February 11, 2020
Reminder: Make Your Tax Prep Appointment
The IRS has officially begun to accept and process tax returns, with “Tax Day” this year falling on Wednesday, April 15th. Now is the ideal time to request an appointment that best fits your schedule. Simply call 203‑967‑2231 or email us to line up a time. Also, don’t forget to mention whether you still need to revisit your retirement plan thanks to the changes brought on by the SECURE Act!
Last week, major U.S. indices posted strong gains. That’s welcome news, but the drivers behind share price appreciation appear to have little to do with company fundamentals.
Fourth quarter earnings season is underway. During earnings season, companies let investors know how profitable they were during the previous quarter. With 45 percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index reporting, earnings are slightly down. If the trend continues, this will be the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year earnings declines, according to FactSet.
Falling company profits, in tandem with rising share prices, have made U.S. stocks relatively expensive. The price-to-earnings ratio of the S&P 500 Index was 25.04 on Friday. That’s significantly higher than its long-term average of 15.78.
Expectations for economic growth may have been behind last week’s gains. Axios reported, “U.S. economic data had been strengthening ahead of the [coronavirus] outbreak – last month the all-important services sector notched its best reading since September, a private payrolls survey showed the highest job growth in five years, and consumer confidence held at historically high levels.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) estimates U.S. economic growth will be 1.7 percent in 2020, although the coronavirus could create issues that slow growth.
Economic growth also could be inhibited by the national debt. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showed U.S. debt at about 105 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of the third quarter of 2019 (GDP is the value of all goods and services produced by the United States). According to the Council on Foreign Relations, high levels of debt can slow economic growth and divert investment from infrastructure, education, and research.
Ben Levisohn of Barron’s suggested last week’s gains might have been the result of limited supply and high demand for U.S. stocks, “…because the world’s problems might actually make U.S. markets more attractive.” Stock market gains may also owe something to supportive central bank policies.
During the next few weeks, stay calm and expect some volatility.
Do You Know a Financial Two-Timer?
In an online poll conducted by YouGov, CreditCards.com asked people how open and honest they are with their spouses and partners about money. The survey discovered financial infidelity is not uncommon. Respondents cheat financially in a variety of ways, including:
- 34% have spent more than their spouse/partner would approve
- 12% have secret debt
- 10% have secret credit card accounts
- 9% have secret savings accounts
- 8% have secret checking accounts
Respondents had a variety of reasons for secretive financial dealings:
- 36% said privacy and control were important
- 27% said they never felt the need to share
- 26% were embarrassed by the way they handle money (frequently cited by wealthiest respondents.)
Janice Wood of PsychCentral wrote, “Financial infidelity can take as big a toll on relationships as sexual infidelity and emotional dishonesty…A few things that couples can do to prevent financial infidelity is to talk more, get on the same page regarding both joint and individual goals they might have, and also budget for some occasional indulgences along the way of achieving their long-term financial goals…”
If you’re looking for a great Valentine’s Day gift, talking with your spouse or partner about money is a choice that could deliver long-term rewards.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
—Andre Gide, Author and Nobel Prize winner
Sean M. Dowling, CFP, EA
President, The Dowling Group Wealth Management
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- Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
- Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
- The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
- All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
- The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
- The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
- Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
- The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
- The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
- International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
- Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
- Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
- Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
- Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
- You cannot invest directly in an index.
- Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
- These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
- This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
- The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
- Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
https://www.barrons.com/articles/dow-jones-industrial-average-gains-846-points-in-comeback-week-51581124626?mod=hp_DAY_3 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/02-10-20_Barrons-Coronavirus-Slower_Growth-The_Dow_Just_Had_A_Spectacular_Week-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=148994798&Country=United%20States&topic=Economy (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/02-10-20_TheEconomist-Fed_Continues_Delicate_Balancing_Act-Footnote_7.pdf)
ADV & Investment Objectives: Please contact The Dowling Group if there are any changes in your financial situation or investment objectives, or if you wish to impose, add or modify any reasonable restrictions to the management of your account. Our current disclosure statement is set forth on Part II of Form ADV and is available for your review upon request.
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