Weekly Market Notes – February 22, 2021

For the Week of February 22, 2021

The Markets

Stocks ended a choppy week mixed. The S&P and the NASDAQ  suffered their first weekly losses this month amid rising interest rates and expectations of growing inflation. For the week, the Dow rose 0.16 percent to close at 31,494.32. The S&P dropped 0.68 percent to finish at 3,906.71, and the NASDAQ fell 1.54 percent to end the week at 13,874.46.

Returns Through 2/19/211 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)0.163.179.7010.1916.67
NASDAQ Composite (TR)-1.547.7542.5325.4626.56
S&P 500 (TR)-0.684.2317.4414.8317.59
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)-0.57-1.803.515.463.66
MSCI EAFE (TR)0.274.0713.095.2810.39
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ, and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

It’s an Index — Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was up 1.4 percent for 2020. The category food in the CPI calculation was up 3.9 percent for the year and medical care services was up 2.8 percent, but energy was down 7.0 percent last year (source: Department of Labor, BTN Research).

Let’s Shoot for More — A 65-year-old American male has a life expectancy of 18.2 years. A 65-year-old American female has a life expectancy of 20.8 years (source: National Center for Health Statistics, BTN Research).

Thought It Would Be Higher — 522,808 Americans filed bankruptcy in 2020, down 30 percent from 752,160 bankruptcy filings in 2019 (source: United States Courts, Table F-2, Bankruptcy Filings, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Financial Health Check

With almost two months of the new year elapsed, it’s a good time to look at how well your recent behavior aligns with your financial goals. If there’s room for improvement, you might consider applying one of these savings strategies.

Try a financial fast. Just as intermittent fasting from food has become popular among dieters and health enthusiasts, you might try a financial fast to quick start your savings. You may choose to go cold turkey, avoiding all unnecessary purchases, or to eliminate specific activities or categories of spending for a designated period of time. For instance, you could avoid shopping with credit or debit cards since researchers say customers spend less when using cash or put off clothes shopping. A financial fast can be as short as a week or extend a month or more.

Budget by the day. Another way to modify behavior is to set a daily budget and track your spending to see how it aligns when averaged over a month. Suppose you think $50 a day is a reasonable goal for non-fixed expenses, including groceries. Record your daily purchases in a spreadsheet; there’s something about seeing what you’re spending day by day that inspires discipline. If you are over goal for a week or two, try to spend less the following weeks to stay on target for the month.

Delay gratification. Before putting an item in your shopping cart (in person or online), pause for 20 seconds and ask yourself if you really need it. Better yet, wait a day and see if you still want it. It’s surprising how often enthusiasm cools after an impulse fades. For larger purchases, wait several weeks to evaluate your decision.

Time purchases. Trying to time the stock market rarely works, but many purchases are another story.You’ll usually save by buying food in season and clothing out of season. Some items are consistently on sale at certain times. Shop for mattresses in May and computers during back-to-school or Black Friday sales. Look for last year’s car models between September and December, when most new models come out.

Any of these approaches can help you resist the urge to splurge and lead to more mindful spending. Contact our office if you need more help identifying potential money-saving opportunities.

*The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright February 2021. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3461689.1

Weekly Market Notes – February 16, 2021

For the Week of February 16, 2021

The Markets

Stocks rose Friday, thanks to a recent drop in new COVID cases and hospitalizations, stronger-than-expected earnings over the past couple weeks, and anticipation of new fiscal aid. The S&P and the NASDAQ closed at record highs. For the week, the Dow rose 1.11 percent to close at 31,458.40. The S&P gained 1.28 percent to finish at 3,934.83, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.74 percent to end at 14,095.47.

Returns Through 2/12/211 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)1.113.008.9411.0817.27
NASDAQ Composite (TR)1.749.4446.1827.6627.93
S&P 500 (TR)1.284.9418.5616.2118.42
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)-0.13-1.234.445.623.81
MSCI EAFE (TR)2.375.0413.595.8210.88
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ, and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Jobs — The Congressional Budget Office forecasted on Feb. 1 that the number of employed Americans (150 million as of Jan. 31) will not recover to its pre-pandemic level of 158.7 million until 2024 (source: CBO, BTN Research). 

Global Trade Rebounds — After declining for 10 months during the 2020 pandemic, the monetary value of goods shipped worldwide in November 2020 exceeded its previous high-water mark achieved in December 2019 (source: Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, BTN Research).

Nothing — 76 percent of 619 millennials surveyed in the fourth quarter 2019 do not believe Social Security will exist when they retire. Millennials were born between 1981-97 and are ages 24-40 in 2021 (source: Transamerica, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Choosing an Executor for Your Will

Most of us recognize the importance of creating a thorough, well-reasoned estate plan. But we may not give adequate thought to choosing an executor to carry out the provisions of our wills. It’s all too easy to default to a relative without objectively weighing their qualifications or the challenges they may face. Because of the importance and potential complexity of the executor’s role, it’s wise to answer multiple questions before making your choice.

Will they be around? You probably shouldn’t select someone who is older than you or in questionable health. To be on the safe side, name an alternate in case your primary executor is unable to fulfill the role. This is usually a better option than co-executors. Although it may seem sharing responsibilities could lighten the load, it often complicates decisions, paperwork, and banking activities.

Are they local? Some states don’t allow out-of-state executors unless they are a relative or a primary beneficiary. Many states impose special rules for non-resident executors or require them to obtain a bond. An executor who lives outside the area may also find it more difficult to maintain the deceased’s property.

How capable are they? A business or legal background is helpful but not necessary. Executors can, and often should, work with an attorney and an accountant. Honesty, intelligence, discipline, organizational skills, and the ability to communicate well are essential.

Are they willing? Never name an executor without asking their permission.

Are they still the right choice? Just as you do with beneficiaries, it’s important to review your decision periodically in case something has changed. Perhaps there has been a divorce or the person you designated has developed a health condition.

Should you consider a professional? You may want to name a third-party executor if you have a blended family, your family dynamics are difficult, you want to make things easier for a bereaved spouse, or you don’t have a suitable relative or friend. A bank, trust company, or a professional who has experience dealing with estates can serve as an executor. Executor fees vary from state to state but often range between one and five percent of the estate.

Estate planning can be very involved, and it’s crucial to get it right. We are happy to work with you, your attorney, and your tax professional to find solutions for your situation. 

Securities America and its representatives do not provide legal advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright February 2021. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3453509.1

Weekly Market Notes – February 8, 2021

For the Week of February 8, 2021

The Markets

Stocks rose Friday amid optimism around earnings, stimulus talks, and the vaccines rollout. The three major indices posted their best weekly gains since November; the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended at record closing highs. For the week, the Dow rose 3.90 percent to close at 31,148.24. The S&P gained 4.67 percent to finish at 3,886.83, and the NASDAQ climbed 6.04 percent to end at 13,856.30.   

Returns Through 2/05/211 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)3.901.878.7911.1116.72
NASDAQ Composite (TR)6.047.5747.0327.0427.35
S&P 500 (TR)4.673.6118.7015.8517.95
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)-0.39-1.114.845.493.87
MSCI EAFE (TR)2.751.6610.364.229.77
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Seller’s Market — There were 1.07 million existing homes for sale nationwide as of Dec. 31, 2020. Two years earlier, on Dec. 31, 2018, there were 1.53 million existing homes for sale nationwide. Ten years earlier, on Dec. 31, 2010, there were 3.02 million existing homes for sale nationwide (source: National Association of Realtors, BTN Research).

Relief Dollars — 36 percent of stimulus payment money received by Americans from the March 2020 CARES Act was put into savings, while 35 percent was used to pay down debt (source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, BTN Research).

Going My Way? — The three most popular states to move to during 2020 were Tennessee, Texas, and Florida. The three states with the greatest outflow of people during 2020 were California, Illinois, and New Jersey. The rankings are based upon more than 2 million rentals of moving trucks last year that involved a one-way interstate movement of furnishings, personal possessions, and clothing (source: U-Haul Migration Trends 2020, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Contemplating a Second Career

When you were a child, you dreamed about what you’d do when you grew up. If you’re middle aged, you may be dreaming about what you’ll do when you retire. Retirement looks different today than it once did, with second careers becoming more and more popular. According to a Federal Reserve Board study, one third of those who retire eventually return to work on either a full- or part-time basis.

That’s not surprising. With average life expectancies around 80 years and many living comfortably to age 90, retirees have time to create a second act, which encompasses more than hobbies, golfing, or traveling. Retirees who don’t have enough outside interests may miss the social interaction and the sense of accomplishment of working. A second career can keep seniors’ minds sharp, offer a sense of connection, and provide the means to indulge in some added luxuries.

With less necessity to earn a certain level of income, retirees are free to do something new or make a difference. Many choose to address social problems by working with one of the nation’s 1.5 million nonprofits. Others teach, watch pets, or go into sales. Still others become entrepreneurs, consultants, or career coaches. Bureau of Labor research shows older workers have higher rates of self-employment than their younger counterparts.

Work flexibility is another advantage second careers have over first careers. Retired workers can decide how much they want to work and when. By leveraging the professional and interpersonal skills they’ve developed over the years, retirees can find a situation they find personally fulfilling, one that allows them to make new friends, meet new challenges, and achieve an optimal balance of work and leisure.

The best time to plan a second career is while you’re still working in your first career. Take time to research your aspirations and the market. Talk to people working in a role you’re interested in. Ask to job shadow. Expand your network. Try living on a lower income as a trial run. Build your skills by volunteering or taking classes.

We’re here to help you achieve your goals. Whether you’re looking forward to traditional retirement or a second career, we can help you evaluate your financial situation, so you can make the decision that’s best for you.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia, and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright February 2021. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3442715.1

February 2021 Monthly Outlook – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

My outlook right now reminds me of a classic spaghetti western from the late 1960s.

“The Good”

The spike in Covid that started right after Thanksgiving and continued through the holidays has started to abate.  Cases reported Sunday January 31st  were the lowest since 11/9, the 7-day average cases were the lowest since 11/14, and hospitalizations were the lowest since 11/29. Hospitalizations are down 14.3% week-over-week, the fastest decline since 6/4.  Source:  Bespoke Investment Group.

And while the distribution of the 2 existing Covid vaccines has been less than adequate so far, a 3rd vaccine is likely to be approved in the next couple of weeks.  The sooner the majority of us get vaccinated the sooner the economy can truly get back on track.  The “Good” is that the trend is finally going in the right direction again.

“The Bad”

The slower-than-expected Covid vaccine rollout coupled with a continued rise in cases and restrictions on activity across the country, held back growth in the fourth quarter.  However, activity is projected to rebound strongly later in the year, once vaccines are more widely distributed and the economy can get back to some semblance of normal.  “There’s nothing more important to the economy now than people getting vaccinated,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on January 27th.

2020 GDP fell by 3.5%, the worst year since the end of WW II.  Despite a sizeable number of people getting back to work, we still have some 4.8 million people of unemployment and another ~5 million small business owners receiving government assistance.  The “Bad” is that the holiday gathering surge in Covid has really stalled the economic recovery, which will likely impact the early part of 2021.

The “Ugly”

There remains a wide gulf between the Covid relief package proposed by the Biden administration and a proposal from 10 moderate Republican Senators.  If both sides aren’t willing to compromise, the partisan divide in Washington likely continues.  This would mean potential delays in getting additional funding for vaccine rollout and money to support those unemployed and small business owners.  Benefits from the last Covid relief package expire in mid-March.  The political environment remains the “ugliest” thing we have to face.

So what does it all mean for you?

I expect volatility to be higher than we have seen over the last several months.  I am concerned that any delay in vaccine rollout and/or more government stimulus has the potential to lead to a double-dip recession in the economy.  I am also concerned that the financial markets are over-extended on the anticipation of a positive outcome to these 2 items, and as such are susceptible to a pullback over the next few months.  However, I expect any pullback to be moderate in scope and likely to be a good thing for the markets long-term.

Here’s an updated chart that compares this new bull market versus the ’82 and ’09 bulls. Now, if history repeats, the next several months could be due for a break or consolidation.

We have tightened up our risk tolerances a bit and remain balanced in our approach – looking out for problems to avoid but also opportunities to take advantage of.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please feel free to share it with family and friends.

P.S. Thank you for your referrals. They are making a big difference in my practice. Feel free to share my name with your friends on Facebook or LinkedIn.

I want to extend a special thanks to clients & colleagues who have recently referred us to family and friends:  Greg & Valerie W, Vic & Carol C.

February Calendar of Events   (comments and additions for future months are always welcome)

  • February is Black History Month.  Let’s all strive for understanding and acceptance for people of all colors, nationality, and religions.

February  2nd                Groundhog Day – yay he didn’t see his shadow. No let’s hope he’s reliable!

February 7th                  Super Bowl Sunday – please watch safely (masks and social distancing)

February 14th                Valentine’s Day   

February 15th                 Presidents Day

February 16th                 Mardi Gras

Sources:  Bespoke Investment Group, LPL Research, CNBC.com

Although information herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable, its accuracy and completeness are not asserted. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment of the financial advisor as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.

Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or a loss. Diversification does not ensure a profit or ensure against a loss. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful.  Past performance is no assurance of future results.

Please consider the charges, risks, expenses and investment objectives carefully before investing. Please see a prospectus containing this and other information. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

Information provided should not be construed as legal or tax advice.  You should discuss any tax or legal matter with the appropriate professional.

Credit Report Reminder

It’s a new year, and a (hopefully) fresh start – and another reminder from us that you should check your credit report.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Here is a link to the Federal Trade Commission website   http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports

To get your credit report online visit this site:  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action  Click on request your free credit report.

Since you get 1 report each year from each reporting company my suggestion is to spread them out during the year.  For example, request Equifax in January, Experian in May, and TransUnion in September.  That way you can see any changes made throughout the year.

If you would rather make the request by mail , print and complete the attached Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.  Again, I would print 3 copies and make separate requests throughout the year.

Review each report for inaccuracies or incomplete information and follow the supplied instructions on how to get these corrected.

Please call me if you have any questions on this information.

Student Loan Forbearance Extended Through September 2021

Folks,

Following President Biden’s Executive action signed on 1/20/21, the Education Department extended pandemic relief through September 30, 2021. Federal student loan borrowers will not be expected to make payments through September 2021. Non-payments will continue to count toward the number of payments required under an income-driven repayment plan, a loan rehabilitation agreement, or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

During this forbearance period any payments will go directly to the loan principal which will lower your interest payment in the future. We urge our clients to take advantage, if financially feasible, of this opportunity and pay down the principle on your loans.

This article was posted by the U.S. Department of Education:

https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/request-president-biden-acting-secretary-education-will-extend-pause-federal-student-loan-payments

If you or anyone know anyone you know needs help understanding their student loan status please feel free to contact us.

Best Regards,

Directional Wealth Management

Although information herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable, its accuracy and completeness are not asserted. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment of the financial advisor as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.

Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or a loss. Diversification does not ensure a profit or ensure against a loss. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful.  Past performance is no assurance of future results.

Please consider the charges, risks, expenses and investment objectives carefully before investing. Please see a prospectus containing this and other information. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.

Information provided should not be construed as legal or tax advice.  You should discuss any tax or legal matter with the appropriate professional.

Weekly Market Notes – January 19, 2021

For the Week of January 19, 2021

The Markets

U.S. stocks fell Friday following disappointing retail sales data and big bank earnings reports. Investors also feared President-elect Joe Biden’s ambitious stimulus plan could result in tax hikes or higher interest rates. For the week, the Dow fell 0.91 percent to close at 30,814.26. The S&P lost 1.46 percent to finish at 3,768.25, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.54 percent to end at 12,998.50.

Returns Through 1/15/211 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)-0.910.738.598.5916.79
NASDAQ Composite (TR)-1.540.8741.6322.6625.03
S&P 500 (TR)-1.460.3916.6612.7417.23
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.19-0.766.005.254.07
MSCI EAFE (TR)-0.301.598.403.3310.04
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Debt — The U.S. increased its national debt by $7.77 trillion in the last four years. The U.S. increased its national debt by $7.67 trillion in the previous seven years (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

Housing — The average interest rate nationwide on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.76 percent at the end of 2020. The all-time record low national average is 2.66 percent, set just one week earlier on Dec. 24 (source: Freddie Mac, BTN Research).

Where Does This Money Come From? — The Fed is buying $120 billion of bonds each month – $80 billion of Treasury debt and $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities. The Fed confirmed on Dec. 16 the purchases will continue “until substantial further progress has been made toward the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals” (source: Federal Reserve, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Don’t Put Autopay Bills on Autopilot

The majority of Americans have embraced the convenience of online, automatic bill payments. Autopay can save time, reduce clutter, and prevent missed payments, which may impair credit scores or lead to penalties. It also offers more control – allowing us to schedule the payment – compared to not knowing when a check will arrive or be cashed.

Still, you should be aware of potential downsides. Knowing bills will be paid on time can make us less vigilant in tracking spending, or watching for unexpected price increases or fraudulent charges. With autopay, it’s easy to forget the date when a service or subscription automatically renews. And once something renews, it may be challenging to reverse.

It can be a chore to re-enter account information on multiple websites every time you change the credit card or checking account you’re using for payments. Finally, while automatic electronic payments are generally more reliable than manual payments, they’re not totally foolproof. Occasional glitches could result in added fees or loss of service.

You can take a few measures to reduce potential problems. If you have the option when you set up bill pay, choose to be notified by text or email before payments go through. When you cancel a service, make sure to monitor your statement to verify payments are stopped promptly. To keep things simple, you may want to reserve autopay for bills with regular, fixed charges.

Using a credit card for auto payments reduces the possibility of overdrawing your checking account, may allow you to accumulate points, and provides added protection against fraudulent or disputed charges. But benefits need to be weighed against the risk of not tracking expenses as closely and incurring interest charges if your balance isn’t paid in full each month.

On the other hand, if you pay a credit card with automatic payments from your checking account, consider choosing the minimum payment option to prevent the possibility of overdrawing your account.  Then when it’s convenient, manually pay any outstanding balance to avoid interest charges. Whether you use a checking account or a credit card for your automatic payments, go through your statement at least once or twice a month to ensure everything is in order.

We are always available to help you look for ways to safeguard your money and protect your financial credit. Feel free to contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright January 2021. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3410930.1

Weekly Market Notes – January 11, 2021

For the Week of January 11, 2021

The Markets

Stocks closed higher Friday, with the S&P at a record high, despite the Capitol riots and a negative jobs report. Investors appeared buoyed by President-elect Joe Biden’s comment that he would support an economic stimulus package in the trillions of dollars, which would include unemployment benefits and rent forbearance. For the week, the Dow rose 1.66 percent to close at 31,097.97. The S&P gained 1.88 percent to finish at 3,824.68, and the NASDAQ climbed 2.45 percent to end the week at 13,201.98.

Returns Through 1/08/211 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)1.661.6610.709.6716.49
NASDAQ Composite (TR)2.452.4545.8923.8924.57
S&P 500 (TR)1.881.8819.7613.8417.06
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)-0.94-0.946.415.124.10
MSCI EAFE (TR)3.163.1611.674.569.50
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Long Term — The S&P 500 has gained an average of 10.9 percent per year (total return) over the past 50 years. The index has been positive in 16 of the last 18 years. Over the long-term, the S&P 500 has been up during 40 of the last 50 years (source: BTN Research). 

Jobless — The lowest (3.5 percent) and the highest (14.7 percent) unemployment rates in the United States in the last 50 years both occurred in 2020, and they took place just two months apart (source: Department of Labor, BTN Research).

Every Day — An estimated 10,800 Americans will turn 65 years old each day in 2021. That’s one every eight seconds. This group represents the 11th year of 19 years of baby boomers turning age 65. An estimated 11,500 Americans will turn 65 years old each day in 2029 (source: Government Accountability Office, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Quick Facts About the New Stimulus Package

In late December, Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus package, which included $600 checks to qualifying citizens. After initially refusing to sign the bill unless the checks were increased to $2,000, President Trump signed it. Although the House voted to increase the checks, the Senate didn’t pick up the vote, leaving the original package unchanged. Some highlights from the bill include:

The IRS and the Treasury have already started direct deposits. Recipients who don’t have direct deposit set up with the IRS will receive physical checks or Economic Impact Payment cards – provided the IRS gets to them by January 15. Those the IRS doesn’t get to by that cutoff date will need to claim a recovery rebate credit when they file their taxes.

Qualifications for this bill’s checks differ from the CARES Act in a few ways. Eligibility is determined based on 2019 tax returns (compared to 2018 or 2019 with CARES). To receive a full payment, an individual can’t have a 2019 adjusted gross income (AGI) above $75,000; married couples can’t have an AGI above $150,000, and a head of household’s AGI can’t be over $112,500. Eligible parents will receive checks for children under the age of 17.

People with higher incomes will receive a partial payment, which declines by $5 for every $100 of income over the full-payment limits. So, individuals with income of $87,000 and above and married couples filing jointly with $174,000 will not receive payments.

The IRS answers questions about the second stimulus checks and provides a tracking option at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments.

Other provisions from the 5,600-page bill include:

  • Individuals drawing unemployment benefits will receive an extra $300 a week through March 14.
  • Some hard-hit small businesses may be able to apply for a second Paycheck Protection Program loan.
  • Employers deferring payroll taxes under the President’s executive action have until the end of 2021 to increase employees’ withholding to pay back taxes owed.
  • The $300 above-the-line deduction for cash contributions to qualified charities is extended through 2021.

If you have questions on how the bill may affect you or other financial concerns, don’t hesitate to call.  

We do not provide tax advice; coordinate with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

*The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright January 2021. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3399750.1

Weekly Market Notes – January 4, 2021

For the Week of January 4, 2021

The Markets

U.S. stocks rose on the final trading day of a tumultuous year. Amid pandemic-related closures and a global recession, equities plunged into a bear market in February and March but quickly rebounded. The Dow and the S&P 500 broke their records Thursday, and the NASDAQ’s year-to-date gains were the strongest of the three indices. For the week, the Dow rose 1.35 percent to close at 30,606.48. The S&P gained 1.45 percent to finish at 3,756.07, and the NASDAQ climbed 0.66 percent to end the week at 12,888.28.

Returns Through 12/31/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)1.359.729.729.9014.65
NASDAQ Composite (TR)0.6644.9244.9224.3922.12
S&P 500 (TR)1.4518.4018.4014.1815.22
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.227.517.515.344.44
MSCI EAFE (TR)1.400.007.814.287.45
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

I Need My Space — In 2020, 28 percent of the households in the United States were made up of just one individual living alone. Another 35 percent of households were made up of just two people, of which 65 percent (of the 35 percent) are a married couple (source: Census Bureau, BTN Research).

The Fed — Four of the six current members of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors – Richard Clarida, Randal Quarles, Michelle Bowman, and Christopher Waller – were appointed during President Trump’s four years in office. There remains one vacancy on the seven-member Board of Governors (source: Federal Reserve, BTN Research).

All for Exactly the Same Services — Private U.S. health insurance pays on average $241 for health care services for every $100 that Medicare pays and for every $72 that Medicaid pays (source: RAND, Health Affairs, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Why You Should Set Up Your Online Social Security Account

For many of us, Social Security plays an important part in our financial plans for retirement or later stage of life. So even if you’re years away from applying for benefits, there are good reasons to set up your online Social Security account at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

You can go online to ensure there aren’t any gaps in your earnings. Why is that important? Because the amount you receive from Social Security will be based on how much you’ve earned over your working career. Many people change jobs frequently, increasing the possibility an employer will fail to report their earnings, use the wrong Social Security number, or use an incorrect name. In fact, it’s estimated Social Security records have a 3 percent error rate.1 If there is a mistake, you’ll want to fix it as soon as possible, so you aren’t shortchanged when you finally apply for benefits.

You may protect yourself against fraud. By setting up an online Social Security account, you’ll prevent anyone else from doing so. Much like income tax fraud, identity thieves sometimes set up Social Security accounts and file for benefits using other people’s names. You don’t want to wait until you retire to find someone else is collecting your hard-earned benefits. The most effective way to prevent that is by creating your own account.

You can easily replace a lost or stolen Social Security card – for free. With an online account, there’s no need to sit through traffic to get to your local office and wait in line for a new card. You can also download a printable copy of your Social Security 1099/Benefit Statement, the tax form the Social Security Administration mails each year in January. No need to wait.

If you already receive Social Security, you can still benefit from having an online account. You can set up or change direct deposit or address information and get a benefit verification letter, which you may need if you’re applying for a loan. You’ll also be able to check the status of your Social Security benefit application from anywhere you can safely log in to your account.

If you’re wondering about the role of Social Security benefits in your retirement plans or how much income you’ll need in retirement, call our office. We can help you evaluate your financial plan to ensure you’re on track to work toward the retirement you envision.

  1. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/online-my-social-security-account-fights-id-theft/
The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright January 2021. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3388521.1

Weekly Market Notes – December 28, 2020

For the Week of December 28, 2020

The Markets

All three major indices ended a shortened holiday week on an up note as investors digested surging virus cases, the ongoing vaccine rollout, uncertainty over the Georgia runoff, a fall in unemployment claims, and new hurdles to the stimulus bills. For the week, the Dow lost 0.34 percent to close at 30,199.87. The S&P lost 0.49 percent to finish at 3,703.06, and the NASDAQ gained 0.32 percent to end the week at 12,804.73.

Returns Through 12/25/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)-0.348.278.359.3614.18
NASDAQ Composite (TR)0.3243.9744.3023.7921.77
S&P 500 (TR)-0.4916.7117.0113.5114.70
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.087.277.385.444.38
MSCI EAFE (TR)-0.606.336.834.117.12
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

All the Other Stuff — Administrative costs make up 34 percent of total U.S. health care expenditures (i.e., expenses not related to direct patient care) including medical billing, the scheduling of appointments, and hiring of office staff (source: Annals of Internal Medicine, BTN Research).

Help for College Students —The Department of Education announced on Friday, Dec. 4, a second extension through Jan. 31, 2021, of the forbearance period on federal student loans. The forbearance plan, a pause in required principal and interest payments, began March 13 and was set to expire Sept. 30 but was previously extended on Aug. 21 through the end of 2020. 92 percent of all student loans (by dollar) are federal loans. The remaining 8 percent are loans originated by a private lender (source: Department of Education, BTN Research).

Advantage: Sellers — The number of existing single-family homes for sale has been tracked nationally since July 1982. The total peaked in July 2007 at 3.4 million but has now fallen to match its all-time low of 1.22 million in December 2019 (source: National Association of Realtors, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Financial Resolutions for 2021

Despite a crazy year or perhaps because of it, over half of Americans are expected to make at least one financial resolution for 2021.1 If you haven’t identified yours, here are a few to consider.

Pad your retirement savings. You probably spent less on travel, restaurants, movies, gas, or sporting events in 2020. Why not maintain some of those cuts after things normalize and add the savings to your retirement account?

Increase your emergency fund. According to FINRA, almost half of Americans don’t have a rainy day fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund equal to six months of income, start one. If you do, why not add enough to cover an additional month or two of expenses?

Reduce debt, safeguard credit. Automate account payments to avoid missing any. Plan to eliminate debts before retiring.Thwart identity thieves with credit monitoring, which notifies you when key information on your file changes.

Create a long-range plan. If you’re married, project future expenses if you both live to 95 or either of you dies and the other lives to 95. Then go to ssa.gov/myaccount to estimate Social Security benefits you’d receive when claiming at different ages. Determine how much more you’ll need to maintain your lifestyle.

Review your insurance and estate plan. Make sure your insurance coverage is adequate and beneficiaries are up to date. If you haven’t reviewed your estate plan recently, you’ve moved, or your assets or family has changed, schedule a meeting with your estate planning attorney.

Invest in yourself. Health care is expensive. Studies indicate the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2020 can expect to pay $295,000 for out-of-pocket health care and medical expenses (not including potential long-term care). Taking steps to stay fit now may help you enjoy retirement and save money.

Work with a coach. Your odds of successfully implementing goals increase when you have an objective, knowledgeable partner. Make an appointment to discuss your financial resolutions and how we can work together to make 2021 a happy and prosperous new year!

1https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/banking/money-resolution-survey/

2money.usnews.com/money/retirement/aging/articles/preparing-for-medical-expenses-in-retirement

*The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright December 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3383589.1