As we look back on markets last week, we see mixed results, with none of the major domestic indexes gaining or losing more than 1%. The S&P 500 was down 0.10% for the week, and the Dow gave back 0.39%, once again failing to reach 20,000. On the other hand, the NASDAQ increased by 0.96% and reached its sixth record close in 2017 on Friday-pushed by a 1.36% rally for Facebook after Raymond James upgraded its stock. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE added 0.82%.
What We Saw Last Week
Big banks reported earnings. Earnings season is upon us. On Friday, we saw JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and PNC Financial beat profit expectations. These positive results add some weight to the post-election financials rally, where financial-sector equities in the S&P 500 have added 17% since the election. A number of other banks will report this week, and we will look to see if their performance also matches the growth we have seen so far.
Retail sales grew. The December monthly retail sales report showed a 0.6% increase, slightly below the 0.7% consensus expectations. With this growth, retail sales are now up 4.1% in the past year. However, not all retailers are performing well. General merchandise stores are suffering as consumers continue to shop online and move away from in-person retail stores. We see the results of this trend in declining retails sales numbers and large companies announcing store closures, including Macy’s, Sears, CVS, and many more.
Consumer sentiment was high but divided. The University of Michigan’s monthly report on consumer sentiment was 98.1, just below predictions but still near highs we have not seen since 2004. One interesting finding in the report is a strong partisan divide in consumer confidence. Richard Curtin, director of the consumer survey, described “extreme differences” between people’s expectations for whether new political policies would help or hurt the economy. He reminded people that the most impact on consumer sentiment will come from “actual changes in the economy” as a result of Trump’s work, which we will have to wait a few months to see.
What We’re Looking at in the Week Ahead
Earnings season continues. The markets will be watching earnings closely during this four-day trading week-especially to see if other major financial institutions also beat expectations. Some analysts believe that to keep the current market rally going and demonstrate that there is weight behind the post-election growth, we’ll need to see excellent reports from most companies.
A number of high-profile companies report this week, including:
- Morgan Stanley
- Goldman Sachs
- American Express
- UnitedHealth Group
- General Electric Co.
Donald Trump becomes President. While earnings reports will be important to track, another event looms larger in many people’s minds: Donald Trump’s inauguration. After he takes the oath of office Friday morning and becomes President of the United States, we will begin to see how the market’s expectations for Trump’s policies match reality.
From trade to taxes to infrastructure and beyond, the next few months will give us a number of insights into how U.S. policies may change. Uncertainty remains, and we will watch for political developments that may affect the markets. In addition, we will continue to focus on the fundamentals that provide deep insight into how the economy is performing-and how we can strive to keep you on track toward your goals
Monday: U.S. Markets Closed in Observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Wednesday: Consumer Price Index, Industrial Production, Housing Market
Thursday: Housing Starts
Quote Of The Week
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau
Recipe Of The Week
Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Grits
An easy, healthy Southern seafood dish!
3/4 cup instant grits
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
Boil 3 cups of water in a medium, covered saucepan over high heat.
Uncover and slowly whisk in grits, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Stir in Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon butter.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Cover to keep warm.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add shrimp, garlic, and cayenne (if using), and cook, tossing the shrimp until they are pink, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons water, lemon juice, and parsley.
Stir to coat shrimp with the sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
Divide grits into shallow bowls and top with shrimp and sauce.
Garnish dishes with lemon wedges.
Recipe adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Help Keep Your Personal Data Safe
As we rely more and more on digital devices to store important information, protecting your details is essential-especially as cybercriminals continue stealing large amounts of personal data. Here are steps you can take today to protect your privacy and information.
Secure Your Computer
You must keep your computer safeguarded from external threats. Be sure that you:
Use security software and set it to update automatically. Tools to use include a firewall, virus/malware protection, and file encryption for sensitive data.
Don’t leave personal information lying around, similar as you would with cash.
Learn about companies online before doing any business with them.
Only give personal information over encrypted websites (look for “https” addresses).
Use strong passwords that aren’t easy to guess, and make sure you protect them.
Backup all your files regularly.
Avoid Phishing and Malware
Phishing means that a cybercriminal is trying to defraud your personal account and compromise your financial information by impersonating another company. Be aware of fake attempts for cybercriminals to contact you, and be sure to:
Avoid phishing emails, texts, or calls that appear to be the IRS, tax companies, and other well known businesses; instead of clicking on any suspicious links, go directly to the company’s website.
Never automatically open email attachments from unknown senders-or even emails from friends and family that look suspicious, as someone could have hacked them.
Download and install software from websites you know and trust.
Use a pop-up blocker, which you can usually customize by going to your computer’s settings.
Make sure everyone in your family knows how to safely use a computer.
Protect Personal Information
Whether your data is on- or offline, you need to take measures to keep your personal information away from criminals. Follow these steps to help protect yourself:
Do not carry around your Social Security card or documents with your SSN. Keep these stored in a safe location at home, and only pull them out when you need to reference the documents.
Do not overshare personal information on social media. Information about past addresses, new car purchases, and your children help identity thieves pose as you.
Encrypt (digital) or lock up (hard files) old tax returns, and shred tax documents before throwing them away.
Be skeptical of IRS Impersonators. The IRS will never call you with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor send you unsolicited emails suggesting you have a refund or need to update your account. The IRS also never requests your sensitive information online. All of these actions are scams. You can forward any IRS-related scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report IRS-impersonation phone calls to Tigta.gov.
Take These Additional Steps
You can further protect your information by making sure to regularly do the following:
Check your credit report annually and your bank and credit card statements often.
Review your Social Security Administration records annually. Sign up for “My Social Security” at SSA.gov.
Review identify-theft details at irs.gov/identitytheft promptly if you’ve been a victim of an affected tax account.
Tip courtesy of IRS.gov
Use Your Thumb to Control Ball Flight in Your Short Game
In golf, a good short game can really determine how well you play. To reach your potential, you need to be nimble and have the ability to hit the ball higher with more spin in some situations, while being able to hit the ball lower with less spin in other situations. With practice, you can control how high or low you hit your chip shots. The secret? Your right (or left, for lefties) thumb.
For High Shot With Backspin
Swing through impact.
Hold off your hands’ rotation so that your right thumb (or left) stays on the handle’s right side (or left, for lefties).
For Low Shot With Run
Swing through impact.
Let your hands rotate through naturally. Your right thumb will end up on the grip’s left side (or left thumb on the grip’s right side, for lefties).
Righties: Thumb to right for higher shots; thumb to left for lower shots.
Lefties: Thumb to left for higher shots; thumb to right for lower shots.
Tip courtesy of Alex Fisher | Golf Digest
Benefit Your Health by Drinking More Water
The human body needs water to function; in fact, water composes 60% of our bodies. While actions like exercising can increase the amount of water you use, daily functions like breathing will also deplete your water reserves. We should always make sure to drink enough water each day to replenish the amount of water we use. Here are 6 reasons water is good for our health:
1. Maintains balance of body fluids
You need water to support a variety of bodily fluids for everyday functions. These include digesting food, absorbing nutrients, circulating blood, creating saliva, and maintaining body temperature.
2. Controls calorie intake
Swapping high-calorie drinks-like sodas-for water can greatly reduce the number of calories you consume daily. Foods with high water content, such as fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal, also tend to be healthier and help you stay fuller, trimming your calorie intake. In addition, you need to chew these foods longer, which aids in slowing digestion, thus keeping you fuller longer.
3. Energizes muscles
Dehydration from inadequate water intake results in shriveled electrolytes, causing muscle fatigue-meaning muscle performance suffers. When exercising, drink 17 ounces of water 2 hours before you begin, and then drink regularly to replenish water loss from sweat.
4. Improves skin quality
Your skin contains a lot of water and needs help to protect from fluid loss. You can know your skin is dehydrated when it appears dry and wrinkled. When you drink enough water, you aid your kidneys, which take over and help excrete excess fluid, thereby also helping your skin. Moisturizing your skin with lotion also helps you retain additional water.
5. Maintains healthy kidneys
Body fluids transport waste out of the body, and the main toxin is a water-soluble waste called blood urea nitrogen. The kidneys pass this toxin, which then excretes in your urine. When you drink enough water, you aid your kidneys’ ability to process and remove toxins from your body and reduce your risk of developing kidney stones. Hydrated urine is light in color and free of odor.
6. Supports normal bowel function
Your gastrointestinal tract needs water to function properly and keep digestion moving. When you don’t have enough water, your colon will pull water away from your stools and cause constipation. You can support healthy bowels by staying hydrated.
Tip courtesy of WebMD
Minimize Your Water Use With Rain Barrels
Conserving water is a daily action you can take to support green living and reduce your water bill. As droughts rage across various parts of the world, the water you save daily can make an impact. For example, the average home in the U.S. uses 40% of its potable water toward yard maintenance. You can reduce how much water you use in your yard by having rain barrels.
These plastic barrels capture water from rainfalls, and many connect to a home’s gutter system. While rainwater isn’t always drinkable, you can use water from rain barrels to support lawn maintenance, such as watering grass, flowers, and vegetable gardens. Here are three ways that rain barrels support green living.
1. Help conserve potable water supplies.
The process of treating and dispensing water for daily use in homes is expensive, takes lots of energy, and spews large amounts of greenhouse gases. By using water from rain barrels for some of your daily home use, you can help minimize these effects.
2. Reduce impact of runoff
Experts cite that water runoff that flows down from places like house rooftops is the #1 cause of water pollution in the U.S. When water flows off rooftops and moves to paved surfaces and storm drains, it picks up harmful pollutants along the way, such as animal waste, chemicals, and trash. This polluted water then eventually makes its way to our streams, rivers, and oceans. Rain barrels capture this flow from roofs before it has a chance to mix with these pollutants-and saves the water for you to use.
3. Reduce impact of flooding.
When you isolate water runoff, you also help deter flooding. This action gives groundwater supplies a chance to replenish-meaning localities can draw more water from local sources, which are often less energy-intensive.
Tip courtesy of National Geographic
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Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.
Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.
International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.
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 average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.
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The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indices from Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.
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