Market Update: January 2, 2024: S&P Ends 2023 Up 26%, Plus SFG News and Events

Market Insights

Stocks posted a slight gain last week amid a shortage of news and light holiday trading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.76%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.49%. The Nasdaq Composite index advanced 0.32% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, increased 1.13%.1,2,3

Source:, December 30, 2023. Weekly performance is measured from the close of trading on Friday, December 22, to Friday, December 29, close. Treasury note yield is expressed in basis points.

Stocks Gain to End Year

The stock market gains in the final trading days of 2023 capped an exceptional year of performance. The last-week rally also mirrored the historical tendency of stocks to rise at this time of year, a propensity known as the “Santa Claus rally.” The Santa Claus rally covers the final five trading days of the calendar year and the first two days of trading in January.

The average return of the S&P 500 during this Santa Claus rally is 1.3% during the past 73 years. Remember that past performance does not guarantee future results, and individuals cannot invest directly in an index.4

The 2023 week’s gains, led by smaller-capitalization stocks and a handful of industry sectors, were partially erased on Friday as light volume and some profit-taking pressured stocks.

Jobless Claims Rise

Initial jobless claims increased by 12,000 to 218,000, which exceeded economists’ forecasts. The four-week moving average, which better illustrates jobless claim trends, was little changed, coming in at 212,000; this was the lowest number since late October.5

Continuing jobless claims, which measures the number of individuals collecting unemployment benefits, was flat from the previous week at 1.88 million.6

This Week: Key Economic Data

Wednesday:  Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index.

Thursday: Automated Data Processing (ADP) Employment Report. Jobless Claims.

Friday: Employment Situation.

Source: Econoday, December 29, 2023
The Econoday economic calendar lists upcoming U.S. economic data releases (including key economic indicators), Federal Reserve policy meetings, and speaking engagements of Federal Reserve officials. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The forecasts or forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and may not materialize. The forecasts also are subject to revision.

This Week: Companies Reporting Earnings

Thursday: Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA), Lamb Weston (LW), Conagra Brands (CAG)

Friday: Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ)

Source: Zacks, December 29, 2023
Companies mentioned are for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Companies may reschedule when they report earnings without notice.

SFG News & Events

Happy New Year! The dawn of 2024 brings opportunities to create new resolutions or plans for the next 12 months.

No matter what you hope to accomplish this new year and beyond, keep moving forward, one small set back doesn’t mean
it’s all over. Stick to your resolutions one step at a time to help make 2024 healthy, happy, and successful.

If you have questions or would like some support in getting your retirement planning in gear or keeping your financial resolutions, we are here to help. For starters, attend one of our upcoming events. Together, let’s make 2024 a success!

Food for Thought

“To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

– Bertrand Russell

Tax Tip

Announced Income Tax Changes

The IRS recently announced its 2024 inflation adjustments.

Along with it, were adjustments to income taxes. While U.S. income tax rates will remain the same during the next two tax years, the tax brackets—the buckets of income that are taxed at progressively higher rates—will change.

Understanding your tax bracket and rate is essential regardless of your income level. Both play a major part in determining your final tax bill… and both can really impact your retirement years.

How Do Tax Brackets Work? Figuring out your tax obligation isn’t as easy as comparing your salary to the brackets shown below.

Let’s say you’re single and your 2024 taxable income is $75,000; your marginal—or top—tax rate is 22%. But some of your income will be taxed in lower tax brackets: 10% and 12%.

As your income moves up the ladder, slices of it are taxed at increasing rates: The first $11,600 is taxed at 10%: $1,160The next $35,550 ($47,150 minus $11,600) is taxed at 12%: $4,266The last $27,850 ($75,000 minus $47,150) is taxed at 22%: $6,127
The total tax amount for your $75,000 income is the sum of $1,160 + $4,266 + $6,127 = $11,553 (ignoring any itemized or standard deduction applied to your taxes).

2023 Tax Brackets (Taxes Due in April 2024)
The 2023 tax year—meaning the return you’ll file in 2024—will have the same seven federal income tax brackets as the last few seasons: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. Your filing status and taxable income, including wages, will determine the bracket you’re in.

You can also find guidelines for calculating your income tax based on the top bracket that applies to you.

This is a very quick overview, to see all the brackets for 2023 and 2024 as well as read the complete Forbes article, click HERE.

Tip adapted from Forbes.com7

*This information is not intended to substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Healthy Living Tip

Being SMART about fitness goals

Are you putting exercise on the back burner? Instead of saying you will “exercise more,” state a SMART exercise goal. SMART stands for:

Specific: State the objective you wish to meet as precisely as possible: “I am going to commit to doing a full-body video workout several times a week.”

Measurable: Identify quantifiable criteria to allow you to measure your progress: “I am going to do this workout three times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. I will track my progress in my workout journal.”

Attainable: Your goal should be ambitious but not impossible: “I am committing to three times a week, not seven times a week, because it is realistic and achievable for me with my current schedule.”

Relevant: Your goals must align with your current circumstances and priorities: “I will do it to stay healthy and strong during these times and to feel less stressed.”

Time-bound: Allocate a specific period for completing your goal: “I will commit to this plan for a month. In 30 days, I will have had 12 workouts and will reassess my goal after that.”

Tip adapted from Sharp.com8

Weekly Riddle

Victor is assigned to paint suite numbers on doors at an office building with 100 suites, which will be numbered from 1 to 100. How many times will he have to paint the number 8?

Last week’s riddle: Liz went into a convenience store at 1:58 AM on Sunday to get a coffee. She drove six miles away and then returned to the store to get a lotto ticket, also at 1:58 AM. The store’s clock was working perfectly, so how could it be 1:58 AM again when she returned? Answer: Liz made her trips to the convenience store during the morning when people set clocks back an hour for the end of Daylight Saving Time (at 2:00 AM).

Photo of the Week

Scenic view of train crossing a viaduct in Switzerland

Footnotes and Sources

1. The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2023

2. The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2023

3. The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2023

4., December 19, 2023.

5. Bloomberg, December 28, 2023.

6. Bloomberg, December 28, 2023.

7., December 21, 2023.

8., December 12, 2023.

Investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The forecasts or forward-looking statements are based on assumptions, may not materialize, and are subject to revision without notice.

The market indexes discussed are unmanaged, and generally, considered representative of their respective markets. Index performance is not indicative of the past performance of a particular investment. Indexes do not incur management fees, costs, and expenses. Individuals cannot directly invest in unmanaged indexes. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of large-capitalization companies on the U.S. stock market. Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of technology and growth companies. The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) and serves as a benchmark of the performance of major international equity markets, as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. The S&P 500 Composite Index is an unmanaged group of securities that are considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

U.S. Treasury Notes are guaranteed by the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. However, if you sell a Treasury Note prior to maturity, it may be worth more or less than the original price paid. Fixed income investments are subject to various risks including changes in interest rates, credit quality, inflation risk, market valuations, prepayments, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

International investments carry additional risks, which include differences in financial reporting standards, currency exchange rates, political risks unique to a specific country, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. These factors may result in greater share price volatility.

Please consult your financial professional for additional information.

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG is not affiliated with Stuart Financial Group, J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc., nor state or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and they should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Copyright 2024 FMG Suite.