Weekly Market Notes – April 24, 2017

With all that is going on in the world these days, I am introducing Weekly Market Notes as a supplement to our traditional Monthly Outlook.  I hope you find it informative and useful.  Please feel free to share it with family, friends, and colleagues.

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of April 24, 2017

The Markets

Investors appeared cautious prior to the French election. U.S. stocks dipped Friday but were up for the week, allowing the S&P 500 to achieve its first weekly gain in three. For the week, the Dow rose 0.51 percent to close at 20,547.76. The S&P gained 0.87 percent to finish at 2,348.69, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.82 percent to end the week at 5,910.52.

 

Returns Through 4/21/17 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) 0.51 4.71 17.25 10.43 12.34
NASDAQ Composite (PR) 1.82 9.80 19.50 12.77 14.52
S&P 500 (TR) 0.87 5.54 14.71 10.16 13.65
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.00 1.75 1.34 2.88 2.34
MSCI EAFE (TR) 0.22 6.68 6.67 0.32 6.26

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 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. The NASDAQ is based on price return, which is the capital appreciation of the portfolio, excluding income generated by the assets in the portfolio in the form of interest and dividends. (TR) indicates total return. (PR) indicates price return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Halfway Through the Year — The U.S. budget deficit for the first six months of the fiscal year (i.e., the six months ending March 31) was $527 billion (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

Bears Follow Bulls — The average decline for the S&P 500 during the 11 bear markets since the end of World War II is 34 percent (source: BTN Research).

No Progress Made — After adjusting data for the impact of inflation, the median household income today ($56,516) is lower than the median household income ($57,909) from 1999 (source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Teach a Child to Save Day, April 24

Teach a Child to Save Day is a national effort to help young people develop a savings habit. By focusing on the youngest segment of our society, you can help create a financially literate and independent generation.

The earlier you teach your child or grandchild to save, the better. As soon as children can say “I want,” they’re probably old enough to learn. Children as young as three can grasp financial concepts like saving and spending. Start with simple approaches. Set up three containers and label them saving, spending and sharing. Show them how to divide their allowance into the appropriate jars. They’ll not only learn about saving but also delayed gratification, budgeting and charitable giving.

At 8-10 years, most children are beyond the piggy bank years and can understand how a bank savings account works. Now is the time to take them to the bank and open up a savings account. Many banks and credit unions have programs that teach them how to save and even invest.

It’s difficult for everyone – especially children – to internalize information and retain it. Making it useful and relevant can help make that education last a lifetime. Incorporate lessons on saving into your child’s or grandchild’s everyday life. Even a trip to the grocery store offers a myriad of teaching opportunities. Make learning how to save fun. Plan a game day or night with a traditional board game that teaches about money, like The Game of Life, Monopoly, Payday or Money Bags™.

Take advantage of your child’s or grandchild’s generational habits. Younger people live out their lives online. Although young children won’t have unlimited access, they’re still part of the digital world. There are numerous online games and apps that can teach them how to save. Some experts suggest financial education apps that are interactive and feature gamification to better hold a child’s interest. A few recommended online games or apps include Bankaroo, iAllowance, Piggybot™ and Yuby.

Teaching a child to save gives them tools they’ll use for the rest of their life. You can use traditional or online teaching methods – or both. Whatever you do, make it relevant, consistent and fun. To learn even more about teaching your child or grandchild to save, call for an appointment. We can help with lessons for any age.

  For more information contact us at 973-771-5120 or by email at Info@mywealthdirection.com

Credit Report Reminder – Spring Edition

Based on my backyard, Spring is finally taking hold and the flowers are starting to come out.  This is also a good time to remind you about another important aspect of all of our lives – credit reports.

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.

Another suggestion – as a way to prevent fraud you can put a “freeze” on your credit report.  This helps deter anyone who might try to open a credit card or take a loan in your name. Here is a good article explaining the process.  https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0497-credit-freeze-faqs

Lastly, as another precaution I suggest you setup “alerts” on all your bank accounts and credit cards.  You can set parameters, such as any charge/withdrawal over a certain $ amount and receive an email and/or text message.  While this will not prevent an incorrect item from hitting your account, it will alert immediately that you should contact the bank/credit card.  Here is an article that provides good information.   http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/credit-card-alerts-cellphone-1273.php

As always, please call me if you have any questions on this information.

Best regards,

Jim

April 2017 Monthly Outlook – “Being Wrong and Still Making Money”

In the above titled article, the author states “The investment ideas of some of the greatest investors on the planet today are wrong most of the time, and yet they still make a lot of money. How can this be?

The answer is they have a plan”.  (source: Raymond James & Assoc.)

This defines how I approach managing your investments.  By having a plan and sticking to it, even when some of the actions called for in the plan don’t work,  the outcome generally remains positive.

So far in 2017 the financial markets, both stocks and bonds, have generated positive results.  Stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, gained 5.5% year-to-date through 3/31/17. While this is quite positive, the most recent trend has been slightly weaker, as the S&P 500 fell 1.6% from an all-time high on 3/1/17 into the end of the quarter. Bonds, as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate US Bond index, gained 0.82% for the quarter.

Additionally, some of the sectors that where performing well early in the year, based on the enthusiasm for the Republican agenda (such as financials and industrials), gave back a significant portion of their gains towards the end of the quarter.  Interest rates, as measured by the US 10 yr Treasury, jumped from 2.45% at the start of the year to 2.62% in mid-March, only to drop back to end the quarter at 2.40%. The reversal in sectors and interest rates reflect a growing uncertainty about when, and if, the Republican agenda gets implemented.

While I feel this uncertainty is likely to persist and lead to an increase in volatility in the financial markets,  I remain confident that the US economy and the US consumer are doing reasonably well and will continue to do so, even without tax reform or more government spending.  I realize there are families, and entire communities  across the country that are still hurting since the 2008/2009 recession. But consumers, in general, are doing significantly better than they were just a few years ago.  US household balance sheets in good shape, as assets (home, 401k, etc.) have grown while  household debt has declined to roughly 15% of assets, the lowest level since the early 2000’s. Consumer confidence is at a level not seen since prior to the financial crisis.

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Overall, US gross domestic product (GDP) was just revised up to 2.1% for the 4th quarter of 2016.  Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of our economy, was revised up to 3.5%.

The combination of stable economic activity and improving corporate earnings should provide the necessary ingredients for the financial markets to improve slightly through the end of the year. I continue to monitor the economy and financial markets and will respond accordingly.

Please feel free to call me with any questions or concerns.

On a personal note, I just learned my oldest daughter Satya will be blessing us with a 4th grandchild in October and my middle daughter Ryan will be getting married in July. I am a very proud and excited dad.

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

  • April  is National Autism Awareness month.  Let’s all get educated on this issue and works towards acceptance and inclusion of people dealing with autism.
  • April is also National Financial Capability month.  We at Directional Wealth Management commit to equipping individuals to lead better financial lives through an integrated framework of educational resources, collaborative tools,  and personal one-to-one advice.

 

April 10th                     Christian’s wife Maecy birthday

April 11th                    Passover begins – wishing all our clients, colleagues, and friends of the Jewish faith a blessed Seder celebration

April 16th                    Easter – wishing all our clients, colleagues,  and friends of the Christian faith a day full of hope, joy, and love

April 18th                     Tax Day.  Remember to make those IRA or Roth contributions.

April 22nd                     Earth Day – let’s all recycle, turn out lights when we leave rooms, and do all we can for our environment

April 25th                     My daughter Satya’s birthday

April 26th                     Administrative Professionals day – remember your staff

 

I hope you find this report useful.  Please share it with anyone who you feel would benefit from the information.

 

Sources:  Raymond James & Assoc., Advisor Revolution.com, CNBC.com