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Weekly Market Commentary (February 29, 2016)

Weekly Market Commentary (February 29, 2016)
 
The Markets
 
It wasn’t as entertaining as the Fantastic Four, The Magnificent Seven, or Ocean’s 11 but, last week, we had an opportunity to watch the Group of 20 (G20).
 
The G20 stars finance ministers and central bankers from 19 countries and the European Union as well as representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The group meets periodically to discuss the global economy.
 
At their most recent meeting, the G20 made a commitment to continue to pursue global growth through monetary policy. They also emphasized governments around the world need to do more. The IMF’s report stated:
 
“In advanced economies, securing higher and sustainable growth requires a mix of mutually-reinforcing demand and supply policies. On the demand side, accommodative monetary policy remains essential where inflation is still well below central banks’ targets. However, a comprehensive approach is needed to reduce over-reliance on monetary policy. In particular, near-term fiscal policy should be more supportive...”
 
In other words, the world has been depending on monetary policies, which are determined by central banks, to encourage growth. Now it’s time for fiscal policies, which are measures implemented by governments (e.g., tax cuts, government spending), to strengthen economies.
 
BloombergBusiness reported the event might have disappointed investors who were hoping for a finale featuring a coordinated stimulus plan for the global economy. If so, it didn’t reflect in the performance of U.S. stock markets. ABC News reported an oil price rally helped push stock prices higher last week and so did some positive economic data. Fourth quarter’s U.S. gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced in the United States, was revised upward from 0.7 percent to 1.0 percent.
 
All major U.S. indices finished in positive territory for the second consecutive week.
 

Data as of 2/26/16
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
1.6%
-4.7%
-7.7%
9.2%
8.0%
4.2%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
0.2
-8.2
-18.2
-3.3
-3.3
-0.9
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.8
NA
2.0
1.9
3.4
4.6
Gold (per ounce)
-0.4
15.5
1.5
-8.3
-2.8
8.3
Bloomberg Commodity Index
0.5
-4.0
-26.1
-18.0
-14.6
-7.3
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index
2.2
-3.8
-3.2
7.7
9.1
6.0
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.
 
if you like fast food and a good deal, you can find a really cheap big mac in russia. The Economist created The Big Mac Index 30 years ago as a rough-and-ready gauge of world currencies. The index is based on the idea when currencies are aligned correctly, the same product (in this case, a Big Mac®) should have the same price in different countries when that price is denominated in a single currency. This is called purchasing power parity (PPP).
 
For the purposes of this commentary, we looked at the price of a Big Mac in U.S. dollars. Early in 2016, a Big Mac cost a hungry American about $4.93. In Russia, it cost about a $1.53, in the Euro area $4.00, and in Switzerland, about $6.44. These prices indicate the Russian ruble is undervalued by about 69 percent, the Euro is undervalued by about 19 percent, and the Swiss franc is overvalued by almost 31 percent. Switzerland is an outlier, according to The Economist:
 
“Americans hunting for cut-price burgers abroad are spoilt for choice: the index shows most currencies to be cheap relative to the greenback. This is partly owing to the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates when the central banks of the euro zone and Japan are loosening monetary policy... Another force weakening many currencies, including the ruble, has been the ongoing slump in commodity prices since mid-2014. Shrinking demand from China and a glut of supply have sapped the value of exports from Australia, Brazil, and Canada, among other places, causing their currencies to wilt, too.”
 
In theory, when a country’s currency depreciates relative to that of its trading partners, the country’s exports should become more attractive because they are less expensive and should boost economic growth. However, depreciation hasn’t produced the results many expected.
 
One explanation, offered by both the World Bank and the IMF, is globalization. If a country’s exports are part of a global supply chain, then the cost of materials imported to create the exports may offset gains from currency depreciation. According to The Economist, “The IMF thinks this accounts for much of the sluggishness of Japan’s exports; the World Bank argues that it explains about 40 percent of the diminished impact of devaluations globally.”
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
--Henry David Thoreau, American author
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* 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. * The fast price swings in commodities and currencies will result in significant volatility in an investor’s holdings. * 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. owever, 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. * The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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 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. * 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. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Commentary (February 22, 2016)

And the economic data says…

The United States economy is doing pretty well. So well that a March rate hike by the Federal Reserve is not entirely out of the question. Barron’s described the situation like this:

“Squawking pessimism can't drown out what is a very respectable start to 2016. Economic data so far this year, apart from predictions of deflation and negative interest rates, could justify what was scheduled to be, but what soon seemed impossible, a rate hike at the March FOMC. Yes, global factors are a risk and are hurting the factory sector but service prices are definitely on the climb and vehicle prices and vehicle production, reflecting strength in domestic demand, are back up. Ignore the cacophony of doubt and look at the economic data for yourself!”

U.S. economic data was generally positive last week, but that wasn’t the primary driver behind the rally in U.S. stock markets, according to Reuters. Nope, that had more to do with oil prices. Despite serious political differences, Iran and Saudi Arabia appeared to reach an accord on oil production last week, when Iran endorsed a plan by Saudi Arabia to stabilize global oil prices, according to The Guardian. The agreement pushed oil prices higher mid-week.

However, late in the week, news that oil stockpiles in the U.S. were at record levels reignited worries about oversupply and oil prices fell at week’s end. U.S. stock markets followed, giving back some of the week’s gains on Friday, but all of the major indices finished more than 2 percent higher for the week.

Economic data may dominate the news next week. We’ll get more information on housing, durable goods orders, jobless claims for February, and a revised estimate for fourth quarter’s gross domestic product growth. Barron’s suggested a strong employment report in tandem with rising prices could influence the Fed’s interest rate decision.


Data as of 2/19/16

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)

2.8%

-6.2%

-8.6%

7.8%

7.8%

4.1%

Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.

4.4

-8.4

-17.6

-4.3

-3.2

-0.7

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

1.8

NA

2.0

2.0

3.5

4.6

Gold (per ounce)

-0.7

15.9

1.8

-8.5

-2.6

8.3

Bloomberg Commodity Index

-0.4

-4.4

-27.2

-18.6

-14.2

-7.6

DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index

4.1

-5.8

-6.2

6.4

9.2

5.8

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.

wondering what the next decade may bring? America is renowned for innovation – originating ideas that change the ways in which people live and work. From the cotton gin to the assembly line, the transcontinental railroad to the automobile, the telephone to the Internet, ideas and inventions have spurred America’s economic growth during the past two centuries. Here are a few inventions that are on the horizon:

·         The Superman memory crystal: Imagine, a tiny piece of glass etched by a laser that has the capacity to save an enormous amount of data for more than 13 billion years, according to LiveScience.com. One tiny disc currently holds the Magna Carta, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and King James Bible.

·         A transparent antipeep piezoelectric nanogenerator (TAPN): It may have a tongue twister of a name right now, but the TAPN could become as familiar as your phone charger in the future. All you’ll have to do is place a transparent film on the touchscreen of a smartphone or another device, and then every tap on the screen will generate electricity. Which begs the question: Could texting teenagers power the world?

·         A braille printer: A 12-year-old used Legos to build an inexpensive printer for people who are blind or suffering from macular degeneration or other conditions that affect eyesight. It used a thumbtack to punch braille dots into paper. Newer prototypes don’t rely on thumbtacks, and are expected to translate words from a computer screen into braille very quickly.

·         A fry pan that teaches cooking: Cooking will not become a lost art if a couple of hungry and cooking-challenged college students are successful. They’ve developed a smart frying pan. The pan transmits temperature data to the cook using a smartphone app that also lets the cook know when it’s time for the next step in a recipe.

The human brain is an engine for innovation, and innovation is a driver of economic growth. Let’s hope the outlook is good for brainstorms in the United States and across the globe.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.”

--Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft

 

* 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. * The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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 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. * 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. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

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Weekly Market Commentary (February 16, 2016)

Weekly Market Commentary (February 16, 2016)
 
The Markets
 
Are markets suffering from excessive worry?
 
Last week, markets headed south because investors were concerned about the possibility of negative interest rates in the United States - even though the U.S. Federal Reserve has been tightening monetary policy (i.e., they've been raising interest rates).
 
The worries appear to have taken root after the House Financial Services Committee asked Fed Chair Janet Yellen whether the Federal Reserve was opposed to reducing its target rate below zero should economic conditions warrant it (e.g., if the U.S. economy deteriorated in a significant way). Barron's reported on the confab between the House and the Fed:
 
"Another, equally remote scenario also gave markets the willies last week: that the Federal Reserve could potentially push its key interest-rate targets below zero, as its central-bank counterparts in Europe and Japan already have. Not that anybody imagined it was on the agenda of the U.S. central bank, which, after all, had just embarked on raising short-term interest rates in December and marching to a different drummer than virtually all other central banks, which are in rate-cutting mode."
 
Worried investors may want to consider insights offered by the Financial Times, which published an article in January titled, "Why global economic disaster is an unlikely event." It discussed global risks, including inflation shocks, financial crises, and geopolitical upheaval and conflict while pointing out:
 
"The innovation-driven economy that emerged in the late 18th and 19th centuries and spread across the globe in the 20th and 21st just grows. That is the most important fact about it. It does not grow across the world at all evenly - far from it. It does not share its benefits among people at all equally - again, far from it. But it grows. It grew last year. Much the most plausible assumption is that it will grow again this year. The world economy will not grow forever. But it will only stop when...resource constraints offset innovation. We are certainly not there yet."
 
Markets bounced at the end of the week when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) indicated its members were ready to cut production. The news pushed oil prices about 12 percent higher and alleviated one worry - for now.
 

Data as of 2/12/16
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
-0.8%
-8.8%
-10.7%
7.1%
7.0%
4.0%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
-4.6
-12.2
-19.9
-5.4
-4.0
-1.0
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.8
NA
2.0
2.0
3.6
4.6
Gold (per ounce)
7.8
16.7
1.4
-9.0
-1.9
8.5
Bloomberg Commodity Index
-0.2
-4.0
-26.8
-18.5
-14.1
-7.4
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index
-4.1
-9.5
-11.7
5.1
8.2
5.6
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.
 
Capital has been leaving china...When Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week, she made no bones about the fact the Fed is keeping an eye on economic developments in China and evaluating the ways in which changing circumstances in the country, including currency devaluation, could affect global growth and the U.S. economy.
 
Yellen is not the only one worried about currency devaluation in China. The New York Times reported Chinese companies and wealthy citizens have been pulling money out of the country because they're worried the purchasing power of their savings will decline significantly if the government further devalues the renminbi. Some have been using renminbi to invest in real estate abroad, buy overseas businesses, or pay off dollar-denominated debt.
 
Others have been avoiding China's capital controls, which are measures designed to regulate flows from capital markets, by engaging in 'smurfing.' The New York Times described the practice of smurfing this way, "...Individuals are asking friends or family members to carry or transfer out $50,000 apiece, the annual legal limit in China. A group of 100 people can move $5 million overseas."
 
According to the Institute of International Finance, cited by CNBC:
 
"The 2015 outflows largely reflected efforts by Chinese corporates to reduce dollar exposure after years of heavy dollar borrowing as expectations of persistent renminbi appreciation were replaced by rising concerns about a weakening currency."
 
During the final six months of 2015, capital flowed out of China at a rate of about one trillion U.S. dollars annualized, according to The Economist.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."
--Buddha, Religious leader
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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 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. * 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. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary (February 8, 2016)

Weekly Market Commentary (February 8, 2016)
 
The Markets
 
There was bad news and good news in last Friday's unemployment report.
 
In the negative column, fewer jobs were created in the United States than economists had predicted, and January's jobs gains were not as strong as December's had been. In addition, the December jobs increase was revised downward from 292,000 to 252,000, according to Barron's.
 
On the positive side of the ledger, more than 150,000 new jobs were added in January. The unemployment rate fell below 5 percent for the first time since February of 2008 and earnings increased. In total, average hourly earnings have moved 2.5 percent higher during the past 12 months.
 
Good news plus bad news equals uncertainty. As we've seen, that's a state of affairs markets strongly dislike. In January, slower growth in China and low oil prices had markets in a tizzy. Last week, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gave back more than 3 percent as investors tried to decide whether employment news indicated a rising risk of recession in the United States, according to Barron's.
 
When investors are emotional and markets are volatile, it can be helpful to remember the words of Ben Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor, who believed a company's intrinsic value should be measured by its operating performance rather than its share value. Warren Buffett shared Graham's thoughts on 'Mr. Market' in a 1987 shareholder letter. In part, it cautions:
 
"...Like Cinderella at the ball, you must heed one warning or everything will turn into pumpkins and mice: Mr. Market is there to serve you, not to guide you. It is his pocketbook, not his wisdom, that you will find useful. If he shows up some day in a particularly foolish mood, you are free to either ignore him or to take advantage of him, but it will be disastrous if you fall under his influence."
 
So, how are companies performing? It depends on which you own but, during the current quarterly earnings season, most companies have reported earnings that exceed expectations. That's not something that tends to happen during recessions, according to Barron's.
 

Data as of 2/5/16
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
-3.1%
-8.0%
-8.9%
7.6%
7.3%
4.0%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
-1.1
-8.0
-16.1
-4.0
-3.2
-0.8
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.9
NA
1.8
2.0
3.6
4.6
Gold (per ounce)
3.5
8.3
-8.7
-11.8
-3.1
7.3
Bloomberg Commodity Index
-2.1
-3.8
-26.2
-19.1
-14.2
-7.8
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index
-2.4
-5.7
-10.0
7.1
9.4
6.1
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.
 
setting an example for future generations... Do your children or grandchildren spend summers mowing lawns, repairing computers, or selling movie tickets? Perhaps, they have part-time jobs during the school year, bagging groceries, or working in a local shop. No matter the type of work done, if a young person has earned income, he or she can save in a Roth IRA.
 
While saving for retirement probably isn't even a blip on the radar for most young people, their older relatives are aware of the challenges related to saving for and generating income in retirement. Many also understand the importance of starting early - a task that has been made easier by custodial Roth IRAs. It is now possible to establish Roth IRAs for children who are younger than age 18, as long as they have earned income.
 
Communicating the importance of saving for retirement (and other goals) to younger family members is important, especially when the 2015 Employee Benefit Research Institute's Retirement Confidence Survey found about 39 percent of working Americans are not currently saving for retirement. Since actions often speak louder than words, a Time.com reporter offered this suggestion:
 
"Most kids will not have the ability or discipline to fund the account through their earnings. But adults can reward their hard work by contributing on their behalf. This demonstrates the value of saving...The additional saving is all the more important for young people, who will have fewer sources of guaranteed lifetime income in their retirement years."
 
Money Chimp's compounding calculator suggests a one-time $5,000 investment, earning 6 percent a year on average, would be worth more than $178,000 in 60 years. That could become tax-free income for a child or grandchild's retirement if the investment was in a Roth IRA. Please keep in mind, this is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary. The hypothetical 6% return used is not guaranteed and does not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing.
 
Of course, one attractive aspect of a Roth IRA account is the assets also can be used, penalty-free, for college tuition or the purchase of a first home, as long as certain requirements are met (including the account having been open for at least five years). About the Roth IRA - The Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax.
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies."
--Groucho Marx, American comedian
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 

 

* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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 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. * 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. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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Weekly Market Commentary (February 1, 2016)

Weekly Market Commentary (February 1, 2016)
 
The Markets
 
How low can you go?
 
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) dove into the negative interest rate rabbit hole last week when it dropped its benchmark interest rate to minus 0.1 percent. If you've been following Japan's story, then you know the country has been struggling with deflation for almost two decades. The BOJ's goal is to push inflation up to 2 percent. MarketWatch explained the idea behind negative interest rates:
 
"Central banks use their deposit to influence how banks handle their reserves. In the case of negative rates, central banks want to dissuade lenders from parking cash with them. The hope is that they will use that money to lend to individuals and businesses which, in turn, will spend the money and boost the economy and contribut­­e to inflation."
 
If the idea of negative interest rates sounds familiar, it's probably because Europe has been delving into negative interest rate territory for a while. Several European central banks have adopted negative interest rate strategies, and about one-third of the bonds issued by governments in the eurozone offered negative yields at the end of 2015. It's an unusual state of affairs - offering investors bonds that pay less than nothing. If investors hold to maturity, they get back less than their investment amount.
 
While negative rates may not be pleasing to bond buyers, U.S. stock markets were thrilled by the BOJ's surprise rate cut. Major indices rose by about 2 percent on Friday.
 
Market performance was also boosted by a bad-news-is-good-news interpretation of weak fourth quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates. According to Reuters, slower growth in the U.S. economy raised investors' hopes the Federal Reserve would hold back on future rate hikes.
 

Data as of 1/29/16
1-Week
Y-T-D
1-Year
3-Year
5-Year
10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)
1.8%
-5.1%
-4.0%
8.8%
8.6%
4.2%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.
2.2
-7.0
-13.6
-3.8
-2.6
-0.7
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)
1.9
NA
1.8
2.0
3.4
4.5
Gold (per ounce)
1.4
4.7
-12.4
-12.6
-3.5
7.0
Bloomberg Commodity Index
2.6
-1.7
-21.8
-18.2
-14.0
-7.8
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index
1.1
-3.4
-8.2
7.5
10.1
6.3
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.
 
Does the stock market overreact? Some experts say it does. In 1985, Werner DeBondt, currently a professor of finance at DePaul University, and Richard Thaler, currently a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago, published an article titled, Does The Stock Market Overreact?
 
The professors were among the first economists to study behavioral finance, which explores the ways in which psychology explains investors' behavior. Classic economic theory assumes all people make rational decisions all the time and always act in ways that optimize their benefits. Behavioral finance recognizes people don't always act in rational ways, and it tries to explain how irrational behavior affects markets.
 
DeBondt and Thaler's research, which has been explored and disputed over the years, supported the idea that markets tend to overreact to "unexpected and dramatic news and events." The pair found people tend to give too much weight to new information. As a result, stock markets often are buffeted by bouts of optimism and bouts of pessimism, which push stock prices higher or lower than they deserve to be.
 
In a recent memo, Oaktree Capital's Howard Marks reiterated his long-held opinion, "...In order to be successful, an investor has to understand not just finance, accounting, and economics, but also psychology." He makes a good point.
 
When markets become volatile, it's a good idea to remember the words of Benjamin Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor, who wrote, "By developing your discipline and courage, you can refuse to let other people's mood swings govern your financial destiny. In the end, how your investments behave is much less important than how you behave."
 
Weekly Focus - Think About It
 
"Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground."
--Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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 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. * 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. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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