Wealth Management Weekly Update June 9, 2014

U.S. and World News

  • power_000030464078SmallThe Environmental Protection Agency has proposed legislation mandating U.S. power plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 30% by 2030. The law would affect hundreds of fossil fuel power plants and would strike the nation’s 600 coal fired plants hardest.
  • The European Central Bank announced a series of dramatic policy actions this week in an attempt to stimulate the Eurozone’s economy that faces low growth and threats of deflation. The ECB announced that it would be lowering all three of its key interest rates, bringing the refinancing rate to 0.15%, marginal lending facility to 0.4% and the deposit rate was lowered to -0.1% (banks are charged for holding excess reserves with the central bank, incentivizing them to lend). Liquidity was also injected into the system in the form of €400 billion of Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTRO) wherein the ECB would buy up asset-backed securities from its banks to improve their balance sheets and again incentivize them to lend more.

Markets

  • Markets continued to rise this week, setting new All-Time Highs. The S&P 500 climbed 1.38% and closing at 1,949. The Dow Jones followed suit by increasing 1.26% and closing at 16,924. Year to date, the S&P is up 6.42% and the Dow Jones is up 3.19%.
  • Treasury yields rose this week. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.65% and 2.60%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil was relatively unchanged this week, closing at $102.75 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have climbed 6.53%.
  • The spot price of Gold increased by 0.30% this week, closing at $1,253.41 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 4.31%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims rose by 12,000 from last week, coming in at 312,000 vs. consensus estimates of 310,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 310,000, the lowest since June 2007.
  • Monthly nonfarm payroll jobs came in slightly better than expected, showing an increase of 217,000 jobs vs. consensus estimates of 215,000. With this gain, the level of nonfarm payroll employment now exceeds its 2008 peak, although the working-age population has grown significantly in that time.
    • The unemployment rate held steady at 6.3%, as did the labor force participation rate which remained at a very low 62.8%.
    • Also of note were wages growing by 0.2% in the month and now are up 2.1% over the last year. It now appears that wage growth is in an uptrend, as would be expected in the second half of a business cycle.

Fact of the Week

  • According to the Department of Commerce, the personal savings rate (after-tax income minus spending divided by after-tax income) in the U.S. was 13.1% in 1973. As of 3/31/2014, the personal savings rate has dropped to a meager 3.8%.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Weekly Update June 2, 2014

U.S. and World News

  • The ‘Chocolate King’ Petro Poroshenko has been elected as the new Ukrainian President and has said he is prepared to talk to Moscow and Russia has indicated their willingness to speak to Poroshenko as well. Poroshenko comes into office facing a number of challenges including boosting Ukraine’s lagging economy, preventing civil war and dealing with Russian attempts to destabilize the region.
  • Thailand’s new military rulers are in the process are restoring central parts of their economy after receiving royal endorsement to rule earlier this week. General Prayuth Chan-Ochoa claims the army had to restore order after nearly seven months of rioting. This weekend the U.S. cancelled military exercises in Thailand and threatened to cut military assistance. The question remains whether the U.S. will start to cut economic ties as well.

Markets

  • Markets continued to rise this week with the S&P 500 climbing 1.64% and closing at 1924.The Dow Jones followed suit by increasing 1.05% and closing at 16,717. Year to date, the S&P is up 4.07% and the Dow Jones is up 0.85%.
  • Treasury yields had little fluctuation this week with the exception of the 10 year yield which continued to decline. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.54% and 2.48%, respectively.
  • oil_barrel_000036578632SmallThe spot price of WTI Crude Oil fell after the holiday weekend, ending the week down 1.42%, closing at $102.87 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have climbed 6.66%.
  • The spot price of Gold dropped 3.32% this week closing at $1249.68 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 4.00%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims fell by 26,000 from last week, coming in at 300,000 vs. consensus estimates of 318,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 312,000.
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the 1st quarter was revised down from a +0.1% initial reading to a -1.0% contraction in economic growth. This was the first negative growth quarter since the 1st quarter of 2011. Many economists continue to believe the negative print was largely due to especially harsh weather during the quarter and doesn’t represent a trend of a shrinking U.S. economy.
  • The Case-Shiller home price index rose a solid 1.2% in March vs. consensus estimates of 0.7%. Nearly all cities measured showed price increases. The national index is now up 12.4% in the past 12 months.

Fact of the Week

  • In 1950 there were 16 American workers for every 1 Social Security retiree receiving benefits. It is estimated that by the year 2035, there will be just 2.1 American workers for every 1 Social Security retiree receiving benefits.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Weekly Update May 27, 2014

U.S. and World News

  • Ukrainians are due to vote in presidential and mayoral elections on Sunday, with billionaire “chocolate king” Petro Poroshenko well ahead in the presidential polls. This election will come after 13 Ukrainian soldiers were killed during a skirmish with pro-Russian separatists earlier this week. The pro-Russian rebels are attempting to make sure the elections don’t take place in regions where they have influence, while another major issue is whether Russia will accept the outcome of the election after previously saying they may not.
  • The military chief of Thailand, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, had imposed martial law in the country earlier this week before announcing on Thursday that the military has taken control of the country in a coup. Nightly curfews have been imposed and the country’s constitution has been suspended in the process. The Thai military claims the actions seek to restore order following six months of violent and sometimes deadly protests, which have brought the country’s economy to the brink of recession. It also comes amid a period of limbo for Thailand after a court dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine other ministers earlier this month for abuse of power.
  • swiss_000002085816SmallVoters in Switzerland have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to institute a minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs (~$25) an hour, which would have been the highest in the world. Over 76% of voters cast a No ballot. Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said, “Accepting the initiative would have led to job cuts in economically weak, rural areas.”

Markets

  • Markets rose across the board this week with the S&P 500 rising 1.25% to a new All-Time high of 1900.The Dow Jones was also up this week, rising by 0.76% and closing at 16,606. Year to date, the S&P is now up 3.67% and the Dow Jones is up 1.17%.
  • Treasury yields remained steady this week following a gradual decline in interest rates this year. The 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.53% and 2.54%, respectively.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose in the days leading up to the holiday weekend, ending the week up 2.77%, closing at a 52-week high of $104.39 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have climbed 8.23%.
  • The spot price of Gold decreased minimally this week, closing at $1292.59 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 7.57%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims rose by 29,000 from last week, coming in at 326,000 vs. consensus estimates of 310,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 323,000.
  • Existing home sales rose 1.3% in April which was lower than consensus estimates of  2.2%. Meanwhile, new home sales rose 6.4% in April vs. consensus estimates of a 10.7% gain. The rebound in housing following an extremely harsh winter hasn’t been as robust as expected.

Fact of the Week

  • According to data released by the IRS, federal employees owe a total of $3.3 billion in back taxes. While the delinquency rate of federal employees of 3.2% is expectedly lower than national average of 8.7%, there are 318,462 federal employees who owe back taxes, putting the average outstanding tax bill at $10,391. There is a wide dispersion of non-payment rates within the different divisions of the federal government. The highest rates of tax delinquencies are found in small agencies dealing with civil rights and the disabled such as The National Council on Disability (11.5% delinquent) and the Civil Rights Commission (9.5%). Employees of the House of Representatives (not necessarily Congressmen) have a delinquency rate of 4.9%, while the Senate is a bit better at 3.2%. The Treasury Department, of which the IRS is a part of, has the lowest non-payment rate of 1.2%, with active duty military personnel not far behind at #2 with a tax delinquency rate of 1.7%.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management