The Week on Wall Street
A rocky week with wide price swings led to mixed results for stocks last week, as investors grappled with anxieties over economic growth and weakness in technology and other high-growth stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.36%, while the S&P 500 gained 1.57%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.58% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slipped 1.67%.
FACT OF THE WEEK
National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day honors all small business owners each year on March 29th. Small businesses are a vital part of the United States economy, and the critical role they play is sometimes overlooked.
Some of these Mom and Pop shops are handed down from one generation to the next while others are new start-ups. “Mom and Pop” businesses offer superior customer service as the owners take personal pride in their operations as well as pride in their communities.
Rick and Margie Segel founded National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day in honor of couples like Rick's parents whose successful hat shop opened in 1939 and grew into a 10,000 square feet clothing store worth $2 million.
After a promising start to the week, stocks turned negative on mounting concerns about economic growth in Europe, with broad losses in energy, cyclicals, and technology.
Though bond yields backed off their highs and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Fed Chair Jerome Powell both struck an optimistic tone on the economy, stocks posted back-to-back losses on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thursday trading was emblematic of the week’s volatile action. The S&P 500 dropped nearly one percent earlier in the day following Powell’s comment about the Fed eventually rolling back its bond purchase program, then rallied to close with a 0.5% gain.
Stocks rallied into the Friday close, pushing the Dow and S&P 500 into positive territory and paring the losses on the Nasdaq Composite.
Tech Remains Under Pressure
The losses in technology and other high-growth stocks in recent weeks have largely been attributed to the sharp and rapid rise in bond yields.
So, it was both interesting and a bit confounding that last week saw yields pull back, and rather than helping support these companies’ stock prices, many technology stocks continued to decline. The failure to rally on lower yields may be pointing to other reasons for their price weakness. Some are concerned about current prices, and believe there may be better growth opportunities in more fairly-valued companies. The “fear of missing out” that propelled investors to pile into these stocks over the last twelve months appears to have moderated.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams to Watch For
Every year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its list of tax scams, spotlighting the myriad ways that people try to separate you from your money.
Using your personal information, an identity thief can file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund. If you’ve been a victim of stolen personal information, you can contact the IRS so the agency can protect your tax account.
Be wary of fake emails or websites looking to steal your personal information. If you receive a request for information that appears to be from the IRS, contact the IRS directly to verify the request.
Scammers will contact you pretending to be from the IRS. They may say that you are due a large refund or owe money (even threatening arrest or revocation of your driver’s license). If you receive such a call, call the IRS and contact the Federal Trade Commission using their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov.
Inflated Refund Claims
Tax preparers promising inflated returns may ask clients to sign a blank return or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund. Beware of phony storefronts or preparers advertising through word-of-mouth to community groups where trust is high.
Return Preparer Fraud
Dishonest preparers may use tax preparation as an excuse to steal your personal information, so only use a preparer who signs the return and has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number.
Hiding Income Offshore
The IRS has strengthened its ability to identify offshore holdings, and the failure to report them will be costly.
Impersonation of Charitable Organizations
Fraudulent charities raise money or obtain private information from individuals looking to help. Donate only to recognized charities, and beware of charities whose names sound similar to the well-known ones.
False Income, Expenses or Exemptions
Falsifying your tax return is a high risk, low reward exercise, especially in this age of Big Data.
Ignore promoters of frivolous arguments that promise you tax relief. Not only are they expected to fail, but you may be subjected to penalties.
Falsely Padding Deductions or Returns
Dishonestly reporting deductions to reduce tax bills or inflate refunds may open you up to penalties and prosecution.
Abusive Tax Structures
If someone is proposing to eliminate or substantially reduce your taxes through complex tax structures, walk away—they may be offering nothing more than illegal tax evasion.
Excessive Claims for Business Tax Credits
This happens when taxpayers or their tax preparers improperly claim the research credit or the fuel tax credit, which is generally limited to off-highway uses, such as farming.
Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.
As always, please let us know if there is anything we can help with along the way or any financial concerns you may have.