02 Mar February, 2018 Review and Outlook
Did you know the month of March is:
American Red Cross Month
Women’s History Month
Music in our Schools Month
Also, the month of March includes:
March 11th: Daylight Savings Begins
March 12th: Girl Scout Day
March 13-31st: March MADNESS
March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day
March 20th: First day of Spring
March 30th: Good Friday (U.S. Financial Markets Closed as well as our offices)
March 31st: Medicare General Enrollment close
It’s hard to believe that we are now already in the third month of the first quarter of the year. If you have not yet done so, please be sure to call today and schedule your personal review, either in person, or via our Go-To-Meeting option online. The first quarter is a great time to review your overall personal financial plan as well as current portfolio and risk level. Call us today!
2017 Tax Reminders:
By now you all should have received all the information you need to file your 2017 income tax return from Trust Co. of America. Remember: There is a CSV (Excel) file that can be utilized to download all the transactions for taxable accounts directly into most tax preparation software programs. We are more than happy to assist getting this information to your tax preparer for you. Just let us know and we’ll take care of this for you when you are ready to file your 2017 tax return.
The major U.S. stock indices slid in the month of February and by February 8th, a “correction” of 10.36% off the Dow Jones Industrial’s high reached on January 26th occurred, which we had been saying we expected to happen sometime this year. A recovery off that low then moved the Dow average from 23,860.46 to 25,029.20 (4.9%) by month’s end. (Google Finance) Volatility has re-entered the landscape that we were also anticipating for this year and it’s a reminder that stocks don’t rise in a straight line. Again, we have to remember to view the sharp “point” moves in the stock averages in terms of “percentage” moves since the overall values have risen to much higher levels than we had just a few years ago.
While tranquil periods won’t last forever as last year we saw record low volatility for stock moves, corrections are quite normal in a market trending higher and it can take months for the upward momentum to resume. We may have a bumpy ride during the first half of this year for stocks, but still look for 2018 to possibly be a good year overall for investors. Remember: There is no one out there that can consistently call the tops and bottoms in any market, period.
A sudden downdraft in stock prices can be unsettling and we understand that. But keep in mind the risk level of your personal portfolio may or may not participate in direct correlation to stock prices. The lower the risk, the lower overall volatility and less tied to daily stock moves, either up or down.
Let’s review the landscape and current fundamentals. Moderate economic growth at home and abroad has been fueling corporate profits; analysts have been sharply revising 2018 profit estimates higher (Thomson Reuters); inflation has been low, and interest rates, while creeping upward, remain near historically low levels. There is also both corporate and personal tax cuts that have yet to really contribute to the economy but should become more evident after the first half of this year.
What sparked the recent correction? Yields on the 10-year Treasury have been rising, which began to create a stiffer headwind for stocks, and fear of higher inflation ahead. Further, computer program trading kicked in, adding to the turbulence in February. Looking ahead, we still see the fundamentals in place for positive economic growth, improving corporate earnings, and a reasonably positive finish to 2018. We will keep you posted.
The early February downturn can be pinned on technical factors and not economic distress, in our view. The profit and economic outlook is upbeat, which we believe cushioned the downturn.
Interest rates, however, may tick higher this year, especially short and intermediate term rates. It’s something that could create some headwinds in the nearer term, even as profit growth this year is forecast to accelerate (Thomson Reuters). Longer term, we remain positive with the economic outlook.
We hope you’ve found this update to be helpful and if you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to call. That’s what we’re here for.
As always, we are thankful for the privilege you have given us to serve as your financial advisors and we look forward to working together in the years to come.
Your TEAM at F.I.G. Financial Advisory Services, Inc.
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