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Four Numbers You Need to Know Now

Four Numbers You Need to Know Now

When it comes to your finances, you might easily overlook some of the numbers that really count. Here are four to pay attention to now that might really matter in the future.

1. Retirement plan contribution rate
What percentage of your salary are you contributing to a retirement plan? Making automatic contributions through an employer-sponsored plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan is an easy way to save for retirement, but this out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach may result in a disparity between what you need to save and what you actually are saving for retirement. Checking your contribution rate and increasing it periodically can help you stay on track toward your retirement savings goal. .

Some employer retirement plans let you sign up for automatic contribution rate increases each year, which is a simple way to bump up the percentage you’re saving over time. In addition, try to boost your contributions when you receive a pay raise. Consider contributing at least enough to receive the full company match (if any) that your employer offers.

2. Credit score
When you apply for credit, such as a mortgage, a car loan, or a credit card, your credit score is one of the tools used by lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness. Your score will likely factor into the approval decision and affect the terms and the interest rate you’ll pay.

The most common credit score that creditors consider is a FICO© Score, a three-digit number that ranges from 300 to 850. This score is based on a mathematical formula that uses information contained in your credit report. In general, the higher your score, the lower the credit risk you pose.

Each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) calculates FICO® scores using different formulas, so you may want to check your scores from all three (fees apply). It’s also a good idea to get a copy of your credit report at least annually to check the accuracy of the information upon which your credit score is based. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies. You can get your copy by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

3. Debt-to-income ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is another number that lenders may use when deciding whether to offer you credit. A DTI that is too high might mean that you are overextended. Your DTI is calculated by adding up your major monthly expenses and dividing that figure by your gross monthly income. The result is expressed as a percentage. For example, if your monthly expenses total $2,200 and your gross monthly income is $6,800, your DTI is 32%.

Lenders decide what DTIs are acceptable, based on the type of credit. For example, mortgage lenders generally require a ratio of 36% or less for conventional mortgages and 43% or less for FHA mortgages when considering overall expenses.

Once you know your DTI, you can take steps to reduce it if necessary. For example, you may be able to pay off a low-balance loan to remove it from the calculation. You may also want to avoid taking on new debt that might negatively affect your DTI. Check with your lender if you have any questions about acceptable DTIs or what expenses are included in the calculation.

4. Net worth
One of the key big-picture numbers you should know is your net worth, a snapshot of where you stand financially. To calculate your net worth, add up your assets (what you own) and subtract your liabilities (what you owe). Once you know your net worth, you can use it as a baseline to measure financial progress.

Ideally, your net worth will grow over time as you save more and pay down debt, at least until retirement. If your net worth is stagnant or even declining, then it might be time to make some adjustments to target your financial goals, such as trimming expenses or rethinking your investment strategy.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. and Allegis do not provide tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017

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Allegis Market Month: May 2017

Allegis Market Month: May 2017

Download this recap as a pdf here

The Markets (as of market close May 31, 2017)

May provided a bumpy ride for investors. However, by the end of the month, each of the indexes listed here posted monthly gains with the exception of the Russell 2000, which lost over 2.0%. Technology shares continued to climb as the Nasdaq climbed 2.50% in May over April and has risen over 15% since the start of the year. Despite terrorist attacks, mundane oil prices, a rocky first quarter in Washington, and a slowdown in economic growth, U.S. stocks closed the month in positive territory, spurred by generally favorable quarterly corporate earnings reports. May saw the Dow and S&P 500 post monthly gains for the second consecutive month, while the Nasdaq increased in value for the seventh month in a row. Long-term bond prices rose in May over April, evidenced by the falling yield on 10-year Treasuries.

By the close of trading on May 31, the price of crude oil (WTI) was $48.63 per barrel, down from the April 28 price of $49.19 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.406 per gallon on the last day of May, down from the May 1 selling price of $2.411 but $0.138 more than a year ago. The price of gold increased by the end of May, closing at $1,271.40 on the last trading day of the month, up from its April 28 price of $1,269.50.


Last Month’s Economic News

Employment: The employment sector picked up the pace in April following a weak March. There were 211,000 new hires in April in contrast to March’s revised total of only 79,000. For April, employment growth occurred in leisure and hospitality (+55,000), food services and drinking places (+26,000), health care and social assistance (+37,000), and professional and business services (+39,000). The unemployment rate dipped to 4.4% — the lowest rate since May 2001. Over the year, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage point, and the number of unemployed has fallen by 854,000. There were 7.056 million unemployed persons in April (7.202 million in March). The labor participation rate remained at 62.9%. The average workweek was 34.4 hours in April. Average hourly earnings increased by $0.07 to $26.19, following a $0.05 increase in March. Over the last 12 months ended in April, average hourly earnings have risen by $0.65, or 2.5%.

FOMC/interest rates: The Federal Open Market Committee conceded that consumer spending may have slowed in the first quarter, prompting the Committee to leave interest rates unchanged at 0.75%-1.00%. However, labor has remained strong, nearing full employment, while a dip in consumer spending and consumer prices was deemed transitory by the Committee. Continued strength in employment and increases in consumer spending and inflation next month may prompt the FOMC to consider a rate increase when it next meets in June.

GDP/budget: Expansion of the U.S. economy slowed over the first three months of 2017. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the first-quarter 2017 gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 1.2%. The fourth-quarter 2016 GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.1%. The first-quarter GDP reflected positive contributions from nonresidential fixed investment, exports, residential fixed investment, and personal consumption expenditures that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of the GDP, increased. An indicator of inflationary trends, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.6% in the first quarter, compared to an increase of 2.0% in the fourth quarter. As to the government’s budget, the federal deficit through the first eight months of fiscal 2017 was $344 billion — $8 billion less than the deficit over the same period last year. For the month of April, the government realized a budget surplus of $182.4 billion, which is $76 billion more than the April 2016 surplus.

Inflation/consumer spending: Inflation, as measured by personal consumption expenditures, picked up in April. For the 12 months ended in April 2017, the personal consumption expenditures price index expanded at a rate of 1.7%. For April, personal income increased 0.4% over March. Disposable personal (after-tax) income increased 0.4%. Personal consumption expenditures (the value of goods and services purchased by consumers) also increased 0.4% for the month. The prices companies receive for goods and services showed improvement in April from March, as the Producer Price Index increased 0.5% in April following a 0.1% dip the prior month. Year-over-year, producer prices have increased 2.5%. In April, energy prices climbed 0.8% while food prices increased 0.9%. The PPI less food and energy increased 0.4% for the month and has risen 1.9% over the last 12 months. Consumer prices, which retreated in March, increased 0.2% in April. For the year, consumer prices are up 2.2%. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy, increased 0.1% for the month and have climbed 1.9% since April 2016.

Housing: The housing sector, which had showed strength over the first three months of 2017, slowed considerably in April. Existing home sales plunged 2.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.570 million, down from March’s revised annual rate of 5.700 million. Existing home sales are only 1.6% ahead of the sales pace from a year ago. The median sales price for existing homes rose to $244,800 from the March price of $236,400. Total housing inventory at the end of April climbed 7.2% to 1.93 million existing homes available for sale (9.0% lower than a year ago). Sales of newly constructed homes also dropped in April, according to the Census Bureau. Sales of new single-family homes fell 11.4% in April to an annual rate of 569,000 — down from March’s revised rate of 642,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in April was $309,200 ($318,700 in March), while the average sales price was $368,300 ($388,200 in March). The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 268,000. This represents a supply of 5.7 months at the current sales rate.

Manufacturing: According to the Federal Reserve, industrial production ticked up 1.0% in April. Manufacturing output increased 1.0% following a 0.4% decline in March. Manufacturing gains were led by production of motor vehicles, business equipment, and consumer goods. The indexes for mining and utilities posted gains of 1.2% and 0.7%, respectively. Total industrial production for April was 2.2% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization increased 0.6 percentage point to 76.7%, which is 3.2 percentage points below its long-run average. As for durable goods, the Census Bureau report reveals that new orders dropped 0.7% in April following a 2.3% revised increase in March. Excluding the volatile transportation segment, new durable goods orders fell 0.4%. Orders for core capital goods (excluding defense and transportation) had no change from March, but are up 2.9% over the past 12 months.

Imports and exports: The advance report on international trade in goods revealed that the trade gap grew by $2.5 billion in April. The overall trade deficit was $67.6 billion, up from March’s deficit of $65.1 billion. Exports declined 0.9% to $125.9 billion. Imports increased by 0.7% to $193.4 billion in April. The prices for U.S. imports of goods showed strength in April following a weak March. Import prices jumped 0.5% for the month, led by a 1.6% increase in petroleum prices. U.S. export prices rose 0.2% after advancing a revised 0.1% in March. Export prices haven’t recorded a monthly decline since the index fell 0.8% in August 2016.

International markets: The election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s president was greeted favorably by eurozone investors early in May. Despite the tragic terrorist attack in Manchester, England, investors maintained a “steady-as-she-goes” approach with moderate trading throughout the month. OPEC and Russia agreed to extend the cut in oil output. However, oil prices haven’t climbed appreciably as investors apparently were hoping for deeper cuts than those announced. Moody’s Investors Service cut China’s sovereign credit rating for the first time since 1989 on the premise that the country’s financial strength is expected to weaken as debt continues to rise and the economy slows.

Consumer sentiment: Consumer confidence is holding steady in May. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® for May fell slightly to 117.9 from April’s 119.4. While consumers continued to express optimism about both the current state of the economy and its future, their enthusiasm has waned some from earlier in the year. The Surveys of Consumers of the University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment also dropped marginally to 97.1 in May from 97.6 in April.

Eye on the Month Ahead

Economic signs were mixed last month, so it isn’t certain that the FOMC will raise interest rates when it meets in June. The final GDP figures for the first quarter are out in June. Consumer spending has been relatively weak through much of the first part of 2017, causing inflation to slow a bit.

Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/ Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The 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. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. The U.S. Dollar Index is a geometrically weighted index of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to six foreign currencies. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the state(s) of UT. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside the specific states referenced.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017.

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Converting Retirement Savings to Retirement Income

Converting Retirement Savings to Retirement Income

You’ve been saving diligently for years, and now it’s time to think about how to convert the money in your traditional 401(k)s (or similar workplace savings plans) into retirement income. But hold on, not so fast. You may need to take a few steps first.

Evaluate your needs

If you haven’t done so, estimate how much income you’ll need to meet your desired lifestyle in retirement. Conventional wisdom says to plan on needing 70% to 100% of your annual pre-retirement income to meet your needs in retirement; however, your specific amount will depend on your unique circumstances. First identify your non-negotiable fixed needs — such as housing, food, and medical care — to get clarity on how much it will cost to make basic ends meet. Then identify your variable wants — including travel, leisure, and entertainment. Segregating your expenses into needs and wants will help you develop an income strategy to fund both.

Assess all sources of predictable income

Next, determine how much you might expect from sources of predictable income, such as Social Security and traditional pension plans.

Social Security: At your full retirement age (which varies from 66 to 67, depending on your year of birth), you’ll be entitled to receive your full benefit. Although you can begin receiving reduced benefits as early as age 62, the longer you wait to begin (up to age 70), the more you’ll receive each month. You can estimate your retirement benefit by using the calculators on the SSA website, ssa.gov. You can also sign up for a my Social Security account to view your Social Security Statement online.

Traditional pensions: If you stand to receive a traditional pension from your current or a previous employer, be sure to familiarize yourself with its features. For example, will your benefit remain steady throughout retirement or increase with inflation? Your pension will most likely be offered as either a single life or joint-and-survivor annuity. A single-life annuity provides benefits until the worker’s death, while a joint-and-survivor annuity generally provides reduced benefits until the survivor’s death.¹

If it looks as though your Social Security and pension income will be enough to cover your fixed needs, you may be well positioned to use your other assets to fund those extra wants. On the other hand, if your predictable sources are not sufficient to cover your fixed needs, you’ll need to think carefully about how to tap your retirement savings plan assets, as they will be a necessary component of your income.

Understand your savings plan options

A key in determining how to tap your retirement plan assets is to understand the options available to you. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), only about one-third of 401(k) plans offer withdrawal options, such as installment payments, systematic withdrawals, and managed payout funds.² And only about a quarter offer annuities, which are insurance contracts that provide guaranteed income for a stated amount of time (typically over a set number of years or for the life expectancy of the participant or the participant and spouse).³

Plans may allow you to leave the money alone or require you to take a lump-sum distribution. You may also choose to roll over the assets to an IRA, which might offer a variety of income and investment opportunities, including the purchase of annuity contracts. If you choose to work part-time in retirement, you may be allowed to roll your assets into the new employer’s plan.

Determining the right way to tap your assets can be challenging and should take into account a number of factors. These include your tax situation, whether you have other assets you’ll use for income, and your desire to leave assets to heirs. A financial professional can help you understand your options.

¹Current law requires married couples to choose a joint-and-survivor annuity unless the spouse waives those rights.

²”401(k) Plans: DOL Could Take Steps to Improve Retirement Income Options for Plan Participants,” GAO Report to Congressional Requesters, August 2016

³Generally, annuity contracts have fees and expenses, limitations, exclusions, holding periods, termination provisions, and terms for keeping the annuity in force. Most annuities have surrender charges that are assessed if the contract owner surrenders the annuity. Qualified annuities are typically purchased with pre-tax money, so withdrawals are fully taxable as ordinary income, and withdrawals prior to age 59½ may be subject to a 10% penalty tax. Any guarantees are contingent on the claims-paying ability and financial strength of the issuing insurance company. It is important to understand that purchasing an annuity in an IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan provides no additional tax benefits other than those available through the tax-deferred retirement plan.


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Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Spring Cleaning Your Finances

The arrival of spring often signifies a time of renewal, a reminder to dust off the cobwebs and get rid of the dirt and grime that have built up throughout the winter season. And while most spring cleaning projects are likely focused on your home, you could take this time to evaluate and clean up your personal finances as well.

Examine your budget..and stick with it

A budget is the centerpiece of any good personal financial plan. Start by identifying your income and expenses. Next, add them up and compare the two totals to make sure you are spending less than you earn. If you find that your expenses outweigh your income, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your budget (e.g., reduce discretionary spending).

Keep in mind that in order for your budget to work, you’ll need to stick with it. And while straying from your budget from time to time is to be expected, there are some ways to help make working within your budget a bit easier:

Make budgeting a part of your daily routine

Build occasional rewards into your budget

Evaluate your budget regularly and make changes if necessary

Use budgeting software/smartphone applications

Evaluate your financial goals

Spring is also a good time to evaluate your financial goals. Take a look at the financial goals you’ve previously set for yourself — both short and long term. Perhaps you wanted to increase your cash reserve or invest more money toward your retirement. Did you accomplish any of your goals? If so, do you have any new goals you now want to pursue? Finally, have your personal or financial circumstances changed recently (e.g., marriage, a child, a job promotion)? If so, would any of these events warrant a reprioritization of some of your existing financial goals?

Review your investments

Now may be a good time to review your investment portfolio to ensure that it is still on target to help you achieve your financial goals. To determine whether your investments are still suitable, you might ask yourself the following questions:

Has my investment time horizon recently changed?

Has my tolerance for risk changed?

Do I have an increased need for liquidity in my investments?

Does any investment now represent too large (or too small) a part of my portfolio?

All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there can be no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful.

Try to pay off any accumulated debt

When it comes to personal finances, reducing debt should always be a priority. Whether you have debt from student loans, a mortgage, or credit cards, have a plan in place to pay down your debt load as quickly as possible. The following tips could help you manage your debt:

Keep track of your credit card balances and be aware of interest rates and hidden fees

Manage your payments so that you avoid late fees

Optimize your repayments by paying off high-interest debt first

Avoid charging more than you can pay off at the end of each billing cycle

Take a look at your credit history

Having good credit is an important part of any sound financial plan, and now is a good time to check your credit history. Review your credit report and check for any inaccuracies. You’ll also want to find out whether you need to take steps to improve your credit history. To establish a good track record with creditors, make sure that you always make your monthly bill payments on time. In addition, you should try to avoid having too many credit inquiries on your report (these are made every time you apply for new credit). You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit annualcreditreport.com for more information.

Assess tax planning opportunities

The return of the spring season also means that we are approaching the end of tax season. Now is also a good time to assess any tax planning opportunities for the coming year. You can use last year’s tax return as a basis, then make any anticipated adjustments to your income and deductions for the coming year.

Be sure to check your withholding — especially if you owed taxes when you filed your most recent tax return or you were due a large refund. If necessary, adjust the amount of federal or state income tax withheld from your paycheck by filing a new Form W-4 with your employer.


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What are bond ratings?

What are bond ratings?

Bond ratings are an essential tool when considering fixed-income investments. Ratings provide a professional assessment of credit risk, or the risk of default, which can be measured to some degree by analyzing the bond issuer’s financial condition and creditworthiness.

Credit rating agencies perform this type of analysis and issue ratings that reflect the agency’s assessment of the bond issuer’s ability to meet the promised interest payments and return the principal upon maturity. The best-known independent rating agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service, and Fitch Ratings — use similar scales in descending alphabetical order, ranging from AAA/Aaa for the most creditworthy bonds to C/D for the least creditworthy.

Bonds rated BBB/Baa or higher are considered “investment grade.” Lower-rated bonds, commonly called “junk bonds,” are non-investment grade; they generally offer higher yields and are considered speculative with higher credit risks. Bond insurance can add a layer of protection, but it is only as good as the insurer’s credit quality and ability to pay.

A credit rating is not a recommendation to purchase a bond. Even so, higher-rated bonds in general may be more appealing to investors, and — due to supply and demand — typically have a lower yield than similar bonds with a lower rating. Investors must balance risk and reward when choosing bonds that present a comfortable risk while providing a yield that is appropriate to help meet investment goals.

Ratings are very important to a bond issuer when the bond is first offered for sale, because a higher rating may reduce interest costs. After the initial sale, significant shifts in the issuer’s financial condition could result in rating changes that may affect the bond’s yield and market value. However, as long as the issuer does not default, a change in a bond’s rating would not affect the coupon rate or the principal due upon maturity.

Bonds carry other risks as well, such as market risk, interest rate risk, and inflation risk. However, these depend on factors that are difficult to measure or predict.

The principal value of bonds fluctuates with changes in market conditions. A bond sold prior to maturity may be worth more or less than its original value.


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Four Ways to Double the Power of Your Tax Refund

Four Ways to Double the Power of Your Tax Refund

The IRS expects that more than 70% of taxpayers will receive a refund in 2017.¹ What you do with a tax refund is up to you, but here are some ideas that may make your refund twice as valuable. 

Double your savings

Perhaps you’d like to use your tax refund to start an education fund for your children or grandchildren, contribute to a retirement savings account for yourself, or save for a rainy day. A financial concept known as the Rule of 72 can give you a rough estimate of how long it might take to double what you initially save. Simply divide 72 by the annual rate you hope that your money will earn. For example, if you invest your tax refund and it earns a 6% average annual rate of return, your investment might double in approximately 12 years (72 divided by 6 equals 12).

This hypothetical example of mathematical compounding is used for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. Fees, expenses, and taxes are not considered and would reduce the performance shown if they were included.

Split your refund in two

If stashing your refund away in a savings account or using it to pay bills sounds unappealing, go ahead and splurge on something for yourself. But remember, you don’t necessarily have to spend it all. Instead, you could put half of it toward something practical and spend the other half on something fun.

The IRS makes splitting your refund easy. When you file your income taxes and choose direct deposit for your refund, you can decide to have it deposited among two or even three accounts, in any proportion you want. Qualified accounts include savings and checking accounts, as well as IRAs (except SIMPLE IRAs), Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, health savings accounts, Archer MSAs, and TreasuryDirect® online accounts. To split your refund, you’ll need to fill out IRS Form 8888 when you file your federal return.

Double down on your debt

Using your refund to pay down credit card debt or a loan with a high interest rate could enable you to pay it off early and save on interest charges. The time and money you’ll save depend on your balance, the interest rate, and other factors such as your monthly payment. Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say you have a personal loan with an $8,000 balance, a 12% fixed interest rate, and a 24-month repayment term. Your fixed monthly payment is $380. If you were to put a $4,000 refund toward paying down your principal balance, you would be able to pay off your loan in 12 months and save $780 in interest charges over the remaining loan term. Check the terms of any loan you want to prepay, though, to make sure that no prepayment penalty applies.

Be twice as nice to others

Giving to charity has its own rewards, but Uncle Sam may also reward you for gifts you make now when you file your taxes next year. If you itemize, you may be able to deduct contributions made to a qualified charity. You can also help your favorite charity or nonprofit reap double rewards by finding out whether your gift qualifies for a match. With a matching gift program, individuals, corporations, foundations, and employers offer to match gifts the charitable organization receives, usually on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Terms and conditions apply, so contact the charitable organization or your employer’s human resources department to find out more about available matching gift programs.

¹IR-2017-01, irs.gov


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Allegis Quarterly Recap: 1st Quarter 2017

Allegis Quarterly Recap: 1st Quarter 2017

The Markets (as of market close March 31, 2017)

Riding the momentum following the presidential election, stocks surged for much of the first quarter of 2017. Buoyed by the anticipation of tax cuts and policies favorable to domestic businesses, the benchmark indexes listed here reached historic highs throughout the quarter. At the end of January, the Dow reached the magic 20000 mark for the first time, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained almost 4.50% for the month. The trend continued in February, as stocks posted solid monthly gains. The Dow closed the month with a run of 12 consecutive daily closings that reached all-time highs. The S&P 500 also achieved a milestone — 50 consecutive trading sessions without a daily swing of more than 1.0%. At the close of trading in February, each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted year-to-date gains, led by the Nasdaq, which was up over 8.0%.

March began with a bang but ended with a whimper. The Dow closed the first week of the month at over 21000, while the Nasdaq gained over 9.0% year-to-date. However, energy stocks slipped as the price of oil began to fall. Entering mid-March, investors exercised caution pending the potential Fed interest rate hike and the push for a new health-care law. Following its mid-March meeting, the Fed raised interest rates 25 basis points, while the move to replace the ACA with a new health-care law failed for lack of congressional support.

For the quarter, each of the indexes listed here posted impressive gains over their fourth-quarter closing values. The Nasdaq climbed the most, posting quarterly gains of close to 10.0%, followed by the Global Dow and the S&P 500, which achieved its largest quarterly gain in almost two years. Long-term bond prices increased in the first quarter with the yield on 10-year Treasuries falling 6 basis points. Gold prices also climbed during the first three months of the year, closing the quarter at $1,251.60 — about 8.5% higher than its price at the end of the fourth quarter.


Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Monthly Economic News

Employment: February’s employment report showed continued strengthening in the labor sector with 235,000 new jobs added in the month, on the heels of 238,000 new jobs added in January. Job gains occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care, and mining. The unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% — down from 4.9% a year earlier. There were 7.5 million unemployed persons in February. The labor participation rate inched up 0.1 percentage point to 63.0%. The average workweek was unchanged at 34.4 hours in February. Average hourly earnings increased by $0.06 to $26.09, following a $0.05 increase in January. Over the last 12 months ended in February, average hourly earnings have risen by $0.71, or 2.8%.

FOMC/interest rates: Following its meeting in March, the Federal Open Market Committee raised the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 0.75%-1.00%. This is the first interest rate change for 2017, although the FOMC projects that it will increase rates two more times this year. The Committee expects that economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further, and inflation will stabilize around 2% over the medium term. FOMC Chair Janet Yellen supported the current rate hike, cautioning that without gradual rate increases inflation could escalate, requiring the Committee to raise rates rapidly which, in turn, could risk disrupting financial markets and push the economy into recession.

Oil: The price of crude oil (WTI) closed March at $50.85 per barrel, after spending much of the month hovering around $48.00 per barrel. The national average retail regular gasoline price was $2.314 per gallon on February 27, 2017, $0.018 higher than the January 30 price and $0.531 more than a year ago.

GDP/budget: Expansion of the U.S. economy slowed over the final three months of 2016. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the fourth-quarter 2016 gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 2.1% compared to the third-quarter GDP, which grew at an annual rate of 3.5%. Growth in the GDP was slowed by downturns in exports, federal government spending, and business investment. A positive from the report is the rise in consumer spending, which increased 3.5% over the prior quarter. An indicator of inflationary trends, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.0% in the fourth quarter, compared to an increase of 1.5% in the third quarter.

As to the government’s budget, the federal deficit for February was $192 billion. Over the first 5 months of the fiscal year, the deficit sits at $385 billion, which is 0.7% below the same period of time last year.

Inflation/consumer spending: Inflation, as measured by personal consumption expenditures, reached the Fed’s 2.0% annual target in February. For the 12 months ended in February 2017, personal consumption expenditures expanded at a rate of 2.1%. Core PCE (excluding energy and food) increased 1.8%. For February, PCE climbed 0.1%, while core PCE rose 0.2%, following a 0.3% monthly increase in January. Personal income (pre-tax earnings) rose 0.4% for the month, and disposable personal income (income less taxes) enjoyed a 0.3% increase over January. For the 2016 calendar year, personal income increased 3.6% from the 2015 annual level, compared with an increase of 4.4% in 2015. Disposable personal income increased 3.9% in 2016, compared with an increase of 3.8% in 2015. In 2016, PCE increased 3.9% compared with an increase of 3.5% in 2015.

The prices companies receive for goods and services trended higher in February as the Producer Price Index climbed 0.3% for the month. Year-over-year, producer prices have increased 2.2%. Energy prices have played a large part in the upward movement of the PPI, climbing 0.6% in February. The PPI less food and energy has risen 1.5% for the year, after climbing 0.3% in February.

Consumer prices also increased marginally in February, climbing 0.1%. However, consumer prices are up 2.7% for the year, a mark that is not only well above the Fed’s 2.0% target for inflation, but stands as the highest rate of growth in almost five years. Even the core rate, which excludes energy, is holding steady at 2.2% since February 2016.

Housing: The housing sector proved to be a mixed bag in February as the sales pace of existing homes slowed while new home sales increased. Higher home prices and a lack of available homes for sale are the main reasons for the drop in the sales of existing homes, which fell 3.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million, down from January’s revised annual rate of 5.69 million, according to the National Association of Realtors®. However, February’s sales pace is still 5.4% above a year ago. The median sales price for existing homes was $228,400 — up 7.7% from January. Total housing inventory at the end of February increased 4.2% to 1.75 million existing homes available for sale, but is 6.4% lower than a year ago (1.87 million) and has declined year-over-year for 21 straight months. Conversely, the Census Bureau’s latest report reveals a spike in new home sales. Sales of new single-family homes increased 6.1% in February to an annual rate of 592,000 — up from January’s rate of 558,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in February was $296,200, while the average sales price was $390,400. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 266,000. This represents a supply of 5.4 months at the current sales rate, which is up from 262,000 homes available (supply of 5.4 months) in January.

Manufacturing: One of the reasons the Fed raised interest rates in March is the increase in manufacturing production. The Federal Reserve’s monthly index of industrial production (which includes factories, mines, and utilities) remained at the same level in February as the prior month, held down by another weak month for utilities. Unseasonably warm weather prompted utility production to fall 5.7% in February following a 5.8% drop in January. However, manufacturing production increased 0.5% month-over-month, which is the largest increase in monthly volumes since July 2015. At 104.7% of its 2012 average, total industrial production in February was 0.3% above its level of a year earlier. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector declined 0.1 percentage point in February to 75.4%. As for durable goods, the latest report from the Census Bureau shows new orders increased 1.7% in February from the prior month. Excluding the volatile transportation segment, new durable goods orders gained a lackluster 0.4%. Orders for core capital goods (excluding defense and transportation) dropped 0.1% for the month, but are up 2.7% over February 2016.

Imports and exports:The advance report on international trade in goods revealed that the trade gap narrowed by 5.9% in February. The overall trade deficit was $64.8 billion in February, down $4.1 billion from January. Exports declined 0.1% to $126.8 billion, $0.1 billion less than January exports. Imports fell 2.1% to $191.6 billion, $4.2 billion less than January imports. The prices for U.S. imports of goods advanced 0.2% in February, led by higher nonfuel import prices, which more than offset lower fuel prices. U.S. export prices rose 0.3% in February, after advancing 0.2% in January. Export prices haven’t recorded a monthly decline since the index fell 0.8% in August 2016.

International markets: A relatively positive stream of eurozone economic data helped international stocks post gains for February. Both manufacturing and service sectors accelerated during the month, while eurozone job creation reached a 10-year high. In Great Britain, Prime Minister May continued to push forward with Brexit amid pushback from Parliament and protestors. Nevertheless, the UK delivered written notice to the president of the European Union, formally beginning the process of leaving the EU. This action now opens a two-year window for Britain to negotiate the terms of its exit. One of the potentially contentious issues that will be addressed is whether, and how much, Britain will pay to leave the bloc. In Japan, retail sales increased 1.0% for the month, although the fourth-quarter GDP growth slowed from the previous quarter.

Consumer sentiment: The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® for February rose 3.2 points to 114.8. Consumers expressed confidence in the job market, which increased expectations for the economy in general. The Surveys of Consumers of the University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment dipped from a 10-year high of 98.5 in January to 96.3 in February. Nevertheless, consumers continued to express optimism about current economic conditions, as the Current Conditions Index has been trending upward since December 2016.

Eye on the Month Ahead

The first quarter of 2017 proved to be a banner three months for equities. The FOMC next meets during the first week of May, when it will consider another interest rate hike. If employment remains strong and consumer prices trend higher, the Fed may raise the target range rate to 1.25% following their next meeting, with at least one more rate increase likely before the end of the year.

Key Dates/Data Releases

4/3: PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Manufacturing Index

4/4: International trade

4/7: Employment situation

4/11: JOLTS

4/12: Treasury budget

4/13: Producer Price Index

4/14: Consumer Price Index, retail sales

4/18: Industrial production, housing starts

4/21: Existing home sales

4/25: New home sales

4/27: International trade in goods, durable goods orders

4/28: GDP


Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/ Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg. com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/ FX Street (currency exchange rates). News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The 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. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. The U.S. Dollar Index is a geometrically weighted index of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to six foreign currencies. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. and Allegis do not provide tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.

To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.

These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017



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