The Week on Wall Street
Stocks descended from record highs Friday, as traders reacted to a U.S. drone strike that killed Iran's top military officer. Oil prices rose more than 3% following the breaking news.
FACT OF THE WEEK
Ballet is a long-standing form of classical dance performance with a rich history. The first ballet performance dating back to 1495 during an Italian wedding, the performers' dances represented the dishes served throughout the evening.
Over the ages, it's developed into the graceful art we know today with the most famous ballet in the world, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, first performed in 1892.
Wall Street benchmarks ended up having a sideways week, shortened by the New Year's Day holiday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.04% across four trading sessions, the S&P 500, 0.16%. In contrast, the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.16%. The MSCI EAFE index, benchmarking developed overseas stock markets, added 0.30%.
Oil Takes Center Stage
WTI crude oil settled at $63.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday, down from an intraday peak of $64.09 (which was its highest price since April).
The commodity rallied Friday, as energy traders considered the possibility of supply disruptions in the Middle East in retaliation for last week's U.S. airstrike.
Manufacturing Activity Declines
At the start of each month, economists watch the Institute for Supply Management's Purchasing Managers Index for the factory sector, which is considered a key barometer of U.S. manufacturing health.
Last week, ISM announced a December reading of 47.2 for this index, the poorest in more than ten years. A reading below 50 indicates manufacturing activity is contracting rather than expanding.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
Budget Checkup: Tax Time Is the Right Time
Every year, more than 147 million Americans file federal tax returns, according to the Tax Policy Center. Many feeling overwhelmed by the thought of having to rummage through their files in search of their mortgage, retirement, and investment account statements.
Although gathering your records for tax season can also be an excellent opportunity to evaluate your income and expenditures. In other words, tax season is a great time to give the household budget a checkup. Here are some tips I've compiled over my years that may be helpful.
Create Some Categories - Start by dividing expenses into unique categories, like ones for home, auto, food, and entertainment expenses. Don't forget savings and investments as well.
Follow the Money - Go through all the receipts and statements you gathered to prepare taxes and track everything. Be as specific as possible, from large expenditures down to your morning coffee.
Determine Expected Income - Add together all sources of income. Make sure to use net income.
Do the Math - It's time for the moment of truth. Subtract projected expenses from expected income. If costs exceed income, it may be necessary to consider changes. Prioritize categories and look to reduce those with the lowest importance until the budget is balanced.
Even though tax season can be a pain, this is an excellent opportunity to give your household budget a thorough checkup before the start of the new year.
As always, please contact my office with any questions or financial concerns you may have.