Money Talks – March 24, 2018

This week on “Money Talks,” Bil Lako, CFP®, and Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, are joined by Managing Associate, Shawna Theriault, CPA, CFP®, CDFA®, to discuss the week’s market moves, the Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day meeting on monetary policy, and housing news including mortgage applications, existing home sales and new home sales. Shawna and Bil continue the housing discussion when they address recently released guidance from the IRS regarding the deductibility of home equity loan interest in context of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The experts also answer listeners’ questions on SP Plus Corp, Modine Manufacturing Co., and the medical exam requirements for a life insurance policy. They also discuss one listener’s bond holdings that were moved into an equity income portfolio when rates were extremely low.

Market Roundup: Major Indices Down More than 5% While Fed Hikes Interest Rates

Stocks slipped on Monday with Technology shares dragging down the stock indices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.3%, falling back into negative territory for 2018. Facebook lost about $36.4 billion in market value on the discovery that a firm tied to Trump’s 2016 election campaign gathered data from millions of Facebook profiles without authorization. The market climbed on Tuesday despite Facebook’s continued decline. Midweek, the major indices closed fractionally in red territory as stocks traded lower in the wake of news from the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting. The Federal Open Market Committee agreed to boost the target range for the Fed funds rate by 25 basis points to a range of 1.5% — 1.75%, as anticipated. The Fed also revised its forecast for GDP growth this year from 2.5% to 2.7% and foresees expansion of 2.4% in 2019. Looking elsewhere, existing-home sales ticked up in February, as total sales increased 3% for the month and are up 1.1% from a year ago. Indices dipped down on Thursday after President Trump announced a trade action against China. On another note, the U.S. labor market continues to tighten as Department of Labor data showed the four-week moving average for initial jobless claims slid 750 from the previous week’s revised average to 221,500. Stocks dipped Friday as potential trade war concerns ramped up. Facebook also traded lower for a fifth straight session. On another note, durable goods orders jumped up in February. Orders for goods designed to last several years increased by 3.1% last month. The results exceeded estimates of a 1.7% gain.

Money Talks – March 17, 2018

This week on “Money Talks,” Bil Lako, CFP®, and Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA, are joined by Senior Associate Jarrett McKenzie, CFP®, CWS®, to discuss the week’s market movements, economic releases the Consumer Price and Producer Price indices, and a wrap of fourth quarter 2017 earnings season. They also touch on housing data for February. The big discussion this week was about Bitcoin, including what it is, what it isn’t in our opinion, and whether or not investors should add bitcoin to their portfolios. The hosts also answer a listener’s question on keeping money for living expenses in bonds or if he should separate it from his portfolio.

Market Roundup: Market Volatility Fueled by Inflation Fears and Trade Policy Concerns

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index started the week slightly down, as investors continued to assess the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The slip continued Tuesday after early market momentum faded following news of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s ouster. Elsewhere, consumer prices ticked up in February, as the Consumer Price Index rose 0.2%, cooling slightly from a 0.5% jump in January. The core measure, which excludes food and energy, also increased by 0.2%, following a 0.3% gain in January. Indices were still in the red zone on Wednesday as investors weighted new signs that protectionist trade policies could spread to other countries, slowing international trade and weakening global economic growth. In economic releases, the Producer Price Index rose 0.2%, versus expectations of a 0.1% increase, and following a 0.4% gain in January. Additionally, Retail Sales slipped in February, falling 0.1% versus an expected 0.3% gain. Discounting gas and cars, sales stepped up 0.3%. Mixed moves were on deck Thursday, with the Dow stepping up while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite shed some points. In economic news, initial jobless claims decreased last week, as Department of Labor data showed new claims fell 4,000 to 226,000 for the week ended March 10. On another note, import prices increased by 0.4% in February following a downwardly revised 0.8% jump in January. Heading into St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, the major indices finally landed in the green zone on Friday. Housing starts decreased to an annual rate of 1.24 million in February. The results were weaker than expected and fell shy of January’s upwardly revised 1.33 million. Furthermore, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index showed confidence is on the upswing. In a preliminary reading for March, the consumer sentiment index jumped to 102, marking the highest level since 2004, from February’s reading of 99.7.

Money Talks – March 10, 2018

This week on “Money Talks,” Chief Investment Officer Troy Harmon, CFA, CVA is joined by Principal Jennifer J. Thomas, CFP®, and Managing Associate K.C. Smith, CFP®, to broadly discuss the week’s economic picture, including the ISM Manufacturing Index, Factory Orders, Productivity and Costs, and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book. Now that it is prime tax season, Jennifer and K.C. discuss some of the many devious scams that thieves are using, capitalizing on the common fear of the IRS. They also provide some tips on how to really know when it is the IRS contacting you. The experts round out the show by answering listeners’ questions on pharmaceutical company AbbVie, and insurance companies Lincoln National Corp and Allstate Corp. They also discuss how working in retirement can affect your Social Security benefits and shed a little light on what the proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum mean.