March 2017

March 17, 2017

Dear Valued Investor,

It’s March, and that means one thing: March Madness. All across the country, people are filling out their brackets, studying the teams, and trying to pick that upset that will impress their friends and coworkers with their basketball acumen.

The anticipation of the NCAA college basketball tournament reflects the buzz of the markets thus far in 2017. The stock market has continued to march higher with impressive consistency. The S&P 500 followed January’s gain with another positive month in February, extending its monthly winning streak to four.  Not to be outdone, the Dow had an impressive 12-day win streak that ended on February 28, the longest streak since 13 in January 1987. The major indexes have also gone more than 100 days without a 1% decline, something that hasn’t been done in more than 20 years.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Reserve (Fed) has remained a focus for market participants. In a widely expected move that was fully priced into the bond market for several weeks, the Fed’s policymaking arm, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), raised rates 0.25% (25 basis points). With this move, the FOMC affirmed its strength in the U.S. economy and upgraded its views on business capital spending. The Fed continued to indicate that any future rate hikes would be data dependent and gradual, good news for those concerned that the recent strength in the economy and markets would lead the Fed to take a more aggressive tightening stance. LPL Research continues to expect the Fed to raise rates twice more in 2017, consistent with the Fed’s guidance, and expect Fed policy to be more of a steadying hand than a disruption.

I am encouraged that the Fed recognizes the continued improvement in the U.S. economy that is evident in recent economic data. Importantly, about 60% of February 2017 economic reports exceeded consensus expectations. The improvement has been largely driven by two factors: anticipation of pro-growth policies out of Washington, D.C. (tax reform, deregulation, infrastructure spending, etc.), and the continued rebound from the period of slow growth in late 2015/early 2016 due to oil-related capital spending declines, tightening credit standards, a strong U.S. dollar, and slower growth in China.

Despite the Fed’s recent vote of confidence in the economy, the encouraging economic data, and strong start to 2017 for the stock market, I am still mindful of the risks that could introduce periods of “market madness” as periods of volatility are to be expected. A policy mistake by a government or central bank, uncertainty surrounding the new presidential administration, Brexit, China’s debt problem, and elevated stock valuations all present challenges. That said, I continue to encourage you to stick to your long-term plan and stay invested.

As always if you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Wayne Rigney

________________________

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Investing in specialty market and sectors carries additional risks such as economic, political, or regulatory developments that may affect many or all issuers in that sector.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the branch of the Federal Reserve Board that determines the direction of monetary policy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index is comprised of U.S.-listed stocks of companies that produce other (non-transportation and non-utility) goods and services. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages are maintained by editors of The Wall Street Journal. While the stock selection process is somewhat subjective, a stock typically is added only if the company has an excellent reputation, demonstrates sustained growth, is of interest to a large number of investors and accurately represents the market sectors covered by the average. The Dow Jones averages are unique in that they are price weighted; therefore their component weightings are affected only by changes in the stocks’ prices.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Securities offered through LPL Financial LLC.

Member FINRA/SIPC.

February 2017

February 17, 2017

Dear Valued Investor,

It’s still early in the year, but a lot has been happening both in markets and the economy. The stock market has gotten off to a strong start in 2017. The Dow’s first close ever above the 20,000 level drew a lot of attention to the granddaddy of the three major indexes, but the real winner so far in early 2017 has been baby of the three, the Nasdaq, which, as of February 15, made new all-time highs on seven consecutive days for the first time since December 1999.

Looking at some of the key drivers of recent index performance, I remain optimistic but am closely monitoring a variety of data and important events that could impact your portfolio. Starting with fourth quarter earnings season, which is quickly winding down, I am encouraged that S&P 500 earnings estimates are now tracking to an 8.4% year-over-year increase, about 2.3% above initial estimates on January 1. Technology and financials earnings have contributed to the strong performance in the fourth quarter; energy earnings have had a recent bounce as well.

I am also encouraged by recent U.S. economic data that are pointing to improving growth. In fact, two-thirds of economic reports received in January 2017, which mostly reflect economic activity from December 2016 and early January 2017, met or exceeded consensus expectations. Looking deeper, sentiment reports on the services and manufacturing sectors, new orders for durable goods, vehicle sales, and employment were all notably better than expected.

One noteworthy data point that failed to meet expectations was the initial estimate of 2016 fourth quarter gross domestic product growth (GDP), which was released in late January. It showed the economy grew 1.9% over the quarter, slower than the solid 3.5% growth rate in the third quarter. However, GDP is backward looking and economic activity has picked up more recently.

Turning to the Federal Reserve (Fed), its first policy meeting of 2017 took place on January 31- February 1, 2017. As expected, the Fed made no change to its interest rate policy but struck a positive tone in its assessment of the economy. The Fed continues to indicate that any future rate hikes would be data dependent and gradual. LPL Research continues to expect the Fed to raise rates two to three times in 2017.

With all of the momentum in equity markets and the improving economic data, I am still mindful of policy risks that remain. A policy mistake by a government or central bank, uncertainty associated with the new presidential administration, Brexit, China’s debt problems, and above-average stock valuations may present challenges to the relatively smooth ride we’ve seen so far in 2017 and periods of volatility over the course of the year are expected. That said, I continue to encourage you to stick to your plan and stay invested.

As always if you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Wayne Rigney

___________________________

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Investing in specialty market and sectors carries additional risks such as economic, political, or regulatory developments that may affect many or all issuers in that sector.

The NASDAQ Composite Index measures all NASDAQ domestic and non-U.S.-based common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock market. The index is market-value weighted. This means that each company’s security affects the index in proportion to its market value. The market value, the last sale price multiplied by total shares outstanding, is calculated throughout the trading day, and is related to the total value of the Index. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index is comprised of U.S.-listed stocks of companies that produce other (non-transportation and non-utility) goods and services. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages are maintained by editors of The Wall Street Journal. While the stock selection process is somewhat subjective, a stock typically is added only if the company has an excellent reputation, demonstrates sustained growth, is of interest to a large number of investors and accurately represents the market sectors covered by the average. The Dow Jones averages are unique in that they are price weighted; therefore their component weightings are affected only by changes in the stocks’ prices.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Securities offered through LPL Financial LLC.

Member FINRA/SIPC.

January 2017

January 19, 2017

Dear Valued Investor,

Markets are off to a much better start in early 2017 than in 2016. After 10 trading days, the S&P 500 is up 1.3% year to date, compared to an 8% decline during the same period in 2016. You may recall that a year ago, in early 2016, markets faced a number of significant challenges. Numerous market indicators were signaling a high probability of recession. The so-called earnings recession was at its nadir. Oil was plummeting, causing worries about the health of the banking system and the high-yield bond market. And the market and the Federal Reserve (Fed) had very different expectations for the path of monetary policy.

Today, many of these and other challenges during 2016 have been resolved. Most widely-followed indicators suggest a low probability of recession in the U.S. over the next year. Policy risk has ebbed after markets got through the Brexit vote in June 2016 and the U.S. presidential election in November 2016 mostly unscathed. The earnings recession has ended and global corporate profits are poised for an upswing. China’s economy and markets have stabilized. Oil prices have rebounded. And markets and the Fed are much better aligned with regard to the path of monetary policy over the next few years, which has helped alleviate many of the global imbalances that impacted the market in early 2016.

Still, some issues have not been resolved, and new challenges have emerged. While we know who the new president will be and what the new Congress looks like, it is not yet clear what the impact may be to U.S. trade policy, healthcare reform, and tax reform. Important elements of these policies need to be ironed out and addressing these issues will go a long way toward shaping 2017 for markets:

  • Will the president-elect use the threat of tariffs, or actual tariffs, to get better trade deals with our key trading partners?
  • Will the 20 million or so people that receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act remain insured after the law is overhauled?
  • Will tax reform include a border adjustment tax to stimulate exports and curb imports?
  • Will bank regulation be eased despite the political backlash against the big Wall Street firms during the election?

Despite the continued political and policy uncertainty, the stock market finished 2016 on a high note. Markets have gotten a lift from improving economic expectations, partly due to optimism surrounding potential pro-growth policies under a Trump presidency, although the U.S. economy had already begun to pick up some steam even prior to the election. Third quarter gross domestic product (GDP), reported on December 23, 2016, surprised to the upside and accelerated, purchasing manager surveys have indicated manufacturing was accelerating in late 2016 after a nearly two year slump, and consumer spending has remained firm, supported by strong consumer sentiment readings. Fundamentally, the U.S. economy and markets remained on solid footing as 2017 got underway.

All in all, the start of 2017 has been a lot smoother than the start of 2016, but we are mindful that risks remain. A policy mistake by a government or central bank, issues with the Trump transition, Brexit, China’s bad debt problem, and above-average stock valuations may present challenges to the relatively smooth ride we’ve seen for financial markets so far in 2017. No matter what emotions the election results and the inauguration might stir up, I continue to encourage you to stick to your plan and stay invested.

As always if you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Wayne Rigney

_______________________________________

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual security. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market.

Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values and yields will decline as interest rates rise, and bonds are subject to availability and change in price.

Investing in specialty market and sectors carries additional risks such as economic, political, or regulatory developments that may affect many or all issuers in that sector.

Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, geopolitical events, and regulatory developments.

The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Securities offered through LPL Financial LLC.

Member FINRA/SIPC.