Markets Up Again

Weekly Update – September 4, 2018

Trade continued to dominate the news last week and cause market volatility as investors monitored discussions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and tension with China. While Mexico and the U.S. reached a new trade deal early in the week, talks with Canada stalled on Friday, August 31. Reports also came out that President Trump may be adding tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods.[1]

Domestic markets increased for the week and ended August in positive territory. The S&P 500 and Dow each had their best August since 2014 – while the NASDAQ’s 5.7% growth was its best performance for the month since 2000.[2] On Wednesday, the S&P 500 reached a new record high.[3] For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.93%, the Dow added 0.68%, and the NASDAQ increased 2.06%.[4] International stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined the growth, adding 0.26%.[5]

Key Data From Last Week

Although trade might have dominated headlines, last week provided a number of informative economic updates, including:

  • Personal incomes grew in July. 
    The 0.3% increase fell slightly short of the projected growth but is still up 4.7% since this time last year. Combined with growth in personal consumption, this data indicates that consumers had a solid start to the 3rd quarter of 2018.[6] 
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was higher than initially thought. 
    The 2nd reading of GDP expansion between April and June was 4.2%, higher than the initial reading and still the fastest economic expansion since 2014. Economists don’t believe this pace is sustainable, however, as rising interest rates, ongoing trade tension, and fading tax-cut benefits could slow growth later in the year.[7]
  • Consumer confidence soared in August.
    The latest consumer confidence data came in higher than it has since October 2000. This strong reading may indicate that consumer spending will remain healthy for now.[8] Since consumer spending is more than ⅔ of the U.S. economy, its growth is a critical factor to track.[9]

This week’s performance and reports once again underscore a message we have frequently shared with you: Instead of focusing on the headlines, pay attention to the fundamentals for a clearer understanding of the economy. If you have questions about how this data affects your financial life, we’re here to talk.

Monday: U.S. Markets Closed for Labor Day Holiday
Tuesday: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending
Wednesday: Motor Vehicle Sales, International Trade
Thursday: ADP Employment Report, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg Index, 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
“Money is usually attracted, not pursued.”
– Jim Rohn
Recipe Of The Week
Super Easy Fruit and Coconut Ice Cream
Yields 5-6 cups
Fruit Ice Cream
  • 2 pounds frozen fruit (take your pick)
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk (7 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Kosher salt
Coconut Ice Cream
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk (7 ounces)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
Fruit Ice Cream
  1. Put the fruit in a food processor and press the pulse button until the fruit is finely chopped and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  2. Mix in sweetened condensed milk, honey, and ½ teaspoon salt.
  3. Mix on pulse again until the mix is smooth and whirring in a continuous wave.
  4. Pour the mix into a 5- by 9-inch loaf pan.
  5. Freeze uncovered until the mix is set, about 4 hours.
  6. Serve.
Coconut Ice Cream
  1. Attach whisk tool to an electric mixer.
  2. Mix cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.
  3. At the same time, mix together sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend in 1 cup whipped cream. Add remaining whipped cream.
  4. Pour mix into a 5- by 9-inch loaf pan.
  5. Freeze uncovered until the mix is set, about 4 hours.
  6. Serve.

Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping [10]

Healthy Lifestyle

Look Out for Eye Problems

“The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The health of our eyes should be one of our highest priorities. After all, without good vision, you wouldn’t be reading this, right?
Protecting your eyes and watching for telltale signs of potential health problems doesn’t always top our list of health concerns – until it’s too late.
Eye problems can be harmless annoyances or early signs of a serious disease. Common complaints include blurry vision, spots, night glare, or flashing lights. Schedule a visit if you detect any of these symptoms.
Here are some common eye problems:
  • Color blindness. You can’t distinguish colors.
  • Nearsightedness. Items in the distance appear blurry.
  • Farsightedness. You can’t clearly see objects that are close.
  • Presbyopia. You have difficulty seeing fine print. Lenses of eyes become less flexible as you age.
  • Astigmatism. Your vision in one or both eyes may be out of focus.
  • Glaucoma. The optic nerves in your eyes are damaged. You often lose your side vision first.
  • Cataracts. More than half of people over 80 develop this condition, which produces a cloudy lens. Surgery may help.

Tips adapted from WebMD [13]

Green Living

Simple Tips for Earth-Friendly Autumn Yard Work

In less than three weeks, we can expect to fall into the cool splendor of autumn. And with the September 22 start of the season comes the inevitable yard work.
So, how do you do your autumn chores and be eco-friendly at the same time?
Here are four tips for making yard work easier and environmentally sensitive:
  1. Use electric implements rather than gas. Gas-powered yard tools emit noise and pollution. A gas-powered leaf blower produces nearly as much pollution as 80 automobiles.
  2. Go with trees. Plant trees that are native to your area. Trees have a better chance of surviving in cooler weather than during the hot summer. Autumn is also a rainier season.
  3. Get organic fertilizer. Use slow-release fertilizers to enrich your soil for the next year. Organic fertilizers are made of natural, nutrient-rich materials that nurture plants.
  4. Leave the leaves. Rather than bagging leaves, make them into compost. The compost becomes organic soil, which you can use in the spring.

Tips adapted from EarthShare [14]

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.


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