It is a new month, a new quarter and a new chapter for the markets, the global economy, governments and policy makers worldwide. Below is an update summarizing important happenings from the week.

What Happened in the Markets?

After two weeks of significant downside in stocks, the S&P 500 surged 10.3% for the week ended March 27, its best week since March 2009. As this week began, investors hoped the positive momentum would continue to build.

Instead, the week ending today, April 3rd, generated another bumpy ride with a loss of 2.1% over the five day period. This leaves the index up 11.2% from its March 23rd low.

Harris Financial-Week in Review 4.3.20 GraphThe Road Ahead

As the coronavirus spreads and ultimately peaks in communities in the U.S. and around the world, additional volatility in stock prices should be expected. During the Financial Crisis, the S&P 500 notched six different rallies of 9% or more between September 2008 and December 2008, before the index bottomed out in March 2009. Stocks prices will likely continue to see-saw in the weeks and months ahead as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19.

The pandemic has triggered financial hardship for many Americans across the country, as initial jobless claims spiked to $10 million recently. Though the government has taken a major step in mitigating the impact with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, we will likely see more uncertainty until the virus is under control, and Americans are back to work and participating fully in the economy.

Breaking Down the CARES Act

Last Friday, President Donald Trump officially signed into law the bipartisan CARES Act. This $2.2 trillion stimulus package — the largest in US history — is intended to provide economic relief to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per last week’s commentary, you are probably aware of the $1,200 direct payments to individuals, and federal loan programs available to small and large businesses — so below, is a breakdown of some lesser-known provisions:

Small Businesses:

  • Employers can delay their portion of payroll taxes owed on wages paid through 2020, for up to two years.

Tenants & Landlords:

  • Tenants who are overdue on rent payments benefit from a 120-day suspension on evictions by landlords who have mortgages held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other federal entities.
  • Landlords are not able to charge fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent by their tenants over the suspension period.

Unemployment:

  • Self-employed workers — including gig workers, freelancers, and independent contractors — are now eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Part-time workers who cannot work for reasons related to the coronavirus are also eligible for unemployment benefits.

Retirement:

  • Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from IRAs and 401(k) plans are suspended for calendar year 2020. This provision allows retirees to defer income tax on withdrawals they would otherwise be required to pay tax on.
  • Investors may now withdraw up to $100,000 in 2020 from IRAs and workplace retirement plans (such as 401Ks) without being subject to 10% early withdrawal penalties. The reasons for retirement account withdrawals must be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Income taxes owed on these withdrawals may be spread out over three years from distribution dates. Alternatively, withdrawals may be rolled back into retirement accounts within three years.
  • The Act doubles 401(k) loan limits from $50,000 to $100,000 for those affected by the pandemic.
  • 401(k) loan repayments previously due by December 31, 2020, have been extended by one year.

Student Loans:

  • Payments for student loans held by the federal government will be automatically suspended until September 30, 2020 without penalty to the borrower.
  • Interest will not accrue on loans during the suspension period.

Charitable Contributions:

  • Donors can now deduct 100% of cash gifts to public charities against their 2020 adjusted gross income. The old deduction rules will still apply to cash gifts to private foundations.

While the CARES Act is good news for businesses and individuals across the country, additional legislative measures may be needed in the future. We will continue to keep you updated. In the meantime, please contact us at (310) 791-3226 or email your personal wealth advisor directly if you would like to continue the conversation.

Wishing you and your family safety and good health now, and in the weeks and months ahead.

HARRIS FINANCIAL ADVISORS

———

 

 

Disclosures

The S&P 500 is a market capitalization-weighted index that tracks the 500 largest companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ Composite. It is used as a benchmark of the overall stock market’s performance.

Return data represent past performance and are not indicative of future results. Historical performance does not reflect applicable transaction, management or other applicable fees as noted, the incurrence of which would decrease hypothetical, historical returns.

Source for all charts and text contained within graphics: © 2020 Clearnomics, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein is proprietary to Clearnomics and/or its content providers and may not be copied or distributed. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not necessarily complete and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information and opinions contained herein. All reports, charts and graphics compiled by Clearnomics or any of its affiliated websites, applications or services are issued without regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, or particular needs of any specific recipient and any commentary for any and all markets should not be construed as a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security – including mutual funds, exchange traded funds or company stock.