Congratulations Once Again, Sean!

Five Star 2024

As is tradition, Sean Dowling has been named a Five Star Wealth Manager and will be on the prestigious list appearing in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal. To receive the Five Star Wealth Manager award, a wealth manager must satisfy ten objective eligibility and evaluation criteria that are associated with wealth managers who provide quality services to their clients.

It’s Tax Time

Tax season is underway and, as is also tradition, April 15th will be here before you know it. If you haven’t already done so, please reach out to your advisor or call us at (203) 967-2231 to schedule your tax appointment. If you have friends or family on the lookout for top-tier independent tax prep or financial services, we’d be honored if you refer them to us.

The Markets

Enthusiasm for everything related to artificial intelligence (AI) drove a global stock market rally last week. Equity markets in the United States, Europe, and Japan hit all-time highs after a leading chipmaker reported better-than-expected earnings and an extraordinary surge in demand for its artificial intelligence-targeted processors, wrote Rita Nazareth of Bloomberg.

Investors took the news “as evidence that the generative AI boom is both real and spreading. [The company’s] spectacular earnings report and forward guidance are spurring investors to buy shares of almost any company with a stake in the AI race—everything from computer and networking hardware providers to cloud computing plays to enterprise application software,” reported Eric J. Savitz of Barron’s.

Investors weren’t the only ones feeling optimistic last week. Economists who participated in a February Bloomberg survey expect the U.S. economy to grow this year and next year, although a significant minority say that a recession is possible in 2025, reported Augusta Saraiva and Kyungjin Yoo of Bloomberg. They cited a source who stated:

“The U.S. economy remains the envy of the world… Both real economic growth and employment growth remain strong while inflation rates and interest rates are falling.”

Chief executive officers (CEOs) are feeling optimistic, too. The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™ survey found that CEOs are feeling much better than they did at the end of last year.

  • 32% said economic conditions were better than they were six months ago (up from 18% in the fourth quarter).
  • 31% said conditions in their industries were better than they were six months ago (up from 27% in the fourth quarter).
  • 36% expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months (up from 19% in the fourth quarter).

Last week, major U.S. stock indices moved higher, yields on longer maturities of U.S. Treasuries moved lower.

Data as of 2/23/24 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 Index 1.7% 6.7% 26.8% 9.5% 12.7% 10.7%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index 1.2 1.5 9.1 -2.4 2.9 1.7
10-year Treasury Note (yield only) 4.3 N/A 3.9 1.4 2.7 2.8
Gold (per ounce) 1.5 -2.5 11.0 4.1 8.8 4.3
Bloomberg Commodity Index -0.9 -3.3 -10.0 3.3 3.3 -3.3

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch,, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

What Influences Stock Markets?

People use all kinds of information to make investment decisions. Benjamin Graham, who was Warren Buffett’s mentor, thought the proper approach was to evaluate company fundamentals. Graham wrote, “The stock investor is neither right or wrong because others agreed or disagreed with him; he is right because his facts and analysis are right.”

British economist John Maynard Keynes cautioned that how “others” think about stocks can have a significant effect on performance. Keynes is famous for saying, “Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

Meme stocks, which are shares of companies that become popular through social media, demonstrated Keynes’ point. These companies often have poor fundamentals, but their stock prices soar because they are well-liked online. Social sentiment indicators use aggregated social media data to evaluate how people feel about companies. These data can be valuable to asset managers because digital influence can affect stock prices.

While tracking digital sentiment is relatively new, some surveys have measured how people feel about the economy and financial markets for decades. These include:

  • The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment. The index ticked higher in February. Over the last three months, it has seen the sharpest gains in 30 years; however, consumer sentiment remains below the index’s long-term average, reported Christopher Rugaber of the Associated Press.
  • The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey. Investors remained more bullish than usual last week with 44.3 percent saying they expected markets to move higher over the next six months. The historic average is 37.5 percent bullish.

Many factors affect the value of stocks and stock markets. “…Investor confidence is only one of many forces on the market. Stock prices are of course determined by supply and demand, and there are numerous factors that affect these, fundamental factors, legal, tax-related, demographic, technological, international, as well as other psychological factors related to attention, regret, anchoring, and availability,” explained the International Center for Finance at Yale University.

Stock market performance also can be affected by geopolitical factors, like conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East. 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

—Thomas Paine, founding father

Wishing you and your families well,
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.
  • The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change. Investing involves risk including loss of principal.
  • The Price-to-Earning (P/E) ratio is a measure of the price paid for a share relative to the annual net income or profit earned by the firm per share. It is a financial ratio used for valuation: a higher P/E ratio means investors are paying more for each unit of net income, thus, the stock is more expensive compared to one with a lower P/E ratio.
  • 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.

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