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Market & Investment News


RubinBrown Advisors regularly provides market updates and quarterly investment news. To view these communications, please click on the links below.

11/30/2017
Market Update


The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index (which measures Americans’ financial conditions and attitudes about the economy) edged higher in November, with sustained strength in the current conditions and expectations components.

10/11/2017
Market Update


The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in September, the first monthly decline since 2010, despite consensus forecasts of 100,000 new positions. The total labor force nevertheless surged to a record high, as the unemployment rate fell to a 16-year low of 4.2%. Average hourly earnings recorded the largest monthly gain in 10 years, spiking 0.5% after recent disappointing reports.

09/13/2017
Market Update


Initial jobless claims surged by 62,000 to a two-year high of 298,000 in the week ending September 2 as a result of increased filings from hurricane-impacted Texas. The four-week moving average (considered a more reliable measure of unemployment trends) rose by 13,500 to 250,250. The four-week moving average for continuing claims slid 4,000 to 1.95 million in the week ending August 26.

08/29/2017
Market Update


Durable goods orders fell by a disappointing 6.8% in July, while the previous month’s reading was revised downward to a gain of 6.4% from 6.5%. Commercial aircraft orders plummeted during the month, offsetting growth in core capital goods (a key gauge for business investment).

08/16/2017
Market Update


Job openings surged by 8.1% in June, according to the Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey; yet hiring fell by 1.9%, as employers struggled to find qualified staff. The report suggests that higher wages, a driver of inflation, might be necessary to fill openings that require skilled employees.

08/02/2017
Market Update


The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged in July despite moderate economic expansion, citing declining inflation. The central bank also indicated it would begin unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet later this year, likely in September or December.

07/19/2017
Market Update


Consumer prices remained flat in June, reducing year-over-year growth to 1.6%. Weakness in clothing, communications and housing contributed to the mild report. Inflation has continued to linger below the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) 2% target, which could push the Fed to reconsider the timing of future rate increases. Producer prices crept up by 0.1% as lower energy costs mitigated upward pricing pressure in food and services.

07/06/2017
Market Update


An upward revision to first-quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) produced a final reading of 1.4% annualized growth. Residential and business investment contributed most, while consumer spending crept along at the slowest pace in four years.

06/21/2017
Market Update


The Federal Reserve (Fed) raised the federal funds target rate (the overnight lending rate it charges banks to borrow money) by 0.25% this week and forecast an additional rate hike for the year, citing a strengthening job market and increased business spending. The Fed also expects to initiate unwinding its $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year.

06/07/2017
Market Update


The U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs in May, well below the forecasted 185,000, while figures from March and April were revised lower. Unemployment declined by 0.1% to 4.3%, mostly due to a drop in the labor-participation rate. Average hourly wages inched up by 0.2% for the month and by 2.5% year over year. The softening of jobs data may cast doubt on the economy’s ability to absorb two more interest-rate hikes this year.

05/09/2017
Market Update


The Federal Reserve (Fed) left interest rates unchanged in May despite moderate economic expansion, citing weakened consumer spending and low unemployment. The central bank gave no indication on the timing of the next hike; two or three are expected before the end of the year.

04/28/2017
Market Update


Manufacturing and services growth during April slowed to a seven-month low, according to preliminary readings of Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI). Orders waned within both sectors, while hiring within services was particularly weak.

03/29/2017
Market Update


Existing-home sales softened by 3.7% in February to an annualized rate of 5.480 million; many first-time buyers were put off by rising prices and an ongoing supply shortage (despite inventory improving slightly from January’s 18-year low). Condo sales led the overall decline, while single-family home sales were also weak.

03/16/2017
Market Update


The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, far exceeding the expected 200,000, led by construction and manufacturing. Unemployment declined by 0.1% to 4.7%, and average hourly wages grew by a modest 0.2%.

03/03/2017
Market Update


The Federal Reserve’s January meeting minutes showed that the central bank anticipates its next interest-rate hike fairly soon due to the improving economy and possible faster-than-anticipated inflation growth under the Trump administration.

02/03/2017
Market Update


Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Janet Yellen suggested in her speech at Stanford University that the central bank will adhere to its plan of gradual rate hikes, dismissing the possibility that U.S. economic growth will pick up in the foreseeable future. Yellen cited multiple long-term forces — including weak foreign demand, an aging U.S. population and rising interest rates — as impediments to near-term growth. Her conservative perspective runs counter to investors who believe the Trump administration’s policies will boost growth that could lead to faster inflation.

01/19/2017
Market Update


Initial jobless claims clocked in at 247,000 for the week ending January 7, a 10,000 increase from the prior week (which was revised upward by 2,000) but remain low. Claim measurements can be difficult at this time of year due to the winter holidays. The reading has now been below 300,000 for 97 consecutive weeks. Continuing claims fell by 29,000 for the week ending December 31.

12/07/2016
Market Update


The November U.S. jobs report, widely viewed as the last hurdle for a potential interest-rate hike later this month, showed that 178,000 jobs were created in the month. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%, the lowest since August 2007. Despite solid employment gains, the report also showed that average hourly wage growth fell by 0.1% in November, pushing annual growth down to 2.5% from October’s 2.8%.

11/09/2016
Market Update


A respectable 161,000 jobs were created in October; the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% to 4.9%; and previous estimates for the number of positions created in August and September were revised higher by a combined 44,000 jobs. Perhaps most notably, average hourly wages grew by 2.8% year over year — the highest annual jump since July 2008.

10/26/2016
Market Update


U.S. consumer prices rose by 0.3% in September on the strength of energy and owners’ equivalent rent (the amount a homeowner would earn from renting his or her home in a competitive market); year-over-year prices accelerated to 1.5%, the highest level since October 2014. Prices excluding energy and food only increased by 0.1% for the month, but gained 2.2% from a year earlier.

10/12/2016
Market Update


The U.S. economy added a less-than-expected 156,000 jobs in September, all but eliminating the odds of a November interest-rate hike; however, a December rate increase remains on the table. Unemployment ticked up by 0.1% to 5.0%, yet a 0.1% increase in the participation rate depicted an expanding workforce. Wages grew by 2.6% year over year — an improvement on the stubborn 2% (or lower) annual growth since the 2008 financial crisis.

09/28/2016
Market Update


The Federal Reserve (Fed) decided to hold interest rates steady this week ― an announcement that resounded positively across global stock markets ― but acknowledged that economic conditions may warrant an increase before year-end. Fed officials were split 7-to-3, with the latter group in favor an immediate rate increase. Forecasts, however, showed 10 of 17 officials expect a rate hike this year.

08/19/2016
Market Update


The U.S. budget deficit increased in July as expenditures outpaced revenue by $113 billion, partly as a result of increased Social Security and Medicare spending on aging Americans. The year-to-date deficit was up a considerable 10.3% to $513.7 billion. Revenue in the last 12 months ending July 2016 grew only 1.2%, the lowest annual growth in six years. Personal income taxes have treaded water this year thanks to consistent job growth; but corporate tax revenues declined over the past four quarters due to lower profits.

08/08/2016
Market Update


U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of the nation’s economic health, advanced by a disappointing 1.2% annualized rate in the second quarter, well short of the expected 2.6%. Consumer spending (which drives over two-thirds of the economy) grew by a robust 4.2%, but could not compensate for flagging business investment, which fell by 2.2%, providing evidence of firms’ low confidence in the global economy.

07/19/2016
Market Update


Strong economic data and a promising retail sales report suggest the economy regained momentum at the end of the quarter.

07/08/2016
Market Update


The so-called Big Three credit-rating agencies (Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings) unanimously downgraded the U.K.’s AAA credit rating following last Friday’s Brexit vote, while the European Union’s rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s. Such downgrades can affect a government’s cost of borrowing money in the international financial markets; countries with lower credit ratings tend to pay higher interest rates.

06/22/2016
Market Update


The U.S. Federal Reserve held interest rates steady this week and lowered its projections on future hikes for the next two years, citing insufficient economic growth as the reason for a more conservative course of action. Following a six-day slump, oil prices jumped on Friday as the U.S. dollar weakened slightly, but still ended the week with a loss. Anxious investors directed their attention to the upcoming Brexit vote (which will decide whether the U.K. will remain in the European Union), scheduled for June 23.

06/08/2016
Market Update


The 13-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, ended its meeting this week without agreeing to limit oil production; but prices remained resilient given recent supply disruptions in Canada, Colombia and Nigeria — lending credence to a claim by the newly appointed Saudi oil minister Khalid al Falih that the per-barrel price could move from around $50 to $60 by year end.

4/29/2016
Market Update


The European Central Bank (ECB) kept interest rates at a record low and hinted at potential further cuts, and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) projected similar intentions ahead of its announcement next week. OPEC mentioned a possible revival of oil production freeze talks at its June summit following an unsuccessful meeting last weekend as prices surged on Friday, recording their third straight week of gains.

04/12/2016
Market Update


U.S. and global stocks advanced on Friday after U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Janet Yellen and three of her predecessors agreed that a U.S. recession in 2016 is unlikely, but closed lower for the week. Oil prices jumped over 6%, although volatility is expected to remain ahead of an April 18 OPEC meeting.

03/29/2016
Market Update


The markets hate uncertainty and we saw that play out last week. Stocks fell across the globe as Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Brussels, a dip in commodity prices and renewed fears of a Fed rate hike took their toll. On the other hand, the economy brought a spring mix with good news from housing and jobs that was dampened by a strengthening U.S. dollar and a gloomy manufacturing picture out of China.

03/15/2016
Market Update


Signs of U.S. economic momentum persisted this week. Oil prices climbed through Friday, helped by supply easing. U.S. stocks celebrated a seven-year bull market this week, the third longest on record. The European Central Bank (ECB) introduced an aggressive monetary stimulus plan; global stocks and currencies fell following the announcement due to uncertainty around further easing by the ECB.

03/02/2016
Market Update


Early indicators for 2016 imply the U.S. economy continues to stabilize despite challenges from global market unrest. Finance ministers for the Group of 20 (G-20) major economies met in Shanghai to discuss slowing growth, market volatility, exchange rates and monetary-easing policies. Oil prices rebounded late in the week on hopes of production cuts.

02/18/2016
Market Update


In January, U.S. unemployment fell below 5% for the first time since 2008. The Bank of England voted unanimously to maintain its benchmark rate, while eurozone unemployment dropped for the fifteenth consecutive month in December to the lowest level since 2011. Chinese manufacturing contracted for the eleventh straight month.

02/04/2016
Market Update


Oil prices rallied to a three-week high on hopes of decreased output from Saudi Arabia and Russia. China’s mainland stock market plunged to a 13-month low on continued capital outflows despite a capital injection from its central bank, and the Bank of Japan introduced its first negative interest-rate policy.

01/20/2016
Market Update


This week, U.S. oil dropped below $30 per barrel for the first time in 12 years as export prices for December were reported at all time lows. The latest industrial production figures showed deteriorating conditions in the U.S., U.K. and eurozone.

01/08/2016
Market Update


The challenges that investors faced in 2015 began in January with the election of Alexis Tsipras in Greece. His anti establishment Syriza party set in motion another round of high-stakes negotiations with Germany and the rest of the eurozone that threatened a Greek debt default and exit from the monetary union. Almost as soon at the Greek drama reached a more-or-less happy resolution, the bubble in the Chinese stock market burst.

12/11/2015
Market Update


U.S. construction spending reached a six-month peak and factory orders rebounded, while final manufacturing activity was greater than anticipated. Overseas, the U.K. services sector reached a four-month high and eurozone manufacturing achieved its best performance in 18 months.

10/05/2015
Market Update


The U.S. labor market remained tight, as manufacturing data was modestly positive and the services sector continued to be a source of economic strength. Overseas, manufacturing in the U.K., eurozone and Japan stumbled, while it edged further into contraction in China.

08/06/2015
Market Update


The U.S. economy expanded in the second-quarter amid a slowing housing market in June. Overseas, U.K. economic growth also continued in the second quarter, while eurozone consumer prices and unemployment remained unchanged in July.

07/08/2015
Market Update


A rise in initial jobless claims and an unanticipated decline in new jobs suggest slowing in the U.S. labor market, while housing continues to lead the economy. Overseas, falling U.K. exports detracted from first-quarter economic growth, while eurozone manufacturing continued to expand in June.

06/11/2015
Market Update


U.S. personal incomes gained, while price pressures remained low. Overseas, U.K. manufacturing and construction activity accelerated, while eurozone unemployment fell and consumer prices rose.

05/28/2015
Market Update


Data was uninspiring globally, with the exception of U.S. housing starts and U.K. retail sales. Reports in the U.S. remained generally disappointing, as its economy has yet to rebound strongly from a weak first quarter. In the U.K., inflation pressures were subdued but mostly positive, partially easing concerns about deflation risks.

05/18/2015
Market Update


The U.S. and U.K. economies continued to exhibit positive but slow momentum, while most countries in the eurozone (apart from France and Greece) surprised to the upside. Reports from Asia were negative overall, with Japan the lone bright spot.

04/29/2015
Market Update


The U.S. housing market expanded in some areas and contracted in others, while manufacturing growth eased. Overseas, U.K. retail sales decelerated, while eurozone manufacturing and consumer sentiment moderated.

04/14/2015
Market Update


In the U.S., the labor market and the services sector both improved in March. Overseas, the U.K, the services sector increased in March, while the eurozone manufacturing and services sectors both gained in the same period.

03/31/2015
Market Update


The U.S. economy expanded in the fourth quarter, alongside more recent gains in employment and consumer prices. In the U.K., consumer prices remained flat and year-over-year inflation reached a historical low, while eurozone consumer confidence reflects sustained growth.

03/17/2015
Market Update


In the U.S., job growth continued and consumer confidence dropped. Overseas, in the U.K. and eurozone, industrial production declined.

03/03/2015
Market Update


U.S. demand for durable goods bounced back and real estate data was mixed. In the U.K. economic expansion slowed in the fourth quarter, while eurozone consumer sentiment surged.

02/17/2015
Market Update


U.S. employment remained buoyant, yet consumer sentiment has not translated to spending gains. Overseas, U.K. industrial production slowed, while the eurozone economy expanded.

02/05/2015
Market Update


The U.S. economy continued its gradual expansion amid growing consumer confidence and falling jobless claims. Overseas, the U.K. reported moderating economic growth, and consumer prices in the eurozone registered a historic low.

01/20/2015
Market Update


The U.S. labor market remained stable, and consumer confidence continued amid falling prices. Overseas, U.K. consumer prices dropped to historic lows, while eurozone production and trade both gained significantly.

Q4 2017
Laddered Bond Strategies: Should Investors Worry About Rising Interest Rates?


Many investors look to laddered bond strategies in order to generate predictable streams of income. Laddered bond strategies purchase multiple bonds across a wide array of evenly spaced maturities in an effort to reduce interest-rate risk.

Q3 2017
Diversification: It's Not Always Easy To Do The Right Thing


In a world where the latest record high on the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500 Index dominates financial headlines, the traditional well-diversified investment portfolio has fallen out of favor. Diversification is a time-tested method of portfolio construction that reduces risk (standard deviation) and delivers more consistent returns, but what it doesn’t do is make headlines by delivering attention-grabbing performance. Accordingly, investors are often disappointed when they compare the results of a diversified portfolio with the results of a single index.

Q2 2017
Bond Market Returns: More Than Meets The Eye


Although global bond yields and interest rates have risen significantly since the U.S. presidential election, they remain at historically low levels. In a persistently low, but rising yield environment, investors naturally wonder how fixed-income investments can continue to deliver meaningful positive returns.

Q1 2017
Predicting Interest Rates: A Fool's Game


The most common questions received are: What’s your view on the Federal Reserve (Fed)? What’s your view on interest rates? Where is the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate headed?

Q4 2016
Behavior Finance: The Three As – Availability, Anchoring & Adjustment


Pioneering behavioral finance researchers Kahneman and Tversky (K&T) describe availability as the impulse to, "assess the frequency of a class or the probability of an event by the ease with which instances or occurrences can be brought to mind."

Q3 2016
The Dangers of Market Timing


If you’re like most investors, you started your financial plan with the intent of achieving any number of goals. Some were short-term like buying a house, while others had longer time horizons, such as enjoying a comfortable retirement, sending your kids to college or buying a second home.

Q2 2016
Should You Pay Off Your Mortgage Or Invest?


Owning a home outright is a dream that many Americans share. Having a mortgage can be a huge burden, and paying it off may be the first item on your financial to-do list.

Q1 2016
Chasing Performance Can Be Like Running In Reverse


In a volatile market, investors can exhaust themselves chasing after the “latest and greatest” investment tip, or selling their current holdings to try and outperform their peers.

Q4 2015
Tax-Smart Investing


Taxes — especially when not managed properly — can erode investment gains and minimize progress towards your financial goals.

Q3 2015
Getting Your Investment Portfolio Back On The Right Track


As the headlines in the financial media have been dominated by news on Greece, Puerto Rico, and China, you most likely have watched your portfolio value fluctuate along with the markets.

Q2 2015
Bonds, Interest Rates, and the Impact of Inflation


There are two fundamental ways that you can profit from owning bonds: from the interest that bonds pay, or from any increase in the bond's price.

Q1 2015
Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income


When it comes to planning for your retirement income, it's easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you'll have available to spend. If you don't consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be able to enjoy the retirement you envision.

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