Markets Increase

Weekly Update – April 2, 2018

Markets were closed on March 30 for Good Friday, but in the four days of trading, stocks recovered some of this year’s losses. [1] For the week, the S&P 500 added 2.09%, the Dow gained 2.67%, and the NASDAQ increased by 1.03%. [2] International stocks in the MSCI EAFE grew 0.81% .[3]

Last week also marked the end of the year’s 1 st quarter. Our next market update will share a recap of key performance details and events from January through March.

In this report, we will consider findings from last week and offer some perspective on the data.

What We Learned Last Week:

The Economy Expanded More Than Thought

We received the final reading of 4 th quarter 2017 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the numbers were higher than expected. Between October and December last year, GDP grew at a 2.9% annualized rate. In particular, consumer spending contributed significantly to our economic growth. [4] 

Consumers Remained Confident

Consumer Sentiment readings reached a 14-year high in March and may be a sign that spending was also on the rise last month. [5] Meanwhile, the Consumer Confidence report showed slightly lower readings than in February but continued to stay high. Though respondents’ confidence in the stock market wavered, their strong assessments of the labor market helped maintain solid numbers. [6] 

Personal Incomes Rose

Personal income grew 0.4% in February and has increased 3.7% over the past 12 months. Consumers also spent more money, and data on personal debt and financial obligations indicates that they still have more room to spend. [7] 

The Takeaway

Examined together, this data seems to indicate that consumers are confident about the economy and their job prospects – and are continuing to earn and spend more.   Considering that approximately 69% of the U.S. economy comes from consumer spending, these developments should be positive news. [8]

That said, every market environment has risks, and no economy is perfect. We are here to help you navigate your finances and make sense of developing news. If you have any questions, contact us any time.

Monday: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending
Tuesday: Motor Vehicle Sales
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg Index
Thursday: Jobless Claims
Friday: Employment Situation
Notes: All index returns (except S&P 500) exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. The total returns for the S&P 500 assume reinvestment of dividends on the last day of the month. This may account for differences between the index returns published on and the index returns published elsewhere. International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.
Quote Of The Week
The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.
The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
-Winston Churchill
Recipe Of The Week
Berry Coconut Crumble
Serves 6
  • ¼ cup room temperature unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 4 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Apply butter to a 2-quart casserole dish or 6 mini dishes.
  3. Create the crumble by mixing almond flour, oats, pecans, cinnamon, and salt with maple syrup and ¼ cup butter in a large bowl until the mixture is no longer dry and forms large clumps. Set aside.
  4. In a second bowl, toss together raspberries, pomegranate seeds, cornstarch, and sugar. Transfer the mix to the prepared dish.
  5. Put the crumble mix on top and sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  6. Bake. Rotate the dish halfway through. Crumble is done when it is bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden brown, 35-40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping [9]

Healthy Lifestyle

How to Get Your Kids Exercising

The electronic age may have made life easier and more convenient for you and your children or grandchildren. But it also has made a lot of us more sedentary.

You know what it takes to get exercising: a plan and a little initiative. But how do you get the little ones moving?

Here are some tips to get the children (or grandchildren) exercising and, at the same time, loving it:

  • Get a move on together. Instead of watching TV or playing video games after dinner, go outside for a walk or a bike ride. You can go play basketball or catch.
  • An hour of power. OK. You’re outside. Your next goal is to stay out there and moving for at least 60 minutes. Performing a variety of activities – running, walking, skipping rope, or playing at the playground – may help you put in the time.
  • Your children love gadgets. So, why not get them a step counter? They can measure how many steps to the playground slide, to the telephone pole, or to their friend’s house. They can see how fast they can take 50 steps.
  • On the other side, you don’t have to go high tech. Low tech will do. How about a tennis racket, a jump rope, a hula hoop, or skates? Just some good, old-fashioned fun.
  • Sometimes it’s all about location, location, location. Go to the park. Do a picnic at the lake. How about going to the baseball field? Kind of like taking a very short vacation.
  • “Kiai!” Enrolling in activity classes – karate, tennis, or dance – is a great way to get your children moving and excited about exercising.
  • Go back to the video games. But use the ones with motion sensors.
  • Make exercise fun. How about building a snowman or jumping in the leaves? You can walk (or skip) to the library or the park. Or you can go plant some flowers. You’re taking “exercise” out of the equation and putting in “fun.”

A few simple steps can get you and your children moving and create healthy habits.

Tip adapted from WebMD [12]

Green Living

Going Kitchen Green: How to Save Energy While Cooking

Cooking and becoming environmentally friendly don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A simple change of approach and equipment can transform cooking into a more earth-friendly endeavor and save money at the same time.

Consider your energy use. Cooking in a standard electric oven for an hour generates 2.7 pounds of CO 2. Using a toaster oven for nearly the same amount of time generates 1.3 pounds of CO 2.

A microwave, however, generates 0.5 pounds of CO 2 in more than 15 minutes of cooking.

Microwave ovens save energy. Compared to conventional units, they use about half the energy. That translates into less time in the kitchen, faster meals, lower energy bills, and becoming more environmentally sensitive and responsible.

Tip adapted from WWF[ 13]

Zack Alkhamis CRPC, CFS
Matthew Jarrell, CFS, AIF
Timothy A. McAfee, CPA, CFP, PPC, MST

The Retirement Wealth Management Group 
7900 Kirkland Court 
Portage, MI 49024 

Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.
Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.
International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.
The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies.
The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indices from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
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