I’ve had puzzles on my mind lately. It appears that if you search “how do puzzles help” on the internet that you can delay dementia, help child development, and improve your problem solving skills and your dexterity. Not to mention that they also help pass the time and relieve boredom. If you ride one of the Washington State Ferries you will often find a large communal jigsaw puzzle sitting at one of the tables looking to be completed. If you pick up a newspaper, you’ll see a crossword puzzle, word search, sudoku or some other type of puzzle ready to challenge you. And, did you know that January 29th, 2019 was National Puzzle Day?
Here at White Raven Financial, we encounter many types of puzzles in the form of queries. One of our most commonly asked questions is, “Do we have enough saved to retire in the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to?” For us, it is not a simple yes or no, but a puzzle that needs to be solved. We use software to help us with the challenge of simulating retirement years, the cost of inflation, the possible interest and the unpredictability of the market. It’s a complex puzzle that could have several answers depending on any number of factors. One such factor is location: I recently read an interesting article on MSN where they did a calculation on How long $500,000 will last in retirement in each state.
They didn’t go into retirement in D.C., but the partial U.S. government shutdown made major headlines for the majority of January. Lord Abbett, in their end-of-January economic insights, estimates that first quarter 2019 U.S. economic growth will be reduced due to the shutdown. But January also saw U.S. manufacturing starting the year with renewed vigor; production rose at a markedly increased rate from December. The Federal Reserve Board in their January 29th meeting, voted unanimously to hold its policy rate (for the time being) in a range between 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent. The committee also lowered its assessment of economic growth from “strong” to “solid” and lowered its inflation gauges in recent months. In one of their recent Insights, Blackrock wrote that market fears about economic weakness, in their view, may have overshot but they also felt that the U.S. economy is entering a late-cycle phase.
U.S. politics are not the only ones capturing the headlines, the ongoing Brexit negotiations are also makes waves across the globe. BlackRock’s February 4th Global Weekly Commentary noted that global risk assets have bounced back from their late 2018 selloff. They continued their commentary by stressing a balanced approach in portfolios due to late-cycle concerns and ongoing geopolitical uncertainties. Alliance Bernstein, in their mid-January blog titled Brexit and Beyond, noted the different risks that could be presented to international companies in regards to not only Brexit but also political risks in other European markets. Russell Investments 2019 Global Market Outlook: The late-late cycle show wrote about the probability of volatility continuing in 2019 but also noted that the number one best response was diversification.
And drifting from the U.S. to overseas, we come back again to the U.S. For the markets, January appeared to ring in the new year with relish. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* climbed 7.17% for January. The S&P 500 (SPY)* went a bit higher and brought in 7.87% for the month. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* went for the top and showed a 9.74% monthly gain. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab.) On Tuesday, January 29th, 2019, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report showing that the national core home price index showed that the rate for home prices have continued to slow. The 20-city composite November Home Price Index reported a 4.7% annual gain; down .3% from the unrevised 5.0% posted the previous month. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of November posting a .1% decrease the prior month of October 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 2019January31. 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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