For the first time in months, U.S. markets experienced little movement last week. The Dow and NASDAQ did have their 5th week of gains in a row, but their increases were small: 0.12% and 0.11%, respectively. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 broke its 4-week winning streak with a 0.22% loss. Internationally, the MSCI EAFE also posted modest returns, gaining 0.47% for the week.
FACT OF THE WEEK
Bowling has a long and rich history with evidence of the sport dating back to 1366 in England. The earliest mention of bowling in American literature was in 1819 by Washington Irving, when Rip Van Winkle awakens to the sound of "crashing ninepins." Today it is ranked as the top participatory recreational sports in America and is enjoyed in more than 90 countries worldwide.
What topics were on investors' minds?
Despite the relative lack of market drama last week, investors still had plenty to consider. For example, the following details emerged:
• Conflicting messages came out on trade tension with China.
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its forecast for global growth.
• Corporate earnings season continued.
In addition, the longest Federal government shutdown in history ended. After 35 days, the House and Senate voted unanimously to reopen the partially closed government. President Trump signed the bill, which includes funding through February 15.
This week could provide far more action in the markets when a number of key details emerge.
What's ahead this week?
These last days of January provide several noteworthy updates, including:
• Federal Reserve Meeting: Most people expect that the Fed will not increase rates this week. However, many investors will be studying how the central bank describes its plans for 2019 and assessment of the economy's strength.
• Corporate Earnings: This week, 126 S&P 500 companies will release their earnings data. Major reports could help provide insight into everything from U.S. consumers to global industry.
• China Negotiations: Chinese Vice Premier Liu and his delegation are coming to Washington to conduct additional trade discussions. As we have discussed for months, the ongoing tension is affecting markets as investors look for clarity on what may lie ahead.
One data point we may not receive this week is the initial reading of 4th quarter 2018 Gross Domestic Product. This report is one of many affected by the Federal government shutdown. Although the government has reopened, we have yet to receive the latest data on retail sales, new home sales, durable goods orders, and more.
As the week unfolds, we will analyze all of the information that does come out- and continue to look for ways to pursue our clients' long-term goals in the current economic environment. If you have any questions about how these details affect your financial life, we're here to talk.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
How do I Safeguard my Passwords?
As we do more of our daily activities online, we become more vulnerable to security compromises, such as breached data and identify theft. A key item that can put you at risk is the vulnerability of your passwords. Here are tips for taking better steps to safeguard your passwords to protect your important data.
1. Create long passwords
Breaking into a long password is more difficult to do than one with just a few characters and numbers. As such, you should create passwords that have a minimum of 8 characters.
2. Use combinations of characters and capitalization
Sometimes companies will control what types of characters you can use. When you have the freedom to choose a variety of characters, you can create a secure password using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
You also should vary using capitalized and lowercase letters. Be sure to include at minimum one uppercase and one lowercase letter.
3. Avoid personal information
While details such as your children's or pets' names can be memorable, they make guessing your password easy for criminals. Avoid using any personally identifying information in your chosen password.