Articles for February 2014

CFGIowa Weekly Economic Update February 28, 2014

MORE MILD INFLATION

Consumer prices ticked up 0.1% for January while wholesale prices rose 0.2%. Analysts polled by MarketWatch expected both the headline Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index to advance 0.1%. The bigger news item (perhaps) is that the Labor Department altered its calculation of producer prices for the first time in 36 years. The definitive PPI is now called the PPI Final Demand index, and it measures prices received for exports, services, federal government purchases and construction in addition to those of finished goods.1,2

POOR HOME SALES TO START THE YEAR

The annual pace of existing home sales hit an 18-month low in January; the National Association of Realtors announced 5.1% monthly and yearly declines in residential resales. The good news? Inventory continues to expand (+2.2% in January) and the median existing home price was $188,900 last month, up 10.7% from a year ago.3

OIL TOPS $102, GOLD ADVANCES FOR A THIRD WEEK

NYMEX crude for April delivery settled at $102.20 a barrel Friday, rising 1.9% for the week. Unrest in Ukraine, Venezuela, Turkey and other emerging markets also influenced the 0.4% gain for COMEX gold futures last week – the precious metal settled Friday at $1,323.60 per ounce.4

NASDAQ ADDS TO YTD GAINS

The tech-heavy benchmark rose 0.46% during this past abbreviated trading week, wrapping up Friday at 4,263.41; in contrast, the Dow and S&P 500 each slipped a bit over four days. After a 0.32% weekly loss, the Dow stood at 16,103.30. The S&P settled Friday at 1,836.25, losing 0.13% on the week.5

THIS WEEK: Berkshire Hathaway, Hertz and Live Nation announce earnings Monday. Tuesday, the Conference Board publishes its February consumer confidence index, the December Case-Shiller and FHFA home price indices appear, and Big 5, Office Depot, CoreLogic, Metro PCS, Papa John’s, Toll Brothers, Macy’s, Home Depot, Alleghany, Molycorp, Dreamworks and Cracker Barrel all present earnings. Wednesday offers January new home sales numbers and earnings from Baidu, TJX, Starwood Hotels, JC Penney and U.S. Cellular. Thursday, Fed chair Janet Yellen reports to Congress and new initial claims figures and data on January hard goods orders arrive; quarterly results come from Salesforce, Wendy’s, Hilton, Monster, Sempra Energy, Main Street Capital and Republic Airways. Friday brings the month’s final University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, NAR’s report on January pending home sales, and the second federal estimate of Q4 GDP.

Please feel free to forward this article to family, friends or colleagues.
If you would like us to add them to our distribution list, please reply with their address.
We will contact them first and request their permission to add them to our list.

Securities offered through LPL Financial (LPL), Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Advantage Investment Management, a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and Advantage Investment Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The fast price swings in commodities, precious metals and currencies will result in significant volatility in an investor’s holdings.

Precious metal investing is subject to substantial fluctuation and potential for loss.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by the urban consumers for a market basket of consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks.

The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade.

Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards. This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.

Citations.
1 – marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic [2/21/14]
2 – bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-18/producer-price-index-in-u-s-gets-first-overhaul-since-1978.html [2/18/14]
3 – 247wallst.com/housing/2014/02/21/january-sales-of-existing-homes-at-18-month-low/ [2/21/14]
4 – proactiveinvestors.com/companies/news/52249/gold-rises-05-oil-above-102-52249.html [2/21/14]
5 – fxstreet.com/news/forex-news/article.aspx?storyid=f0ae7598-7cbc-41c0-a5ff-1f741e2d583b [2/21/14]

Income inequality and your investment account

A new article came out recently stating that the top 1% of the world population controls $110 trillion of wealth. http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-summ-en.pdf . I understand that many folks consider this a travesty, but before they get too excited about righting this inequality of wealth, they need to actually “run the numbers” and try to avoid being a hypocrite.

Upon doing a little math, I found many of my clients are in that top 1%. That’s right! Before you get too impressed, consider this: the richest 1% globally control $110 trillion of wealth. There are 7 billion people on earth, so $110 trillion divided by 7 billion equals about $1.5 million each. A farmer client who owns 240 acres of Iowa land (a small farm for those who might not know) or a small business person who owns her business debt free, along with a home and a $500,000 401k, could also fall in that 1%. Heck, a person who can save $275/month and increases that with the inflation rate can get to $1.5 million by retirement age.¹

So to be more fair to the less rich, let’s just take from the “super rich”. That would probably do it, right? Well, according to Forbes list of richest people in the world, the top 50 have roughly $1.2 trillion of wealth.² If you confiscated ALL their wealth, it wouldn’t come close to paying down the total public (government) debt in the world of $52.6 trillion (http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock). It wouldn’t even pay the interest on the debt! And, the $1.2 trillion spread out evenly over every man, woman and child on earth, would give everyone $171.43. Would that pay your cell phone bill for 5 months? Or if you confiscated ALL the wealth of the top 1 percenters and spread it out evenly, everyone would get $15,714.28. For those in third world countries who face REAL poverty, that’s certainly a lot. But in the U.S., although it’s considered poverty, it’s not enough to help most people for any length of time.

How does this affect your investments? When the government attempts to help those in poverty, it spends money on social programs. Since it doesn’t currently bring in enough money through taxes, it borrows the difference from investors with help from the Federal Reserve (our banking system in the U.S.)

Our Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air (“prints” money to increase the money supply) and has been using that money to buy U.S. government-backed debt. That extra money enters our economy.³ Some of it ends up in the hands of citizens. Some spend it, but some save it. For those who save it, some ends up being invested in stocks, some in their businesses, and some in real estate, among other places. This typically pushes asset values higher, which makes those people appear richer….on paper.

They may not be poor but many of them saved that money themselves and they don’t consider themselves rich. When the stock market last crashed, in 2008-2009, many of those people lost nearly 50% of that wealth. Not all of those folks were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Their plans for a successful retirement hinge on a decent 401k and Social Security. And Social Security is funded by a trust fund expected to be exhausted in around 20 years, with the source of this information being the 2013 Annual Reports summary on the Social Security website itself (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/TRSUM/tr13summary.pdf) and run by a government that is $17 trillion in debt (http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/current). The unfunded (future) liabilities of the United States government are projected to be over $127 trillion…more than $1.1 million for every taxpayer alive today.4

So as easy as it is to despise rich people, not all are evil and taking from them won’t come close to solving the problem anyway. And as much as we’d like to think government is the answer, not all government is good and as the debt increases, it probably means much larger problems and much less wealth for everyone when the bubbles pop again like some did in 2008-2009.

Towards that end, we run what-if stress testing scenarios for our clients simulating multiple economic events that could impact their life’s savings, helping them understand the very REAL consequences of actions by governments, terrorists, and the like. Being informed about, and in charge of, your portfolio is the best way to understand and deal with the certainty of uncertainty that affects our life.

Finally, if you really think that rich people have more influence over government than poor people, you may be right. But by that logic, we should all vote for smaller government. There would be fewer people in the government to influence and a chance to reduce the federal debt, which may help save Social Security in the future for us and our kids. If we achieve wealth equality, we’ll need it!

¹annual interest rate 7.5% for 45 years, increasing contributions by an inflation rate of 2.5% and compounding annually. For illustrative purposes only. Not based on any specific investments. Investing in securities involves risk, including potential loss of principal.

² http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/

³http://www.independent.com/news/2012/feb/25/how-us-federal-reserve-creates-and-destroys-money/

4http://www.usdebtclock.org/

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

CFGIowa Weekly Economic Update – February 3, 2014

CONSUMER MORALE, CONSUMER SPENDING IMPROVE

On Friday, the Commerce Department announced that consumer spending rose 0.4% in December, even as consumer incomes stayed flat. The University of Michigan’s final January consumer sentiment index came in at 81.2 (up 0.8 points from December) and the Conference Board’s January consumer confidence index posted a reading of 80.7 (up 3.2 points from last month). Analysts surveyed by Briefing.com thought both indices would be flat for January.1

HOME SALES DIP, BUT PRICES RISE

Brutal weather sent pending home sales down 8.7% in December to a 43-month low, as reported by the National Association of Realtors. The Census Bureau measured a 7.0% drop in new home buying last month. In better news, November’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 13.7% yearly advance (the best 12-month gain in housing values since February 2006), and new home prices rose 8.4% in 2013.2,3

FEWER ORDERS FOR BIG-TICKET ITEMS

Durable goods orders fell 4.3% in December, but the Census Bureau said the retreat was only 1.6% when transportation orders were factored out. This was a switch from the (revised) 3.4% gain in hard goods orders in November.1

FED TAPERS FURTHER, STOCKS SLIP

As expected, the Federal Reserve announced last week that it would reduce its monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion starting in February. Wall Street struggled for most of the week, with the 5-day performances as follows: DJIA, -1.13% to 15,698.85; NASDAQ, -0.59% to 4,103.88; S&P 500, -0.43% to 1,782.59.4,5

THIS WEEK: On Monday, Janet Yellen will be sworn in as Fed chair, ISM puts out its January manufacturing PMI, the Commerce Department issues December auto sales figures, and Anadarko, Hartford Financial, Yum! Brands and Sysco release quarterly results. SiriusXM, Archer Daniels Midland, Michael Kors and Aflac post earnings Tuesday, and data on December factory orders also arrives. Wednesday brings January’s ISM service sector index, January’s ADP employment report and earnings from Merck, Time Warner, Green Mountain Coffee, Aramark, Allstate, CBRE, Yelp!, Ralph Lauren, Marathon Oil, Walt Disney, Twitter, Tesoro and Pandora. Thursday, earnings from AOL, Expedia, Zynga, GM, Kellogg, Aetna, Towers Watson, Fidelity, Activision Blizzard, Vulcan Materials, Monster, Phillip Morris, Invacare, Amtech, 21st Century Fox, Lions Gate, Universal and LinkedIn all arrive, plus new initial claims figures and a new Challenger job-cut report. Friday, the Labor Department releases the January employment report.

% CHANGE

Y-T-D

1-YR CHG

5-YR AVG

10-YR AVG

DJIA

-5.30

+13.26

+19.24

+4.97

NASDAQ

-1.74

+30.61

+35.59

+9.86

S&P 500

-3.56

+18.99

+23.17

+5.76

REAL YIELD

1/31 RATE

1 YR AGO

5 YRS AGO

10 YRS AGO

10 YR TIPS

0.53%

-0.57%

1.73%

1.85%

«RepresentativeDisclosure»

The S&P / Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index measures the change in the value of U.S. residential housing market. The S&P / Chase-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index tracks the growth in value of real estate by following the purchase price and resale value of homes that have undergone a minimum of two arm’s-length transactions. The index is named for its creators, Karl Case and Robert Shiller.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (MCSI) is a survey of consumer confidence conducted by the University of Michigan. The MCSI uses telephone surveys to gather information on consumer expectations regarding the overall economy.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Marketing Library.Net Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks.

The NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services.

The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade.

Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards. This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.

Citations.
1 – briefing.com/investor/calendars/economic/2014/01/27-31 [1/31/14]
2 – bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-30/pending-sales-of-u-s-existing-homes-slump-most-since-may-2010.html [1/30/14]
3 – foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2014/01/27/new-home-sales-slide-7-in-december/ [1/27/14]
4 – marketwatch.com/story/fed-stays-the-course-by-tapering-another-10-billion-2014-01-29 [1/29/14]
5 – google.com/finance?q=INDEXDJX%3A.DJI%2CINDEXSP%3A.INX%2CINDEXNASDAQ%3A.IXIC&ei=ABvsUviuDeetiQKN3QE&gl=us [1/31/14]
6 – usatoday.com/money/markets/overview/ [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=1%2F31%2F12&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=1%2F31%2F12&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=1%2F31%2F13&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=1%2F30%2F09&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=1%2F30%2F09&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=1%2F30%2F09&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=1%2F30%2F04&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=1%2F30%2F04&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
7 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=1%2F30%2F04&x=0&y=0 [1/31/14]
8 – treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyield [1/31/14]
9 – treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyieldAll [1/31/14]