Financial Spring Clean-Up

Spring cleaning season may be coming toward an end as we head into summer, but did you actually take a look at your finances as part of your spring cleaning? 

It’s that time of year again, where people start to open their windows, dust out their closets and start to organize and “tidy up”. Whether it’s deep cleaning the house, garage, yard, or office, it’s about prioritizing. All this spring-cleaning buzz got me to thinking, what are some of the spring-cleaning items people should think about when it comes to their finances.

Often times we get busy in the other things we have to do in life, be it work, family, kids’ activities or social events, whatever it is we put those things in front of less important things like our finances. Wait -I just said our finances are less important than all those things? Well to some degree I do think that is true, because living your life of abundance goes much deeper than your finances. BUT in 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years, we are all going to want to retire and spend even more time on the afore mentioned things.  So now we should spend time on getting our financial lives organized and prepared for our future goals.

Where do we start?
TAXES

A good time to start thinking about these spring-cleaning finance items could start right after you file your taxes. After you see how your previous year taxes have shaken out, you can make any important changes for the following year. This is a good opportunity to update your tax withholdings or increase your 401k contributions ($19,000 employee max with an additional $6,000 for over 50 catch-up). 

Speaking of 401ks, if you’re a business owner, you should be thinking about what type of retirement plan is right for you and your employees.  A 401k can be a great tax and retention tool for the business.  After tax season, It’s also a good time to start thinking about the other things you can do to reduce your taxable income for the year or even put pencil and paper (yes it’s ok to still use those in this tech world) to your charitable giving strategy for the remainder of the year. 

PERSONAL CREDIT
Next Up – Credit Check

During your spring financial clean-up, you should think about running your first of three free annual credit reports for the year available to you by the credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.  (click link for more info: https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/get-my-free-credit-report). 

Looking at your credit report will allow you to see what current credit cards and credit lines are open/closed in your name, what personal information the credit bureaus have like addresses reported, telephone numbers, and employment data, and also current inquiries on your credit which you should be familiar with the names showing up. 

INSURANCE
Now let’s start thinking ahead to fall benefit enrollments

It seems like this always sneaks up on us, however, if we start thinking about it early, it should put us in a good spot to make good decisions when the enrollment window opens.  Make sure you are utilizing the benefits right for your family, whether it’s utilizing an HSA account, flex spending accounts, increasing your group term life insurance, or adding something like disability coverage, it’s important to maximize those benefits.

Insurance coverage, yes, I mentioned we should be thinking about it before enrollment period, but it’s also good to review your overall insurance coverage.  Have you had any major life events over the last year which might mean a change to coverage is needed like a big raise, having a new baby, bought a new house, got married, or even retired?  All these life events are good reasons to revisit your insurance plan, but I think it’s also just a good job to think about it annually during your financial spring cleaning.

SPENDING
Now I know you’re waiting for me to write about something fun, so how about I throw one out that we all care about tracking and monitoring…our monthly budget!
 

Ok, we all know putting together (and more importantly, following) a budget isn’t the most enjoyable past time; however, it’s a place we can save a few bucks.  Here are a few easy ones: have you looked at different cell phone carrier options lately or compared cable/satellite tv options?  How about looked at your home and car insurance premiums?  Looking at those three items during the spring cleaning could help save $100s of dollars annually.  That’s more money to spend on lattes! (Oh wait, think about cutting that daily drink at your favorite coffee shop as well.)

Wait did I just say you could save $100s of dollar annually? Ok, maybe that doesn’t get a lot of people too excited, so let’s talk about something that can save or make you thousands of dollars annually. I’m talking about having a coordinated allocation for your investments.  Hang with me here, I’m not saying you have to do this on your own but working with a good financial advisor can help ensure this part of your spring financial cleaning is done.  I’m sure lots of us hire someone to do our actual spring cleaning at our house, so there’s nothing wrong with doing the same here with your investments. 

ESTATE PLANNING
Lastly, and this thing is probably more like the basement which only gets cleaned every 5-10 years during spring cleaning and it’s ensuring your estate planning documents are up to date with your wishes.

I know most of you are thinking, now where did I put those things again?  Make sure they are still relevant with current legislation and the people you wrote into the documents are still willing and/or able to handle their duties.  I definitely saved one of the more important things for last on purpose (I was hoping you would read the whole blog).  This is something that’s easily overlooked, and we all know a friend or family member who forgot to update their documents or worse yet, didn’t have any in place.  Blow the dust off the documents and give them a read or contact a good attorney to help in your review.

I’m sure you’ve had enough of my rambling at this point, but let’s recap the Financial Spring Cleaning items quick:

-          Make tax adjustments as needed whether it’s withholding or 401k contributions

-          Run your first of three FREE annual credit reports

-          Start thinking about fall benefit enrollments

-          Review current insurance coverage

-          Update your monthly budget

-          Have a plan for your investments

-          And finally, make sure your estate planning documents follow your current wishes. 

Ok, now what are you waiting for, get a move on it!  Please contact our Gilbert & Cook team if we can help answer any of the questions on this honey-do-list.

Author: Jerit Tripp, Advisor


Disclosure: This presentation is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory/management services. Opinions expressed are those of Gilbert & Cook and are subject to change, not guaranteed and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security. Gilbert & Cook is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Gilbert & Cook, Inc. and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Gilbert & Cook, Inc. unless a client service agreement is in place.

Job Opening - Associate Advisor

A successful candidate for the Associate Advisor / Relationship Manager position must combine their expertise for communication and relationship building with the ability to be detailed, organized, motivated and an accomplished problem solver. The Relationship Manager enhances the genuine relationships with the clients, works closely with the financial advisors and other professionals to monitor and implement wealth management strategies. This teamwork provides a positive unique experience for each client, professional or team contact.

REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & ABILITIES

  • Bachelor’s Degree

  • Three years of business experience in financial, accounting or related fields

  • Excellent communication skills and a highly professional work ethic

  • Ability to handle multiple responsibilities and take initiative in a high volume work environment

  • Efficient organizational and time management skills

  • Strong detail orientation

  • Exceptional computer skills, including adaptability to utilize various software packages such as our client management system, scanning, Microsoft Office Suite, Morningstar, etc.

  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment

  • Preferred: CFA, CFP®, CPA certification or working towards professional designation

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

Client Service

  • Responsible for enhancing the client experience by building and maintaining strong client relationships

  • Preparation and execution of administrative responsibilities for client meetings including implementation follow up

  • Communication with clients for administrative questions and needs

  • Accurate and efficient processing of client account transactions

  • Investment account and insurance paperwork preparation including follow up and confirmation of implementation

Firm Operations

  • Effective communications with the team

  • Ability to develop extensive an extensive knowledge of firm processes and procedures

  • Identify possible quality improvement and efficiency solutions for the firm

  • Maintenance of client management system database

  • Ability to work independently on projects, as well as to effectively relate to others to accomplish the objectives of the team

Marketing

  • Attend and represent Gilbert & Cook at various client-related functions as needed

Technology

  • Utilize our various software packages such as Junxure, Microsoft Office Suite, Morningstar, etc. efficiently to enhance other core responsibilities.

Compliance

  • Comply with rules and regulations of regulatory agencies and company policies and procedures.

Interested candidates may apply by sending resumes to info@gilbertcook.com

Job Opening - Client Service Representative

We are seeking an experienced relationship builder to work with our relationship management and operations teams on organizing and maintaining client paperwork, identifying efficiencies and streamlining processes to support firm and departmental goals.

The ideal candidate will have experience working with general operations duties and be comfortable in a fast-moving, dynamic environment. Experience in the financial services industry is preferred, however, any candidate with the right skill-set and attitude will be considered.

If you are a professional that desires to be in service to others, inspires an abundance mindset, exemplifies professionalism, listens generously, provides clarity through collaboration and are on a quest to grow and improve while being humbly confident, our firm is a great fit for you!

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Partner with the Operations Team and Relationship Management Team to organize, scan, upload and maintain paperwork.

  • Use Junxure Cloud CRM system to reconcile data and support database management

  • Prepare for client meetings to support relationship and adviser teams

  • Responsible for client agreement tracking, processing and filing

  • Assist with maintaining electronic document filing system

  • Provide team support, research and problem resolution

  • Assist in billing functions for all fee-based accounts, financial planning fees, tracking of commissions and trails, and compiling of various business metrics.

JOB SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS

  • Bachelor’s Degree

  • Solid accuracy and attention to detail skills

  • Ability to balance changing priorities throughout the day

  • Self-starter

  • Excellent organizational and project management execution skills

  • Strong communication and follow-up skills

  • Multitasker and ability to work at a varied pace

  • Comfortable using Excel and learning ways to use it more effectively

  • Excellent computer skills

  • Knowledge of financial services industry is a plus

  • Sharepoint knowledge is a plus

Interested candidates may apply by sending resumes to info@gilbertcook.com

Ribbon Cutting at Our New Home!

It has been a very big year for Gilbert & Cook. Celebrating our 25th Anniversary as a firm; we expanded our team to 22 people, added 3 new partners, and found a new home!

The Gilbert & Cook team hosted a Ribbon Cutting event with the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce in April to welcome guests to our new home in West Des Moines.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce.  Gilbert & Cook Partners: Brandon Grimm, Chris Cook, Linda Cook, Marlis Gilbert, Jerit Tripp & Megan Rosenstiel

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce.

Gilbert & Cook Partners: Brandon Grimm, Chris Cook, Linda Cook, Marlis Gilbert, Jerit Tripp & Megan Rosenstiel

Linda Cook, President, Welcoming Guests at the Gilbert & Cook Ribbon Cutting Breakfast

Linda Cook, President, Welcoming Guests at the Gilbert & Cook Ribbon Cutting Breakfast

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New Opening - Investment Analyst

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Gilbert & Cook, Inc. is expanding their investment department and is looking to hire an Investment Analyst.

The Position

The team member will carry out a variety of asset management related tasks on a daily basis while providing support to senior investment professionals.  The ideal candidate must thrive in a fast-paced team environment with the ability to grasp new concepts and skills quickly.  This position has the opportunity for long-term growth as it will be exposed to all areas of the firm’s investment process.   Areas include due diligence, accounting and performance measurement systems, client education, security selection and trading, portfolio management and asset allocation strategy.

The Company

Gilbert & Cook, Inc. is a successful, fast-growing private wealth management firm located in West Des Moines, Iowa, part of the Greater Des Moines metro area.  The Company is a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC and is an affiliate of PKS broker/dealer.  Founded in 1993, Gilbert & Cook serves a unique group of high net worth individuals, families, and institutions throughout the United States with regards to their investment management, financial planning, insurance, and estate planning needs.  Our reputable team consists of 21 people overseeing over $500 million of assets under advisement.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Review account or household asset allocations and formulate written recommendations

  • Prepare quarterly fiduciary reports

  • Monitor and implement client investment strategies involving multiple accounts and allocations

  • Support portfolio management team in preparing  trades to rebalance various model portfolios

  • Perform investment returns analysis for total portfolios and individual mandates

  • Perform research and analysis to support strategic and tactical asset allocation decisions

  • Conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis on securities and third-party investment strategies

  • Maintain and reconcile investment-related databases and portfolio accounting systems

  • Conduct performance and transaction reconciliation

  • Prepare client deliverables and presentation materials

  • Assist in writing summaries of market actions, recommendations and educational newsletters

  • Work closely with firm personnel to provide a unique client experience

  • Participate in client and prospective client projects, meetings and events

 

Candidate Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree with major in finance,  economics, accounting or related business field

  • Minimum of 1-5 years of relevant industry experience

  • Progress towards or willingness to pursue Charted Financial Analyst (CFA) designation

  • Basic understanding of equities, fixed income and alternative investments

  • Proficient in MS Office Suite, in particular spreadsheet applications

  • Experience using Morningstar® Direct or related analysis software is a plus

  • Strong problem solving and analytical skills with high attention to accuracy

  • Must be highly motivated, organized, resourceful and able to work autonomously

  • Strong verbal and written communications skills

  • Professional demeanor and must communicate effectively with colleagues and clients

 

Benefits

  • Tremendous opportunity to contribute in a multifaceted firm with a team-based environment

  • Competitive salary commensurate with the candidate’s experience and qualifications

  • Opportunity to earn quarterly and annual bonuses

  • 401(k) plan with company match including Roth 401(k) option

  • Insurance benefits including healthcare, dental  and vision with FSA option available

Additional benefits discussed during interview


Interested candidates should apply at info@gilbertcook.com

Introducing Al Ryerson, Lead Strategist

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We are pleased to announce that Al Ryerson, ASA, has joined our firm as a Lead Strategist.

Al joined Gilbert & Cook in January 2019 following a successful career as a Certified Public Accountant and Tax Advisor, Chief Financial Officer and Business Valuation and Financial Litigation Consultant (and a brief, unsuccessful attempt at retirement).

Over his 40+ year career, Al has earned the following designations and certifications: Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Accredited in Business Valuation, Certified in Financial Forensics, and Accredited Senior Appraiser. He has been active in the Iowa Society of CPAs, Financial Executives International, Des Moines Estate Planners, ESOP Association, and Wednesday Tax Forum.

As a Lead Strategist at Gilbert & Cook, Al focuses on the complex business and personal financial inter-relationships of our clients. We are honored to have Al join our Gilbert & Cook family. Al has been a trusted friend of the firm for many years and we are looking forward to adding his vast experience and talents to our team.

Contact Al via email at: aryerson@gilbertcook.com or call 515.270.6444

Read more about Al and the rest of our Gilbert & Cook team in our “About Us” section.

Market Update - Is This Normal?

From Your Gilbert & Cook Investment Team

Market fluctuations (volatility) come in many shapes, sizes, and timeframes.  The origin of a stock falloff sometimes stares us right in the face such as the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 or the Great Recession of 2008-2009.  Other times the downturn is a detached concern when compared to negative movement in investor portfolios.  In those cases, it matters most that the downturn is occurring, not necessarily what event is the catalyst.

Most trading days in October of 2018 fall into the latter category.  There are a litany of issues drifting in and out of headline news.  Mid-term elections, unemployment, interest rates, trade and tariffs, corporate earnings, etc, etc.  Important sure, but not enough on their own merits to cause a meltdown.  These issues and many others are the stuff of “normal” stock market volatility.  Let us explain.

For the next few minutes, grant us that “normal” shall be defined by “how it usually works”.  Usually, generally, typically, regularly, customarily, you get the picture.  The chart below shows the price action of the S&P 500 index in each of the past 38 years.  The gray bar shows the price change for the respective calendar year.  The red dot illustrates the largest intra-year decline.  So what is “normal” in this graphic?  Well, usually, the market has gone up.  29 of the past 38 years or 76% of the time.  76% does not equal “always”, only typical.  The red dot average is down -13.8%.  So, a normal year still sees a pullback of nearly -14% at some point.  Even if we eliminate the two worst years, the average downturn is -12.3%. Ups and Downs in stocks are normal.  

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Back to the year 2018.  The S&P 500 saw a drop from January 26th to February 8th of -10.2%.  Our worst stretch of the year, so far, and it happened in the timeframe of 9 business days.  That February 8th low point marked the S&P 500 being down just -3.5% from the beginning of 2018.  At its highest, the S&P 500 index level was up +9.6%.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average follows a similar pattern up +8.5% YTD at peak and down -4.8% YTD at bottom.  Through October 24th, both of these US Large Cap indices are hovering around flat for the year while bonds, small caps, and international stocks are all negative on the year.  Pullbacks feel painful when happening, but don’t let emotions get the best of you.  After some extraordinary years in 2012, ’13, ‘16 and ‘17, treading water in 2018 would appear quite possible.

The entire Gilbert & Cook team is here to help you navigate and discuss any topics you feel are key.  We know it is imperative that you have access to your G&C Investment Team portfolio managers and to understand what is driving your investment performance.

Is this still normal?  Yes.

Shea Mears joins Gilbert & Cook as Financial Advisor

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We are pleased to announce that Shea Mears has joined our team as a lead Financial Advisor.

Shea brings a rich background and skillset to the Gilbert & Cook team, with experience in financial planning strategy and implementation, education, investments and tax planning. Utilizing his experience and talents as a former tax professional, Shea looks forward to creating financial planning and tax mitigation strategies for the clients of Gilbert & Cook. 

“Gilbert & Cook is one of the most respected Wealth Management firms around.  From inception the Gilbert & Cook team has focused on taking care of clients through sophisticated planning and investment techniques. With that philosophy, they have built a team of highly educated, highly experienced professionals that work together to ensure that the client experience is second to none.” Shea explained.

“When an opportunity arises to join a firm like this, you don’t even pause.”

This year, Gilbert & Cook, Inc. is celebrating 25 Years in business. Founder, Linda Cook states, “We are honored to have Shea join our team. We have known Shea for many years and are looking forward to adding his experience and talents to our financial planning team. This is a big year for our firm, celebrating 25 years, and I am so happy to welcome Shea to our Gilbert & Cook family and have him share this journey with us.”

Not only has Shea been a Financial Advisor, he has been dedicated to giving back to others as an educator – formerly an accounting professor at the Des Moines Area Community College and currently an adjunct professor at Simpson College.

Shea earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters in Business Administration with accounting emphasis from Drake University. Additionally, Shea is both a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)

Contact Cara Shindler at cshindler@gilbertcook.com for more information regarding the latest updates with Gilbert & Cook. 

Read Shea's full bio online. 

Gilbert & Cook Celebrates 25 Years - Business Record Feature

This article was featured in the Des Moines Business Record, published on July 6th 2018. Read the full online issue (here)


Gilbert & Cook Celebrates 25 Years!

The Gilbert and Cook core belief that people always come first finds its roots back to 1993.

After Linda Cook’s early career in investment planning convinced her long-term relationships are much more valuable than selling something, she started her own independent firm in Des Moines. Linda set out to truly understand her clients, listen to what they wanted to achieve and find the right solutions to meet their needs.

25 Years later, the mission remains the same.

 “The core of what we do is caring for people and helping them make good decisions,” Linda said. “Just seeing what clients needed and how to help them wasn’t just about solving their problems with a product, it’s really solving it with a strategy. It’s helping them find the confidence to make good decisions on their finances.”

Linda was joined in 2000 by Marlis Gilbert. Marlis’ many years of experience, including a primary focus on financial planning, made her a great match and asset for the firm. Together, the two worked to build a team environment, cultivating a partnership mentality to grow the firm.

In 2009, Linda’s husband, Chris, who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), joined the firm as the Chief Investment Strategist.

Because of the well-rounded leadership at Gilbert and Cook, clients get specialized expertise in many different fields.

“We are an ensemble practice,” Linda said. “As a client is engaged with Gilbert and Cook, they don’t just get me or one of the advisers. They get the whole team, and we’re all there to be available and helpful while bringing in additional expertise when needed.”

As a private wealth management firm, Gilbert and Cook offers many different services in financial planning and investments. The firm specializes in life transitions, whether that be a major business transaction, a death in the family, divorce, retirement or many more major life events. Gilbert and Cook serves families, individuals and businesses.

In all of those services, clients are treated with personal care and receive tailored solutions to problems, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The team at Gilbert & Cook works to bring clarity to the various choices their clients face, and provide the confidence needed to make important wealth decisions. In short, if you are dealing with something complex - Gilbert and Cook professionals can break it down and make it simpler to understand.

“Our mantra is Live a Life of Abundance, and we have each one of our clients define what abundance means to them, allowing us to help in a personal and tailored way,” Linda said. “We keep what’s important to them at the top of our minds in each and every meeting.”The Gilbert & Cook philosophy is predicated on sincere concern for their clients and maintaining a genuine relationship. “We have special relationships with our clients,” Linda said. “It’s not just something we say, but it’s something that we live every single day. We’re there for them every step of the way.”

The Gilbert and Cook investment team has three Chartered Financial Analysts on staff. The CFA designation is regarded as one of the highest certifications in the finance industry. As an independent firm, Gilbert and Cook tailor’s the investment strategy and proprietary asset allocation models for each individual client situation.

Going forward, Gilbert and Cook is looking to grow its team with quality and experienced professionals. “We’re always on the lookout to bring on amazing new team members to join our family and provide value to our clients.” Linda said.

Mid-Year Market Event - Recap and Recording

On July 10th, guests joined Gilbert & Cook for a discussion on the current state of the market, the 2018 economic outlook and expectations in both the public and private marketplace with recent changes and events. 

The event was moderated by Gilbert & Cook Portfolio Manager, Brandon Grimm, and featured the following panelists:

Chris Cook, CPA, CFA
Chief Investment Strategist - Gilbert & Cook, Inc.

Eric Lohmeier, CFA
President - NCP, Inc.

Matt Schilling, CFA
Analyst, Real Estate Securities - Principal Real Estate Investors

Mid-Year Economic Outlook

Mid-Year 2018 : Economic Update

THE MONTH IN BRIEF

U.S. stocks have been trending higher, but have endured some rough water over the past few weeks. In May, investors were left to interpret mixed signals. The historic U.S.-North Korea summit was on, then off, then on again. An apparent truce emerged in the U.S.-China tariffs battle, but it did not last. Oil rallied, but then prices fell. Federal Reserve policy meeting minutes indicated central bank officials would accept above-target inflation for a while. Other economic signals were clear: new and existing home sales were down, consumer confidence was back up, and consumer spending was strong. In the end, the markets took all this in stride – the S&P 500 rose 2.16% for the month.

Now in June, U.S. stocks continue to fall as a threat of new tariffs on Chinese imports from the U.S. is ramping up global trade fears. Treasury yields are dropping and the U.S. dollar is rising.

HOUSING

Mortgage rates may have soared in April, but they stabilized in May. On May 31, Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey found the mean interest rate for a conventional home loan at 4.56%, which was 0.02% lower than on April 26. (At the end of May 2017, the average interest rate on a 30-year ARM was 3.95%.) 

Home buying fell off in April. According to National Association of Realtors research, there was a 2.5% retreat in the pace of existing home sales. Construction for single and multi-family units were solidly higher compared to the prior month and are up noticeably year over year. Building permits, one of the leading indicators tracked by the Conference Board as it is a gauge of future construction, fell in May compared to April. Permits for single and multi-family unit structures both declined month over month but both remain higher year over year.

LOOKING BACK…LOOKING FORWARD

The economy is still in good shape, and is likely to withstand possible storms ahead. Volatility is unlikely to diminish Fed tightening expectations for the rest of 2018. The Fed hiked rates 0.25% on June 13th.

Trade concerns continue to rise. Tariffs are now being levied on imported steel and aluminum, and the trading partners affected by these taxes are responding or planning to respond with tariffs of their own on U.S. goods. Could stocks stall out because of this? An impeded flow of international trade would certainly impact the GDP of the world’s major economies and exert a drag on corporate earnings. The uneasiness about the brewing trade war gives some investors pause; the potential scope of it seems too large to price in. It is hard to imagine any kind of summer rally if the measures and countermeasures taken by various countries escalate. Not all investors appear to be worried, though – witness what happened in May even as the distinct possibility of trade wars emerged. The blue chips were hurt, but the tech sector and the small caps held up. Do these shares have further room to advance, and will investors retain their bullishness about them? June presents significant questions for investors worldwide, and we may see equities take a pause as threatened tariffs become reality.

That being said, patience and endurance are important in the face of occasional ominous headlines as we look forward to long-term goals.

Gilbert & Cook is celebrating 25 Years - and Growing!

What makes a long-term genuine relationship last - professional or personal - is trust. For 25 Years, individuals and families have trusted Gilbert & Cook – accomplishing financial goals, enhancing life experiences, and living a life of abundance.

It has been a privilege to be in service to you and your families for the last 25 years. We like to think that our successes over the last two decades can be attributed to an unwavering commitment to providing sophisticated strategies, creating a unique experience, and maintaining genuine relationships with our clients and their families.

As we celebrate, we say “Thank You” to all of our clients, professional partners and team members, both past and present. We truly thank you for all of your support, collaboration and we look forward to our continued relationship... and to all of the exciting things to come! 


We are happy to welcome three new team members to the Gilbert & Cook family!

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Heather Knight, Vice President of Strategic Planning

As Vice President Strategic Planning, Heather works with the Gilbert & Cook team to develop creative business solutions. Heather earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Northern Iowa and brings a 20 year history of success within the business community, including experience in Fortune 50 and Big 4 firms. In addition to Financial Services, she has background in IT, Professional Services, Business Strategy and Business Development. Heather serves as a mentor in the Kids Hope USA program and is a regular volunteer and supporter for the Alzheimer’s Association. 


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Emily Dawson, Administrative Assistant

As the firm's Administrative Assistant, Emily is the first point of contact for clients, business partners and guests. Emily is originally from Southwest Iowa. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Simpson College, majoring in Management and minoring in Marketing.

She is active in her church, enjoys traveling with friends and family, and loves babysitting.


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Brian Klein, Relationship Manager

As a Relationship Manager, Brian walks alongside the Lead Advisor, meeting the clients needs throughout their relationship. Brian graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance in 2014. He moved to Des Moines from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in March 2018. He is excited to use his talents to facilitate the clients of Gilbert & Cook to live their life of abundance. Brian enjoys being active in life with his many hobbies including: tennis, basketball, backpacking, and traveling to new places.

2018 Economic Outlook

2017 turned out to be a very attractive year in financial markets around the world.  Stocks were the story, but even bonds (Barclays US Aggregate index) were up +3.54%.  US large companies (as represented by the S&P 500 index) rose +21.83%, US small companies (Russell 2000 index) posted +14.65%, and international stocks (MSCI EAFE index) won the year at +25.03%.  The first year in 5, by the way, where Europe Australia and the Far East developed markets (EAFE) performed better than the S&P 500, and only the 2nd year in the past 8.  The S&P 500 had a positive total return (price + dividends) each and every month during 2017.  Remarkable.

So where from here?  What does 2018 hold for investors?  We’re side-stepping the direct question a bit as we paint a broader perspective.  Whether we credit Nostradamus, Mark Twain, or Yankee catcher/philosopher Yogi Berra, it is true; “It is difficult to make predictions, particularly about the future”. Certainly, that humorous quip does not keep mortal men from offering our honest and educated guesses about future events.  (Think politicians, economists and meteorologists).  But let’s have some candid reflection about our collective ability to do so.

Who would have predicted nine years ago that we would stand on top of mounting records in US equity markets?  That interest rates would still be near historic lows?  Or that Amazon’s market capitalization would easily eclipse that of Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Best Buy, Kohls, Macy’s, Dicks Sporting Goods, Under Armour, Dollar General, TJ Maxx, (plus others) combined?  A family can’t live in a virtual single-family home, but they certainly can shop for goods that way.  FYI…Target on its own made more profit over the past year than Amazon.

That nine-year reference is an important one.  2008 saw the S&P 500 drop by -37%.  The world was in the vice grip of financial system paralysis, and predictions of economic prosperity, lets be honest, were as scarce as home equity.  We all remember it.  How it felt.  Not to read about it from a 1929 history book, but to run our lives through it.  To make a forecast on January 1st, 2009, that the S&P 500 would increase on average more than 15% per year for the next nine would have come with a side of pixie dust.  Incidentally, the market would have been down nearly -25% to start that bold prognostication before ultimately coming true.

Backtrack even further to 1968.  The brightest minds from multiple disciplines were assembled in New York for the Foreign Policy Association’s fiftieth anniversary.  Within the throws of the Vietnam War and the cloud of Martin Luther King’s assassination, their charter was to look fifty years into the future, documented in a book called “Toward the Year 2018”.  Clear misses such as nuclear replacing natural gas and “the suppression of lightning” can be coupled with eerie accuracies like “large-scale climate modification will be effected inadvertently” from carbon dioxide.  Or, “a global communication system (of weather and communication satellites) would permit the use of giant computer complexes” with the revolutionary potential of a data bank that “could be queried at any time”.  Spooky.  So is “putting broad-band communications, picture telephones, and instant computerized retrieval in the hands of (humans)…is much too optimistic” to assume that these same technologies would entail the ability to use them wisely.
The biggest misses, however, were outlined recently by Paul Collins of The New Yorker in the current, real-life 2018.  “Not a single writer predicts the end of the Soviet Union – who in their right mind would have.  There’s also nary a woman contributor, nor a chapter on civil rights in sight.”  The 1968 book did ask the question: “Will our children in 2018 still be wrestling with racial problems, economic depressions, other Vietnams?” and then forgets to answer.

Today we sit in the comfort of hindsight.  Basking in the profits and prophesy.  But what did we really learn?  We learned that a forecast, if overtly relied upon, can miss the eventual truth considerably. A solid process, on the other hand, captures the “when”, not the “if”.  Process waits for the future patiently and
does not attempt precise calculation.

The Gilbert & Cook investment process shapes to each circumstance.  Future client events are planned for now and a diverse mix of tools are set in place to anticipate multiple forecasts. Near-term, mid-term, and long-term categories are matched to the risks and rewards fashioned together by our team and the client.  We spend our predictive power and experience on those issues that can be controlled.

We do still have thoughts around the obstinate big picture as the US economy has every chance to continue growing the next few years, thereby setting the record for the longest uninterrupted (by a recession) expansion in our nation’s history.  While stretched in terms of time, the dollars produced in this recovery trail past accounts so our view is toward sustainable growth.  New US corporate tax laws are favorable to company profitability and free cash flow providing a 2018 tailwind for stocks.  International equities may continue to outperform the US due to being earlier in their economic recovery cycle and more favorable in valuation and currency effect.  And our expectations for bond returns are muted, but continue to provide inevitable volatility control for stocks.

That’s the beauty, excitement, and reward of it; that no one can truly know in absolutes what lies around the corner.  Rely on process, not prediction.
 

JOB OPENING - ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

The Gilbert & Cook team is expanding and we are looking for an Administrative Assistant to join our family. If you are interested in submitting your resume or would like additional information, contact us at: info@gilbertcook.com

Administrative Assistant - Position Details: 
Provides complex and highly confidential administrative and support staff services to the Gilbert & Cook team. Must exercise judgment and discretion in the handling of telephone calls, scheduling appointments and relieving the executives of administrative detail. In this fast paced, professional environment, the administrative assistant will independently handle a wide variety of situations and conflicts that are non-routine.


Administrative duties include:
- Conduct business as the first point of contact in the front office: greeting guests and offering drinks.
- Maintain the office appointment schedule by planning and scheduling meetings, conferences, teleconferences and travel.
- Welcome guests and clients by greeting them, in person or on the telephone; answering or directing inquiries.
- Maintain office electronic files.
- Assist with planning all-staff events, including obtaining accommodations and negotiate contracts with vendors if necessary.
- Compose correspondence, prepare reports and conducts special projects as directed.
- Responsible for maintaining the appearance and condition of our office including: set-up of meeting spaces, office supply inventory, and kitchen.
- Assisting firm President with administrative duties.

Qualifications:
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills to respond to sensitive and/or technical customer/employee situations with a high degree of diplomacy and confidentiality.
- The ability to multi-task, attention to detail and strong organizational and independent problem-solving skills are required.
- Exceptional computer skills, including adaptability to utilize various software packages such as our client management system, scanning, Microsoft Office Suite, etc. 
- Team player, able to work well with individuals at all levels of the firm as well as with high net-worth clients.
- Professional office experience preferred.
- 4-year degree preferred.
 

Mary Ann Baker Announces Her Retirement

Too quickly, the time has passed us by. After 14 years with Gilbert & Cook, Mary Ann Baker will retire at the end of the year. She has been an important part of our family and truly embodies what it means to have a genuine relationship - a core value of the Gilbert & Cook team.

A letter from Mary Ann Baker: 

Fourteen and a half years ago, I moved to Des Moines and was known by what mortgage people call the "trailing spouse", as I relocate a lot because of my husband's advancing career. As usual, I had applied for positions online during the moving process. While unpacking, I received a call from Gilbert & Cook to come in for an interview. 

Upon arriving at the office, my first impression was that this place was nothing like any other office I had worked in - and in all of my travels, I have worked in several. The office had a warm, cozy, home-like atmosphere. It was something that I had never seen in an office environment before and I welcomed it. I had found an office in which their clients and staff came first. Caring for people is my passion, so I accepted the offer in a heartbeat. 

I have come to love the team at Gilbert & Cook and "my" clients as if they were my family. Yes, I call each and every one of them "my clients", as I have come to love them all as if we were related. I love to hear about their families, adventures and care about their trials and troubles. 

This letter is bitter sweet. I am off on a new adventure called "retirement" and I have very mixed feelings. I am excited for my husband, Marty and I to enjoy what we have worked so hard to accomplish, but I am also going to miss the daily connections to my office family and "my clients" lives. Fourteen years is a long time, in which I have made some lifelong friends. 

I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers and hope you know that I will always be thankful for this experience. Thank you to all for being a part of my life. I will cherish the memories. 

Mary Ann Baker
 

Identity Theft Protection : Your Best Response to a Data Breach

It may seem as though the headlines are coming at us constantly - breach after breach. The most recent, brought to you by Equifax, exposed the information of nearly half the population of the United States. It’s likely that you, or someone that you know, will have their personal information in the hackers’ hands.
 
The good news is, knowledge is power and there are ways to protect yourself going forward. 

CHECK YOUR SPENDING ACCOUNTS FOR SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY

Keep an eye on your transactions by monitoring your bank and credit card statements. Better yet, if you are a client of Gilbert & Cook, you can utilize your Abundant Living website to monitor all of your transactions and set up alerts for suspicious spending behaviors, all in one convenient location. 
 
ENROLL IN A CREDIT MONITORING SERVICE OR FRAUD ALERT PROGRAM

Credit monitoring services will track your personal information to determine if it’s been used in a way that is suspicious or out of the ordinary, and alert you to the behavior. Credit monitoring does not stop a thief from opening a new account in your name. Instead, they alert you of a potential fraud after the fact.
 
If you have been a victim of fraudulent activity, a Fraud Alert can be placed on your account and will require a business to verify your identity before issuing any new credit. There are different types of Fraud Alerts, lasting from 90 Days to 7 Years. Note: If you set up a Fraud Alert through any of the major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) it will prompt them to coordinate with each other make sure your records are protected across all companies. A fraud alert can be placed on your account and will provide more protection to you than credit monitoring, but does not provide you with the full security of a Security Freeze.

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT

Unlike Credit Monitoring, or Fraud Alerts, freezing your credit (also known as a Security Freeze) stops identity theft from happening rather than alerting you to fraud after it has occurred. A Security Freeze gives you complete control of your credit file and is the best way to protect your credit and identity. 
 
A Security Freeze will lock your credit file at each bureau with a special PIN that is private to you. Freezing your credit with a PIN will require creditors to verify your identity before they can get a copy of your credit report and can stop someone from opening a new credit account in your name. 
 
Security Freezes do not lock down your open accounts or affect your credit score, and they can be removed and re-frozen if needed. There is a cost to freezing your credit (up to $10 per credit reporting company) and another cost to have it removed. You can freeze your credit immediately at the big three credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

How to do it:
To set up a security freeze, you will need to contact each of the three credit bureaus individually. This process can be done online or over the phone with a series of personal questions to confirm your identity. (Note: Given the severity of the recent security breach, there may be a delay with the influx of requests at the credit bureaus.)
Equifax: 866-349-5191 /  www.freeze.equifax.com
Experian: 888- 397-3742 / www.experian.com/freeze
TransUnion: 888-909-8872 / www.transunion.com/credit-freeze/place-credit-freeze

If a situation occurs and you need a new line of credit, you can lift your freeze by simply contacting the bureau used by the lender and provide your PIN.

As always, please contact your Gilbert & Cook team if you have any questions or concerns regarding your financial situation.
 

Quarterly Economic Update - A Review of Q2 2017

THE QUARTER IN BRIEF

After a remarkable first quarter, the stock market cooled off slightly in Q2 – but investors still saw substantial gains. Strong earnings helped take Wall Street’s collective mind off a decidedly mixed bag of economic signals. Consumers remained confident as the quarter unfolded; although hiring, inflation, and consumer spending weakened. Home sales declined, then rebounded. Overseas, factory activity in China and the eurozone showed improvement, and foreign equity benchmarks continued climbing. Many commodities took sizable Q2 losses. When the quarter ended, the bulls were still firmly in charge.   (1)

 

DOMESTIC ECONOMIC HEALTH

As one quarter ends, the Bureau of Economic Analysis commonly makes its third and last assessment of the prior quarter’s economic growth (though, even this “final” estimate may be adjusted in later years). In the last week of June, the BEA announced a “final” Q1 growth number of 1.4%, which was nothing to celebrate. Would Q2 growth come in above 2%?   (2)

Second-quarter consumer spending data from the Department of Commerce raised some concerns about reaching that percentage of growth. While April and May brought solid growth for personal incomes (0.3% in the former month and 0.4% in the latter), the gain in personal spending fell from 0.4%, in the fourth month of the year, to 0.1%, in the fifth. Retail sales, too, tailed off: after rising a robust 0.4% in April, they fell 0.3% for May.    (2)

Households did feel good about the state of the economy and their financial prospects. At final readings of 97.0 in April, 97.1 in May, and 95.1 in June, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index stayed well north of its 86.1 historical average. The Conference Board’s index ended the quarter at a very high mark of 118.9.    (2,3)

Hiring figures from the Department of Labor were somewhat weak. Monthly employment reports showed that U.S. firms added 174,000 net new jobs in April and 138,000 net new jobs in May. (In March, the number had been just 50,000.) Was the job market simply at capacity? Only time would tell. Reductions in the labor force participation rate helped send both the headline jobless rate and the U-6 rate, factoring in the underemployed, to notable lows. By June, the headline (U-3) rate had dipped to 4.3%, a level unseen in 16 years; the U-6 rate had fallen to a 10-year low of 8.4%.   (4)

On the manufacturing front, the news appeared better. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory purchasing manager index rose to 57.8 in June, a 34-month peak. This was after readings of 54.8 in April and 54.9 in May. ISM’s service sector PMI was also well above the expansion line of 50 in April and May, displaying respective readings of 57.5 and 56.9 in those months.   (5,6)

Still, federal government reports showed manufacturing and industry production falling off in Q2. Industrial output jumped 1.1% in April; then, flattened in May. Manufacturing output went from a 1.1% gain to a 0.4% retreat. Hard goods orders were down 0.9% in April; then, down 1.1% a month later.   (2)

Annualized inflation declined during the quarter. The May Consumer Price Index showed only a 12-month gain of 1.9% and just 1.7% for core prices. A month earlier, yearly inflation had been at 2.2% with the core CPI rising 1.9%. Did wholesale inflation also lessen? The headline number did, ticking down 0.1% in May to 2.4%. The core Producer Price Index was up 2.1% year-over-year through May, a 0.2% increase from April.   (2)

The Federal Reserve lifted the federal funds rate by another quarter point in June to a target range of 1.00-1.25%. It also disclosed it would begin reducing its massive bond portfolio “this year,” which could put pressure on long-term interest rates. The central bank intends to let $6 billion of Treasuries and $4 billion per month in agency debt and mortgage-linked securities mature per month to start. In late June, all 34 of the country’s largest banks passed the Fed’s annual stress tests – a milestone unseen since their adoption seven years ago.   (7,8)

 

GLOBAL ECONOMIC HEALTH

Emmanuel Macron’s decisive victory in France’s national election cheered investors concerned about the potential for another crack in the European Union, and it started a rally in the euro, which continued in June after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi commented that “the threat of deflation is gone and reflationary forces are at play.” Investors took those words as a strong hint that the ECB would presently end its quantitative easing. As the quarter concluded, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s reelection seemed probable in Germany; a fourth Merkel term would be another boost to EU economic confidence and stability.   (1,9)

Manufacturing economies accelerated around the world in the quarter. The Markit eurozone factory PMI reached 57.0 in May, and then, 57.4 in June (a 4-year peak). Manufacturing PMIs in Vietnam, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan were all above 50 (the level signifying sector expansion) as Q2 wrapped up. China’s official factory PMI was at 51.2 in May; then, 51.7 in June. Its official service sector PMI came in at 54.5 in May and 54.9 in June.   (10,11)

    

WORLD MARKETS

One factoid conveys how well global equity benchmarks did in 2017’s first half: 26 of the world’s 30 major indices posted 6-month gains. The last time that happened was in 2009 – and it has only occurred in four other similar intervals within the past two decades.   (12)

Germany’s DAX finished the first half up an impressive 7.4% YTD, and France’s CAC 40 was up 5.3% on the year when Q2 ended. The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 was 2.4% higher YTD on June 30. India’s Sensex topped the 31,000 level in June, reaching an all-time peak and outdistancing nearly all of its nearby Asia-Pacific benchmarks with an astounding 16.1% first-half advance. The Nikkei Asia300 index did even better, ending the first half of 2017 up more than 21% YTD.   (13,14)

Looking at some regional indexes, the pan-Europe Stoxx 600 index fell 0.5% in Q2, but still had risen 5.0% YTD through June. The MSCI World Index advanced 3.4% in the quarter, to go up 9.4% for the year; MSCI’s Emerging Markets benchmark rose 5.5% in Q2, taking its YTD gain to an impressive 17.22%.   (13,15)

 

COMMODITIES MARKETS

Oil traded under $50 for most of the second quarter, touching a low of $42.05 before rising to finish Q2 at $46.33 on the NYMEX. Gold ended June at $1,241.40; silver, at $16.57.   (1,16)

Losers outnumbered winners in the commodity sector in Q2, and some commodities took steep falls. Iron ore slid 21.37% in the quarter; sugar, 17.60%; gasoline, 11.16%; coffee, 10.95%. Other notable losses came for silver, oil, and cocoa, which were all down between 9-10% for the quarter; heating oil and natural gas gave back roughly 5%. Among the big Q2 winners: oats, up 29.32%; CBOT wheat, up 19.81%; feeder cattle, up 10.43%. Palladium picked up 4.78%; soybean oil; 3.62%; corn; 1.72%; copper, 1.66%.  (1)

The animal protein and grain sectors were the best-performing portions of the commodities market in the quarter, respectively gaining 15.13% and 13.34%. The energy sector fell 7.61%; the precious metals sector, 2.09%; the base metals sector, 1.75%.   (1)

          

REAL ESTATE

Home buying slumped in April and then rebounded during May. In the fourth month of the year, the National Association of Realtors calculated a 2.5% decline in resales – but a 1.1% May gain left them 2.7% improved over the past 12 months. That May gain happened with inventory down 8.4% year-over-year and a median existing home price 5.8% higher ($252,800) than a year before. The Census Bureau said that new home sales dropped 7.9% in April, but they rose 2.9% a month later.   (2,17)

Cheap mortgages were certainly a plus. In Freddie Mac’s March 30 Primary Mortgage Market Survey, mortgage types bore the following average interest rates: 30-year fixed, 4.14%; 15-year fixed, 3.39%; 5/1-year adjustable, 3.18%. Freddie’s June 29 survey showed the following averages: 30-year fixed, 3.88%; 15-year fixed, 3.17%; 5/1-year adjustable, 3.17%.  (18)

Three other closely-watched housing market indicators weakened in Q2. The Census Bureau’s monthly snapshot of housing starts and building permits showed starts down 2.8% in April and 5.5% in May as well as permits slipping 2.5% for April and 4.9% for May. The year-over-year advance on the 20-city composite S&P/Case-Shiller home price index was 5.9% in the March edition and 5.7% in the April edition (this is a famously lagging indicator). Finally, NAR’s pending home sales index took two small steps back, retreating 1.7% in April and 0.8% in May.  (2)

 

LOOKING BACK…LOOKING FORWARD

A sustained rally with only brief, minor setbacks left the notable U.S. equity and volatility indices at the following levels at the end of Q2: S&P 500, 2,423.41; Dow Jones Industrial Average, 21,349.63; Russell 2000, 1,415.36; Nasdaq Composite, 6,140.42; CBOE VIX, 11.18. The quarterly gains for the big three are noted below; the Russell advanced 2.39% in three months, while the VIX fell 3.12%. The PHLX Oil Service Sector index brought up the rear among U.S. equity indices, staggering to a 22.54% 3-month loss.  (19)

With the three marquee U.S. equity indices up between 15-27% in 12 months, investors are naturally skeptical about how long stocks can maintain such powerful momentum. Bulls still rule the Street, though – and bullish analysts see more upside to this market during the rest of 2017. It is true that past performance is no guarantee of future success, but the major Wall Street indices have tended to have a good second half in the past 20 years, regardless of their first-half performance. The Dow and Nasdaq have posted second-half advances during 14 of the past 20 years, and the S&P 500 has followed suit in 13 of the past 20 years. Looking closer at the years featuring these advances, the average second-half rise was 4.31% for the Nasdaq, 3.23% for the Dow, and 2.68% for the S&P. Since 1988, the S&P has never retreated during the second half of a year when it has gained 6% or more in a first half. So, in recent stock market history, when the bulls have been ruling the Street in the first half of a year, they have tended to keep running the rest of the year. Bears might say that the bulls who embrace these statistics are suffering from recency bias, and perhaps, that argument has merit. Then again, bearish analysts have predicted an end to this bull market year after year, and still, it persists.   (23)

 

Disclosure:

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. The information herein has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. Indices do not incur management fees, costs and expenses, and cannot be invested into directly. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services. The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world's largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade. The DAX 30 is a Blue Chip stock market index consisting of the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The CAC-40 Index is a narrow-based, modified capitalization-weighted index of 40 companies listed on the Paris Bourse. The STOXX Europe 600 Index is derived from the STOXX Europe Total Market Index (TMI) and is a subset of the STOXX Global 1800 Index. The FTSE 100 Index is a share index of the 100 most highly capitalized companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. BSE Sensex or Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitivity Index is a value-weighted index composed of 30 stocks that started January 1, 1986. The Nikkei Asia300 Index is based on the "Asia300" group of must-watch companies selected by Nikkei. The composite index is supplemented by an index focusing specifically on companies in the ASEAN region, as well as individual indexes for 11 countries and regions. The MSCI World Index is a free-float weighted equity index that includes developed world markets, and does not include emerging markets. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization index consisting of indices in more than 25 emerging economies. The Russell 2000 Index is a small-cap stock market index of the bottom 2,000 stocks in the Russell 3000 Index. The CBOE Volatility Index® is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices. The PHLX Oil Service Sector Index (OSX) is a modified market weighted index composed of companies involved in the oil services sector. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards. This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. MarketingPro, Inc. is not affiliated with any person or firm that may be providing this information to you. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.
 

Citations:

1 - seekingalpha.com/article/4085358-commodities-second-quarter-overview-outlook [7/3/17]
2 - investing.com/economic-calendar/ [6/30/17]
3 - tradingeconomics.com/united-states/consumer-confidence [7/4/17]
4 - nytimes.com/2017/06/02/business/economy/jobs-report.html [6/2/17]
5 - cnbc.com/2017/07/03/june-ism-manufacturing-index.html [7/3/17]
6 - instituteforsupplymanagement.org/ISMReport/NonMfgROB.cfm [6/5/17]
7 - forbes.com/sites/laurengensler/2017/06/14/fed-raises-rates-june/ [6/14/17]
8 - money.cnn.com/2017/06/28/news/economy/fed-stress-test-wall-street-results/index.html [6/28/17]
9 - investors.com/news/draghi-drama-undercuts-key-stock-market-support/ [6/29/17]
10 - nytimes.com/reuters/2017/07/03/business/03reuters-global-economy.html [7/3/17]
11 - cnbc.com/2017/06/29/china-manufacturing-accelerates-in-june-with-official-pmi-at-51-point-7-beating-expectations-for-51-point-0.html [6/29/17]
12 - ig.com/au/view-ig/2017/07/04/stock-markets-in-2017--a-good-first-half-38915 [7/4/17]
13 - foxbusiness.com/features/2017/06/30/europe-markets-european-stocks-close-in-red-germanys-dax-hobbled-by-bayer.html [6/30/17]
14 - asia.nikkei.com/Business/AC/Bets-on-Modi-s-reforms-help-India-stocks-beat-peers-in-first-half [6/30/17]
15 - msci.com/end-of-day-data-search [6/30/17]
16 - money.cnn.com/data/commodities/ [6/30/17]
17 - inman.com/2017/06/21/consumer-resilience-boosts-may-existing-home-sales/ [6/26/17]
18 - freddiemac.com/pmms/archive.html [7/4/17]
19 - barchart.com/stocks/indices#/viewName=performance [6/30/17]
20 - barchart.com/stocks/indices#/viewName=performance [3/31/17]
21 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=6%2F30%2F16&x=0&y=0 [6/30/17]
21 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=6%2F30%2F16&x=0&y=0 [6/30/17]
21 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=6%2F30%2F16&x=0&y=0 [6/30/17]
21 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=6%2F29%2F07&x=0&y=0 [6/30/17]
21 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=6%2F29%2F07&x=0&y=0 [6/30/17]
21 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=6%2F29%2F07&x=0&y=0 [6/30/17]
22 - treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyieldAll [7/3/17]
23 - cnbc.com/2017/06/30/chances-for-second-half-stock-market-gains-are-good.html [6/30/17]

Economic Update - March 2017

FED HIKES, LEAVES 2017 FORECAST UNCHANGED
As expected, the Federal Reserve raised the target range for the federal funds rate by a quarter-point last week to 0.75-1.00%. “The simple message is, the economy is doing well,” Fed chair Janet Yellen explained to the media following the move. The central bank’s dot-plot table still projects two more rate increases during the balance of 2017, with three rate hikes envisioned for both 2018 and 2019.  (1)

INFLATION PRESSURE EASES
February’s Consumer Price Index displayed only a 0.1% gain, compared to 0.6% in January. Core consumer prices moved 0.2% higher. The small February increase still left the headline CPI up 2.7% in the past 12 months. The Producer Price Index rose 0.3% for February, putting its yearly advance at 2.2%. (2)

SMALL GAINS IN SENTIMENT, RETAIL SALES
The initial March University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 97.6 Friday, 1.3 points above its final February mark. Thanks mainly to “improved personal finances” among households, the index’s current economic conditions component hit a 17-year high. A Census Bureau report showed retail purchases up 0.1% in February, 0.2% with car and gasoline buying factored out. (2,3)

CALM WEEK SEES SMALL STOCK MARKET ADVANCE
Wall Street saw the March 15 Federal Reserve policy decision as an affirmation of the economy’s health; equities investors were not at all riled. Ending the week at 5,901.00, the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.67% in five days. The S&P 500 rose 0.24% in the same period to settle at 2,378.25 Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added just 0.06% across five trading sessions on the way to a Friday close of 20,914.62. Losing 3.26% in five days, the CBOE Volatility Index ended the week at 11.28.  (4)

THIS WEEK: Monday, nothing major is scheduled. Earnings announcements from FedEx, General Mills, Lands’ End, Nike, and Steelcase appear Tuesday. Wednesday, Wall Street reviews February existing home sales and earnings reports from Cintas, Five Below, Perry Ellis, and Winnebago. Thursday morning, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen delivers a keynote address at a Fed conference in Washington, D.C.; in addition, investors will eye the latest initial claims report, February’s new home sales report, and earnings news from Accenture, GameStop, KB Home, Micron Technology, Shoe Carnival, and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Friday offers a report on February hard goods orders and Q4 results from Finish Line.

 


Disclosure:

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Citations.

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