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Monthly Economic Update July 2018

In this month’s recap: tariff talk weighs on equities worldwide, oil prices jump 10%, and the Fed raises rates once more.

While segments of the stock market rallied in June, assumptions that a global trade war was starting hurt the blue chips – the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.59% last month. As the U.S., European Union, and China exchanged tariff threats, equity benchmarks worldwide treaded water or took losses. The economy was doing well: the latest hiring and retail sales data was excellent, consumer confidence appeared strong, and industries were growing impressively. Inflation pressure was mounting, and unsurprisingly, the Federal. . .

Monthly Economic Update June 2018

“Never put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today.”
- Lord Chesterfield

In May, investors were left to interpret mixed geopolitical and financial signals. The historic U.S.-North Korea summit was on, then off, then possibly on again. An apparent truce emerged in the U.S.-China tariffs battle, but it did not last. Oil rallied, but then prices fell. Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes indicated central bank officials would accept above-target inflation for a while. Other economic signals were clear: new and existing home sales were. . .

Monthly Economic Update May 2018

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude."
- Maya Angelou

April saw the S&P 500 advance 0.27% as a new earnings season unfolded – one in which investors grew uneasy about rising Treasury yields, protectionism, and privacy concerns involving tech giants. While the financial media largely focused on those anxieties, good news also appeared. The latest consumer spending and consumer confidence data was solid. Home buying picked up as listings increased slightly. Oil rallied, and so did the dollar. Overseas equity benchmarks saw big gains, even as some economists wondered if the boom in global growth was fading. One of the major financial news stories of April broke only hours before the start . . .

Monthly Economic Update April 2018

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
- Cicero

In March, stocks faced another significant challenge. The Trump administration’s sudden plan to institute tariffs on imports sent a shudder through the bulls. All three major Wall Street benchmarks fell more than 2.5% during the month as investors around the world considered the prospect of trade wars involving American, Chinese, and European products. The Federal Reserve raised the target range for the federal funds rate by another quarter point; mortgage rates were little changed for the month, and existing home sales improved. In Europe, leaders. . .

Monthly Economic Update March 2018

“We cannot fail to win unless we fail to try.”
- Tom Clancy

Investors certainly received a wake-up call in February. A correction hit Wall Street for the first time in nearly two years, and benchmarks overseas were also challenged. Two weeks later, though, the S&P 500 had gained back more than half of what it had lost in the dive. Prices of important commodities sank early in the month, but recoveries followed. While the latest readings on fundamental indicators were largely upbeat, reports on retail sales and ...

Monthly Economic Update February 2018

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth.”
- Benjamin Disraeli

Bulls took charge of Wall Street as 2018 began: the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5.79% in the first month of the year, even with a mild selloff on the verge of February. Foreign equity benchmarks largely advanced as well. Oil and gasoline futures surged, while bitcoin continued to rollercoaster. Personal spending, manufacturing, and consumer confidence data encouraged investors. Home sales weakened as home prices surpassed a pre-recession peak and mortgage rates increased. Analysts kept warning that Wall Street was overdue for a pullback; while indices did slip late in the month, optimism was little shaken.

Monthly Economic Update January 2018

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose.”
- Kahlil Gibran

Financially speaking, the last month of 2017 was also the year’s most newsworthy. Congress reformed federal tax law to a degree unseen since the 1980s, the Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate, and bitcoin took its investors for a wild ride. Hiring, retail sales, and personal spending numbers were all impressive, as were consumer confidence index readings. The residential real estate market showed more momentum...

Monthly Economic Update December 2017

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
- Malcolm Forbes

In November, the S&P 500 gained 2.81% and advanced for a thirteenth straight month – an unprecedented milestone in the index’s long history. Consumer confidence and investor confidence were both abundant, as further evidence arrived that the economy was growing at an impressive rate. Solid fundamental indicators, upbeat earnings announcements, and hopes for 2018 tax cuts motivated...

Monthly Economic Update November 2017

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
- Thomas Jefferson

October saw the S&P 500 rise 2.22% in response to results from the fall earnings season, encouraging fundamental indicators, and anticipation of tax reforms. An impressive jump in personal spending complemented excellent readings on consumer confidence and purchasing manager indices; although, hiring suffered a setback. As the European Union contended with disunity in Spain, the European Central Bank revealed its exit strategy for its bond-buying . . .

Monthly Economic Update October 2017

“All things are difficult before they are easy.”
- Thomas Fuller

In August, investors witnessed a terrible natural disaster and heard threats of war on America, and the S&P 500 still managed to gain 0.05%. September brought two terrible natural disasters and more threats of war on America, and the broad benchmark rose 1.93% and topped 2,500 for the first time. In other words, the bulls remained firmly in charge. European stocks rallied impressively. . .

Monthly Economic Update September 2017

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”
- Og Mandino

August brought an overwhelming natural disaster, a threat of war from a foreign dictator, and violence in the streets – so it is little wonder stocks went sideways. The S&P 500 eked out an advance of 0.05% for the month. Economically speaking, there were some positives: improvements in consumer confidence and consumer spending, continued strength in manufacturing, and a comeback for retail sales. The economies of the eurozone and the Asia-Pacific region showed . . .

Monthly Economic Update August 2017

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.”
- John Updike

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.54% in July as earnings announcements and fundamental indicators provided a lift for the blue chips and other stock market indices. Hiring and manufacturing data was particularly reassuring. Annualized inflation declined once more. Oil, gold, and other marquee commodities advanced and so did many Asia-Pacific stock benchmarks. In the real estate market, home buyers coped with slim supply and high median ….

Monthly Economic Update July 2017

“Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”
- Wilma Rudolph

June brought some definite headwinds to Wall Street, but the broad stock market still advanced. The S&P 500 added 0.48% across the month, even with tech shares selling off. As anticipated, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by another quarter point. Last month was a trying one for European stocks as well as oil and many other commodities. The latest round of U.S. economic indicators contained some disappointments; though, manufacturing and home sales surprised to the upside. All in all, increased volatility, terrorist incidents, and political ….

Monthly Economic Update June 2017

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
- Voltaire

May was another good month for stocks. The S&P 500 gained more than 1%, putting its YTD advance above 7.7%. While the housing market showed some spring weakness, hiring bounced back and most other important economic indicators did not falter. Wall Street seemed little troubled by politics, terrorist incidents, data disappointments, or earnings misses. Overseas, stock benchmarks largely advanced, some impressively. Gasoline futures ascended; mortgage rates….

Monthly Economic Update May 2017

“The whole life of man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it.”
- Plutarch

In April, investors kept one eye on impressive corporate earnings and another on geopolitical developments in Asia and Europe. Earnings ultimately drew the most attention – the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 1% for the month, while the Nasdaq Composite added more than 2%. The latest readings on some key economic indicators were ....

Monthly Economic Update April 2017

“Reality is something you rise above.”
- Liza Minnelli

Stocks went sideways rather than north in March, with the S&P 500 losing just 0.04%. The Federal Reserve made another quarter-point interest rate move, and overseas, the United Kingdom initiated Brexit proceedings. While new data showed weak consumer spending, consumer optimism remained high and hiring was once again strong. A subpar month for commodities did bring major gains for two energy futures. In the housing market, existing home sales….

Monthly Economic Update March 2017

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
- Vince Lombardi

February was a great month for stocks and a historic month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The blue chips closed at record highs for 12 straight trading sessions, a feat unmatched for 30 years. The S&P 500 gained 3.72% for the month. Readings on consumer confidence and purchasing manager indices remained impressive, and…

Monthly Economic Update February 2017

“But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
- Ben Franklin

Stocks advanced again in January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 20,000 for the first time, and the S&P 500 gained 1.79% on the month. As January ended, politics took center stage: investors focused first on the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s executive orders, then on earnings and economic indicators. As the forex market sensed that the new administration might…..

Monthly Economic Update January 2017

"It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull."
-H.L Mencken

While the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not top 20,000 in December, it did advance nicely, gaining 3.34%. The Federal Reserve took its interest rate target to 0.50-0.75%, adjusting the federal funds rate for just the second time in two years; around the world, other central banks held rates steady, and one even pledged additional easing. Oil prices jumped. Closely watched consumer confidence and purchasing manager indices rose, and unemployment declined. Home sales ....

Monthly Economic Update December 2016

“Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise.”
- Bertrand Russell

November was certainly newsworthy, presenting investors with three historic moments. First, Donald Trump won the presidency in a stunning upset that confounded political analysts. Next, the stock market rallied spectacularly after receiving that unanticipated news – the Dow Jones Industrial Average repeatedly closed….

Monthly Economic Update November 2016

“Honest differencesare often a healthy sign of progress.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Bulls were reined in during October. The S&P 500 lost 1.94% as Wall Street responded unenthusiastically to the fall earnings season. Even though much of the economic news that emerged in October was good, investors saw an interest rate hike on the horizon and remained concerned about an…..

Monthly Economic Update October 2016

“Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.”
- William Saroyan

Investors had plenty of news to absorb in September: the latest monetary policy
statement from the Federal Reserve, the Wells Fargo fiasco and the crisis involving
Deutsche Bank, and a major deal forged between OPEC member nations. Add in the
presidential race and a raft of economic data, and you had….

Monthly Economic Update September 2016

“Serving the needs of others is the only legitimate business today.”
- A.P. Giannini

How calm was August? Very. At the close on August 31, the S&P 500 had not moved 1% up or down in a trading session since July 8. The latest round of U.S. economic indicators showed a healthy labor market, solid consumer spending, decent consumer confidence, and bearable…

Monthly Economic Update August 2016

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.”
– John Updike

The post-Brexit bounce turned into a sustained rally across July. Second-quarter earnings were not as gloomy as anticipated, and core economic indicators often matched or surpassed expectations. Housing news was generally good, and ….

Monthly Economic Update July 2016

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”
– Duke Ellington

In June, an overseas referendum affected American stocks more than any domestic event. The United Kingdom unexpectedly voted to leave the European Union, and news of the Brexit rocked…

Monthly Economic Update June 2016

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

Investors did not exactly “sell in May and go away” – the S&P 500 gained 1.53% last month. Oil prices settled into a sweet spot of sorts; they were high enough to soothe analysts, but not so high as to portend gas price spikes for consumers. Fundamental…

Monthly Economic Update May 2016

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.”
– Margaret Fuller

The S&P 500 managed to advance 0.27% in April as many companies beat earnings and revenue forecasts. Some important commodities posted remarkable monthly gains. Existing home sales rebounded, and…..

Monthly Economic Update April 2016

“Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”
– Alvin Toffler

Monthly Economic Update January 2016

“We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it.”
– Lyndon Johnson

Monthly Economic Update March 2016

“Better by far you should forget and smile than you should remember and be sad.”
– Christina Rossetti

After a miserable January, the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to gain
0.30% in February. While stock markets around the world struggled to advance,
gold and oil ... Download to Read More

Monthly Economic Update February 2016

“There is no stigma attached to recognizing a bad decision in time to install a better one.”
– Laurence J. Peter

The opening month of 2016 definitely tested the patience of stock and commodity
investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell, losing 5.50% on the month.
Overseas stock benchmarks also recorded big losses. Key indicators... Download to Read More

Monthly Economic Update December 2015

“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.”
– Richard Bach

Monthly Economic Update October 2015

“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, […] all our irritations and resentments flit away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
– Mark Twain

Monthly Economic Update September 2015

“All human power is a compound of time and patience.”
– Honore de Balzac

Monthly Economic Update August 2015

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”
– Sophia Loren

Monthly Economic Update January 2014

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.”
– Lucille Ball

Monthly Economic Update December 2013

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”
– Richard Branson

Perspectives Third Quarter 2018

Protecting, Preserving and Planning for the Future of Your Wealth

Wealth is more than just the amount of assets on your balance sheet. Wealth represents the opportunity of a college education, home ownership or financial security that you can bestow on your loved ones or those in need. While most of life is spent accumulating and protecting wealth, effectively transferring wealth is a critical step to ensuring that your hard-earned assets are preserved. With an estimated $30 trillion set to be transferred in the coming decades, the need for expert financial planning for those leaving . . .

Perspectives Second Quarter 2018

Staying the Course in a Fluctuating Market

Buy low, sell high” is often the first piece of investment advice we receive and the first sage wisdom we ignore when anxiety‑inducing headlines like “Dow Plunges 1,175 — Worst Point Decline in History” appear in bold red letters across our television screens. With TV personalities and financial news outlets reporting daily market fluctuations in terms like "boom" or "bust," it can be difficult for even the most seasoned investors not to get swept up in the hype of market changes. Consider this scenario: if you stepped . . .

Perspectives First Quarter 2018

A recent Harris poll revealed that 64% of all American adults have not put an estate plan in place,1 even though having a comprehensive plan is critical to protecting you and your family’s future by minimizing taxes and expenses and maximizing what you’re able to leave behind. Estate planning is often a topic no one wants to talk about — but everyone needs to. An estate plan ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes, whether that’s who takes care of your pet or how much you are able to posthumously support your favorite charity or cause.

While the estate planning process may seem like a huge endeavor, taking just a few steps can get you quickly on your way. Here are five guidelines that can help get you started.

Perspectives Fourth Quarter 2017

Have you or someone you know purchased an expensive home because it’s the one you’ve always dreamed about? You imagined your children playing in the yard or everyone gathering under one roof for the holidays. Could you afford it? Was it the right decision financially? When emotions run high, people tend to make choices they wouldn’t necessarily make if they had taken time to think through their actions properly beforehand.

This phenomenon can be especially true for how investors react to the latest headlines pertaining to the markets — when the market dips, some individuals . . .

Perspectives Third Quarter 2017

The adage “a rising tide lifts all the boats” was introduced to the American lexicon with President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 dedication of the Greers Ferry Dam in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

“This State…has a million cars…They were built in Detroit. As this State’s income rises, so does the income of Michigan. As the income of Michigan rises, so does the income of the United States. A rising tide lifts all the boats…So I regard this as an investment by the people of the United States in the United States.”

The nation has rebounded from the financial crisis, with unemployment dropping to 4.3 percent, far from a crisis high of 10 percent in March 2009.

Rather than being buoyed by the recovery, some ....

Perspectives Second Quarter 2017

Interest rates have begun to trend higher after bottoming in July 2016. After reaching a low of 1.36 percent last year, the 10-year Treasury yield recently hit 2.6 percent and currently rests at a 2.56-percent yield, as of early March. Higher interest rates have benefited bond buyers with higher starting yields but could become a source of concern if rates continue to climb.

The new higher-rate environment raises questions for investors, such as “Does my investment strategy still make sense?” For many investors, laddering bonds from three to seven years makes sense, as it allows increasing income over time as bonds mature, allowing the reinvestment of proceeds into new bonds with higher coupons. This maturity range ....

Perspectives First Quarter 2017

Asset allocation involves dividing an investment portfolio among different asset categories, such as stocks from U.S. and foreign companies, bonds from governments and corporations, and cash or money-market funds.

Determining which mix of assets to hold in your investment portfolio is a very personal process and depends on how long you plan to invest, what you are trying to achieve with saving your money and investing it, and even how patient or anxious you are when the value of your total investments rises and falls with the course of the markets and time. Thus, the asset allocation that works best for you at any given point in your life will generally be determined by your time horizon and....

Perspectives Fourth Quarter 2016

Americans will soon head to the polls to elect the next president of the United States.

While the outcome is unknown, one thing is certain: There will be a steady stream of opinions from pundits and prognosticators about how the election will impact the stock market. As we explain below, investors would be well‑served to avoid the temptation to make significant changes to long‑term...

Perspectives Third Quarter 2016

Boom, Bust, Bounceback? Housing in the U.S.

The State of the Housing Market
Many economists have pointed to housing as the trigger for the Great Financial Crisis that took place during 2008–2009. With the clarity of hindsight, we can see that there was indeed a housing bubble that burst across America in 2008. Now, economists are pondering when the housing market will return to glory and act as a much-needed tailwind for the ...

Perspectives Second Quarter 2016

Will China Go Boom or Bust?
After a 100-percent increase in the stock market from the end of November 2014 to mid-June 2015, the Chinese stock market dropped more than 40 percent during....

Perspectives First Quarter 2016

6 Things Investors Should Remember During Times of Turmoil.

The start of 2016 saw an old-fashioned selloff in stock markets around the world, as various markets saw the year’s first week of trading in the red.
In times like this... Download to

Perspectives Fourth Quarter 2015

Why All Generations Should Practice Wise Financial Planning

Perspectives Third Quarter 2015

Making Benchmarks More Personal

Perspectives Second Quarter 2015

Is Your Life Insurance Policy on Auto Pilot?

Perspectives Fourth Quarter 2014

Stay or Leave? Deciding Whether It’s Time to Go

Perspectives First Quarter 2015

5 Reasons Economic Optimism Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution

Perspectives Third Quarter 2014

Unnecessary Fears and the Resilience of Bond Markets.

Perspectives Second Quarter 2014

Maximizing the Power of Diversification.

Perspectives First Quarter 2014

How do you see your retirement? Do you have a clear picture of what you want or how much you’ll need?

Perspectives Fourth Quarter 2013

Despite U.S. markets returning to record highs recently, many investors are anxious that a major pullback is around the corner. While a pullback is always possible, a better understanding of the market’s fundamental drivers can help reduce your investment fears.

Perspectives Third Quarter 2013

Diversified portfolios can help investors when interest rates rise because different asset classes react differently to changes in rates. Since no one knows exactly when interest rates will rise or fall, a diversified portfolio may also prevent investors from losing out on return opportunities that are available to disciplined investors.

Perspectives Second Quarter 2013

Since hitting a bear-market low in March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has jumped over 118 percent, returning to the record levels seen in the fall of 2007. While the headline certainly grabs attention, there’s one burning question on the minds of many investors: Is now a good time to get in?