Forefront’s Market Notes: December 4th, 2023


A Friday rally turned an otherwise mixed week for stocks into a solid performance.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 2.42%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 0.77%. The Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.38% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, ended marginally higher by 0.13%.1,2,3


Stocks Move Higher

The stock market digested November’s robust gains for much of last week but rallied strongly amid falling bond yields on the last trading day.

Market sentiment remained positive as the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation showed ongoing signs of softening inflation pressures, boosting hopes that the Fed may be able to end its rate hikes and consider rate cuts sometime next year. Investors also welcomed news of solid spending in early holiday sales reports.

The declines in bond yields reflect that the financial markets are positioning for a rate cut soon, even brushing off Fed Chair Powell’s Friday comments suggesting it was premature to consider monetary loosening.


Inflation Eases

The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price index (PCE)–the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation–was released last week, showing core PCE (excludes energy and food) rose 0.2% in October and 3.5% from a year ago. Both were lower than September’s readings of 0.3% and 3.7%, respectively. Perhaps most notably, core prices rose at a 2.5% annualized rate over the last six months, close to the Fed’s target rate and a big improvement over the previous six-month annualized rate of 4.5% ending April.4

The report also reflected a slowdown in consumer spending, as October’s 0.2% increase was lower than September’s 0.7% gain, a possible indication of the impact of the resumption of student loan repayments, higher prices, and shrinking savings.5


Are Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Did you know that if you are receiving Social Security benefits, you may have to pay federal income tax on a portion of these benefits? The amount you have to pay may depend on your specific income and filing status.

To find out whether your Social Security benefits are taxable – if you are single, take one-half of the Social Security money you received throughout the year and add it to your other income, which includes pensions, wages, interest, dividends, and capital gains. If the total comes to more than $25,000, then part of your benefits may be taxable.

If you are married and filing jointly, take half of the Social Security money you received throughout the year and half of your spouse’s Social Security benefits and add both of those amounts to your combined household income. If the total is more than $32,000, part of your benefits may be taxable.

On its website, the IRS then lays out the percentage of benefits that are taxable, based on the above calculation. These percentages vary between 50 percent and 85 percent and depend on your filing status and income levels. For example, if you are filing single with $25,000–$34,000 income, 50 percent of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.

*This information is not intended to substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov6


Footnotes and Sources

1. The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2023

2. The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2023

3. The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2023

4. The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2023

5. The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2023

6., March 28, 2023



Stock market calendar this week:

10:00 AM Factory orders
9:45 AM S&P U.S. services PMI
10:00 AM ISM services
10:00 AM Job openings
8:15 AM ADP employment
8:30 AM U.S. productivity (revision)
8:30 AM U.S. trade deficit
8:30 AM Initial jobless claims
10:00 AM Wholesale inventories
3:00 PM Consumer credit
FRIDAY, Dec. 8
8:30 AM U.S. employment report
8:30 AM U.S. unemployment rate
8:30 AM U.S. hourly wages
8:30 AM Hourly wages year over year
10:00 AM Consumer sentiment (prelim)

Most anticipated earnings for this week:


Did you miss our blog last week?

Market Notes: November 27th


About Amit: I am a first generation American, the son of a working-class Indian family, and I lived through my parents’ struggle to find their place in this country, to put down roots that would sustain them as well as their children in a new land. As they encouraged me to excel in school and fostered my hobbies and interests, I was keenly aware of the dynamic between them. I understood that there was a difference between where they came from individually and where we were now. They worked hard in their individual capacities, but they weren’t always on the same page about financial issues – and that can make or break a family’s future. I didn’t know it at the time, but this laid the groundwork for my passion towards financial services and helping families succeed.