Highlights of this Month’s Review:
- Social Security Educational Workshops Offered.
- Markets able to end July slightly higher after early headwinds dissipate.
- Commodity prices continue their decline last month.
- Interest rates dip lower.
- Volatility could pick up again moving forward.
READ ON FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS……………………………………………
Upcoming Educational Workshops to Answer Your Questions Regarding Social Security:
Have questions regarding Social Security? When to file? How to file? What benefits are available? We are conducting special workshops designed specifically to answer these and other questions regarding social security benefits and how they work. Should you file and take benefits early, or file and suspend? What’s the best route for your own situation? Be sure to call and reserve your seat(s) at one of the following sessions to gain important information when it comes time to make the important and life lasting decisions regarding your benefits. Feel free to bring a guest that might benefit from this information as well. We will hold the sessions on the following dates/times in our conference room:
Wednesday, August 26th: 3:00-4:30PM
Friday, August 28th: 10:30AM-12:00 Noon
Wednesday, September 2nd: 10:30AM-12:00 Noon
Call today as seating is limited!
The complacency and lack of volatility investors experienced in the months leading up to July collided with Greece and China as we entered the third quarter of the year.
But as the month came to a close, international headlines failed to derail the financial markets, and fundamentals, which include a modestly growing U.S. economy, expectations corporate profits will continue to expand (Thomson Reuters), and still low interest rates, lent support to stocks. For the month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a small gain of .4%, and as of last Friday, was down just .75% so far in 2015. The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index fared somewhat better, rising 1.97% in July, putting the year-to-date gain at 2.18% as of July 31st. (MarketWatch, Google Finance)
Oil prices resumed their decline again, and the price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate Crude oil fell $12.68, to end at $46.77. Oil was continuing its decline in today’s trading, falling below $46.00 per barrel at mid-day. As with most commodity prices, gold also fell last month, dropping $72.60 per ounce, ending at $1,098.40. (CNBC)
Interest rates eased lower (bond prices rose) in July, with the yield for the benchmark 10 year U.S. Treasury falling to the 2.15% level in today’s trading. (MarketWatch) The rate for a 30 year fixed mortgage ranged from 3.75-4.125%, while the 15 year rate was 2.875-3.50%. (Bankrate.com)
Looking ahead –
U.S. fundamentals have lent considerable support to U.S. stocks and these fundamentals really haven’t changed that much in the last few years. What has changed is the level of U.S. stocks, which are pricier today than a few years ago. This creates more volatility as it encourages short-term traders to quickly move out of stocks when negative headlines hit. When the negativity fades, stocks refocus on more positive fundamentals that are currently in place. A negative shift in the fundamentals, however, would create concerns.
Greece may have receded from the headlines, but it will likely simmer on the backburner. For starters, it can’t repay its crushing debt load and the potential for new elections, which could change the political dynamic, could bring it back into focus. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks could remain problematic given their recent volatility.
The Federal Reserve wants to start raising rates this year. In the Q&A session that followed her semi-annual testimony in July before two congressional committees, Fed Chief Janet Yellen noted, “We are close to where we want to be, and we now think that the economy cannot only tolerate but needs higher interest rates (MarketWatch).”
For investors – the first rate hike in almost a decade would be a sign of Fed confidence in the economy but it may create volatility in stocks. For the Fed – policymakers are hoping nothing domestically or internationally keeps them from gradually starting to lift interest rates.
Our client portfolios remain diversified among various categories of individual stock issues as we continue to look for value and/or dividend plays in the current environment. We also have spread our fixed income/bond exposure in funds that we feel should perform well in general looking ahead to a possible rising interest rate environment. At this point in time we remain cautiously optimistic regarding equity markets moving forward over the next several months. We also anticipate the markets could perform better that the first half of the year, albeit not without continued volatility. We will keep you advised.
We wish you all a great week ahead and a great finish to the summer. It’s hard to believe, but the summer of 2015 is already almost over! Be sure to call us today to schedule your mid-year review or to reserve your seat for our upcoming Social Security educational workshop. We appreciate the opportunity to serve.
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.
5 New York Mercantile Exchange front-month contract; Prices can and do vary; past performance does not guarantee future results.
6 London Bullion Market Association; gold fixing pricing at 3 p.m. London time; Prices can and do vary; past performance does not guarantee future results.