassing the previous record set in January 2022.
  • Retail sales in December exceeded expectations with a 0.6% increase, driven by robust holiday shopping. High credit card balances and interest rates raise concerns, but strong consumer expenditure suggests a stable economy, reducing the likelihood of imminent Federal Reserve rate cuts.
  • The University of Michigan’s January consumer sentiment index showed a surge in optimism, marking the biggest two-month rise since the early 1990s. Despite improvements across all demographics, sentiment remains below pre-pandemic levels.
  • US existing home sales dropped in December, marking 2023 as the worst year for the housing market since 1995, a time with about 74 million fewer people and median home prices at $114,600, less than a third of current values.
  • The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index has fallen 11% this year, extending a four-year decline and driving investors away. Around $6.3 trillion in market value has been wiped out from Chinese and Hong Kong stocks since their 2021 peak.

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