February 19, 2021
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, 
and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." 
Galatians 5:1
Market Recap

For the week, the S&P 500 fell 0.7% to 3,906.71, the Dow rose 0.1% to 31,494.32, while the Nasdaq slid 1.6% to 13,874.46.

At the start of the week, strong earnings, progress in the vaccination rollout and hopes of a $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package helped U.S. stock indexes again hit record highs.

Biden's push for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill took a step forward on Friday as a U.S. House of Representatives committee unveiled the legislation Democrats hope to pass by late next week.
An unexpected rise in weekly U.S. jobless claims pointed to a fragile recovery in the labor market. Of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, only utilities and consumer discretionary rose, while real estate barely fell, off 0.02%.
Concerns over a rising inflation outlook have pushed investors to book profits on stocks with high valuations, as the S&P 500 technology and communications services sectors have underpinned a 76% since its March 2020 lows.
Mortgage rates soar to highest level in months amid inflation concerns. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.81% for the week ending Feb. 18, up eight basis points from the week prior, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose two basis points to an average of 2.21%.
Bitcoin hits $1 trillion market cap, surges to fresh all-time peak. Bitcoin's gains have been fueled by signs it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies.
Walmart stocks slid 6.5% on Thursday after the world's largest retailer missed quarterly profit estimates and predicted a low-single digit rise in fiscal 2022 net sales. Walmart has invested heavily in online sales over the past year and plans to invest nearly $14 billion in automation and other business areas in fiscal 2022. 
McDonald’s will factor diversity goals into executive bonus payouts starting in 2021. The company plans to increase the number of executives in the U.S. from “underrepresented” groups to 35% by 2025, up about 6 percentage points from 2020.
U.S. insurers brace for hefty claims from Texas storm once thaw sets in. This winter storm is unique because of its grip across the state. It crippled the electric grid and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power for four days.
Ford recalling 153,000 vehicles in U.S., Canada that could have faulty inflators. The second largest U.S. automaker identified 144,340 U.S. 2004-06 Ford Ranger trucks and about 8,800 in Canada that could have obsolete Takata parts.
A giant shortage of natural gas is hindering a recovery from the devastating cold spell that left millions without power in the nation's midsection. Natural gas production across the U.S. has fallen about 20% over the last week, a rapid decline driven by frozen oil and gas wells and pipeline infrastructure in Texas and other states.
Oil rally stalls, as prices erased early gains on Thursday, with Brent retreating from a 13-month high above $65 a barrel as buying spurred by concerns that a rare cold snap in Texas could disrupt U.S. crude output for days or even weeks petered out.
Farmers Enter Growing Season With Strong Farm Economy. US farmers will enter this upcoming spring with strong prices for agricultural goods and strong export demand for crops--making the outlook generally positive for farmers this year. According to USDA data, net cash income for farms is expected to rise 5.5% in 2021, although overall net income is expected to be down due to a sharp decline in direct government payments expected this year.
Crop prices are rallying. That's good for earnings at farm-related companies. But prices aren't rallying just because of the weather. Some of the changes are structural, which could give farming companies a boost beyond 2021. Rising crop prices also have a lot to do with the better-than-expected outlook.
Shipments of potash -- a key fertilizer -- are expected to hit a record in 2021.  Corn and soybean prices for delivery in September -- the coming crop -- are up more than 30% over the past six months. Global sales of potash fertilizer look to hit record highs this year, helped by a spike in crop prices, but North American producers are keeping a lid on supplies.
U.S. factory activity slowed in early February as a global semiconductor chip shortage hurt production at automobile plants; prices of inputs and manufactured goods soared, which could heighten fears of strong inflation growth this year.
The Covid-19 crisis has produced some surprising winners among the ranks of global food companies, including Kraft Heinz. Nestlé's performance has been less spectacular by comparison but may prove more sustainable.
Grain-Market Rally to Push Up Food Prices. A months-long rally in agricultural commodity markets is hitting grocery stores. Grain typically is the biggest cost in raising poultry and livestock.
With rising Inflation, Investors are now scrambling to identify the potential tipping point for equities. A sharp rise in inflationary pressures may offset any nominal revenue increases as companies’ input costs rise too, squeezing profits.

U.S. Department of Labor is expected to announce that it will not enforce Trump Administration rules that curb investments based on environmental and social factors.

U.S. stocks gained on Friday, helped by a rise in economy-sensitive cyclical sectors (financial, material, energy, industrial), as investors rotated out of technology-related companies. Investors are not really pulling out of the market, but they are becoming more cautious. Technology stocks were moderately lower in the afternoon, reversing their morning advance.
Shares of Caterpillar and Dow Inc. are posting strong returns Friday afternoon, propelling the Dow Jones Industrial Average into positive territory.
The holiday-shortened week ended with two key data releases on Friday as existing home sales gained unexpectedly in January and the Markit flash estimates for February manufacturing and services both indicating solid growth.
U.S. Treasury yields on the longer end of the curve rose to new one-year highs on Friday, while the yield on 30-year inflation-protected securities (TIPS) turned positive for the first time since June. The benchmark 10-year yield was last up 5.1 basis points at 1.338%. The 30-year U.S. Treasury yield reached a new one-year high of 2.135%. The two-year Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, fell to 0.105% on Thursday.
The risks of ongoing business failures in the United States "remain considerable" even as the economy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Friday in its semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress.
BofA expects a more than 10% pullback in stocks, which are trading at more than 22 times 12-month forward earnings, the most expensive since the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s.
Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc fell between 0.5% and 1.0%, sticking to a trend seen for most parts of the week. Bipartisan members of Congress plan to introduce a bill in coming weeks to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Big Tech platforms. The news industry is undeniably struggling, with employment at U.S. newspapers down by half since 2008.
Under Armour Inc rose 2.8% after Oppenheimer upgraded the athleisure apparel maker's stock to "outperform".
Texas energy companies on Friday began preparing to resume oil and gas production after days of frozen shutdowns as electric power and water service slowly resumed at darkened oilfields and refineries. 
Energy stocks were higher this afternoon, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index climbing 0.9% while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF was up 0.8%.
Natural Gas Prices Steady as Storm Impact Weighed. More natural gas will soon be flowing. Chevron Corp (CVX) have begun restoring shale output, and Chevron ( CVX ) will prioritize natural gas production. Conoco is ready to bring back full operations across its U.S. operations outside of Alaska once power and other infrastructure outages end.
Futures for gold on Friday ended with a gain, buoyed by weakness in the U.S. dollar and expectations for the passage of the latest COVID-19 relief package. Prices for the precious metal, however, lost more than 2% for the week.
U.S. crude oil futures fell 1%, to $59.80 a barrel at midday. Oil is up 23% this year, boosted by the continuation of OPEC supply cuts and falling global inventories.
Copper futures topped $4 a pound on Friday for the first time since 2011, with expectations for a global economic recovery and a rise in renewable energy sources lifting the industrial metal's demand.

Health care stocks were mostly lower this afternoon, with the NYSE Health Care Index falling 0.6% while the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF also was down 0.8%. The Nasdaq Biotechnology index, however, was climbing 1.0%. On the winning side, Novavax (NVAX) rose 7.1%. The NVAX vaccine candidate is currently in late-stage trials in the US, Mexico, and the UK.

Financial stocks were advancing in afternoon trading, with the NYSE Financial Index rising 0.9% while the SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF was ahead 1.1%. The Philadelphia Housing Index also was climbing 1.8%.
Stocks ended nearly unchanged Friday, leaving the Dow Jones Industrial Average clinging to a small weekly gain, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite both lost ground. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.98 points, or 0%, to 31,494.32 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.11 points, or 0.07%, to 13,874.46. The S&P 500 dropped 7.26 points, or 0.19%, to 3,906.71.
For the week, the S&P 500 fell 0.7% to 3,906.71, the Dow rose 0.1% to 31,494.32, while the Nasdaq slid 1.6% to 13,874.46.

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Bill Separating Medicare Requirement from Social Security Benefits Going Before Congress
The Clinton Administration tied them together in 1993…no law, no rule…

Dan Celia, President & CEO of FISM Inc.
Since the Clinton administration, enrollment in Medicare was required in order to access Social Security benefits. Trump’s administration made strides to unlink the two, but it has so far been stalled.
Dan Celia interviews CCHFreedom’s Twila Brase to discuss a bill going before Congress aiming to finish what Trump started, and the likelihood of it happening during Biden’s administration. (WATCH VIDEO)
Pfizer’s Candidate Is Technically An ‘Investigative Drug,’ Not a Vaccine Yet
It has only been given emergency use authorization; until it has been approved, they cannot promise any safety…

Dan Celia, President & CEO of FISM Inc.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been making some decent progress, but technically the candidate from Pfizer can’t be labeled a “vaccine” just yet, since it has not been approved for regular use by the FDA.
Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, explains why it is significant that Pfizer’s candidate is labeled as an “investigative drug.” (WATCH VIDEO)
Canadian Pastor Arrested for Holding Church Services
GraceLife Church issued a statement on Tuesday defending their pastor’s actions and their church’s stance.

Seth Udinski, FISM News
James Coates, pastor of GraceLife Church in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, was arrested Tuesday for continuing to hold services publicly in defiance of the region’s health orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The congregation of roughly 300 has met consistently for the last several months without masks and without social distancing, in an act of civil disobedience similar to that of John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. The church was ordered to shut down at the beginning of January, and Pastor Coates calmly but resolutely disobeyed.
James Kitchen, Coates’ lawyer from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, lauded his client’s resolution. Kitchen said…(READ MORE)
Cuomo Shifts Blame to Staff and Nursing Home Workers, Lawmakers Don’t Buy it
Governor Andrew Cuomo is up for reelection in 2022, and the coronavirus scandal is sure to haunt him in the primaries.

Samuel Case, FISM News
A political storm is brewing for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as state politicians on both side of the aisle are attacking the governor for his handling of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes and his subsequent attempt to cover up the numbers to avoid prosecution from a Justice Department inquiry. Cuomo never told New York legislators about the DOJ’s investigation, prompting calls to strip the governor of pandemic related executive powers.
During a press conference earlier this week, Cuomo tried to pass blame onto his staff for failing to properly inform lawmakers of the inquiry, calling the situation “a breakdown in communication between the staff and members of the legislature.” At the same time, the governor shifted blame…(READ MORE)
Pelosi: Congress Needs an Independent Commission to ‘Investigate’ Capitol Riots
“…there is need for a “supplemental appropriation to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol.”

Ian Patrick, FISM News
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on February 15th, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out her plan for Congress to establish an independent commission to look into the recent Capitol Hill riots. She said that this is to be a “9/11-type commision,” referring to the independent body created to look into the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
The letter was written in celebration of President’s Day, as Pelosi praises the patriotism and courage of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. She likens the attributes of these past presidents to the impeachment managers who handled the second impeachment trial for President Donald Trump. The trial came to a close in the Senate on February 13th in a 57-43 vote.
Turning her attention to security, Pelosi…(READ MORE)
White House: Gun Control is a Personal Priority for Biden
The National Rifle Association is asking gun owners to oppose and speak out against any crackdowns on gun rights from the Biden administration.

Samuel Case, FISM News

Following calls for gun bans from President Biden over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki said that gun control is “a priority” to the President “on a personal level.”
When asked about specific plans to enact policy, Psaki responded saying, “I don’t have a prediction for you, or a preview for you on a timeline of a package, and certainly not what it will look like and how it goes through Congress.” She was also asked if Biden would use executive orders to put in place his gun policy, to which Psaki replied, “The president has a range of actions at his disposal . . .He hasn’t ruled out either of those options.” (READ MORE)
Conservative Radio Icon Rush Limbaugh Dies at 70
President Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the 2020 State of the Union Address…

Seth Udinski, FISM News
Rush Limbaugh, the brash and beloved radio personality who pioneered conservative political talk radio for three decades at the turn of the 21st century, died Wednesday after a year-long struggle with lung cancer. He was 70 years old.
Beginning in 1988, Limbaugh hosted “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” becoming one of the most recognized voices in conservative media.  Limbaugh’s wife Kathryn praised her husband as “an extraordinary man, a gentle giant, brilliant, quick-witted, genuinely kind, extremely generous, passionate, courageous and the hardest-working person I know.” Limbaugh was a champion of American exceptionalism during a time…(READ MORE)
Millions Still Without Power and Water as Texas Cold Snap Continues
Freezing temperatures and weather advisories continue to be in place for much of the state through Saturday...

Michael Cardinal, FISM News

For some Texans, the worst may be yet to come as rare below-freezing temperatures and icy conditions continue to hit the Lonestar State. Millions of Texans continue to be without power or water and are experiencing a limited food supply due to the extreme weather that is predicted to last until Saturday. Tragically, at least 31 people have also died due to the storm.
While over half of America was under a winter weather advisory within the past few days, Texas was hit the hardest due to record-breaking low temperatures and a prolonged polar-plunge. The power grid for the state was overwhelmed due to…(READ MORE)
A Moment in History: William Harvey Carney
Carney considered entering the ministry when he heard the call “for all people” to serve their country.

Seth Udinski, FISM News
A member of the African American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry that led the Union attack on Fort Wagner in 1863, Carney would become the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor in American history.
Carney became the first black postal mail carrier for New Bedford in 1869, and the first known black mail carrier for the United States Postal Service.
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