YELLEN HINTS STRONGLY AT A RATE HIKE Thursday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen told Congress that the central bank could raise the benchmark interest rate “relatively soon,” calling current monetary policy merely “moderately accommodative.” She added that Fed officials envision “only gradual increases in the federal funds rate over time to achieve and maintain maximum employment and price stability.” Friday, the Fed Rate Monitor Tool at Investing.com put the possibility of a December rate hike at 91%.1,2   FRESH SIGNS OF a HEALTHY ECONOMY Two economic indicators really stood out last week. Headline and core retail sales increased 0.8% in October,

End of the year money moves

Here are some things you might want to do before saying goodbye to 2016. What has changed for you in 2016? Did you start a new job or leave a job behind? Did you retire? Did you start a family? If notable changes occurred in your personal or professional life, then you will want to review your finances before this year ends and 2017 begins. Even if your 2016 has been relatively uneventful, the end of the year is still a good time to get cracking and see where you can plan to save some taxes and/or build a little

Monthly Economic Update November 2016

THE MONTH IN BRIEF Bulls were reined in during October. The S&P 500 lost 1.94% as Wall Street responded unenthusiastically to the fall earnings season. Even though much of the economic news that emerged in October was good, investors saw an interest rate hike on the horizon and remained concerned about an increasingly controversial presidential race. Consumer confidence waned, but improved manufacturing, consumer spending, and retail sales numbers all factored into stronger growth. New and existing home sales accelerated. The price of oil rose, then quickly fell; the price of gold slipped, then recovered just a bit. Overseas, a timeline

NEW DATA SHOWS BRIGHTER JOBS PICTURE Unemployment fell to 4.9% in October as firms added 161,000 net new workers, but that was just one positive from the Department of Labor’s latest summary of the U.S. employment situation. Year-over-year wage growth reached 2.8%, the best number seen since June 2009, as average hourly pay rose ten cents last month. The U-6 rate (underemployment + unemployment) fell 0.2% to 9.5%. In addition, hiring totals across August and September were revised higher by 44,000.1   CONSUMER SPENDING ROSE IN SEPTEMBER The ninth month of 2016 saw gains of 0.5% in personal spending and 0.3%

Weekly Market Commentary 11-7-2016

The Markets Markets hate uncertainty – and that may create opportunities. Last week, investors experienced another bout of election jitters, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index fell for the ninth straight session. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a.k.a. the fear gauge, which measures the expected volatility of the S&P 500 during the next 30 days, was up more than 40 percent for the week. The shift in the VIX reflected investors’ concerns about stock market performance after the election. Many think the next four weeks will offer a rough ride. That may prove to be the case;

ECONOMY EXPANDS 2.9% in THIRD QUARTER After just 1.4% growth in Q2, this was welcome news. Surging exports and greater inventory investment and federal spending made Q3 the best quarter for the economy in two years, according to the Department of Commerce. The federal government’s core PCE price index was up 1.7% for the quarter versus 1.8% in Q2.1   CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDICES DESCEND Last week, the Conference Board’s gauge of household confidence came in at 98.6 for October, down from 103.5 in September. The University of Michigan’s final October consumer sentiment index slipped to 87.2 from its prior mark of

Weekly Market Commentary 10-31-2016

The Markets It’s almost over… During July 2016, Pew Research reported almost 60 percent of Americans were suffering from election fatigue. They weren’t uninterested in the election. They were just worn out by never-ending news coverage that focused on candidates’ comments, personal lives, and standing in the polls rather than their moral character, experience, and stance on issues. Last week, U.S. election news overshadowed positive economic data causing U.S. stocks to lose value as investors shifted assets into safe havens. Early on Friday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released gross domestic product data, which reflects the value of all goods