Can a robot really help you financially?

robo advisor

We’re hearing a lot about robo advisors these days. Are they right for you?

The financial services industry is no stranger to developing new products and innovations. Years ago, it was different types of stocks and bonds, then mutual funds were launched. More recently, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) that mimic indexes were launched. These days, robo advice is a hot topic. While having features that are certainly attractive to some investors, robo advisors aren’t right for everyone.

But first, the “what?”

What are robo advisors?

The term “robo advisor” is actually a bit misleading. Advisors generally guide their clients through the financial planning process to help these individuals achieve their life goals.

Robo advisors are automated portfolio managers. They take a limited amount of information about a client and create a portfolio of holdings. These holdings usually include a basket of ETFs. Robo advisors require little human involvement once their algorithm has been set.


robo advisor

Pros and cons

Robo advisors are programmed to automatically buy and sell holdings based on a desired risk-return profile. As there is little human involvement or management, they tend to be cheaper to invest in than actively managed portfolios. They also tend to be “set-it-and-forget-it” solutions that require very little effort by individual investors.

These portfolios rise and fall according to market and macroeconomic conditions, they typically don’t make adjustments to reflect the market. Conversely, as your advisor I’ve gained a deeper understanding of your financial picture, including your long-term needs and goals. Our work together means that your portfolio is suited specifically to you. Not just to a lot of people who may simply be your age and have a similar amount of savings.

Example of robots investing versus humans investing

During periods of rising markets, robo advisors will tend to perform quite nicely. As they reflect the performance of the wider markets in which they invest.

That said, markets don’t always go up. When markets are falling, portfolios run by robo advisors will tend to drop to the same degree as their corresponding markets. Meanwhile, active portfolio managers tend to rebalance or otherwise adjust their funds to reduce the downside impact of this market weakness. Possibly even taking advantage of it. By doing so, these portfolio managers are able to negate the losses that could result from market weakness. Which is something robo advisors can’t do.

Robo advisors are also not equipped to provide all of the other services that an advisor can provide. Including access to tax and estate planning, lawyers, accountants and other professionals who can help me ensure you have a complete financial plan that truly reflects your short- and long-term needs.

Please feel free to reach out to me to learn more about the benefits of a human vs. robo advisor.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

How to Tame Market Volatility through Diversification

diversification

It’s that time of the year again. Whether it’s in person or virtually, the holidays are an opportunity for more conversations with loved ones. This year, let’s strive to put some positivity into our conversations. There is a lot to gripe about, but there’s more to look forward to.  And the more we talk, the better we plan, prepare, and progress. Discussing your financial strategies with loved ones can help reinforce them or pivot according to new circumstances. And I’m ready to hear you! Knowing what may have changed this year will help us become more successful in pursuing your financial goals.

One topic that is front of mind is how to diversify your portfolio. One way to help investors reach long-term financial goals is through an investment technique known as diversification. Diversification basically means spreading out your invested money across different investments types, industries, countries, etc. Diversification can smooth out volatility of your portfolio and potentially lead to stronger returns over the long term. Helping you take advantage of the benefits of diversification is a central part of my job as your advisor.

One guiding factor behind diversification is that not all investment categories perform well at the same time. As some are increasing in value, others may be decreasing. Market volatility is the movement of investment categories going up and down.

Maintaining a well-balanced portfolio

As your advisor, I help maximize returns and reduce the risks associated with market volatility. Essentially, your portfolio represents a collection of different investments that work in harmony to help you reach your goals. One way you can achieve portfolio diversification is to divide your investments among the major asset classes. Such classes include equities, fixed income and cash.

Asset classes – A range of risks and rewards

Each asset class comes with varying degrees of risk and return characteristics. Typically, each class performs differently in certain market environments. Here’s a quick summary of each.

  • Equities (e.g., stocks)
    Equities refer to buying stocks or shares of a business, making you a part owner. This means the investor is subject to stock appreciation when the company outperforms. But also subject to the risks of declining stock value if companies underperform.
  • Fixed income (e.g., bonds, Treasury bills)
    Fixed income investors lend capital in exchange for interest. Considered as creditors, bondholders often have a priority claim in case of company bankruptcy. This makes the investments less risky. Fixed income typically provides income at regular intervals.
  • Cash (e.g., money market funds, bank accounts)
    Cash investments provide low returns versus other asset classes, in the form of interest payments. These investments typically come with very low levels of risk.

Investment funds – One-stop diversification

I can also help achieve diversification through the use of investment funds; namely, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These investment vehicles represent convenient and affordable ways to access a wide range of investments.

  • Mutual funds – These are made up of a pool of assets from many investors. Mutual funds are managed by a portfolio manager. The portfolio manager actively seeks to produce greater returns than a specific market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 Index. With the large scale of a mutual fund, you benefit from professional management and can get strong diversification by gaining access to investments that would normally be inaccessible or too expensive for most individuals.
  • ETFs – These are funds that track and seek to replicate the performance of select market indexes. ETFs represent a basket of securities based on the underlying index. This allows investors to gain broad diversification across entire markets, industries, regions or asset classes. ETFs are known to incur fewer administrative costs, therefore charging lower fees to investors.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions on the terms discussed in this article, or on how your investment portfolio is diversified.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

How to Start Investing

How to start investing

So, you’ve landed your first “real” job! Now’s the perfect time to create your first investment plan and start investing.

First, let me congratulate you on getting through school and starting your first “real” job. You’ve worked hard to get here, and I’m sure there are many things you’ll want to spend your new paycheck on. An apartment of your own, some decent takeout (not from a student cafeteria), maybe a little traveling.

You should do those things, as long as they fit into your budget. You’ve earned a little breathing room. But now that you have some stability, you should also thinking about how to start investing for your future. Here are three ways to get the ball rolling.

1. Pay down debt

As a student, you may have accumulated a mix of debt, from student loans to credit cards. Create a debt-repayment plan that focuses on paying off your high-interest debt, like credit cards, first.

Student loans often carry lower interest rates, so these loans might not be your top priority. At the same time, many student loans require you to make a minimum monthly payment shortly after you graduate, and you only have so much time to repay the entire loan. You still need a loan-repayment plan to make sure you don’t default on these loans.

2. Build your emergency fund

Post-graduate life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes your air conditioner breaks down in the middle of a heat wave or your car dies on the way to a meeting. I suggest putting 10% of your paycheck into an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses. The goal is to eventually have enough money in your emergency fund to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, but it can take a while to get there.

Your emergency fund should be low risk and easy to access, like a regular savings account.

3. Think about retirement

This is the best time to take advantage of the power of compounding. If you start putting just $200 a month into a retirement savings account at age 25, and let it grow over the next 40 years at a 4% rate of return, you’ll have about $237,000 in that account when you turn 65.

Wait another 10 years to start investing the same amount at the same rate of return, and you’ll reach age 65 with about $140,000. That’s a big difference.

If your employer offers a 401(k), use it. With this tax-advantaged retirement account, you contribute pre-tax dollars directly from your paycheck. You employer will also match your contributions up to a certain percentage of your salary.

If you don’t have a 401(k), look into a traditional IRA (individual retirement account) or Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you’ll get a tax break on your contributions, while with a Roth IRA, you won’t pay federal taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. With both types of IRAs, you won’t pay taxes on any investment income you earn within the plan until you start making withdrawals.

Ready to start investing? Contact me today and we’ll work on creating your first investment plan.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Elections And Strategy – Nothing To Fear – Focus on You

Elections and strategy nothing to fear

Halloween is right around the corner, and like everything else, it’s markedly different this year. Some people find it thrilling to dress up and decorate the house, others think it’s just plain scary. It’s the unknown that gives us that frisson of fear, and there are a lot of unknowns this year.

The U.S. election is days away, and we are being bombarded with predictions about the effects the winner will have on the economy. How concerned should we be? In balance, history shows that elections, just like daily market volatility, don’t affect long-term investors negatively. We have a long-term strategy in place to help you pursue your goals, so any uncertainty, whether market, political or otherwise, shouldn’t worry you. Simply tune out the noise, and turn your focus to your goals.

Taking a goals-based approach to investment risk

The real measure of risk is whether or not you reach your financial goals. While investors may view risk in a number of ways, the perspective you take should help guide you toward your long-term goals. Focus on you.

Typically, investors measure risk by comparing performance to a market index (or benchmark), such as the S&P 500 or NASDAQ. So, if it was a tough period and the benchmark was down 10% but your investment portfolio was down 8%, you “outperformed.”

Relatively speaking, that’s not bad. Yet the fact is you’ve experienced a considerable loss in capital, which may put one or more of your financial goals at risk. Especially for those fast approaching a major financial milestone, such as retirement, there’s not much comfort in that type of standard.

Goals-based investing keeps your future in sight – Focus on You

Another approach, likely to provide you with a more helpful long-term perspective, is to look at risk in a personal way. That is, risk can be based on your unique life goals, rather than the market alone. And the probability of meeting or falling short of those goals. This is better known in investment terms as a goals-based approach. After all, investing should be about achieving the future you want. Whether it’s affording a satisfying retirement, your children’s education or a major home renovation.

As your advisor, I can help you integrate this approach. First, we review your financial profile and short- and long-term objectives. From there, we can build a portfolio that puts you on track by, perhaps, funding and investing in each goal independently. Each goal could work in aggregate as part of a whole portfolio, while having unique time horizons, asset allocations or risk profiles. This is one possible approach, among others, to goals-based investing that we could use.

Gauging portfolio risk and performance, then, is a matter of tracking the total returns of your portfolio. Not the relative returns compared to an index, and determining whether or not your goals are within reach.

Navigating market volatility to meet your goals

Achieving your financial goals, especially your long-term goals, through investing requires a highly disciplined approach. And flexibility to navigate the ups and downs of the market. I can help you maximize returns and minimize losses by integrating a number of important investment techniques. A few such techniques include:

  • Diversification – Certain investments, asset classes or market segments perform better at different times. It’s important to avoid concentrating your portfolio in one particular area only, since you will risk missing out on attractive investment opportunities in other markets.
  • Investing early – To reach your long-term financial goals, you need to begin investing as early as possible and for the long term. This will help you compound your earnings as you generate more returns on your asset’s reinvested earnings over time.
  • Systematic investing – Making regular investment contributions, instead of random ones, can help build your wealth in a disciplined manner. All while keeping you invested through all market conditions to enhance your long-term growth potential.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss taking a goals-based approach in your portfolio, or if you’d like to review your financial objectives for the future. And be sure to vote on November 3rd!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Presidential Virus Case and Impact on the Markets

Presidential Virus

Happy fall y’ll! The President has contracted the virus. Lawmakers are working on a coronavirus relief bill. Jobs continue to recover, but at a slower than expected rate. Last week all indexes finished up. The Dow up 1.9%, S&P 1.5%, and Nasdaq 1.5%. The markets fell mid last week as news of the Presidential virus emerged, before rallying by the weeks end.

Last Week

Despite President Trump testing positive for coronavirus, equities ended a volatile week higher. Investors became more upbeat about a potential stimulus package. The positive test for the President does creates near term uncertainty. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump’s prognosis changed the shape of talks over a new stimulus package. In economic news, non-farm payrolls continued to improve with 661,000 jobs added in September. These numbers are below the consensus of 859,000 jobs. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. The pace of growth in the manufacturing sector slowed in September. But still expanded with an ISM Manufacturing Index reading of 55.4.

Consumer spending was up 1% over the prior month. This is the 4th straight monthly increase, and is now down roughly 2% compared to a year ago. Initial jobless claims for the week ended September 26 were 837,000. Marking the 5th consecutive week between 800,000 and 900,0000. Continued claims, or the number of people already receiving unemployment benefits, fell by nearly 1 million. This marks the lowest level since March. The jobs report released Friday showed the U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs in September. This data was below expectations, while the unemployment rate fell to 7.9%. The economy has now recovered about half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. Adding 11.4 million jobs from May through September.

The Week Ahead

Looking ahead, the path of COVID-19 and the presidential election will remain at the forefront of investors’ minds. In addition, the major banks will report results starting in less than two weeks. This will provide a good barometer of the health of the overall economy. President Trump’s health is a huge macro risk with far reaching financial market implications. Just weeks away from the Presidential election, it is clear anything can happen. The base case is for a full recovery. However, polls could move in the coming weeks as voters assess his health and his tone on the virus. Furthermore, the Supreme Court nomination and the battle over fiscal stimulus remain key topics. Neither of which look to be resolved easily. Fed chair Powell will offer insights into the economic outlook today.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been on the attack for over seven months now. We are still anxiously awaiting a medical breakthrough that will help us better coexist with this virus. There is a good chance the virus may never go away, according to experts. In late September, Dr. Anthony Fauci, commented that COVID-19 vaccinations could begin as early as November or December. In all likelihood, a vaccine will not be available prior to election day on 11/3/20. As a result, things could get a bit bumpy in the markets in October based on the daily news feed. Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.0%, S&P up 3.6%, and Nasdaq up 28.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a great week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Historical performance figures for the indices are for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any actual investment.

Markets Retreat after the Fed Chairman Said This

Fed Chairman

Welcome to fall 2020! Stocks rallied early last week, then fell after the Fed meeting on Wednesday. Last week all indexes finished flat or down. The Dow barely dropped 0.03%, S&P was down 0.64%, and Nasdaq down 0.56%. Tech stocks continued to sell off, leading to the Nasdaq’s 3rd straight weekly decline.

Last Week

The markets see-sawed through the week before finishing lower. Stalemate in Washington over any kind of relief bill continued. The Fed meeting on Wednesday was highlighted by projections to keep interest rates near zero through 2023. Economic data missed the mark too. Retail sales came in lower than expected. The weekly unemployment claims came in higher than expectations of 860,000. Housing starts and building permit data came in lower than expected. The decline of housing data compared to July is likely attributed to higher lumber prices.

More on the Fed. Low interest rates enhance the value of all equities. The Fed indicated this past week that it intends to keep its overnight federal funds rate target at 0-0.25% until 2023. They also said they would continue purchasing Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities. Chairman Powell said they will keep this stance until the labor market returns to full employment. Pre-covid unemployment rates were 3.5%.

The Week Ahead

The Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, speaks on Tuesday. Many agree the recovery has slowed, so to what degree that slowing has occurred will be seen in the latest reports. Fed chair Powell’s testimony on the CARES Act could contain market-moving morsels on Tuesday and Wednesday, as could treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s testimony on Thursday. Another week of high unemployment claims looms, but so far, the market remains relatively content with the labor market’s status. Friday’s durable goods orders offers insight into capital expenditure intentions among companies, and it’s poised to decline slightly. The elephant in the room for the market is the Presidential election, now roughly 6 weeks away.

Looking ahead to October. October is a peculiarly dangerous month to speculate in stocks. According to the Trader’s Almanac, that is especially true in presidential-election years. Since 1952, the Dow industrial averaged a 0.8% decline in those years. The S&P 500 index averaged a 0.7% drop. In Octobers of election years, the market was generally up when the incumbent party won. Not surprising as bull markets tend to favor the party in power. Clarity on the next 4 years will be here soon! Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 3.09%, S&P up 2.75%, and Nasdaq up 20.29% through the close on Friday.

Have a great week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

The Great Divide – Economy and Markets

The Great Divide - Economy and Markets

The Dog Days are here! School is back in session, some in-person, some virtual. The virus continues to be present and the economy slowly is rebuilding while the markets continue to climb. Last week indexes finished slightly up. The Dow up 1.8%, S&P up 0.64%, and Nasdaq up 0.08%. The S&P began the week rising for it’s 7th straight session in the green and briefly passed the all-time high on Wednesday. The flat performance was a result of uncertainty with economic data, the latest virus patterns, and a second fiscal stimulus package that never was.

Last Week

The S&P 500 index is close to record territory once again. The economy and the stock market seem far off. Thursday marked the 100th day since the market lows on March 23. The markets have rebounded 50% since then. A strong recovery for investors, while millions have lost jobs and over 160,000 Americans have lost their lives. Management reports on earnings calls have been surprised at the speed and scale of the demand rebound. Many companies expected a short lived drop, followed by a gradual recovery. Not so much the “snap-back” experienced.

It is encouraging that the U.S. has added back millions of jobs lost during the first wave. Last Thursday marked the first jobless claims report under 1 million since March. Also, from earnings calls, consensus views are pointing towards record breaking earnings next year. Strongly supported by interest rates, which continue to be favorable for the foreseeable future. Investor fears over companies falling into financial distress are offset by the Feds support of buying bonds and Congress spending on relief. Retail sales also rose in July 1.2% higher than June, setting a new all-time high, and another sign of recovery.

The Week Ahead

The equity markets will have their eyes on Washington in hopes of a new stimulus. On Thursday, unemployment claims will be reported and the hope is that a under 1 million trend goes on. Continuing unemployment claims are still above 15 million, however, this is much lower than the 25 million in May. Stress for parents remains as school openings have created more unrest than security. How the school year unfolds for parents will no doubt impact the workforce productivity. Some areas of the country have already started so watching closely for signs that reopening in person can be done safely is key.

At the end of the day, it is clear the markets and the economy are not one in the same. Very different directions, as reflected in year-to-date index performance; Dow down 2.1%, S&P up 4.4%, and Nasdaq up 22.8% through the close on Friday.

Have a safe week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief – 2020 Mid-Year Review

Market Brief 2020 Mid-Year Review

Dog days of summer have arrived. For 2020, it feels like the dog days arrived in March. From the moment the pandemic began to spread, to stay-at-home orders, to lock-downs, to protest rallies, to reopening phases, and back to more restrictions… what a year, and we are only halfway home. Didn’t even mentions the murder hornets! Let’s take a minute to catch our breath and see where we have been, where we are, and where we will go. Currently, we are in the midst of earnings season. Big name stocks will report second quarter earnings this week. Last week the main indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 2.3%, S&P up 1.25%, and Nasdaq down 1.1%. The S&P 500 outperformed the Nasdaq index by the widest margin since February 2016. The markets were mainly buoyed by progress of a virus vaccine.

What Happened?

The year started off strong through mid-February. Early cases and the fast spread of the coronavirus took hold in Asia and quickly jumped country borders to become a worldwide pandemic. Just about a month from the market peak in February came the market lows in March, a 33.9% drop for the S&P index. In just a few weeks, the U.S. economy erased 7 years of employment gains. 30 million Americans lost jobs, driving unemployment as high as 22% in April. By June, the unemployment rate hovered around 14%. Still extremely high, but significantly lower from 2 months prior.

In March, the Fed stepped in and provided a backstop to the equity markets. Stabilizing and possibly adding turbo to the economy via stimulus for individuals and businesses. The pandemic accelerated tech disruption. It changed how companies reach consumers, how supply chains work, how to deal with remote employees, and still build their brands.

Where Are We Today?

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 6.54%, S&P down 0.2%, and Nasdaq up 17.0% through the close on Friday. Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the Trump administration and Senate leadership are discussing a new stimulus bill. The end of July is the target time frame as the previous stimulus benefits are ending. The housing market reports are exceeding expectation. Current metrics show a shortage of existing home inventory, limited housing labor to build new homes, and a shortage of entry level homes for the first time home buyer. Historically low mortgage rates help boost the housing demand. Labor income across the board is surging and consumer spending is rebounding.

The markets are in fairly good position today. Much of the strength is attributed to the Fed and swift implementation of monetary policy. With interest rates near zero, investors are willing to pay for future earnings. Growth stocks have done well, value stocks have lagged. When the economy improves and interest rates rise, growth stocks will be challenged by high valuations. Communities have begun to re-open. The U.S. seems to have chosen independence over lock-down. This has led to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. Deaths due to the virus have decreased as health care has gotten smarter about how to handle symptomatic cases. The resurgence of hiring and end of mass layoffs indicate the job market is recovering. While the decreasing layoffs and increasing hires offer hope, the reopening process has been trending in the wrong direction.

Where Are We Going?

It’s election season. From here on out, politics will headline media reports. Snippets and quotes from leadership on both sides will sway the markets. Bigger than the election is the Fed’s actions. Interest rates are low and likely to remain low for a very long time. This creates a scenario of easy lending and the opportunity for trillions of dollars to remain invested in the market. The future months will measured by the resurgence of the coronavirus, how quickly a vaccine can be developed, another round of monetary stimulus, and the upcoming election. If you thought the first half of 2020 was a roller coaster, the second half might be just as wild! Take care and be safe.

Market Brief’s are taking a summer hiatus, see you at the end of August!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief April 20 2020

Market Brief April 20 2020

The market rally continued. Finishing strong Friday due to a potential COVID-19 treatment. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week. Dow up 2.2%, S&P 3.0%, and Nasdaq 6.1%. Not all was good as many banks reported earnings last week. The large banks are preparing for potential consumer and corporate loan defaults. Unemployment increases continue. In the last four weeks, 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment. This volume erases ten years of job growth. Retail Sales dropped in March and Industrial Production fell to the lowest level since 1946.

So why did the markets finish higher? Good question. The markets response was focused on two things. First, the potential vaccine treatment. If this treatment works or has a strong recovery rate, this is great news for the current time and the future. The markets want to be reassured if the virus returns there is a defense in place. Second, President Trump announced a plan to reopen states. Going back to “normal” is good for small business, consumers, and income earners. It is clear “life after virus” will be different, igniting the economy is certainly a positive for financial markets.

The Week Ahead

COVID-19 hospitalizations are declining in hotspot areas. Government officials are working on plans to gradually reopen their states. On Thursday, another round of unemployment claims is expected. Friday’s durable goods order report will shed light on business spending amid the health crisis.

Corporate earnings season continues. The focus of these calls remain to be the gauge of how negatively affected consumption and credit have been for both consumers and businesses. As well as, the prospects of doing business during the next few quarters. And lastly, for firms not on solid footing, investors will look to their liquidity as key indicator of strength going forward.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 15.0%, S&P down 11.0%, and Nasdaq up 3.6%. As the post image says, “Together We Do It” – Have a safe week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief April 6 2020

Market Brief April 6 2020

With each passing day, we hope to be one day closer to the end of this ugly virus. Until that day arrives, continue the social distancing and best hygiene habits. The news ahead regarding the economic state and corporate guidance are likely going to be dismal. Economic numbers outside of jobs report will tell one tale. Company reports during earnings calls will tell another. This past week, unemployment rate jumped to 4.4%, from lows of 3.5%. Weekly unemployment claims surged north of 10,000,000 over the last two weeks. If you have a job, be thankful. The monthly employment numbers are usually the most important. They providing the first, in-depth perspective of the U.S. economy.

The most attention during the week is the weekly job report that comes out each Thursday morning. All eyes again will be watching very closely. Economists ahead of this downward spiral are predicting unemployment to reach as high as 17%! A depressing reality to think about. Jim Reid, a strategist for Deutsche Bank, stated “the contraction from the coronavirus this year is likely to rank among the 10 worst for many countries… that’s remarkable, given the size of the monetary and fiscal stimulus that governments have provided.”

What’s Ahead

The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished down last week. Dow dropped 2.7%, S&P fell 2.1%, and Nasdaq down 1.7%. The Dow finished the first quarter, which ended last Tuesday, down 23%. The week ahead is mixed with important economic data, as well as, a couple corporate reports worth reading.

Tomorrow, Levi Strauss reports quarterly results. Usually, not a widely followed report, but given the impact of incomes and jobs, the report will provide impact on discretionary spending. On Wednesday, Costco Wholesale reports sales data for March. Another indication of recent spending impact since the virus began hitting U.S. and lock downs began mid-month of this report. Thursday reports include the Producer Price Index, a measure of inflation. Followed by the weekly job report, which comes after a week of 6.6 million claims. Friday reports also include the Consumer Price Index to see the impact of mainly retail prices for consumers in March. Friday the equity markets are closed in observance of Good Friday.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 26.2%, S&P down 22.9%, and Nasdaq up 17.8%.

Quarantine continues – have a fun and safe week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief March 30 2020

Tiger King Market Update

Yes, Tiger King fans, this post is for you. Since the Tiger King rage went viral last week, the market has also hit record setting performance days! Is it safe to say Joe Exotic should be the next Fed Chairman? It’s not a bear market, not a bull market, but a Tiger market! I’m all in … to the show, not stocks…

OK, time to get serious. Market dip to market rip! The Dow soared by 21% over a 3-day span, closing up 12.77% for the week. The largest 3-day gain since October 8, 1931, during the Great Depression. The Dow’s weekly finish was the best weekly gain since 1938, despite losing 4% on Friday. The S&P and Nasdaq indexes also finished up for the week, 10.26% and 9.05%, respectively. The indexes ignored the record weekly unemployment claims of 3.28 million! A record setting number in it’s own right. The U.S. also passed China last week with the number of virus infection cases. The saving grace for markets last week was the announced $2.2 trillion relief plan.

Despite the market bounce that began last Tuesday and continued today, large and fast rallies are frequent characteristics of longer-term bearish periods in the market. The eventual recovery from this public health crisis will be gradual, similar to the financial crisis recovery. The recovery is still unknown, and according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, “the virus makes the timeline,” and that will probably determine the markets recovery as well.

The Bailout

Stimulus, bailout, virus relief, The CARES act, whatever you want to call, came to the rescue at the end of last week. The fiscal policy pumps trillions into the economy, aimed at providing liquidity to households and businesses. These include IRS checks, a major expansion in unemployment benefits, as well as a broad combination of grants, loans, and loan guarantees for businesses (large and small), hospitals, schools, and state and local governments. This stimulus is designed to buffer the economy in the short-term, as the virus hit the hard and fast across the country. Long-term the effects may linger for some time. The upcoming quarterly earnings season will provide investors better guidance on how hard companies have been hit.

The Week Ahead

Policymakers’ huge support has helped stabilize risk, but long-term market stability and declining volatility hinges on the apex of coronavirus infections being in the rear-view mirror. Economic reports for the week include a slew of data including manufacturing and employment. This week’s focus will be on the jobless claims number, showing a more clear picture of the economic state.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 24.2%, S&P down 20.96%, and Nasdaq down 16.4%. Volatility remains high and historically market rallies come back after volatility drops to normal range.

Have a safe week and remember to go for a walk outside (after finishing the Tiger King season on Netflix)!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Positive Investing News

Positive Investing News

Finding good news right now can be tough. The Q&A below highlights some of the positive investing news that can result from a crisis.

What is the one positive that you see coming out of this crisis
that is least expected?

Buying opportunity! Valuations have soared during the bull market run following the 2008-2009 recession, individuals interested in long-term investment growth should consider this as one of the best discount sales in recent years. Many people I speak to wish they could go back to the 2008-2009 time period and buy stocks. Today, some quality companies are down 30-80% year-to-date.

What new businesses will break into the marketplace, as a result of this crisis, that no one expected to grow so fast?

Technology has proven to be the winner. The S&P 500 Info Tech sector index has greatly outperformed the market. Included in this index are businesses supporting those working from home, such as, video conferencing and e-document companies. 

What existing industries do you feel will rebound the fastest
as things begin to return to normal?

The travel industry is taking an enormous hit. This will not last. Consider how many people will need a vacation after being stuck in their homes for a month (or longer). Or even had their trips postponed. Hotels, airlines, cruises, they are beaten down right now but will bounce back as the virus is contained. The stimulus will also aid, to some extent, discretionary spending for some. Travel is a huge component of discretionary spending.

Click here if you would like to learn more about our thoughts on Positive Investing News. Also, to discuss options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief March 23 2020

Market Brief March 23 2020

Last week was the worst week the stock markets have seen since 2008. Continued developments of the coronavirus dominated the news, as the number of cases in the U.S. surpassed 15,000. This news left the indexes in a downward free fall. The three major indexes all finished down between 14-17% for the week ending March 20. The increase in cases is also getting the attention of life insurance, as I wrote about last week and you can read it here. Forget gold and oil as great market hedges, the future is now in toilet paper and hand sanitizer! (Just kidding).

To no surprise, economic data last week disappointed. China sales and industrial production was down double digits compared to last year. German economic sentiment also fell to the lowest on record. The lone bright spot from last week, was U.S. sales. For the month of February, U.S. retail sales came in 4.35% higher compared to last year. New home sales dropped for the month, while existing home sales jumped 6.5%. The existing home sales grew to the highest level since 2007, proving the real estate market was on solid ground prior to the virus outbreak.

The Week Ahead

The week ahead will be focused on stimulus news in the U.S., as well as, the flattening of the coronavirus infection curve. Wednesday’s durable goods order report is expected to be positive. However, this could be the last positive report we see for awhile, as business and productivity slows during the state ordered or self-mandated quarantine phases. Thursday’s unemployment claim report will likely soar, as businesses cut staff and hours for workers.

Big Picture and Recovery

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 32.81%, S&P down 28.66%, and Nasdaq down 23.3%. According to Wilshire, this is approximately $12 trillion of wealth that has evaporated. Due to the recent domestic productivity halt, most banks have cut 2nd Quarter growth outlooks significantly. Goldman Sachs has revised their 2nd Quarter outlook to -24%, while J.P. Morgan cut their outlook to -14%.

The consensus for recovery is based on three outcomes. First, how quickly will the virus be contained. Second, whether businesses will have access to enough liquidity, or capital, over the next 90-180 days. And lastly, whether the fiscal stimulus can stabilize growth forecasts. Until then, volatility looks to remain high and sensitive to the latest news stemming from the virus developments and economic impacts.

Keep your distance, share the TP, and continue to wash your hands this week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief March 16 2020

Market Brief March 16 2020

Not sure where to start today? Every post seems to be outdated the minute it is published! Whether a virus update, Fed decision, a political speech, geo-political affairs, or another stock industry takes a dive downward. Volatility remains high, driving the big daily swings in the stock market.

Last week, President Trump initiated a travel ban and events across the country ceased immediately. Last night, the Fed stepped in with another rate cut. The reaction from the market was one of fear, driving indexes lower, and initiating the third trading halt in the last month to start the week. Despite the historic big rally on Friday, all indexes finished the week down. The Dow dropped 10.46%, the S&P 500 fell 8.86%, and the Nasdaq dropped 8.18%.

The Week Ahead

The week ahead includes Retail Sales, Industrial Production, and Housing Start data. There reports will provide a gauge of the consumer and business sentiment during this time of uncertainty. The mortgage rate drops may act as a tailwind for home buyers and those refinancing, in the near term, but the prevailing headwind of the coronavirus economic disruption remains front and center. Coronavirus focus will be on the growth of new cases, as well as, policies designed to identify and subdue the outbreak.

Big Picture

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 18.7%, S&P down 16.0%, and Nasdaq down 12.2%. The media is publishing a lot of information regarding corrections, bear markets, and recessions. Let’s break those down. A correction is typically considered when the stock indexes drop 10% from the recent highs. A bear market typically is defined by a drop of 20% from recent highs. And a recession is 2 or more consecutive quarters of declining GDP growth. Our current economic state may be a recession, however, we will not know until the quarterly numbers are published after Q2 2020 is over. Yes, the markets corrected more than 20% from the highs on February 19, therefore, indexes are in bear market territory. Turnaround signs remain high correlated to virus improvement. The slowing of new cases, the decline of deaths, and the increasing number of recoveries. Until then, volatility remains here to stay. Corporate guidance up to this point is hard to judge. The next round of corporate earnings will be very important regarding the impact of the virus disruption and growth prospects going forward. Market volatility is inevitable when investing in the stock market.

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Update March 11 2020

Market Update March 11 2020

In light of sustained volatility in the markets, another market update is warranted. This is courtesy of one of our portfolio managers. Contact us directly for a portfolio review and discussion on how to manage risk during times of uncertainty.
 
A few of the main drivers of market volatility are laid out below.  If you have any questions about these items or the markets in general, please do not hesitate to reach out.
 
Oil Price War
Over the past week, negotiations between OPEC nations have taken place amid a backdrop of persistently low oil prices. The expectation going into last Friday’s final round of discussions was for a cut of between 750k to 1.5mm barrels per day of production. These cuts in production would have lowered the supply of global oil with the intent of sending prices higher.  But in the final hours of Friday’s session, Russia withdrew from the proposed deal, and the OPEC meeting concluded without any production cuts. 
 
On Sunday afternoon, news broke that the Saudis would open the taps and flood the market with cheap crude. This action has long been the ‘big stick’ that Saudi Arabia has wielded over other petroleum exporting countries, but this is the first time in decades that they’ve acted with such force. Oil prices dropped by as much as 35% Sunday night. Oil industry experts are still working through the numbers on how long the Saudis and Russians can stand to be engaged in a price war. But regardless of that conclusion, the price reaction has been swift. 
 
Traditionally lower oil prices have been met with cheers by consumers as prices at the pump plummet. But the shale revolution over the past ten years has more closely intertwined our economy with the price of oil. The most recent example of this was the 2015/2016 decline in oil prices that froze capital spending and forced many lower quality oil companies to fold.  A repeat of that experience during the Coronavirus growth scare would be very unfortunate timing.
 
Coronavirus & The Economy
As expected, the reporting on the economic and social impact of the Coronavirus remains fevered. While the infections and death totals are continuing to rise at a steady rate globally, the negative impact on macroeconomic data and individual companies remains a mystery. Since our last client update, the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates by 0.50% in an effort to stabilize markets and reignite demand for debt.
 
In the coming weeks, our Fed, as well as other central banks, will likely be forced into providing even more monetary accommodation. So far, fiscal authorities (Legislative & Executive branches) have been conspicuously absent from the debate on how to stem the negative economic impact. Both think tanks and market participants have drafted plenty of creative plans, but until the Administration/Congress begins to address the potential negative impact of this growth scare proactively, business confidence is likely to be fickle.

As we mentioned in our previous Coronavirus update, I’m sure you’re all finding plenty of Coronavirus coverage in your daily life.  But if you’re interested, we have plenty more material for discussion that we’d be happy to present at your convenience.
 
Intraday Limits and Trading Halts
If you paid close attention to the market action Monday, you likely heard/read some discussion of the limit-down trading halt. A trading halt refers to a set period in the day where no buying or selling can occur. For individual stocks, trading halts are relatively normal and happen daily.  Individual shares are typically halted because a significant news item is due to be announced during market hours. They also occur if a stock has moved sharply (higher or lower). Market-wide halts, on the other hand, are quite rare and occur when the S&P 500 has declined or advanced by a set percentage. In a market-wide halt, trading in all stocks and exchange-traded funds is halted for 15 minutes. Whether it is for the market as a whole or an individual stock, the logic behind a halt is to arrest any panic/euphoria and allow participants to reassess the market momentum. 
 
As always, we are working diligently to stay on top of the news cycle. We began this period of market tumult very well positioned but remain at the ready should we need to make further adjustments.

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief February 27 2020

Market Brief February 27 2020

Given the abrupt decline in global stock markets over the past seven days, we thought a quick account update might be helpful. The news flow about Coronavirus has been fast and furious, and we’re sure you’re finding plenty of ways to track the day-to-day developments. This brief note will not focus on statistics or predictions about potential outcomes. Instead, we’ll concentrate on the root concerns surrounding the market decline.

Since learning about the outbreak in China, the markets have seesawed between indifference and alarm. The virus was initially thought to be a problem contained to ‘over there’ that was unlikely to spread to the US and Europe. And to be fair, that was essentially the case in previous epidemic scares such as Ebola, SARS, and MERS. While each of those scares took a brief bite out of markets, they never severely impacted global growth. As we all now know, since coronavirus was detected in Italy, Germany, and the US, markets have swiftly reassessed their ambivalence.

Our assessment of the global economy is unavoidably colored by the potential for a global pandemic. The unprecedented municipal/provincial quarantines seen in China and the interruptions to the education/social systems in Japan, Korea, and now Italy are severe. These measures will restrict global supply chains as well as the ability/willingness of consumers to spend. There is little doubt that if these policies remain in force for an extended period that global economic growth will slow and potentially contract. Yet it is still not a foregone conclusion that ‘an extended period’ is necessarily in the cards.

What might put an end to the market anxiety? Well, the obvious answer is that an effective therapy/vaccine would offer relief to those with severe illness, as well as restore confidence in consumers. Additionally, a reaffirmation of accommodative monetary policy and a pledge by governments to provide fiscal support could help buffer against recession. In fact, the fiscal/monetary playbook being used in China has already begun to yield support to their markets and economy.

The visceral nature of the virus and the potential disruption to people’s daily lives makes this period in the markets especially tense. And going forward, we expect the market will continue to be headline-driven with knee jerk reactions to both the upside and downside. 

As always, we are keeping an open mind to both positive and negative outcomes. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. We will plan on sending more detailed updates in the coming weeks/months as necessary.

Link to schedule a call.

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief February 24 2020

Market Brief February 24 2020

The last week in February is here and the markets have dropped on the news of the increasing spread of the coronavirus. Impact beyond health concerns is the slowdown in supply chains for companies, and the downward effect on economic activity. The US economic report of the Services PMI dropped to a 76-month low in February. This follows a January report that was at a 5-month high. The bright spots from last week are found in manufacturing confidence and housing reports. Both housing starts and building permits figures remain at decade highs, with housing starts at the highest level since 2006. WalMart’s earnings report was positive, in-line with expectations. Significant to the investor, as WalMart is a good gauge of the consumer strength, and sales were up 5.7% last year. With that said, the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished down last week. The Dow down 1.4%, S&P 1.3%, and Nasdaq 1.6%.

This week will have plenty of economic reports to digest, but the coronavirus developments remain top priority. Tuesday’s consumer confidence report will shed light on whether consumers are concerned with the virus or not. Globally, Chinese banks may be on rocky ground. During the month of January, banks in China had loaned 3 times the amount that was loaned in December. Corporate loans also increased 7 times during the same time period. Debt levels this high could cause concern for long-term recovery and repayment issues.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 1.59%, S&P up 3.31%, and Nasdaq up 6.73%. I continue to encourage buy and hold investing for the long run and potential short-term disruptions can give investors long term opportunities.

Have a great week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief February 10 2020

Market Brief February 10 2020

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and the stock market continues to show investors plenty of love! The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 3%, S&P 3.17%, and Nasdaq 4.04%. The coronavirus remains a serious threat, but markets shrugged off the virus news in favor of positive U.S. manufacturing data, strong jobs reports, and company earnings. The Dow and S&P index finished the week with the best performance since the 5 trading days leading up to June 7, 2019. The Nasdaq had it’s best week since November 30, 2018.

The number of coronavirus cases continue to grow and estimates of economic growth for China continue to fall. The coronavirus has spread to different industries at different times. Initially, the travel and oil industries took a hit, as obvious travel restrictions were put into place. Oil prices are down 20% since January. Retail chains, such as Starbucks, also took a hit as many stores in China were closed. Currently, the healthcare industry is taking it on the chin, due to cancelled surgeries and disruption in supply chain. Technology may be on the horizon, as companies like Apple look at their own supply chain and impact the virus will have on production. Throughout February corporate earnings calls, the theme was similar, it is too early to tell the impact, but keep a close eye on what is happening. As of last night, the coronavirus death toll has exceeded that of the SARS virus.

Enter Federal Reserve. After Wednesday’s meeting, Wall Street was leaning towards another rate cut. This belief evaporated by Friday when the jobs report was released and the results were very strong. In Germany, industrial production fell in December by 3.5%, the largest drop post-financial crisis. Global woes remain an area of concern.

Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 1.98%, S&P up 3.0%, and Nasdaq up 6.1%. What else? For the S&P companies reporting in January, no dividends were cut, same result as January 2019, and 41 companies increased their dividends, which is up from 36 a year ago. Due to low bond yields, investors are flocking to real estate mutual funds and REIT investments. As reported by EPFR Global, $11B of money flowed into mutual funds with a real estate focus in 2019, and another $3B has moved there in 2020.

Have a great week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief January 21 2020

Market Brief January 21 2020

The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 1.8%, S&P 2.0%, and Nasdaq 2.3%. The indices continued to rise from solid economic reports coming from the housing, retail, and pricing reports, as well as, easing tensions between the U.S. and China. With the trade news somewhat behind us, focus turns towards corporate profits as Q4 earnings season is underway.

This week includes 58 more earnings reports by S&P 500 companies, along with home sales data and jobs numbers keeping investors attention. U.S. existing home sales have missed three consecutive months, so Wednesday’s report will be important. Inflation remains a major headwind for investors.

Caution ahead. The yield curve inversion in 2019 still lingers. As market history proves, the inverted yield curve foresees recession up to 2 years following the initial inversion. Wage growth and corporate earnings. As wages continue to rise and unemployment remains historically low, this puts companies in a tough position. As the expenses rise, the dilemma is whether to pass the cost to the customer, or eat it. Either way, this can lead to a negative outlook for stocks, as companies either will have shrinking margins, or contribute to inflation by way of rising prices. This is worth keeping an eye on going forward.

Have a great week!

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief January 13 2020

Market Brief January 13 2020

Happy Monday to you all! The markets quickly pushed aside the idea of increasing tension between the United States and Iran, as cooler heads prevailed. Global news is now instantly spread and processed by the markets, and being an election year, further geopolitical volatility should be expected. During an address last Wednesday, President Trump gave no signal of further escalation. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq indexes all finished up last week Dow up 0.6%, S&P 0.9%, and Nasdaq 1.7%.

The markets shook off the Middle East tensions and lower payroll figure released on Friday, the U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December. Despite being weaker than expected, the jobs report extended the streak of gains to 111 months in a row. The decade wrapped up with 10 straight years of job growth as well. Wage inflation reported a 2.9% increase year-over-year, outpacing current inflation levels. Europe economic reports were positive last week. The Eurozone’s December services PMI’s were revised higher and industrial production rose higher.

U.S. inflation, retail, and housing reports fill up the week of economic news. 2019 holiday sales were a record, so the attention is focused on the Retail Sales report released on Thursday.

From the Stock Trader’s Almanac – the first five trading days of the new year were positive, indicating an increased likelihood of an up year for the market. The Santa Claus rally was also positive. Whenever both the Santa Claus rally and first week of trading are positive, the Dow has gained an average 11.5% for the year and rose 80% of the time.

Year-to-date index performance will begin tracking once we have a month under our belt in 2020. The Oklahoma/Ohio State National title was suppose to be tonight! Since we don’t have a dog in the fight, we will take the Tigers to win the championship! And for the sports nuts reading this, I am referring to the Orange and White tigers!

Have a great week!

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This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.