Once again, the markets ended the week in positive territory - and all 3 major domestic indexes hit new record highs. The S&P 500 added 0.26%, and the Dow was up 0.45%, with both indexes notching their 8th straight week of growth. The NASDAQ was up for the 6th week in a row with a 0.94% gain. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined in the growth, posting a 0.90% increase.
FACT OF THE WEEK
92% of people say that they would rather be rich than find true love.
Why did markets continue to perform well last week? In part, economic data, political developments, and policy decisions gave investors a variety of details to digest.
Perspectives We Gained Last Week
- Tax Reform
The House of Representatives released a long-awaited tax-reform bill on November 2, which included a number of changes to current laws. If passed, this legislation would reduce the corporate tax rate to 20% while cutting in half the mortgage-interest deduction. The markets responded positively to the bill, in part because of the level of detail it included.
Key Takeaway: This tax reform could be significant, but it must pass through several steps ahead before becoming law.
- Monetary Policy
The Federal Reserve opted to keep interest rates at their current level for now. In addition, President Trump nominated Jerome Powell to be the new Fed Chair when Janet Yellen's term ends next February.
Key Takeaway: Many people expect one more interest rate increase this year. And if the Senate confirms Powell's nomination, the Fed may stay with the same centrist approach to monetary policy as in recent years.
After hurricanes contributed to disappointing jobs data for September, the most recent reading showed improvements in hiring. October saw the economy add 261,000 new jobs - below the predicted 313,000 - but positive growth, nonetheless. In addition, we received revised data for September, which indicated the economy gained 18,000 jobs during that month, rather than losing the previously reported 33,000.
Key Takeaway: Hurricanes continue to affect jobs data, but unemployment is now lower than it has been since 2001.
The most recent ISM non-manufacturing data shows that many businesses in the service sector are growing. In October, these industries - which range from construction to agriculture - grew at the fastest rate since 2005.
Key Takeaway: With business activity and new orders on the rise, we may expect to see service-sector expansion continue in future months.
After last week's wealth of data and developments, this week's schedule is relatively quiet. We will continue to monitor incoming details and determine how they may affect our clients' financial lives. In the meantime, if you have any questions, we are always here to talk.
TRENDS IN RETIREMENT LIVING
Americans are constantly on the lookout for ideas to help make retirement not only more affordable, but also more fun. Here are four trends from Today.com that are making retirement more enjoyable - and accessible - for retirees of all kinds.
Senior co-housing: A Danish trend takes hold
Individuals and couples live in private homes but share ownership of a central common house. In one New Mexico community, there will be 28 home sites on 10 acres, with a 4-acre grassy commons, a common house and a barn. Each custom home will follow guidelines for sustainability and energy efficiency.
Belize: Cheap - and they speak English
Despite its Central American setting, Belize uses English as its national language. The country is also popular with Americans because it's possible to live here comfortably for less than $25,000 a year. Belize also has big appeal as a retirement destination for active couples who love snorkeling, scuba diving and jungle trekking.
Build a tiny home - in your adult children's backyard
Itsy-bitsy houses - some just 400-square-feet - are the newest trend in residential construction. With a tiny kitchenette, a very intimate sitting room and a loft bedroom, these houses are low-cost, low-maintenance and perfect for the retiring couple seriously looking to "down-size." A Virginia company sells a 400-sq.-ft. log cabin with a covered porch for $36,900. If you have grown children who want to look after you, but you still want your independence, this might be a perfect solution - because some retirees choose to build these mini-homes in their children's backyards.
Workamping: Semi-retirement in an R.V.
Imagine driving around the country in your camper van or R.V., picking a nice campsite, and then taking a temporary job to earn some extra cash. When the travel bug hits you, just unhook your RV from the camp facilities and head to someplace new. Job opportunities for workampers include amusement parks, hotels in national parks, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
SEE IF IT'S TIME FOR A TRUST
If you're above the estate tax exemption ($5.49 million per person in 2017), or your retirement plan is significantly overfunded, consider the world of irrevocable trusts. Often the goal here is to remove assets from your taxable estate in order to avoid the federal estate tax.
Those who are wealthy and charitably minded may want to consider charitable remainder trusts, which designate a set amount (either percentage or dollar) as annual income for you, with the remaining principal passing at death to a charity. Charitable remainder trusts can provide significant tax deductions to offset high income, eliminate capital gains taxes on donations of highly appreciated property, and allow the potential for higher after-tax income streams, as well as leaving a legacy to the cause of your choice.
These structures are complex and if you want to go down this path, you will need to consult with a CPA, estate attorney and Certified Financial PlannerTM.