“I am so done with February”; “Just came in (again!) from shoveling . . . It’s become very tiresome” are just a few of several texts received from my extended family in Wisconsin. As I read the notes, it made the 26+ odd inches of snow that we received at the Stump Farm in WA State feel minor compared to the official 53.7 inches reported by one sibling. But along with the snow came opportunity. As one brother wrote: “Being cooped up, I was able to get a 30-some year old project done”; “Been getting a lot of exercise lately!! LOL”. And here at the Stump Farm, while taking a bundled-up walk around our acreage, we found our Witch Hazel valiantly keeping its blooms despite several snow storms.
At White Raven Financial, we also got our exercise by keeping our walkways shoveled. More than one client wished to brave the roads and weather to keep their scheduled appointments. And as with the weather, we found that we also needed to combine a bit of diversity and strategic thinking in our planning this past month. Life is much easier when things go as planned; but sometimes life throws us a curve (as an oft sent snowball) and we then need to move outside our comfort zone and focus on our ability to do something different. At White Raven Financial, we are members of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). It is helpful and empowering to draw upon a connected community of like-minded professionals. When we receive a unique financial planning request the FPA forum provides an avenue for us to receive peer reviews of our recommendations.
February’s snow did not appear to slow the price of gas; in information obtained from GasBuddy, TribLive reported gas prices posted an average 6.1% rise the last full week of February. While gas is going up, Reuters reports that the U.S. economy is slowing: Dallas Fed President Kaplan (Non-FOMC voter) thinks it could take a few months to figure out by how much. Mr. Kaplan also said there are costs if the Fed continues to undershoot its inflation target. The team of Sonders, Sorensen and Kleintop at Charles Schwab, in their most recent Schwab Market Perspective, touched on the gains that the markets have registered year-to-date. Along with their comments on possible investor sentiment, there was concern for deteriorating corporate earnings outlook. Chris Dhanraj, Director for Blackrock’s iShares US ETF Investment Strategy, in a recent Insight also noted the environment of slowing growth and less certain earnings outlooks.
While we are concerned here in the U.S. for earnings outlooks, overseas we continue to have the saga of ongoing Brexit negotiations. Blackrock, in their Insight’s: Developed markets, wrote on the lingering uncertainty of Brexit and how the circumstance may be keeping UK assets under pressure. Russell Investments Market Week Review by Senior Quantitative Investment Strategy Analyst Dr. Kara Ng and Research Analyst Brian Yadao summarizes the overall state of the economy in the U.S., Europe and Japan, describing a slowdown in global growth and trade uncertainty but a future with expected growth stabilizing near trend levels.
The weather and news headlines did not appear to deter the market indices in February. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* added 3.67% for the month. The S&P 500 (SPY)* almost made the 3 mark with a 2.97% gain for the month. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* stayed in the mode with a 3.4% monthly gain. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab.) On Tuesday, February 26th, 2019, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report; the report showed that the national core home price rate have again continued to slow. The 20-city composite November Home Price Index reported a 4.2% annual gain; down .4% from the unrevised 4.6% posted the previous month. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of December posting a .2% decrease the prior month of November for the 20-city composite index.
Regards and Thank you,
The Team at White Raven Financial
*Indexes are unmanaged and do not reflect service fees, commissions, or taxes. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Return for the DOW, S&P500 and the NASDAQ is the total return (price only) provided by Morning star Inc. as of 2019February28. Diversification and asset allocation do not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.
*The Standard and Poor’s 500 is an unmanaged, capitalization weighted benchmark that tracks broad-based changes in the U.S. stock market. This index of 500 common stocks is comprised of 400 industrial, 20 transportation, 40 utility, and 40 financial companies representing major U.S. industry sectors. The index is calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested and is not available for direct investment.
*The Dow Jones Industrial Average covers 30 blue chip U.S. companies selected by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Dow represents about 25% of the NYSE market capitalization and less than 2% of NYSE issues.
*The NASDAQ is a market-value weighted index that measures all NASDAQ domestic and foreign common stocks.
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