Despite geopolitical developments, major domestic indexes increased last week. The S&P 500 gained 0.31%, the Dow added 0.15%, and the NASDAQ grew by 1.08%. International stocks dropped, with the MSCI EAFE decreasing by 1.60%.
FACT OF THE WEEK
Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment has been 0% in three of the past eight years, and 0.3% for 2017 (the lowest increase on record). Not shockingly, The Senior Citizens League estimates that the purchasing power of Social Security dollars has dropped by 30% since 2000.
Geopolitical uncertainty affected stocks last week, as the historic summit between the U.S. and North Korea began to look less likely. On Thursday, May 24, President Trump announced that the summit was off, and stocks stumbled in reaction. The next day, Trump said the meeting might still occur next month, leaving investors questioning the eventual outcome.
Also on the geopolitical front, an announcement that Saudi Arabia and Russia would consider easing back oil supply restrictions affected stocks. U.S. crude oil prices dropped in response, pulling energy stocks down with them.
What kept U.S. stocks in positive territory for the week?
Solid corporate earnings helped drive upward movement.
A number of companies experienced double-digit stock growth last week after releasing their latest data. This strong performance helped balance the declines and uncertainty that the week's geopolitical headlines created.
What other economic perspectives did we receive?
From durable goods to home sales, various data came out last week:
- The factory sector could drive economic growth, as steel and aluminum tariffs are contributing to rising value of orders and inventories for metals.
- Business confidence and 2nd-quarter investment could increase, as strong core durable goods orders may indicate good news for companies.
- Housing is underperforming, as growth in home sales volume and prices have softened recently.
Overall, last week provided a mix of insight about the current economic strength and geopolitical environment. In this week's 4 trading days, we'll gain more perspectives on consumer confidence, Gross Domestic Product, manufacturing, and employment. We will use this data to continue building our understanding of what may lie ahead in the markets - and how to prepare our clients for the future. If you have any questions, we are here to talk.
THE WORLD'S EASIEST HOBBY?
Bird watching is one of America's fastest-growing hobbies - with 50 million "birders" regularly watching the winged creatures.
The best thing about birding is that it requires little exertion and minimal investment - approximately $ 10 bucks each week to keep the feeder filled. To get started, the first step is installing a bird feeder out in the backyard - and filling your birdhouse with food on a routine basis is key to making sure the birds come back. Below we have listed some insight and useful tips:
- Bird watching is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in our nation. Fifty million Americans plan trips to watch wild birds each year.
- While the purists of the birding world bicker over whether using bird-watching apps is kosher (the American Birding Association is revising its code of ethics to sort matters out), you can be busy downloading one to help take your pursuit to the next level. The iBird Pro Guide to Birds ($14.99, iPhone and Android) puts an interactive guide at your fingertips, with ID tips, photos, recordings of bird calls and a range map, in case for some reason you do leave your backyard. Merlin Bird ID (free for iPhone and Android) is even better; it asks five quick questions about your feathered friend (Where are you? What time did you see your bird? How big was it? What colors was it? What was it doing?), then offers up possible suspects. It's surprisingly accurate, and a great aid for beginners.
- There's no such thing as a "squirrel-proof bird feeder." There are only squirrel-challenging feeders, with varying degrees of difficulty. What you want is a feeder that's sturdy. Brome's Squirrel Buster series is a common recommendation.
- What you put in your feeder matters less than putting it there. You can find birdseed tailored to particular species, in case you're determined to, say, focus on finches. But you can get a great mix of visitors simply by providing sunflower seeds - every day. Consistency is what matters to the birds.
- Birds like a drink with their meals. Your water source doesn't have to be elaborate, though feel free if you want to go all out on a fountain.
- You can use plants to attract more birds. Come on, you're out in your yard anyway. Among its many other beautiful and useful features, the Audubon Society's website (audubon.org) has a nifty native plant database, organized by zip code, so if you're dead set on hummingbirds, you'll know what to do.
- Be prepared to fall in love. It's amazing how cute a flock of goldfinches looks jockeying for position at the feeder. Before you know it, you may be signing on for "avitourist" jaunts to Antarctica to peek at penguins or Papua New Guinea to get a bead on birds of paradise. The U.S. government's most recent estimate: Bird-watchers spend $41 billion each year on their hobby, at home and abroad. And 2018 has been declared "The Year of the Bird" by the National Geographic Society.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
REVIEW PROGRESS ON YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
A written financial plan is one of the most important steps you can take on your journey to your financial freedom. If you have a written financial plan it is a good start. But keeping it on the shelf gathering dust doesn't help very much. So take a look and see what action steps might make sense between now and year end to keep you on track with your plan and with achieving your 2018 goals. Then, in December, start writing down more goals for 2019!