Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

“It's the hap- happiest season of all.”

While holidays don’t make everyone happy, investors should be feeling festive. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is up more than 18 percent year-to-date. The Dow Jones Global ex U.S. Index is up about 21 percent year-to-date (refer to the table), and Treasury bond yields are lower than they were at the start of the year.

In addition, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a measure of how unpredictable investors expect the S&P 500 Index to be over the short-term, finished the week below 10. A low VIX reading means investors expect calm markets through the end of the year.

“Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams to Watch For

“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.¹

The 2016 “Dirty Dozen”

Identity Theft

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.

Phishing

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.

Telephone Scams

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.

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

What will it take to shake investors’ confidence?

From the perspective of unsettling events, last week was jam-packed. North Korea claimed to have the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear missile, tax reform continued to travel a controversial path through the House and Senate, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador.

U.S. stock markets weren’t immune to these events and some lost value. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index didn’t stay down for long. Both indices finished the week higher.

What to Look for in Personal Finance Apps

What to Look for in Personal Finance Apps

Since Apple launched its iPhone App Store in July 2008, the mobile applications market has exploded.

In 2016, Statista reported that Apple customers had downloaded 130 billion apps. On the other side of the smart phone universe, Android users have downloaded 65 billion apps since the Google Play launch in 2010.1

To put those numbers in perspective, that’s over 26 apps downloaded for every person on the planet.2

While many of these apps are games and social media programs, an increasing number have been developed to help individuals with their personal finances. Which leads to an interesting question: what should you look for in a personal finance app?

Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

There was a lot to be thankful for last week.

Stock markets around the world may have ripened to full-slip sweetness this year. Emerging markets have delivered the most attractive returns year-to-date. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index was up 34 percent year-to-date, last week. The United States and Europe have marched higher, too. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up about 16 percent year-to-date, while the Euro Stoxx Index was up 11.3 percent, reported Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal.

The question is, “Have markets become overripe?’ As you might expect, opinions on the matter vary: 

  • Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, told CNBC, “I don't see the elements of a bear market but I certainly think 2018 can bring us a correction or at least just a more challenging market.”
  • David Lebovitz, global market strategist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, wrote in Barron’s, “Healthy earnings growth suggests that there is still upside in U.S. equities, but this area of the global equity market is most expensive relative to its long-term average. However, history has shown us that expensive stock markets can get more expensive before they get cheaper, as multiples tend to expand in the final stages of a bull market.”
  • Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, told CNBC, “This boat is now standing room only…I still can't figure out why some think there is no euphoria in markets when one has to go back 30 years to see this wide a spread between bulls and bears.”