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Markets were closed on March 30 for Good Friday, but in the four days of trading, stocks recovered some of this year’s losses. For the week, the S&P 500 added 2.09%, the Dow gained 2.67%, and the NASDAQ increased by 1.03%. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE grew 0.81%.
Last week also marked the end of the year’s 1st quarter. Our next market update will share a recap of key performance details and events from January through March.
In this report, we will consider findings from last week and offer some perspective on the data.
What We Learned Last Week
- The Economy Expanded More Than Thought
We received the final reading of 4th quarter 2017 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the numbers were higher than expected. Between October and December last year, GDP grew at a 2.9% annualized rate. In particular, consumer spending contributed significantly to our economic growth.
- Consumers Remained Confident
Consumer Sentiment readings reached a 14-year high in March and may be a sign that spending was also on the rise last month. Meanwhile, the Consumer Confidence report showed slightly lower readings than in February but continued to stay high. Though respondents’ confidence in the stock market wavered, their strong assessments of the labor market helped maintain solid numbers.
- Personal Incomes Rose
Personal income grew 0.4% in February and has increased 3.7% over the past 12 months. Consumers also spent more money, and data on personal debt and financial obligations indicates that they still have more room to spend.
Examined together, this data seems to indicate that consumers are confident about the economy and their job prospects—and are continuing to earn and spend more.
Considering that approximately 69% of the U.S. economy comes from consumer spending, these developments should be positive news.
That said, every market environment has risks, and no economy is perfect. We are here to help you navigate your finances and make sense of developing news. If you have any questions, contact us any time.
Monday: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending
Tuesday: Motor Vehicle Sales
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg Index
Thursday: Jobless Claims
Friday: Employment Situation
Notes: All index returns (except S&P 500) exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. The total returns for the S&P 500 assume reinvestment of dividends on the last day of the month. This may account for differences between the index returns published on Morningstar.com and the index returns published elsewhere. International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.
|“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.|
The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.“
― Winston Churchill
Berry Coconut Crumble
Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping 
How to Reduce Damage from Data Theft
Today’s thieves no longer have to lurk in dark alleys. The World Wide Web provides plenty of opportunities for cyber criminals to rob you of your valuables. They want to steal your identity, which they can use to sell to others, withdraw money from your bank account, make credit card purchases, or file fraudulent tax returns to obtain refunds.
What do you do if you fall victim to identity or data theft?
The IRS offers tips for victims to salvage the damage and repair the data breaches:
- Attempt to determine what information the thieves stole, which may include emails, passwords, or Social Security numbers.
- Use credit-monitoring services.
- Freeze credit accounts to block access to records.
- Reset passwords on accounts. Use different passwords for each account.
- Use layered authentication to access accounts.
The agency recommends taxpayers retain copies of their tax returns.
Other details may apply, and you can find more information on the IRS website.
Tip adapted from IRS.gov.
*This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
How to Never Miss the Short Putt
You’re 6 inches from the hole. Easy, right? No problem. One little tap, and you’re done, and on to the next hole. But oops. There goes the ball, rounding the lip of the hole, seemingly defying gravity, only to remain above ground. It was the easiest shot in the world, and you missed it! Your first thought: You’ll never golf again. Your second thought: How do you avoid this mistake in the future?
Here are 4 tips from the pros on how to avoid the most obvious blunder:
- Take a marker and draw a dot on the ball large enough so you can see it easily.
- Place the ball back on the green so that the dot faces up. Focus solely on the dot as you prepare to putt.
- Don’t let the backstroke go more than a few inches away from the ball before striking. This produces acceleration at the point of the strike.
- If you quickly turn your head to watch the ball roll, you’ll change the direction of the putter face, and miss the shot. Listen instead to the ball dropping in the hole.
Putting that extra effort into the short putts can save you from those disastrous occasions of missing the easiest shots.
Tip adapted from Golf Digest
How to Get Your Kids Exercising
The electronic age may have made life easier and more convenient for you and your children or grandchildren. But it also has made a lot of us more sedentary.
You know what it takes to get exercising: a plan and a little initiative. But how do you get the little ones moving?
Here are some tips to get the children (or grandchildren) exercising and, at the same time, loving it:
- Get a move on together. Instead of watching TV or playing video games after dinner, go outside for a walk or a bike ride. You can go play basketball or catch.
- An hour of power. You’re outside. Your next goal is to stay out there and moving for at least 60 minutes. Performing a variety of activities—running, walking, skipping rope, or playing at the playground—may help you put in the time.
- Your children love gadgets. So, why not get them a step counter? They can measure how many steps to the playground slide, to the telephone pole, or to their friend’s house. They can see how fast they can take 50 steps.
- On the other side, you don’t have to go high tech. Low tech will do. How about a tennis racket, a jump rope, a hula hoop, or skates? Just some good, old-fashioned fun.
- Sometimes it’s all about location, location, location. Go to the park. Do a picnic at the lake. How about going to the baseball field? Kind of like taking a very short vacation.
- “Kiai!” Enrolling in activity classes—karate, tennis, or dance—is a great way to get your children moving and excited about exercising.
- Go back to the video games. But use the ones with motion sensors.
- Make exercise fun. How about building a snowman or jumping in the leaves? You can walk (or skip) to the library or the park. Or you can go plant some flowers. You’re taking “exercise” out of the equation and putting in “fun.”
A few simple steps can get you and your children moving and create healthy habits.
Tip adapted from WebMD
Going Kitchen Green: How to Save Energy While Cooking
Cooking and becoming environmentally friendly don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A simple change of approach and equipment can transform cooking into a more earth-friendly endeavor and save money at the same time.
Consider your energy use. Cooking in a standard electric oven for an hour generates 2.7 pounds of CO2. Using a toaster oven for nearly the same amount of time generates 1.3 pounds of CO2.
A microwave, however, generates 0.5 pounds of CO2 in more than 15 minutes of cooking.
Microwave ovens save energy. Compared to conventional units, they use about half the energy. That translates into less time in the kitchen, faster meals, lower energy bills, and becoming more environmentally sensitive and responsible.
Tip adapted from WWF
This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.
The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.
Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets. International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896. The 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 stocks of technology companies and growth companies. The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indices from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. Past performance does not guarantee future results. You cannot invest directly in an index. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. 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. These are the views of Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative. Please consult your financial advisor for further information. Member FINRA/SIPC.