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Market Month: July 2019

The Markets (as of market close July 31, 2019) Stocks ran hot and cold in July, influenced by worsening global economic conditions, ongoing trade negotiations with China, and lagging domestic business investment. While the Fed's decision to reduce short-term interest rates was not unexpected, stocks were sent reeling, closing out the month on a bit of a sour note. Despite analysts and Wall Street predicting the interest rate reduction, some experts questioned the timing, particularly in the event of a deeper economic downturn in the future. Corporate earnings reports in July were generally positive, driving stock prices higher. Low unemployment, increased consumer spending, and moderate wage increases helped insulate domestic investors from an otherwise global economic downturn. By the close of trading on the last day of the month, only the Global Dow was unable to surpass its June closing value. Otherwise, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted monthly gains, led by the Nasdaq and the S&a ...

Timing Isn’t Everything

Over the course of a summer, it’s not unusual for the stock market to be a topic of conversation at barbeques or other social gatherings. A neighbor or relative might ask about which investments are good at the moment. The lure of getting in at the right time or avoiding the next downturn may tempt even disciplined, long-term investors. The reality of successfully timing markets, however, isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. OUTGUESSING THE MARKET IS DIFFICULT Attempting to buy individual stocks or make tactical asset allocation changes at exactly the “right” time presents investors with substantial challenges. First and foremost, markets are fiercely competitive and adept at processing information. During 2018, a daily average of $462.8 billion in equity trading took place around the world. The combined effect of all this buying and selling is that available information, from economic data to investor preferences and so on, is quickly incorporated into market prices. Trying ...

Key Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning is the process of managing and preserving your assets while you are alive, and conserving and controlling their distribution after your death. There are four key estate planning documents almost everyone should have regardless of age, health, or wealth. They are: a durable power of attorney, advance medical directives, a will, and a letter of instruction. Durable power of attorney Incapacity can happen to anyone at any time, but your risk generally increases as you grow older. You have to consider what would happen if, for example, you were unable to make decisions or conduct your own affairs. Failing to plan may mean a court would have to appoint a guardian, and the guardian might make decisions that would be different from what you would have wanted. A durable power of attorney (DPOA) enables you to authorize a family member or other trusted individual to make financial decisions or transact business on your behalf, even if you become incapacitated. The designated individual can ...

Quarterly Market Review (Second Quarter 2019)

This report features world capital market performance and a timeline of events for the past quarter. It begins with a global overview, then features the returns of stock and bond asset classes in the US and international markets. The report also illustrates the impact of globally diversified portfolios and features a quarterly topic. Overview: Market Summary World Stock Market Performance World Asset Classes US Stocks International Developed Stocks Emerging Markets Stocks Select Country Performance Select Currency Performance vs. US Dollar Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) Commodities Fixed Income Global Fixed Income Impact of Diversification Quarterly Topic: The Uncommon Average Market Summary Index Returns Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Index performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio. Market segment (index representation) as follow ...

Ten Money-Saving Travel Tips

Exploring the world sounds fun and exciting, but it can be expensive to travel. However, there are ways to experience the trip of your dreams on a budget. Follow these money-saving tips when planning your next vacation to help make it more affordable. Join a frequent flyer program. It will probably take time to accumulate frequent flyer points, but the perks can be worth it. Depending on the program, rewards can include cheaper fares, upgrades, free companion tickets, and more. Be flexible with scheduling. Timing your ticket purchases wisely can help you save big. Aim to travel during days of the week when airfare tends to be cheaper. Similarly, try to fly at unpopular hours (e.g., early morning or red-eye flights) for more affordable pricing. Avoid traveling during peak holiday seasons and school breaks, and be aware of big events such as conferences or trade shows that tend to make hotel prices soar. Comparison shop. Research online to find the cheapest flights to your desired destination. Mix ...

Market Month: May 2019

The Markets (as of market close May 31, 2019) Stocks fell sharply in May, closing out their worst month since last December. Each of the benchmark indexes posted month-over-month losses exceeding 6.5%. While market performance has largely swung on trade rhetoric, it appears investors have reached their boiling point and are moving away from stocks and floating toward bonds, pushing yields on 10-year Treasuries down (-37 bps in May) as bond prices soared. Oil prices fell sharply on trade tensions and a slowing Chinese economy. For the month, small caps and tech stocks lost almost 8.0%, followed by the large caps of the Dow and the S&P 500. Year-to-date, only the Nasdaq remains more than 10% ahead of its 2018 closing value. By the close of trading on May 31, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $53.33 per barrel, down from the April 30 price of $63.42 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.822 per gallon on May 27, up from the April 29 selling price of $2.623, but $0.140 les ...

Charitable Giving After Tax Reform

Tax reform changes to the standard deduction and itemized deductions may affect your ability to obtain an income tax benefit from charitable giving. Projecting how you'll be affected by these changes while there's still time to take action is important. Income tax benefit of charitable giving If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can generally deduct your gifts to qualified charities. However, many itemized deductions have been eliminated or restricted, and the standard deduction has substantially increased. You can generally choose to take the standard deduction or to itemize deductions. As a result of the changes, far fewer taxpayers will be able to reduce their taxes by itemizing deductions. Taxpayers whose total itemized deductions other than charitable contributions would be less than the standard deduction (including adjustments for being blind or age 65 or older) effectively have less of a tax savings incentive to make charitable gifts. For example, assum ...

How Charity Can Benefit your Family and Society When it’s Time to Sell your Business

Originally published in the LA Business Journal An exit strategy for any business owner is just as important as the plan that keeps the business running and profitable. For closely-held businesses, deciding whether to sell and to whom is essential. There are also important considerations that have real and lasting financial and tax consequences, not only to the business but also to the business owner and his or her family. For California business owners, selling can trigger a significant taxable event, which can include as high as a 37.1% tax bill right off the top between federal and state taxes. That significant tax liability ultimately means less money to you and your family. The good news is that for those business owners who are charitably inclined and want to leave a lasting legacy, certain strategies can not only be beneficial to your family, but to society as well. When making a decision to possibly sell and entertain an offer of purchase, it’s important to understand that once an e ...

Nuts and Bolts: How to Roll Over Your Employer Retirement Plan Assets

There are two types of rollovers: direct and indirect. A direct rollover is paid from your plan directly to your IRA or to your new employer’s retirement plan. The funds are never payable to you. An indirect (60-day) rollover is a payment made to you that you later roll over to an IRA or an employer retirement plan.1 When you request a distribution from your employer’s 401(k), 403(b), or governmental 457(b) plan that’s eligible for rollover, you’ll receive a statement describing the tax rules applicable to your distribution and your rollover options.2 You should read that statement carefully. There are two major disadvantages to indirect rollovers. First, your plan is required to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of your payment for federal income taxes. You’ll get credit for that amount when you file your federal income tax return, but if you want to roll over the entire distribution, you’ll have to come up with the 20% that was withheld from other sources. Sec ...

Market Month: April 2019

The Markets (as of market close April 30, 2019) As April came to a close, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted strong monthly returns. In fact, for several of the indexes, April brought to a close the best four-month stretch in many years. Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 reached new highs during the month, as investors were encouraged by a shrinking trade deficit, favorable economic projections, low inflation, and stable interest rates. The Nasdaq led the way, nearing a monthly gain of almost 5.0%, followed by the large caps of the S&P 500, the small caps of the Russell 2000, the Global Dow, and the Dow, which gained over 2.5% for the month. During April, consumers saw gas prices climb as oil prices continued to soar. By the close of trading on April 30, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $63.42 per barrel, up from the March 29 price of $60.19 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.887 per gallon on April 29, up from the March 25 selling price of $2.623, and ...

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All First Bank blog information and content is strictly informational. It is not intended to be specific investment, tax, or legal advice. If you need detailed financial, investment, or tax advice, please contact a First Bank qualified professional. Please note, First Bank occasionally shares third-party content we find to be relevant and helpful to our audiences.