Another week, another round of positive market performance. The 3 major domestic indexes again ended the week with gains and new record highs. The S&P 500 rose 0.23% and marked a 7th-straight week of increases - its longest string of weekly gains in almost 3 years. The Dow added 0.45%, and the NASDAQ grew by 1.09%. Meanwhile, international stocks in the MSCI EAFE slipped slightly, losing 0.35% for the week.
FACT OF THE WEEK
Watching a horror movie helps you burn up to 200 calories, the equivalent of a half-hour walk.
On October 25, we learned that September home sales were higher than anticipated and durable goods orders grew by 2.2% in the same month. This data provided more evidence that the economy is on solid ground. However, two other occurrences last week contributed even more to the continuing market gains:
- Q3 GDP numbers and;
- tech companies' corporate earnings reports.
What Drove Markets Last Week?
- Economic growth beat expectations. We received the first 3rd-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) readings, and the results strongly beat expectations. Despite hurricanes Harvey and Irma causing billions of dollars of damage, the U.S. economy grew by 3% between July and September. Combined with the 3.1% growth in Q2, the economy has now experienced its best 6 months since 2014.
- Tech stocks surged. Last week, 180 companies in the S&P 500 released their 3rd-quarter earnings data - marking the busiest week of this earnings season. Among the releases, several major tech companies reported much higher-than-expected earnings, contributing to the NASDAQ's biggest daily gain since 2016. With approximately 30% growth so far this year, the tech sector has grown at around twice the rate of 2017's overall market.
What Is on the Horizon?
This week, the Federal Reserve has two milestones ahead:
- On Wednesday, we will learn whether the Fed plans to raise benchmark interest rates in November.
- On Friday, President Trump will name a new head of the central bank. Janet Yellen's term expires in early February 2018, and the new Fed Chair will affect monetary policy for at least the next 4 years.
Now that we are 8 years into the economic recovery, we understand that people are looking for reasons to doubt how long this stage will go on. As we saw last week, earnings growth and solid economic data are continuing to emerge, contributing to positive market performance.
If you have any questions about what you are reading in the headlines or experiencing in your own financial life, we are always here to talk.
THREE HALLOWEEN RETIREMENT LESSONS
Halloween offers some valuable lessons for your retirement planning. Just as most children anticipate Halloween with glee, many working adults have the same excitement about their retirement day. In order for the reality to live up the hype, here are three lessons that may help guide you.
Lesson #1: Have a plan.
On Halloween, every child should go over a game-plan with their parents - from the costume and what route to take, to what candy to accept and how to stay safe. The same is true for retirement.
A plan can make the difference between retiring with confidence at age 65, or tacking on additional years behind a desk. Just like parents who guide children about their game-plan for Halloween night, financial advisors can guide you to and through retirement.
Lesson #2: Pace yourself.
Just as eating the "loot" from the pillowcase while trick-or-treating can quickly deplete your child's Halloween stash, spending your money frivolously before retirement will leave you feeling in retirement like you've crashed after a sugar rush.
Maintaining a long term perspective is paramount, just like how children are told by their parents to "withdraw" from their candy stash over weeks, not hours, to make it last longer.
Lesson #3: Stick together.
Trick-or-treaters need to stay on the same page, remaining with parents or friends to stay safe and visiting only agreed-upon houses. With retirement, it's even more important to communicate with your family and advisor about your expectations, dreams and fears to help make a more successful retirement possible.
As Halloween approaches, let the holiday remind you to apply these three lessons to making both Halloween night and retirement a success.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
ANALYZE THE "NUA" ELECTION FOR EMPLOYER STOCK COMPENSATION
Executive stock plans take a variety of forms, including options, grants and employee stock purchase plans. Whatever the case, these plans often lead to concentrated positions in your employer's or former employer's stock. If this money is in a retirement account, it makes sense to look at net unrealized appreciation (NUA) when reviewing your distribution options.
NUA tax treatment essentially allows you to move pretax dollars into an after-tax account by paying taxes on the current cost basis of the stock. This election must be made prior to rolling money over into an IRA, and once you've made the decision, it's irrevocable - but the NUA election has the potential to provide significant value to your investments over your lifetime.
There are calculators online, such as one by ETrade, that can show the impact of NUA election and help you to understand your options, or you can call our office to discuss your situation and determine if this strategy makes sense for you.