A Christmas Message:
We spend a great deal of time communicating financial and economic events to all of you.
But Christmas is a time for reflection.
There’s no way to delve into all of our personal holiday memories, but we all can’t help but remember the many annual specials that graced, and still grace, the airwaves, including A Charlie Brown Christmas. Charles Schultz created the cartoon, which chronicled the holiday season through the eyes of children; yet, their take on ordinary events was that of an adult whose vast life experience has sharpened his/her perspective.
In some respects, not much has changed since the show originally aired in the 1960s. Then, as now, Christmas is heavily commercialized. Charlie Brown sensed the ‘artificialness’ of the holiday season when he chose a scrawny little Christmas tree over a shiny aluminum one. But it took his pal Linus to drive the point home when he recited the real meaning of the season from the Book of Luke. As Linus so eloquently summed it up, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Let’s remember the real meaning of the season and the importance of time spent with family and those close to us.
We wish each of you a Merry Christmas, a happy and joyous holiday with family and friends, and a happy and prosperous New Year! We are looking forward to working with you in the New Year and many more to come!
The recent uncertainty in stocks melted away following the midweek conclusion of Federal Reserve’s meeting. In the face of troubling overseas developments, the Fed continues to express its confidence in the U.S. economic outlook but showed little enthusiasm for an early 2015 rate increase. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was able to produce a gain of 3.09% for the week after dropping over 400 combined points on Monday and Tuesday. The S&P 500 ended 3.41% higher on the week. (MarketWatch)
Oil prices were able to stabilize and ended basically flat compared to last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude closed at $57.77 per barrel on Friday. Gold prices fell ending at $1,195.00 per ounce. Intermediate to long term interest rates were little changed and finished slightly higher than the previous week. (U.S. Treasury, Energy Information Admin.) The average rate for a 30 year fixed mortgage was at 3.94% and the 15 year fixed rate was 3.21% as of December 17th.. (Bankrate.com)
Baby Steps to the First Fed Rate Hike
A summary of comments contained in the FED’s press release speaks volumes:
Economic activity is “expanding at a moderate pace,” it is seeing “solid job gains,” and the “underutilization of labor resources continues to diminish.” Meanwhile, the Fed said consumer spending is “rising moderately and business fixed investment is advancing,” though the recovery in housing “remains slow.”
Embedded in its statement, monetary officials continued to note that they expect “considerable time” to pass between the end of the bond-buying program (the program ceased in October) and the first rate increase. The Fed added it can be “patient” as it holds the fed funds rate at near zero. In other words, barring an unforeseen economic slowdown, a long-awaited monetary tightening is expected to occur sometime in 2015.
The Great Recession left lasting economic scars. If rate hikes slowed the recovery before it is truly self-sustaining (at least from the Fed’s viewpoint), there are few tools at its disposal to re-ignite growth.
We wish you a very blessed and Merry Christmas and hope you are able to spend some extra time with family and friends this special time of year.
Your TEAM at F.I.G. Financial Advisory Services, Inc.
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1 The Dow Jones Industrials Average is an unmanaged index of 30 major companies which cannot be invested into directly. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
3 The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged index of 500 larger companies which cannot be invested into directly. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
4 New York Mercantile Exchange front-month contract; Prices can and do vary; past performance does not guarantee future results.
5 London Bullion Market Association; gold fixing pricing at 3 p.m. London time; 2013 year-end price fixing at 10:30 a.m. London time; Prices can and do vary; past performance does not guarantee future results.