Money Talks – March 5, 2016

This week on “Money Talks,” Principal Jennifer Thomas, CFP®, joins hosts Matt Hames, CTFA, and Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, to discuss the week’s many economic releases including GDP, Consumer Sentiment and the ISM Manufacturing and Services indices. They also take a look at a case study involving making the most out of a pension plan benefit, and when it makes sense to consider a lump sum benefit over annuity payments. The experts also tackle listeners’ questions on several Vanguard funds, toy maker Jakks Pacific, and convenience stores CST Brands, Inc. and Travel Centers of America. 

Market Roundup: Major Indices Posted Gains for the Week

Monday brought February to a close with the S&P fell 0.41% in February after losing 5.07% in January, putting its year-to-date loss at 5.47%. Worries about China’s economy, depressed oil prices and signs of deflation in the Eurozone all weighed on the market. Tuesday, the stock indexes surged to their highest levels in nearly two months on signs of improvement in the U.S. economy. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose more than anticipated, rising from 48.2 in January to 49.5 in February. Though the index remained below the neutral threshold of 50, there was improvement in the production and inventory index. Higher oil prices fueled a rally mid-week, as energy shares led the S&P 500 up. Data showing continued strength in the labor market attracted attention as investors search for clues about when the Fed will make its next interest-rate increase.  On Thursday, the Non-Manufacturing Index from the Institute for Supply Management indicates growth in February at 53.4%. The index for January was 53.5%, thus reflecting growth, but at a slower rate. The news from the employment sector continues to be favorable based on the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 242,000 in February, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%.