July 2020 Monthly Outlook – Diagnosing a Recovery

As the world continues to deal with the effects of COVID-19, racial injustices and rising geopolitical tensions, recent data signal that the worst of the economic damage is likely behind us. Data show sequential improvement for most of the world’s key economies, a trend that will probably continue in the short term. Longer-term, there’s an emerging consensus for a quick and complete recovery, but I have a different view.

I believe that we’re past the cycle low for the economy and the financial markets, and that the recovery is under way. However, I suspect the speed and magnitude of the global policy response are responsible for the rapid transition into recovery mode.


Despite this, I caution people from making the wrong conclusions based on the massive scope of the global policy response, and I advise against annualizing temporary spending programs and one-time payouts. Some forms of temporary spending may become permanent, but I doubt government spending will double in size permanently. We are also going into a Presidential election cycle so cooperation in Washington is likely to be limited.

In short, I don’t expect a “V-shaped” recovery. I predict a “square root-shaped” recovery. Initially, a “V-shaped” and “square root-style” recovery will look identical. The early phase of the recovery, probably lasting through the summer, will be “V-shaped,” followed by a gradual rise in the fall and beyond. However, I expect momentum to slow after the initial reopening of the economy. The most recent GDP forecast revisions are now projecting that the economy will completely recover 2019 levels by 3Q’21.  I believe there is some long-term scarring to the economy, much of which won’t be evident immediately.

I don’t expect the economy to return to 2019’s GDP level until 2022. It usually takes several years for the economy’s post-recession recovery to return to its pre-recession pace. Growth rates may look nearly identical after the initial bounce, but as I watch economic activity levels, I see a path below pre-COVID levels for some time to come.

Figure 1: Illustrative Growth Paths for US Real GDP
(indexed to 100 as of 12/31/19)

CHART_7.2.2020

Source: Blackstone

Now with COVID-19 spreading again, this has caused several states to rethink how fast to reopen just as the first round of stimulus wears off.  The jump in daily cases has created some renewed volatility in the financial markets, and it merits watching, but it has yet to knock stocks off course. Ultimately, the path of the virus will play the biggest role in how the financial market and economic outlook unfolds going forward.

CHART_7.2.2020_2

Source: Strategas Securities

Most major stock market indexes are still negative YTD, with technology (NASDAQ) being the one winner.  I expect the broad stock market (basis S&P 500) to continue to move higher, albeit with increased swings up and down, to end the year flat at around 3,230 – around 4% higher than were it ended June.  I continue to adjust portfolios as I see threats and opportunities.

Table 1: Key Index Returns

 

MTD%

YTD%

Dow Jones Industrial Average

1.7

-9.6

NASDAQ Composite

6.0

12.1

S&P 500 Index

1.8

-4.0

Russell 2000 Index

3.4

-13.6

MSCI World ex-USA*

3.2

-12.7

MSCI Emerging Markets*

7.0

-10.7

Bloomberg Barclays US

Aggregate Bond TR

0.6

6.1

Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, Morningstar, MarketWatch

MTD returns: May 29, 2020-June 30, 2020

YTD returns: Dec 31, 2019-June 30, 2020

*in US dollars

 

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:

Anna P.,    Ray C & Carolyn B.

 

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

  • July is National Picnic and National Parks month – please practice safe Covid-19 steps – crazy to have to say that

 

July 1st             Bureau of Internal Revenue (the IRS) founded in 1862– betcha nobody celebrates this birthday 

July 4th            Independence Day  – it will certainly be a different kind of celebration this year

July 11th          My daughter Ryan’s birthday

July 23rd         National Ice Cream Day   – Breyers vanilla with Hershey’s chocolate syrup is my go-to

 

I hope you find this information helpful.  Please share it with family and friends.

 

 

Sources:  Blackstone, Strategas Securities, Horsesmouth

 

 

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 – June 22, 2020

For the Week of June 22, 2020

The Markets

Stocks were up and down Friday as investors digested news of virus resurgences in pockets around the globe. At the close, the NASDAQ was up slightly, while the Dow and S&P were down. All three major indexes made gains for the week; the S&P achieved its fourth positive week in five. For the week, the Dow rose 1.07 percent to close at 25,871.46. The S&P gained 1.88 percent to finish at 3,097.74, and the NASDAQ climbed 3.74 percent to end the week at 9,946.12.

Returns Through 6/19/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)1.07-8.220.058.8610.18
NASDAQ Composite (PR)3.7411.3925.8318.0715.50
S&P 500 (TR)1.88-3.197.9910.2510.22
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.205.928.925.154.20
MSCI EAFE (TR)2.05-10.27-2.660.911.87
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.

Not Inflation, But Deflation — The Consumer Price Index fell 0.1 percent on a month-over-month basis in May, the third consecutive month of negative inflation. The last calendar year in which inflation was negative, i.e., deflation, was 1954 (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, BTN Research).

The CARES Act Effect — The nation’s 13.3 percent jobless rate as of May 31 (released on June 5) would have been an estimated 16.3 percent if the workers who were being paid wages from funds obtained through a Payroll Protection Program loan were counted as temporarily laid off instead of actively employed (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, BTN Research).

Great Time to Buy — The average interest rate nationwide on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.15 percent on Thursday, May 28, the lowest ever recorded in U.S. history. That means home buyers would pay just $430 per month in principal and interest payments for every $100,000 borrowed (source: Freddie Mac, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Short-Term vs. Long-Term Crises

It’s difficult to address a long-term issue in the midst of an immediate crisis. With millions unemployed and news of firms going bankrupt because of COVID-19, the latest report on the health of the Social Security Trust Funds received little attention.

According to the report, Social Security’s costs will exceed its income beginning next year, and the fund’s reserves will be depleted around 2034. However, Andrew Saul, commissioner of Social Security, said the projections didn’t reflect the drop in payroll taxes because of lost jobs.

Countless solutions to address the shortfall have been proposed, but Congress has largely ignored them because most are politically risky. Here are a few basic ideas:

1) Raise the full retirement age from 67 (for those born in 1960 or later) to 69. In light of extended life expectancies, this seems reasonable for those who are able to keep working. But health issues already prevent many individuals from working until their full retirement age.

2) Either cut cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for wealthy individuals or for everyone. But benefits already don’t keep pace with seniors’ rising expenses since the COLA is based on the general Consumer Price Index and doesn’t reflect the disproportionate rate at which housing, medical expenses and health insurance are increasing.

3) Increase payroll taxes for everyone. (Employers and employees each currently pay 6.2 percent of wages.) Or, raise the cap on earnings taxed by Social Security, which is now $137,700. Because benefits are capped at $3,011 at full retirement age, higher earners would not get more back.

4) Wait until Social Security’s reserves are depleted and cut benefits by up to 24 percent (the projected deficit after payroll taxes) or dramatically raise taxes. Since solving the shortfall will become more difficult as time goes by, voters should press their representatives to work on a better solution soon.

We all may face future circumstances beyond our control. But as the old adage says, “You do what you can do.” That includes prudently saving and wisely investing. Call our office if you’d like to review your retirement plan.

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 June 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3134940.1

Weekly Market Notes – June 15, 2020

For the Week of June 15, 2020

The Markets

It was a choppy week on Wall Street amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections as states reopen and crowded protests continue. Stocks saw their worst sell-off since March on Thursday after Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned of possible long-term joblessness, but stocks rose Friday. For the week, the Dow fell 5.51 percent to close at 25,605.54. The S&P lost 4.73 percent to finish at 3,041.31, and the NASDAQ dropped 2.27 percent to end at 9,588.81.

Returns Through 6/12/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)-5.51-9.200.948.9910.09
NASDAQ Composite (TR)-2.277.3824.3517.0414.96
S&P 500 (TR)-4.73-4.987.769.959.98
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.725.719.425.164.27
MSCI EAFE (TR)-4.21-12.07-4.030.511.37
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.

Keeps Going Up — The S&P 500 had gained 43.4 percent (total return) through the close of trading on June 5, since falling to a bear market low close on March 23 (source: BTN Research).

Not Buying It — 39 percent of investors surveyed as of Thursday, June 4, were bearish on U.S. stocks for the upcoming six months (source: American Association of Individual Investors, BTN Research).

So Low — As of the close of trading on June 5, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note (0.91 percent) had been below 2 percent for 212 consecutive trading days, i.e., since Aug. 1, 2019, the longest stretch below 2 percent in U.S. history. The highest closing yield for the 10-year Treasury note in history was 15.84 percent on Sept. 30, 1981 (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – It’s Official

Since the March coronavirus collapse, stocks have bounced and plunged like a bungee cord ride that won’t seem to end. Chronic volatility has left many asking if we are in a recession, while jobless claims and business closings have caused others to wonder if we are in, or headed for, a depression. The confusion is understandable. Definitions for recessions and depressions aren’t exact.

A recession is a significant economic decline, usually over multiple months, typically caused by economic factors. For instance, the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 started with the subprime mortgage crisis, which led to the housing market collapse and a banking crisis. In contrast, our economy appeared healthy prior to COVID-19, which created a slowdown in a matter of weeks.

A depression is an extreme recession with severe contraction that generally extends at least three years. The Great Depression started with a stock market crash in 1929 and ended around the time World War II started (1939). U.S. industrial production fell nearly 50 percent, and 25 percent of the workforce was unemployed. Near the end of the depression, safeguards were put in place to prevent similar devastation in the future.

Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) stopped the guessing when it announced the U.S. entered a recession in February. Although a recession is usually marked by two quarters of negative growth in domestic production (GDP), the NBER based its decision on rapid economic decline over a variety of factors, including GDP, real income, employment, and retail and manufacturing sales.

Still, there are reasons for hope. Since the recession was caused by the virus, many analysts believe the economy could recover quickly once effective means to combat it are found. And medical researchers are working round the clock to find them. The World Health Organization recently reported 124 potential COVID-19 vaccines are under development.1 And the Milken Institute’s tracker shows researchers are testing more than 130 drugs as possible treatments.2 In the meantime, The Federal Reserve has taken an array of measures to limit economic damage, and Congress has passed multiple stimulus packages, with more expected.

During these stressful times, we appreciate the trust you have placed in us, and we are available to answer questions or address concerns you may have.

1 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/09/dr-anthony-fauci-says-coronavirus-turned-out-to-be-my-worst-nightmare-and-it-isnt-over.html?__source=newsletter%7Ceveningbrief
2 https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-covid19-accelerated-vaccines-treatments-drugs

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 June 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3126082.1

Weekly Market Notes – June 8, 2020

For the Week of June 8, 2020

The Markets

Stocks rose sharply Friday after the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added 2.5 million jobs in May and unemployment dropped to 13.3 percent – compared to an expected surge to 19.8 percent. Airline stocks jumped as the industry added more flights. For the week, the Dow rose 6.85 percent to close at 27,110.98. The S&P gained 4.96 percent to finish at 3,193.93, and the NASDAQ climbed 3.44 percent to end the week at 9,814.08.

Returns Through 6/05/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)6.85-3.908.7911.1711.42
NASDAQ Composite (TR)3.449.8730.9217.1915.42
S&P 500 (TR)4.96-0.2615.3111.6511.08
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)-0.494.958.774.864.13
MSCI EAFE (TR)7.07-8.202.021.532.53
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.

Spending More — In April 2020, 45 percent of 1,008 adults surveyed said they increased their monthly spending while quarantined due in part to costs related to groceries and streaming services (source: TD Ameritrade, BTN Research).

Lots of Borrowing — By the end of fiscal year 2020, i.e., the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2020, the U.S. Treasury anticipates it will have issued $4.5 trillion in new debt, more than triple the $1.28 trillion of new debt issued in fiscal year 2019 (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

A Jackson a Day — Retail sales in the U.S. in April were $403.9 billion, down 16.4 percent or $79.5 billion from just a month earlier. The monthly decline is equal to every U.S. household (124.4 million) spending $21 less per day during April than the dollar amount they spent per day in March (source: Commerce Department, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Mid-Year Reviews More Important Than Ever

Mention summer and most of us picture swimming, boating, camping, backyard barbecues and scenic vacations. In contrast, the summer of 2020 evokes many challenging and painful images due to our ongoing battle with COVID-19 and rising social unrest. But even when life doesn’t feel the same, it’s important to maintain normal routines to safeguard our personal and family’s well-being.

One routine that is more important than ever is a mid-year financial review. Reviews are particularly vital when situations change. While you may not have experienced a typical life event this year – a marriage, birth, move, death or job loss – current events and circumstances in our nation and throughout the world have likely impacted your financial plans in one way or another.

Social distancing has affected supplies, and consequently, prices. Economic concerns have reduced demand for other products and services, which may have directly impacted you or your community. Increased costs or reduced income could require adjustments to your business or personal budget. Or, you might want to help a family member in need.

If market volatility has altered the ratio of your investments, you may want to think about rebalancing your portfolio. In light of coronavirus-related legislation and rules changes, you might contemplate changes in your giving, health coverage, retirement plan or estate plan. While no one knows the future, some commentators expect eventual tax hikes to recoup massive stimulus spending to prop up the economy during the pandemic. So, you might consider a Roth rollover while taxes are historically low.

Along with considering updating your will or beneficiary information, reviewing your insurance coverage now can help you protect your assets. A disability or untimely death could cause financial hardship for your family.

Taking the time to periodically monitor, and if necessary, alter your plans will leave you in a better position to build financial security. While I do not provide legal or tax advice, I can work closely with your attorney and accountant to help ensure a well-rounded plan. If you’d like to schedule a mid-year review or you have questions about the market or how recent legislation impacts you, please give me a call. I’m here to help.

Securities America and its financial professionals do not provide tax or legal advice. Coordinate with your tax advisor or attorney 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 June 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3117037.1

June 2020 Monthly Outlook – Proven Wrong

Well it appears I have been proven wrong.

The stock market recovery from the 34% decline in March continued almost unabated in May.  The S&P 500 closed out May down 10.1% from the high on February 19, 2020 and down 5.8% YTD.  As previously reported, we had lowered equity exposure in portfolios during early March, when the Covid-19 impact was in full swing.  We have been slowly adding back equity exposure since mid-April, but our approach was cautious as our analysis anticipated the relief rally from the March low stalling out.  We felt the stock market was completely pricing in a “V” shaped recovery from the pandemic, but that the actual recovery would likely be slower and longer.  The stock market has proven me wrong, at least so far. In retrospect, we should have been adding back to equities more aggressively.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but this was a missed opportunity.

Going forward, there still remains opportunities and risks, for both the stock market and the economy.

For the market, the bulk of the recovery has been driven by a relatively small number of stocks.  Primarily, large technology companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google. For example, as of the end of May, only 27.6% of all the stocks traded on the NY stock exchange (2,800 companies) are trading at or above their 200 day moving average, which is a good long-term trend measure.  That means that some 2,000 companies still have room to run, if stocks continue their upward move. Herein lies the opportunity.  On the worrisome side for stocks,  typically it is cyclical companies (think banks and industrials) that lead the market higher when stocks rebound from a bear market and recession—but not this time. While these 2 sectors have shown signs of life in the last week or so, they still are lagging far behind technology.  I will watch these closely as an indication of how the economic recovery is progressing.

On the economic side, recent economic reports appear to indicate that the worst of the pandemic-related economic shock is behind us.  However ‘not worse’ economic data is a long way from “good” economic data.  It’s telling that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), often more optimistic than consensus, recently released new estimates showing that US GDP would not recover its prior peak until 3Q 2022. The opportunity is a health care breakthrough that would prompt faster re-openings, or more rapid and confident reengagement by consumers and businesses could bolster the economic outlook. Conversely, a second-wave, either near-term due to the re-opening of the economy, or during the fall when flu season returns would be a significant setback The risks to growth remain skewed to the downside in our view.

Source: Blackstone

Below is an interesting chart looking at the 3 key areas – Health, Economy, Markets – that highlights some of the key topics in each area that we are watching.

As we move into June, we will be continuing to selectively add to equity exposure, looking for opportunities with room for more upside.

Update on our office:  We are re-opening our office on June 2rd, using rotating shifts and appropriate social distancing measures. Thank you for your patience with us while we were all working from home. 

I hope this report is helpful to you.  Let us know if you have any questions.

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

  • June is LGBT Pride Month.  Let’s all work towards acceptance and inclusion of people regardless of their sexual orientation.

June 14th        Flag Day                  

June 20th        Summer begins – it’s certainly going to be a different summer.  Enjoy it safely       

June 21st        Father’s Day  – wishing all father’s, grandfathers, and great grandfathers a wonderful day.

Sources:  Blackstone, Schwab, Yahoo Finance

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 – May 26, 2020

For the Week of May 26, 2020

The Markets

Stocks were mixed Friday as investors weighed rising trade tensions between China and the U.S. and uncertainty about the pace of an economic recovery from the coronavirus. Frictions rose after China announced new security measures on Hong Kong and U.S. senators introduced a bill to sanction Chinese officials and agencies. Still, all three major indices posted weekly gains. For the week, the Dow rose 3.43 percent to close at 24,465.16. The S&P gained 3.27 percent to finish at 2,955.45, and the NASDAQ climbed 3.48 percent to end the week at 9,324.59.

Returns Through 5/22/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)3.43-13.40-2.687.918.69
NASDAQ Composite (TR)3.484.3621.5816.2114.15
S&P 500 (TR)3.27-7.775.589.439.02
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.355.2310.495.104.03
MSCI EAFE (TR)1.41-17.27-7.97-1.57-0.31
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.

Biggest Yet — The House released the $3 trillion, 1,815-page Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act on May 12. Congress has previously passed four bills between March 6 and April 24 to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (source: House of Representatives, BTN Research).

Student Loans — On page 1,400 of the 1,815-page HEROES Act is a provision that would forgive up to $10,000 of every federal student loan (source: HEROES Act, BTN Research).

We’ll Need to Borrow a Lot of Money — After seven months of fiscal year 2020, i.e., the 7 months through April 30, the government’s budget deficit to date is $1.481 trillion, more than the nation’s all-time record deficit for a single fiscal year of $1.413 trillion from fiscal year 2009 (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Considering a Roth Rollover in 2020

Roth IRAs are popular because they have no required distributions, their earnings grow tax-free and withdrawals are tax-free, subject to certain requirements.  Income restrictions limit who can open a Roth, but since 2010, anyone – regardless of income – has been able to convert assets from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Unique circumstances in 2020 have more investors now considering Roth rollovers.

Legacy planning: The SECURE Act passed last December increased Roth IRAs’ popularity in estate planning. The legislation eliminated the stretch IRA, which allowed children and grandchildren to withdraw money from an inherited IRA gradually over their lifetimes. Under the SECURE Act, non-spouse relatives must now drain an inherited IRA within 10 years. A Roth IRA can reduce the potential tax impact.

Tax rates: Historically low tax rates mean individuals rolling an IRA into a Roth this year could pay less taxes than in the past. This may not be true in the future as financial analysts expect taxes to eventually increase to recoup some of the trillions of dollars the federal government is spending under the COVID-19 stimulus packages.

Drops in stock values: Along with lower tax rates, converting an IRA to a Roth during a market downturn can reduce liability since taxes due are based on the value of the IRA at the time of conversion. If you convert when your IRA investments are depressed, your tax hit will be smaller. If your investments increase in value after the conversion, your gains won’t be taxed.

Decisions regarding Roth rollovers can be complex, and it’s best to consult a professional for advice. For example, a rollover might not make sense if your tax bracket may be lower in the future or if you need to use money from the IRA to pay the tax liability from converting. And calculating taxes resulting from a conversion gets particularly complicated if you own multiple IRAs, especially if some are pre-tax and others are post-tax, since the IRS will treat all your IRAs as one when calculating taxes owed.

Previously, IRA owners could change their mind about a rollover, but conversions are now permanent. So please call our office if you’re considering a Roth rollover this year. We’ll be happy to work with your tax professional to discuss considerations and options.

Securities America and its financial professionals 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 May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3100369.1

Weekly Market Notes – May 18, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of May 18, 2020

The Markets

The market was volatile on Friday as investors digested a record drop in retail sales and  increased trade tensions with China as the Trump administration imposed new restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Stocks edged up by closing but still suffered big losses for the week. For the week, the Dow fell 2.61 percent to close at 23,685.42. The S&P lost 2.20 percent to finish at 2,863.70, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.15 percent to end the week at 9,014.56.

Returns Through 5/15/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) -2.61 -16.27 -5.37 6.60 7.92
NASDAQ Composite (TR) -1.15 0.84 16.44 14.82 13.56
S&P 500 (TR) -2.20 -10.69 2.47 8.16 8.37
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.33 4.86 10.01 5.14 3.85
MSCI EAFE (TR) -3.18 -20.81 -12.02 -2.62 -1.29

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.

 

Less Needed — 26 percent of 305 chief financial officers surveyed in late April anticipate their firms will reduce their real estate footprint when work life resumes some level of normalcy (source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, BTN Research).

Shortfall —The Congressional Budget Office forecasted on April 24 our nation’s fiscal year 2020 budget deficit, i.e., the 12 months ending Sept. 30, will be a record $3.7 trillion, equal to 18.1 percent of our economy. That would be our largest deficit-to-GDP percentage since the U.S. hit 21 percent in 1945 (source: CBO, BTN Research).

Help for Borrowers — Pandemic-impacted homeowners who have mortgages that are owned by Fannie Mae have access to a forbearance plan that allows them to reduce or suspend their monthly mortgage payment for up to 12 months. Homeowners are allowed to establish a repayment plan to catch up gradually or modify the entire loan but are not required to make a lump-sum payment at the end of 12 months. Homeowners need to contact their mortgage servicer to determine if they qualify (source: Fannie Mae, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Tips for Working From Home

As U.S. governors plan to reopen their states and medical researchers across the globe scramble to create an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, it’s natural to wonder how different our lives might look after the virus is under control.

Chances are, parents will continue accessing online educational resources for their children, and geographically distanced families and friends will continue to gather on Zoom. Businesses will likely spend less time and money traveling to meetings, and medical professionals will still offer telehealth care. But many believe the widest-reaching change will be a greater acceptance of working from home. With that perspective, taking the following steps to improve your work-from-home experience may pay off now and in the future.

First and foremost, ensure your workspace fits your body. Your elbows should be close to a 90-degree angle when you’re typing, and your wrist should not be hinged. If that’s not the case, you may need to raise your chair or lower your keypad with a pull-out tray under your desk. Similarly, your neck shouldn’t be bent. If your monitor or laptop is too low, consider risers. If your back hurts, consider a different chair, a lumbar support pillow or an orthopedic seat cushion. A footrest can help if your legs are short.

Next, establish boundaries. Keep consistent hours. Let family and friends know you are not available during those times. Protect your free time as well. Stop and stretch every 20 minutes. Take a couple 10-minute breaks during the day and a short walk outside over your lunch hour. Take a sick day if you’re not well. And, don’t check emails once you’re off the clock.

Overcommunicate. Remind coworkers when you’re not going to be available. Let your team know when you complete an important task. Make your presence known on conference calls. Since tone is harder to discern in digital communications, err on the positive side. In informal emails, you may want to include an exclamation point or a friendly emoji.

Don’t forget to socialize. Interacting with colleagues is important for your career and your emotional well-being. So, join Zoom happy hours and, once it’s safe to do so, attend meetings, trainings and conferences in person from time to time.

Please take care of yourself and stay well. And, as always, if you have financial concerns or questions you want to discuss, feel free to call my office.

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*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 May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3090721.1

Weekly Market Notes – May 11, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of May 11, 2020

The Markets

Stocks rose Friday despite the worst jobs report on record; the Labor Department reported the nation lost 20.5 million jobs in April. However, investors were encouraged by plans to begin reopening the country and a statement from Chinese and U.S. leaders saying they expected to meet their obligations in the phase one trade deal signed in January. For the week, the Dow rose 2.67 percent to close at 24,331.32. The S&P gained 3.57 percent to finish at 2,929.80, and the NASDAQ climbed 6.05 percent to end at 9,121.32.

Returns Through 5/08/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) 2.67 -14.03 -3.87 7.54 8.62
NASDAQ Composite (PR) 6.05 2.02 16.09 15.58 14.03
S&P 500 (TR) 3.57 -8.68 3.85 9.04 8.94
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) -0.33 4.52 10.20 5.13 3.79
MSCI EAFE (TR) 0.87 -18.21 -9.99 -1.38 -0.36

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.

 

Not This Year — The CARES Act has provided sponsors of defined benefit pension plans a one-year holiday from their required annual pension contribution, i.e., they do not have to contribute to their pension plans during calendar year 2020 (source: CARES Act, BTN Research).

Market Rally or New Bull Market? — The S&P 500 gained 12.8 percent (total return) in April, its first double-digit gain since October 2011 and its best month since January 1987. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).

In the Year 2034 — Social Security trustees announced on April 22 that the trust fund backing the payment of Social Security benefits (OASI retirement benefits) would be zero in 2034. A zero trust fund does not mean the payment of Social Security benefits would also go to zero, but rather would drop to 76 percent of their originally promised levels through the year 2095. When the trustees released their report in 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund was projected to be depleted in 2040 (source: Social Security Trustees 2020 Report, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – A Great Time to Make a Difference

As we digest today’s sobering headlines, conflicting reports and startling predictions related to COVID-19, it’s easy to feel rather powerless. Across the globe, researchers are scrambling to learn about the disease and leaders are struggling to protect their citizens’ health and their nations’ economies. On an individual level, our normal routines have been shattered, and we wonder what the future will hold.

In these uncertain times, the compulsion to hoard money, food or even toilet paper is natural. Building up our reserves may restore a small sense of control. Certainly, it is prudent to save more and stock up on some things. But giving may actually do more to ease feelings of helplessness. Instead of dwelling on what we can’t change, giving focuses on the difference we can make.

Needs are particularly great now. Many nonprofits, particularly those that provide safety net services, are facing the greatest demand they’ve seen. Increased requests are coming at the same time organizations are unable to hold normal fundraising events, some donors are unable to give and others are supporting candidates in this year’s political campaigns.

The good news is, the CARES Act, the $2 trillion stimulus package President Trump signed on March 27, increases federal tax deductions for qualifying charitable donations. Under CARES, even taxpayers who do not itemize on their return (an estimated 85 percent of us) can deduct up to $300 for charitable cash contributions.1 To ensure an organization qualifies, enter its Employer Identification Number at apps.irs.gov/app/eos/.

CARES also removes the limit on deductions for charitable cash gifts if you itemize. Previously, you could not deduct more than 60 percent of your adjusted gross income. Under CARES guidelines, you may donate your entire taxable income to qualified organizations and not owe federal taxes on that income.2 Contributions to private foundations or donor advised funds do not apply.

Contact our office if you need help weighing how much to donate to your favorite cause or to schedule a joint meeting with your other professional advisors.

Securities America and its financial professionals do not provide tax advice. Coordinate with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

1https://taxfoundation.org/standard-deduction-itemized-deductions-current-law-2019/

2https://www.forbes.com/sites/morgansimon/2020/04/08/now-is-a-great-time-to-give-new-charitable-rules-incentivize-generosity-during-covid-19/#61dadf266d2e

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* 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 May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3080678.1

Weekly Market Notes – May 4, 2020

Weekly_Market_NotesFor the Week of May 4, 2020

The Markets

Even though the drug remdesivir received emergency use authorization for treating hospitalized coronavirus patients, stocks fell on the first day of May amid disappointing earnings reports and growing tensions between China and the U.S. The day before, the market ended April with its best monthly surge in over 30 years, with the S&P up 12.7 percent and the Dow up 11.1 percent for the month. For the week, the Dow fell 0.22 percent to close at 23,723.69. The S&P lost 0.19 percent to finish at 2,830.71, and the NASDAQ dropped 0.33 percent to end the week at 8,604.95.

Returns Through 5/01/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) -0.22 -16.26 -8.00 6.79 8.28
NASDAQ Composite (PR) -0.33 -3.80 8.06 13.42 12.71
S&P 500 (TR) -0.19 -11.83 -1.22 7.96 8.27
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) -0.12 4.86 10.68 5.21 3.84
MSCI EAFE (TR) 3.07 -18.92 -12.70 -1.11 -0.38

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.

 

In the Year 2034 — Social Security trustees announced on April 22 that the trust fund backing the payment of Social Security benefits (OASI retirement benefits) would be zero in 2034. A zero trust fund does not mean the payment of Social Security benefits would also go to zero, but rather would drop to 76 percent of their originally promised levels through the year 2095. When the trustees released their report in 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund was projected to be depleted in 2040 (source: Social Security Trustees 2020 Report, BTN Research).

Just Sitting Somewhere — 64 percent of the commercial aircrafts operated by airlines worldwide have been removed from daily usage and are in storage (source: Upgraded Points, BTN Research).

People Are Not Spending — Retail sales in the United States in March declined 8.7 percent  from the previous month to $483 billion. The worst month-over-month decline in retail sales during the 2008-2010 mortgage crisis was a drop of just 3 percent in December 2008 (source: Census Bureau, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Estate Planning in a Pandemic

While the majority of the 60,000 U.S. deaths caused by the coronavirus have been individuals at higher risk due to age or pre-existing health conditions, we have all seen reports of younger, seemingly healthy men and women who have become very ill and in some cases, even succumbed to COVID-19.

Witnessing a new virus turn life upside down in such a short time demonstrates the importance of having a thorough, up-to-date estate plan. Considering how difficult – if not impossible – it could be to create estate documents during the isolation imposed on COVID hospital patients creates an even greater urgency. In addition to being isolated, seriously ill patients may be put into a medically induced coma, so they can be connected to a ventilator. Without an advanced care directive or a health care proxy, the patient won’t be able to influence their care.

If you have an advanced care directive, you may want to make sure ventilation is only ruled out in situations that appear hopeless – since thousands of COVID patients have been saved through intubating. A HIPAA Authorization should also be included in health care directives to ensure medical professionals can share information with a designated family member – crucial if a health system is overwhelmed and staff have little time to work out privacy issues.

In addition to health-related documents, even a basic estate plan should include a durable power of attorney (POA) to handle financial matters, a letter with instructions and final thoughts to loved ones and a simple will designating an executor and directing the distribution of assets. It’s important to ensure the will agrees with beneficiary designations on all accounts and wise to ask your financial institutions if they require their own POA form.

While working with an attorney is always the ideal, sites like FiveWishes.org, MyDirectives.com, LegalZoom.com and LawDepot.com can help you create a temporary solution in this crisis. But social distancing may make getting documents witnessed and notarized difficult. Some states allow online notarization using webcam. If yours doesn’t, you can probably sign documents inside your car with a notary witnessing through the windshield. Some states even accept unwitnessed, handwritten wills.

We can work with you, your attorney and your accountant to ensure your current estate plans take into consideration all the wills and won’ts you desire. Call our office to schedule a virtual appointment with us and your other trusted advisors. Securities America and its representatives do not provide legal advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

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* 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 May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3070672.1

May 2020 Monthly Outlook – So Far

I sure underestimated the size of the relief rally and my thesis has been wrong – so far.

The market has made a miraculous recovery.  Certainly better than I anticipated.  Yet perhaps a little ahead of itself.  Basically, stocks are only down approx. 15% from the all-time high in February 2020.  It seems to me that the US and world are more than 15% out-of-whack, so there is clearly a disconnect between the market and what’s happening around the globe.

A few data points to consider:

  • There are now over 30 million people unemployed in the US – that’s almost 20% of the workforce; that’s 8 million more jobs lost than all the jobs created from 2009 – 2019; and that’s 21 million more jobs lost than during the entire Great Financial Crash in 2008-2009.  Yes, many of these people will go back to work once the economy opens back up, but I think its clear many will not have a job to go back to.

5.1.2020_Monthly_outlook_1

  • Both Chase and Wells Fargo have stopped doing HELOCs and have tightened conditions in which it will make mortgages, requiring higher FICO scores and bigger down payments for new loans.  Why?  “Wells Fargo Home Lending will temporarily stop accepting applications for all new home equity lines of credit after April 30,” Goyda said in an emailed statement. The choice “reflects careful consideration of current market conditions and the uncertainty around the timing and scope of the anticipated economic recovery.”
  • As of April 29th, more than 3.8 million homeowners were in mortgage forbearance plans, under the governments CARES Act program.  This represents 7.3% of all active mortgages accounting for $841 billion in unpaid principal.  Applications to participate in the forbearance program have been swelling at a rate of approximately 500,000 per week.

The U.S. economy contracted -4.8% in the first quarter, according to the GDP release yesterday. It’s the largest contraction in GDP since 4th quarter of 2008.  This was worse than analysts were expecting and was the first contraction since the first quarter of 2014. 2Q is going to be worse as much of the economy has been closed for the first month of the quarter. Perhaps the more astonishing data point was the decline in personal consumption, which shrank -7.6%. This suggests consumers were cutting back even before the economy officially closed. Even with a re-opening, it is hard to envision a scenario where consumers run out to spend. An economy that is 70% consumption may take longer to recover than most initially thought.

5.1.2020_Monthly_outlook_2

source: Strategas

The key point is that the US economy is not Sleeping Beauty, ready to wake up at first kiss by the government.   It’s true that $2+ trillion in government bailout money, and trillions more from the Federal Reserve, will blunt the damage. But it won’t stop the atrophy. It just slows it down.  My outlook is for a slow, “swoosh” like recovery.  Basically a sharp contraction followed by a gradual recovery over the next 18 months.

On the investment front, there is a disconnect between rising stock prices and falling corporate earnings.  Based on my swoosh economic outlook, I estimate the fair value of the S&P 500 is around 2,600, compared to 2,912 where it ended April.  This implies a potential 11% pullback from current levels.  The big question is where are we in the process?  Are we in the true recovery phase (see right side below) or are we at the early stages before things get worse (see left side below).  The answer likely is based on the medical outcome.  With a proven treatment for Covid-19 or a vaccine we are probably on the right side – without either we are probably on the left side.

5.1.2020_Monthly_outlook_3

Quote of the Day
“KEEP IN MIND THAT progress is not always linear. It takes constant course correcting and often a lot of zigzagging. Unfortunate things happen, accidents occur, and setbacks are usually painful, but that does not mean we quit.”

– Buzz Aldrin (Astronaut)

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

 

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

 

  • May is National Mental Health awareness month.  Nearly 44 million American adults, and millions of children, experience mental health conditions each year. Let’s all get educated on this issue and work towards acceptance and inclusion of people dealing with mental health issues.

              

May 5th                       Cinco De Mayo – stay thirsty my friends                 

May 10th                     Mother’s Day – wishing all mom’s, grandmothers, and great grandmothers a wonderful day. Hopefully soon we can get together to celebrate.

May 16th                      Armed Forces Day.  Dedicated to recognizing those presently serving in our armed forces

May 23rd                     My daughter Caryn’s birthday  

May 25th                     Memorial Day – let’s remember and give thanks to all who served our country

 

Sources:  Strategas, Fidelity, CNBC.com, Dwyer Strategy

 

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.