Driving along the road in the Wanaka district of the South Island of New Zealand, we came across a sign that said “Blue Pools”. It was an excellent time to stop, investigate and take a break from our car trip and stretch our legs. The trail turned out to be a beautiful three kilometer walk through the woods, including a boardwalk where we caught a glimpse of the river just prior to an intersection. The alternatives were either to go down to the river or across to the suspension bridge for up-top views of the gorge and adjacent pools. As we considered at the cross-roads which path to take, we heard music coming from the bottom of the steps which led to the river. Much to our surprise, we found an artist playing a metal percussion instrument with soft mallets. Beautiful and unique, both the music and location combined to make an unforgettable moment on our travels. It is always a pleasant surprise, when your experience surpasses your expectations.
Life isn’t all about strolling through beech forests and gazing at pristine pools. Occasionally we attend meetings in the office as well! “What would you like to accomplish during our meeting?” is a question we often ask our Financial Planning clients. Many times, the question involves cash-flow problems where a pre-funded emergency account would have been helpful. When we search for a solution going forward on how to fund an emergency fund, we have learned that no two clients solve the problem in the same exact way. We have also learned that saving money for an emergency is a difficult cash-flow task for people who have limited resources. The solution could be as simple as putting all one’s spare change and possible loose dollars in a jar that cannot be opened without breaking, or transferring x amount of each paycheck to a savings account at a bank outside of one’s regular bank, or maybe something entirely different. Often, the best solution comes from the clients themselves after discussing various alternatives with us. And the answer usually surpasses everyone’s expectations.
Comparing our personal finances to that of the nation is not realistic, but while the trade deficit is not a cash flow problem per-say, it does flow with pluses and minuses like one. It was pleasing to read that the latest U.S. Balance of Trade Report showed the gap narrowing significantly over the prior months report. Although the prior report did not offset the news on the economy. Our reading showed that several economists and analysts predict that the forecast for real GDP growth in the U.S. will slow this year in comparison to the 2018. In their meeting this month, the Federal Reserve also echoed the growth forecast concern and suggested it may not raise interest rates this year. The yield curve did invert on March 22nd causing a bit of angst for those who watch that as a indicator, but then un-inverted on March 29th. Chris Matthews a reporter for Market Watch provided a short summation of some professionals’ thoughts on how the market may behave this time around in response to the curve.
Growth forecast for International took an unexpected turn in March. In their March 22nd blog, U.S. Global Investors reported that the economic growth expectation for the eurozone is looking less pessimistic. They also reported that the Economic Sentiment-ZEW Indicator for the Euro area had climbed further than analysts’ expectations. Russel Investments, in their recent Eurozone outlook, also wrote on the recent above-trend growth forecast and highlighted the possible benefits that may occur in the region. One of those benefits mentioned was the US/China trade war. In regards to the US/China trade war, good news occurred on Friday March 29th when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin commented on the latest round of talks.
Continued trade optimism and the beginning of spring appeared to cheer the market indices to stay their course for March. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* eked out a monthly gain of .05%. The S&P 500 (SPY)* checked out of March with a 1.79% gain. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* stretched further and posted a 2.61% monthly gain. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab.) On Tuesday, March 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 are slowing. The 20-city composite January Home Price Index reported a 3.6% annual gain; down .5% from the unrevised 4.1% posted the previous month. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of January posting 0.1% over the prior month of December 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 2019March31. 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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