It’s that time of year again. This year was a bit colder than past years, but once again we started off the festive season with our annual Stump Farm Wreath Making. The event always brings out everyone’s artistic side and also benefits those in our community who struggle the most this time of year. Thank you to everyone who brought in such generous donations for the Arlington Food Bank. This year the attendance was lower than prior years, but a good time was had by all; there was a friendly family feel. May of the attendees were seasoned fans of making wreathes at the Stump Farm and they had time to help each other out with different ideas. For those few who had not made a wreathe (or swag) in the past, teachers were in abundance and more than willing to share ideas and an extra pair of hands. We think the community and collaborative air was just what the holidays are about at their best.
For those of who take part in the Christmas festivities curled up with a blanket on the sofa with your family, you might be interested in the Wall Street Journal commentary on Hallmark Christmas movies. The article talked about how family time is not only spending time together but how we can also share our love of a good old-fashion movie. Even if we cannot watch at the same time and in the same place, we can connect through our joy in sharing the wonder of this world and the good in people. Turning away from the silly season and turning to the day to day rightness of doing good, have a look at Wendy Woods’ TED Talk: The Business Benefits of Doing Good. At White Raven Financial we constantly look for ways we can improve what we do. Woods shares a fresh way to assess the impact all parts of business can have on all parts of society, and then adjust them to not only do less harm but actually improve things.
But we don’t just watch TED Talks all day, we also do a bit of reading, and it appears that numerous sources are predicting that we can expect more volatility in the markets in the near future. A general concern across the board is whether the U.S. and China will be able to settle their major trade differences. Other concerns, according to briefing.com, are the combination of fundamental growth fueled by the flattening Treasury yield curve which they felt contributed to the market decline the 2nd trading day of December. In the event that you are nervous about your income in the future, and are thinking you could maybe save a little by paying less tax, the Financial Planning published Where should rich clients retire? which looked at a SmartAsset study that ranked states by the amount of federal and state taxes individuals could expect to pay if they were in the top 1% of earners. (It was a fun read even though we did not fit the criteria.)
Moving away from personal daydreams and onto reality, on December the 4th, there were worries of a flattening/inversion of the Treasury yield curve which is sometimes considered a sign of potential economic slowdown. Vanguard’s Global Economics Team, in their Global Economics Matter, recently wrote and illustrated on the relevance of the yield curve. Lord Abbett, in their Investment Round Table: Setting the Scene for 2019, discussed U.S.-China trade tensions existing uncertainty and the global economic slowing. We all know a down turn will come, none of us know when and thus the main advice, as always, is to remain diversified.
A strong end-of-the-last-week occurred for the markets’ major indices in November. The previous upbeat week brought relief to a month that showed angst over interest rates, trade tensions and concerns over corporate earnings and thus a choppy ride for a majority of the month. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* finished with a positive 1.68% for November. The S&P 500 (SPY)* stepped the percent up by a .11 notch to a 1.79% gain for the month. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* came in last but still positive with a 0.34% gain. On Tuesday, November 27th, 2018, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report showing that the national core home price index gains are continuing to slow for the 2nd month in a row. The 20-city composite September Home Price Index reported a 5.5% annual gain; down .2% from the 5.7% posted the previous month. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of September posting no change over the prior month of August 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. Returns for the DOW, S&P500 and the NASDAQ is the total return (price only) provided by Morning star Inc. as of 2018November30. 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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