business-2056029_1920Early last week, both the S&P and NASDAQ recorded all-time highs before tumbling along with the Dow as political concerns rose.[i] By Friday, though, the markets had largely rebounded and steadied. The S&P 500 closed the week down 0.38%, the Dow saw a 0.44% loss, and the NASDAQ reported a 0.61% decline.[ii] The MSCI EAFE reported up 0.79% for the week.[iii]

The CBOE VIX is designed to measure market volatility by using S&P 500 put and call index option prices.[iv] For most of the year, volatility in the markets has been low. However, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spiked 40% midweek before falling back by week’s end, indicating a possible increase in market volatility.[v]

Through the week’s ups and downs, investors followed some other important economic developments.


  • Solid Regional Business Index
    • The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey again pointed to progress in the factory sector. While the consensus range was 16.0 – 25.0, the General Business Conditions Index-Level reported 38.8.[vi]
  • Strong Corporate Earnings
    • With 90% of S&P 500 company Q1 earnings reports in, the earnings growth rate for S&P 500 companies remains bright with an average increase of 13.6%.[vii] The softening U.S. dollar—down 5% so far in 2017—is helping companies that sell overseas. A weaker dollar will help companies with foreign earnings, as those earnings are more valuable when converted into U.S. dollars.[viii]
  • Mixed Housing Reports
    • New home sales remained strong as the housing market index rose 2 points to 70. The data came out well ahead of the 65 – 69 consensus range.[ix] However, April housing starts were lower than expected. Housing starts are now at a 1.172 million annualized rate, after falling 2.6%.[x]
  • Household Debt Rises
    • Total household debt rose to a new high, reporting a $149 billion increase to come in at $12.73 trillion.[xi] Student loans and auto loans were major contributors to the rising debt:
  • Student loans now make up about 10.6% of all U.S. household debt, rising to $1.3 trillion. Comparatively, in 2003, student loans only accounted for 3.3% of the total household debt.[xii]
  • Auto loans tighten as balances rose by 0.9%.[xiii] Auto debt that is overdue by more than 90 days increased to 3.82% of total auto loans in Q1, the highest percentage in four years.[xiv]



Manufacturing output rose 1.0 percent in April, the strongest monthly result in over 3 years. As such, investors will track how the rest of the second quarter shakes out.[xv] In addition, we will be interested in this week’s housing reports, hoping for a better handle on where this up-and-down sector is heading.


Financial markets could experience some headwinds as geopolitical situations fester. Concerns over North Korea and political opposition to globalization remain.[xvi] In addition, Brazil is facing political disruption and a deep recession that could mean problems for companies with business interests in that country.[xvii] Similarly, continuing political challenges for the current U.S. administration may adversely affect proposed tax reform, health-care legislation, and infrastructure initiatives.[xviii]

As always, we will continue keeping abreast of market and economic updates. We encourage you to focus on your long-term financial outlook. Should you have any questions, we are happy to help.


Tuesday:  New Home Sales

Wednesday:  Existing Home Sales

Friday: Durable Goods Orders, Consumer Sentiment

DATA AS OF 5/19/2017 1 WEEK SINCE 1/1/17 1 YEAR 5 YEAR 10 YEAR
STANDARD & POOR’S 500 -0.38% 6.38% 16.75% 12.96% 4.57%
DOW -0.44% 5.27% 19.33% 10.96% 4.38%
NASDAQ -0.61% 13.01% 29.10% 16.97% 9.05%
INTERNATIONAL 0.79% 11.80% 16.26% 6.77% -1.74%
DATA AS OF 5/19/2017 1  MONTH 6  MONTHS 1  YEAR 5  YEAR 10  YEAR
TREASURY YIELDS (CMT) 0.71% 1.03% 1.10% 1.79% 2.23%

Notes: All index returns (except S&P 500) exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5- year and 10-year returns are annualized. The total returns for the S&P 500 assume reinvestment of dividends on the last day of the month. This may account for differences between the index returns published on and the index returns published elsewhere. International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Steak with Kale and White Bean Mashsteak-1083568_1920

A healthy, hearty dish!

Serves 4




  • 2 boneless beef top loin steaks, trimmed
  • 8 oz. parsnips, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TBSP pesto
  • salt and pepper


  1. Season steaks with ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper.
  2. Cook each steak for 4 minutes per side on medium-high heat (cooks to medium; cook longer for well done).
  3. Move cooked steaks to cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Add parsnips to pot of boiling water and cook until tender, or cook in microwaveable container in microwave for 5 minutes on high.
  5. Prepare saucepot with cooking spray. Add kale, garlic, and ¼ tsp salt.
  6. Cook items for 5 minutes on medium heat or until stems become tender. Set aside.
  7. Blend cooked parsnips in food processor with cannellini beans until combined but still chunky. Stir occasionally.
  8. Add processed beans and parsnips to cooked kale mixture.
  9. Add ⅛ tsp of salt. Heat combined ingredients until thoroughly warm.
  10. Cut steak into thin slices and plate.
  11. Top with dollop of pesto, and serve with kale and white bean mash.

Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping[i]

uniform-1273437_1920Tax Tips: In the Military? Receive Free Tax Help*

If you are in the military, then you have free support available to you when you address your taxes. Military members and their families can receive complimentary tax help through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), whether they are in the United States or overseas. Worldwide, the Armed Forces Tax Council oversees the support offered through VITA. Here’s some insight into how the federal military tax support works.

Are the VITA employees trained to understand military needs?

Yes. Every VITA employee receives in-depth training that addresses the unique financial and tax issues relating to the military. They can help guide you through the specific items you may need to address, such as receiving tax benefits when serving in combat zones.

Do I have to bring any documents onsite?

You will need to bring specific documents in order to receive tax assistance through VITA. Some of these documents include:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Taxpayer, spouse, and dependents’ Social Security numbers and birth dates
  • Forms claiming wages and earnings, such as Forms W-2 and 1099-R

What if I file jointly and my spouse is unavailable to sign?

Should you or your spouse be in a different location and unable to sign documents in person, you typically still need to address the signature. You can do so by bringing a Power of Attorney form to VITA. Some exceptions do apply; be sure to know what applies to your unique situation.

Other details apply, and you can find more information on.

Please Note: This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Tip courtesy of[i]

Health Tips: How to Live a Longer Lifeclose-1637189_1920

Many factors influence our lifespan that are outside of our control. Some of them, however, we can affect on our own. Little changes in our daily habits can help us live healthier and happier lives. Here are a few common health tips you can adopt today for fostering a longer life:

  • Take care of your teeth: Floss and brush your teeth regularly, and make ongoing appointments with your dentist.
  • Do not smoke: Cigarette smoking causes a host of health issues, many of which shorten your lifespan. Encourage a longer life by choosing to not smoke or taking steps now to quit smoking.
  • Challenge your brain: Learning new activities can help you keep your mind sharp and engaged.
  • Keep socializing: Keeping a strong social network can help you live longer.
  • Eat healthy: Be sure to get enough servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, focus on eating healthier fats like mono- and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Drink plenty of water: water allows the body to flush out toxins and keep hydrated which is important for keeping the skin and body in good shape.

 Tip courtesy of Harvard Medical School[ii]






















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