Market Commentary – October 28, 2019

Market Commentary – October 28, 2019

More money managers are feeling less bullish, but you sure couldn’t tell by the performance of U.S. stock markets last week. 
So far, 2019 has been a tremendous year for U.S. stocks. Through the end of last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index had gained more than 20 percent year-to-date, the Dow Jones Industrial Index was up more than 15 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite had risen more than 24 percent.

All three indices finished last week in positive territory. Lawrence Strauss of Barron’s reported signs that global markets are stabilizing supported investors’ optimism. In addition, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes increased, which suggested “investors are more optimistic about growth and overall economic prospects.”

Despite strength in U.S. markets year-to-date, Barron’s most recent Big Money Poll found fewer money managers are bullish than just one year ago when 56 percent anticipated gains in the months ahead. When 134 money managers across the United States were asked about their outlook for the next 12 months:

  • 27 percent were bullish
  • 42 percent were neutral
  • 31 percent were bearish

That’s the lowest level of bullishness in 20 years and the highest level of bearishness since the mid-1990s.

Barron’s reported there could be a variety of reasons for the change in attitude, including high valuations, an uncertain economic outlook, or the divisive political environment.

One money manager commented, “There are so many different headlines to watch right now…Brexit, trade, the economy, elections. Trying to predict them all correctly is like trying to predict what the weather will be like in November 2020. We might get things directionally correct, but getting them exactly right is a matter of luck more than skill.”

How much is too much? In 1986, Fortune magazine asked Warren Buffett his thoughts on inheritance. He responded children should receive, “…enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”

It’s an important question, even though relatively few Americans may need to grapple with it. According to the Federal Reserve:

  • 55 percent of inheritances are less than $50,000
  • 85 percent of inheritances are less than $250,000
  • 93 percent of inheritances are less than $500,000
  • 98 percent of inheritances are less than $1 million
  • 2 percent of inheritances are more than $1 million

A 2015 survey conducted by Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group found, “a majority (91 percent) of people plan to leave the lion’s share of their wealth to family members, motivated by a desire to positively influence the lives of loved ones. Yet the results indicate that many see significant risk in passing on wealth without context, conversation, guidance, or accountability.”

So, how much is too much? Is there an amount of inheritance that will sap your children’s motivation and undermine their work ethic? The answer may depend on the source of the wealth, reported The Atlantic:  “Perspectives on what constitutes ‘too much’ seem to vary depending in part on whether parents inherited their wealth or earned the majority of it themselves. When significant wealth gets passed down through multiple generations, inheritors can get the sense that ‘they’re just the caretakers of it’, which means they might be more inclined to keep up the family tradition and will it to their own children…Self-made rich people can have a different relationship to their fortune, because they have firsthand knowledge of what was required to amass it. As such, they might be more interested in bequeathing not just money to their children, but a good work ethic as well.”

If you would like to discuss your legacy and its potential impact on your heirs, give us a call.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“We should not forget that it will be just as important to our descendants to be prosperous in their time as it is to us to be prosperous in our time.”
–Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Best regards,
John F. Reutemann, Jr., CLU, CFP®

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

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* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

Sources:
https://www.barrons.com/articles/barrons-big-money-poll-why-wall-street-is-scared-of-washington-51572045878?mod=hp_HERO (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-28-19_Barrons-Big_Money_Poll-Why_Wall_Street_is_Scared_of_Washington-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/market-data?mod=BOL_HAMNAV
https://www.barrons.com/articles/s-p-500-closes-the-week-with-a-record-just-out-of-reach-51572062633?refsec=the-trader (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-28-19_Barrons-The_SandP_Closed_Out_the_Week_Strong_but_Not_Strong_Enough-Footnote_3.pdf)
https://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1986/09/29/68098/index.htm
https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/notes/feds-notes/how-does-intergenerational-wealth-transmission-affect-wealth-concentration-accessible-20180601.htm
https://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/press-releases/global-wealth-and-investment-management/study-finds-parents-worry-large-inheritance
https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/10/big-inheritances-how-much-to-leave/600703/
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/inheritance

Market Commentary – October 28, 2019

Market Commentary – October 21, 2019

Last week was like an overstuffed suitcase that busts open on the baggage carousel. A lot was unpacked in a surprising and disorderly fashion.

There was some positive news for investors who prioritize fundamentals. Third quarter’s earnings season – the period of time when companies let investors know how they performed during the previous quarter – got off to a strong start.

Fifteen percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have reported so far and 84 percent had earnings that beat analysts’ expectations. FactSet said better than expected earnings from companies in the Healthcare and Financials sectors balanced the weaker performance of companies in the Energy sector.

There was some negative economic news, too.

In the United States, retail sales declined in September. It was the first monthly decline since February, reported MarketWatch, and analysts had expected an increase.

In China, gross domestic product growth was 6 percent year-over-year, the slowest growth rate since the 1990s, reported Reuters.

On the geopolitical front, The Wall Street Journal reported U.S. and European investors were cheered by news that Britain and the European Union (EU) had reached an agreement under which Britain could amicably exit the EU. That optimism was dashed on Saturday when Parliament withheld approval of the deal until all supporting legislation has been passed, reported The Washington Post.

The world was also rocked by Turkey’s invasion of Syria.

At the end of the week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite had held onto gains while the Dow Jones Industrials finished lower.

It’s that time again. During the past few weeks, Nobel Prize winners have been announced as well as Ig Nobel Prize winners. The Igs are awarded for improbable research that makes people laugh and then think. A lucky few have won both Ig Nobel and Nobel prizes.

The honorees at the Ig Nobel ceremony received their awards from “a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, in Harvard’s historic and largest theater.” This year’s winners included:

  • Medicine: Cancer researcher Silvano Gallus and associates researched and wrote the paper, Does Pizza Protect Against Cancer? They received the Ig Nobel for “collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.”
  • Biology: A group of researchers from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore were recognized for “discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches.”
  • Engineering: Iman Farahbakhsh of Iran was recognized for patenting an infant diaper changer and washer. The patent explained, “…once the infant is placed inside the apparatus, various steps may in some cases be carried out automatically without needing the operator to touch the infant or interact manually with the diaper or infant during the changing process…”
  • Economics: Father and son, Timothy and Andreas Voss, and their associates received an Ig Nobel for “testing which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.”

Other winners explored the pleasure of scratching an itch (Peace Prize), the volume of saliva produced daily by a five-year-old child (Chemistry Prize), and whether holding a pen in your mouth increases happiness (Psychology Prize).

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
–Charles Dickens, English author

Best regards,
John F. Reutemann, Jr., CLU, CFP®

 

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

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* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

Sources:
https://insight.factset.com/sp-500-earnings-season-update-october-18-2019 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-21-19_FactSet-S_and_P_500_Earnings_Season_Update_October_18_2019-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-retail-sales-snap-6-month-winning-streak-in-september-as-receipts-fall-03-2019-10-16
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-economy-gdp/chinas-gdp-growth-grinds-to-near-30-year-low-as-tariffs-hit-production-idUSKBN1WX05A
https://www.wsj.com/articles/pound-dips-as-brexit-talks-hit-a-roadblock-11571303767 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-21-19_WSJ-Stocks_Climb_on_Strong_Earnings_Brexit_Deal-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-faces-historic-brexit-vote-in-parliament/2019/10/19/dba7cc70-f1a8-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.html
https://www.barrons.com/articles/dow-jones-industrial-average-ends-week-lower-as-boeing-ibm-bruise-benchmark-51571443912?mod=hp_DAY_4 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-21-19_Barrons-The_Dow_Found_a_Way_to_Waste_a_Perfectly_Good_Week-Footnote_6.pdf)
https://www.improbable.com/whatis/
https://www.improbable.com/ig-about/2019-ceremony/
https://www.improbable.com/ig-about/winners/#ig2019
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ijc.11382
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23005-1
https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/e1/ed/d0/6cb8dd7a5c6a96/US20170143168A1.pdf (In the Summary 0006)
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/laughter

Recession 101

Recession 101

Recession 101

When it comes to the future, prediction is futile…but planning is not.
Let's Talk!

“Markets are flashing deep red as investors worry about the health of the economy
– CNN Business
“S&P and Dow Slide as Evidence of Global Slowdown Mounts”
– The New York Times
“Stocks Drop on Worries About Growth”
– The Wall Street Journal

The markets hit turbulence this week, with the Dow dropping almost 500 points on Wednesday, October 2.1  Since recent reports have stoked new fears of a coming recession, we decided to write down our thoughts about what’s happening and why.

For over a year now, economists have fretted about the possibility of a recession. The amount of evidence for one has waxed and waned, as good news and bad have jockeyed for attention. But recently, the signs in favor of a coming recession have started to light up in neon.

Before we get into that, though, it’s useful to remember what a recession actually is – and what it isn’t. Since the media tends to report every bit of news with breathless urgency, it’s easy to let the word “recession” transform into a scary, supernatural bogeyman come to gobble up our economy. But what is a recession, really?

Economists define a recession in different ways, but here’s the simplest way to look at it:

A recession is a significant decline in economic activity over an extended period of time.2

Let’s break that down with a little Recession 101.

When economists refer to economic activity, they usually mean a country’s gross domestic product, or GDP. This is a measure of the value of all goods and services a country produces every year. When a nation produces less, or when the value of what it produces drops, so too does the GDP. With that drop often comes a drop in employment, wages, corporate profits – and stock prices. As a result, consumers tend to spend less, which means less business is being done, which means less economic activity is happening. In other words, everything tends to slow down. Spending, lending, selling, making, building, investing. If this goes on for too long – usually at least two consecutive quarters – we’re in a recession. Make sense?

The tricky thing about recessions is that it’s almost impossible to know when they’ll occur until we’re already in one. After all, GDP is a measure of what has been produced, not what will be produced. That’s why we tend to get a lot of false alarms when it looks like a recession may happen – and little warning when one does happen.

So. That’s what a recession is. But why are experts worried about one now?

First, it has been a long time since the last recession. In fact, it’s been over a decade! Since then, we’ve enjoyed one of the longest bull markets in history. Since the economy tends to move in cycles – a period of growth, followed by a period of stagnation, followed by a decline, rinse and repeat – many analysts have felt we’re long overdue for the next one.

More important is the preponderance of data that suggests the economy is already slowing down. For example, on Tuesday, October 1, a new report showed that American manufacturing had slowed down for the second month in a row, dropping to its lowest level since 2009.1 Other reports suggest the economy is adding far fewer jobs than in previous years. Combined with volatility in bonds, trade war uncertainty, and slower growth across the globe, and you can see why the horizon looks stormy.

That said, we’ve heard these tunes before. While parts of the economy are slowing, that doesn’t guarantee a recession is coming next month, next quarter, or even next year. Consumer spending – perhaps the single biggest driver of the economy – has remained strong all year, and the unemployment rate remains very low.

When it comes to fears of a recession, none of these signs are catastrophic on their own. All these smaller issues just seem to be piling up on top of each other, enough to make everyone sit up and take notice. Here’s how I look at it. Imagine you’ve had a very nice, reliable car for a long time. It’s been strong, steady, and always gets you where you want to go.

Recently, though, you’ve noticed that the miles on your car are starting to show a bit. Your odometer is now over 100,000, a reminder that you’ve had your car for a long time. Furthermore, little problems are starting to pop up. That check engine light keeps coming on, even though you’ve had a mechanic look at it. The engine makes a funny noise whenever you turn the ignition, and is it just you, or are your brakes less responsive than usual?

None of these problems, on their own, would make you think your car is anything less than reliable. But put them all together…

That’s where we’re at with the economy. We may yet be able to wring a few more family trips out of it – but it’s also time to start preparing for when it inevitably breaks down.

The effects of a recession

For the sake of discussion, though, let’s say a recession is going to happen soon. What does that mean? How long do recessions last? And how bad do they get? Every recession is different, but it’s important to remember that we’re not talking about another Great Depression here, or even another 2008-2009. If a recession happens, it doesn’t mean everything will collapse. And if it happens, it certainly won’t catch anyone unawares. Remember, experts have been stressing about this for a while.

Most recessions also tend to be mild in the grand scheme of things. Since 1940, the average recession has lasted just under eleven months, with the shortest being six months and the longest, eighteen.3  On the other hand, make no mistake: Recessions can cause real economic pain for people. A slower economy means less spending, which means less profits, which means lower stock prices, which means lower wages, and worst of all, lower employment. And sometimes, even when a recession is technically over and the markets recover, it can take much longer for employment to get back to normal.

So, if a recession is coming, what should we do to prepare?

Great question! I love the word “prepare.” You know what the definition is, right?

Prepare
verb
To make someone ready or able to do or deal with something.4

So, how do we make ourselves ready to deal with a possible recession?

First, even the wealthiest of people should always have enough in emergency savings to cover at least six months’ worth of expenses. This is also a good time to prioritize paying off short-term, high interest debts and evaluating your career security. If you need help with any of these things, please let me know.

Second, we need to remember that even though a recession will have an impact on the markets in the short term, we must always treat your portfolio for what it is: a long-term investment in your long-term future. That means we must not start making panicked decisions because we’re afraid of short-term losses.

That said, if you are nearing the horizon on some of your long-term goals – like retirement, starting a business, building a house, whatever – then it may be prudent to start thinking more conservatively with your investments. After all, no one wants to get knocked off track right before the finish line. With 2019 winding down, it’s time for us to have a complete review of your portfolio and your goals so we can update your financial plan as appropriate.

In other words, if a storm is coming, let’s determine whether you can weather it, or whether it’s time to “batten down the hatches.”  If you have any questions or concerns about the markets, the economy, or a possible recession, please let us know!  We want to address them, so that you’ll continue to feel confident about working towards your goals.

It’s impossible to know whether a recession is coming or not. There are signs for, and there are signs against. But regardless of when the next recession hits, let’s remember that it’s not a scary bogeyman. It’s a slowdown in the economy – and it’s not uncommon. Most importantly, let’s remember that when it comes to the future, prediction is futile…but planning is not.

Have a great October!

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1 “U.S. Stocks Drop on Worries About Growth,” The Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/globalstocks-fall-amid-rising-fears-of-economic-slowdown-11570004904
2 “Recession,” Investopedia.com, May 6, 2019. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/recession.asp
3 “List of recessions in the United States,” Wikipedia.org, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States#Great_Depression_onward
4 “Definition of prepare,” Lexico, https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/prepare

Market Commentary – October 28, 2019

Market Commentary – October 14, 2019

The world breathed a sigh of relief last week when the United States and China took a step toward a trade-war truce.

Financial Times reported the United States agreed to not increase tariffs from 25 percent to 30 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports next week. (Current tariffs remain in place, and it is possible new tariffs will be imposed on additional Chinese goods – electronics, apparel, and other consumer items – in mid-December.)

In return, China agreed to purchase $40 to $50 billion of agricultural goods, including soybeans and pork, although no time frame was established for the purchases. It remained unclear what progress was made on intellectual-property protection and rules to prevent currency manipulation, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

U.S. stock markets responded enthusiastically to news about one of the great uncertainties hanging over economic growth, namely the trade war between the United States and China, might be resolved. However, after the details of the deal were announced, markets gave back some gains.

“The tentative truce underwhelmed some international businesses that had been hoping the United States and China would finish up a deal that cemented more sweeping structural changes in China’s economy, eliminated additional tariffs scheduled to go into place in December, and even rolled back existing tariffs both sides have added to imports from each country,” reported WSJ.

Derek Scissors, an American Enterprise Institute trade expert and White House advisor told WSJ, “If this turns out to be all there is, we could have achieved these results a year ago or more.”

Yields on U.S. Treasury bonds moved higher during the week, and the yield curve righted itself, reported MarketWatch. The change reflected optimism about trade negotiations. Bond markets also embraced a Federal Reserve announcement it will resume buying Treasuries each month to ensure the banking system has sufficient reserves.

The United States and China hope to have a written draft of the phase-one agreement finalized during the next few weeks.

The nicest place in america. There are some people who scorn being nice (a.k.a. amiable, agreeable, pleasant). They equate it with being uninteresting or boring. What they fail to understand is being nice is often more challenging than the alternative.

Years ago, Marilyn Zeilinski penned a Chicago Tribune article entitled, “Being Nice Is Hugely Underrated.” In it, she explained:  Eventually I discovered that being nice is hard work. It is strong enough to shovel the elderly neighbor’s driveway and as brave as a child inviting, ‘Come play with me!’ to another child exiled by unpopularity…Niceness is not weakness, as I once thought. Niceness stands up for itself, though politely, if someone cuts in line. Most of all, niceness is not safe. Safety is keeping your head down, minding your own business. Niceness reaches out, and that is riskier than a cocoon of self-interest. But it is worth it.”

Residents of Columbiana, Ohio, have chosen to embrace ‘nice.’ That’s why Reader’s Digest (RD) recently named the town 2019 Nicest Place In America.

How nice is Columbiana?
Good News Network reported the town has, “A baker who donates freely to support causes of every kind, the real-estate developer who offers a year rent-free to promising entrepreneurs who may not have the resources to get started on their own, the local philanthropist who returned to his hometown to donate $500,000 to rebuild the town’s beloved Firestone Park.”

Columbiana isn’t the only nice place in America. There are a lot of places where people work hard and help make each other’s lives better. In 2019, RD recognized a place or town in every state.

Nice can be inspiring.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
–Roy T. Bennett, Author

Best regards,
John F. Reutemann, Jr., CLU, CFP®

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

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* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

Sources:
https://www.ft.com/content/28cc18f0-ec61-11e9-a240-3b065ef5fc55 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-14-19_FinancialTimes-US_Agrees_Limited_Trade_Deal_with_China-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-strikes-upbeat-notes-on-trade-talks-11570804097 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-14-19_WSJ-US_and_China_Move_Forward_on_Trade-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/treasury-yields-climb-on-signs-of-progress-towards-us-china-trade-deal-2019-10-11
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-says-it-will-start-to-buy-treasury-bills-next-week-to-ease-money-market-pressure-2019-10-11-1191242
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1993-02-14-9303181691-story.html
https://www.rd.com/nicest-places-contest/
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/nicest-place-in-america-2019-is-columbiana/
https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/america-nicest-places/
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/kindness

Market Commentary – October 28, 2019

Market Commentary – October 7, 2019

From trade wars to impeachment inquiries, investors had a lot to ponder during the third quarter. Toward the end of September, they appeared to become more cautious, although it’s difficult to say which issues weighed most heavily. Here are a few questions they may have been asking:

Is recession looming closer?
While there are signs of slower economic growth – including last week’s weakening economic data – the chance of the economy moving into a recession during the next 12 months remained relatively low, according to the New York Federal Reserve. It put the probability of recession by August 2020 at 38 percent. In other words, the likelihood there would not be a recession was 62 percent.

“We would recommend a little less focus on the ‘recession on/off’ debate and position on a slowdown thesis,” suggested a research director cited by Barron’s.

Will the United States-China trade war end?
The ongoing and escalating trade war with China created an environment of uncertainty for American businesses during the third quarter of 2019. Lack of clarity could slow economic growth. The Economist reported,

“In boardrooms across America, business people are scrambling to assess the impact of the latest escalation in the commercial confrontation between the two superpowers…Most companies make plans over a five- to ten-year horizon and invest in assets with a life of 10-20 years. But with each new tariff announcement, the rules for trading their products become less stable.”

Investors remain concerned about the potential impact of trade on global growth, too. Last week, the World Trade Organization downgraded its forecast for global trade growth in 2019 and 2020, reported the Washington Post.

 How much risk do I want to take?
The prospect of slower growth at home and abroad appears to have affected investors’ appetite for risk. This was apparent late in the third quarter when some highly anticipated initial public offerings (IPOs) were delayed. (IPOs occur when private companies offer shares of stock to the public.) [5] Yahoo!Finance explained,  “…the recent IPO run is telling us that retail investors (you, a regular person) and institutional investors…are becoming less interested in taking on that risk. If it was once appealing to buy shares in a hot tech name that isn’t yet making money and won’t necessarily make money for a long time, it isn’t very appealing anymore.”

 What is the bond market trying to tell us?
Around the world, about $17 trillion worth of bonds are offering negative yields. The number grew by $3.1 trillion in August, reported the Financial Times (FT). Governments in Europe and Japan are the primary issuers of bonds offering yields below zero. However about $1 trillion of corporate bonds have negative yields, too.”

“US dollar-denominated debt accounts for roughly 90 percent of all bonds that still have a positive yield, according to Bank of America,” wrote FT, which also pointed out that real Treasury yields, which are yields minus inflation, have edged into negative territory.

Will the impeachment inquiry affect stock markets?
The impeachment inquiry is unlikely to overshadow key economic indicators, but it increases uncertainty and that won’t help companies or investors. Yahoo!Finance cited strategists at JP Morgan Chase who wrote,

“Despite the drama this process will inject into the rest of the President’s first term, there is little justification for altering asset allocation now, unless one thinks that this issue is the decisive one that tips the US economy into sub-trend growth and/or a profits recession…To us, impeachment more seems yet another constraint on returns over the next year, given the newer uncertainties created around international and domestic policy.”

You know what they say: Markets hate uncertainty. As a result, markets may remain volatile for some time.

SMALL THINGS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.
A Planet Money staffer asked a couple of Harvard professors what small things they would do to improve the world. These two ideas are counterintuitive, but backed by science.

  • Sign forms at the top rather than the bottom. Signing at the top focuses the mind on the importance of honesty, said Business Professor Francesca Gino. In one study with 13,000 participants, people who signed at the top of an insurance form were more truthful about how many miles they drove.
  • Have one line at supermarkets. In banks, a single line leads to all cash registers. Health Economics Professor Kate Baicker said it should work that way at supermarkets, too. “There’s a whole branch of operations research that goes back, like, a hundred years about how to get throughput most efficiently through a system. If we all wait in one line, the average wait time is the same, but the variance goes away. Nobody wins, nobody loses.”

If you could, what small change would you make in the world?

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
— William James, Philosopher and psychologist

Best regards,

John F. Reutemann, Jr., CLU, CFP®

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this email with their email address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

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* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

Sources:
https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/capital_markets/Prob_Rec.pdf
https://www.barrons.com/articles/dow-jones-industrial-average-battles-back-as-recession-fears-recede-51570238255?mod=hp_DAY_3 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-07-19_The_Dow_Was_Getting_Whacked_Until_It_Wasn’t._Here’s+Why_2.pdf)
https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/08/15/the-trade-war-is-leading-some-firms-to-crimp-investment (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-07-19_The_Trade_War_is_Leading_some_firms_to_crimp_investment_3.pdf)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/01/wto-cuts-forecast-global-trade-growth-amid-us-china-dispute-broader-economic-slowdown/
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/whats-really-behind-the-ipo-unicorn-funeral-142210130.html
https://www.ft.com/content/4e030886-ca97-11e9-af46-b09e8bfe60c0 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/10-07-19_How_Markets_Become_Curiouser_And_Curiouser_in_August_6.pdf)
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/trump-impeachment-inquiry-means-for-stock-market-125702464.html
https://www.npr.org/2015/07/22/425377064/planet-money-asks-what-small-thing-would-you-do-to-improve-the-world
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/wellness/g2401/inspirational-quotes/?slide=1

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