Global equities were generally positive in March, though results were mixed in the U.S. as investor sentiment waned on Speaker Ryan’s inability to move President Trump’s healthcare legislation through the House. Growth stocks continued to outperform, with cyclical and technology shares adding to recent gains as investors sought growth wherever they could find it. The outperformance of international stocks continued, reflecting general bullish sentiment as well further improvements in economic and corporate fundamentals. In a widely expected action, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates during the month, negatively impacting fixed income markets and causing losses in many investment grade bonds.

 
 
Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are available to make homeownership more affordable and less expensive. There may also be tax benefits under state law.


 
 
Global equities extended their gains into January, with modest appreciation in the U.S. overshadowed by more substantial gains abroad. Gains were broad-based in the U.S., with energy the only material detractor, while small cap returns were tempered somewhat after a very strong post-election period. International shares benefitted from a mild weakening of the dollar, which had appreciated aggressively into year-end, as well as a pickup in growth expectations in 2017. Interest rates were largely unchanged during the month as few anticipate a hike at the FOMC’s February meeting. Accordingly, bonds delivered positive results, with corporate credit outpacing Treasuries.

 
 
Life Insurance Basics
Life insurance is an agreement between you (the policy owner) and an insurer. Under the terms of a life insurance policy, the insurer promises to pay a certain sum to a person you choose (your beneficiary) upon your death, in exchange for your premium payments. Proper life insurance coverage can provide you with peace of mind, since you know that those you care about will be financially supported after you die.

 
 
The post-election rally carried on through December, benefitting most equities and capping off a strong year. Bonds also benefitted, ending a multi-month slide, despite the Federal Reserve deciding to increase interest rates in December. We thought it would be interesting to share a few facts relating to the S&P 500 Index’s strong performance in ‘16: a) its 12.0% gain was comprised of 9.5% from appreciation and 3.5% from dividends, b) if you exclude the 3 best days of the year then the gain falls to 4.4%, c) if you exclude the 3 worst days of the year then the gain rises to 22.1%, d) the average annual return over the last 50 years is 10.2%, e) annual returns have been positive 13 of last 14 years, including 8 in a row (9 is the record), and 40 of the last 50 years (80%), and f) over the last 50 years, 53% of trading days have been positive and 47% negative (2016 was 52/48).

 
 
On December 14, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted unanimously to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25% — to a range of 0.50% to 0.75%. This was the second increase since December 2008, when the benchmark rate was lowered to a near-zero level (0% to 0.25%) during the Great Recession.

 
 
The losses of October extended to the first week of November, with investors continuing to unload equities ahead of the U.S. presidential election. After the surprise of a Trump victory settled in, markets sharply changed course, with equities rallying through the month on the prospect of a pro-growth/business administration. Domestic stocks rose sharply, especially small caps and cyclical sectors (energy, industrials), while international equities suffered due to the overhang of an Italian banking crisis as well as the specter of trade wars with the U.S. Bonds experienced losses as growth/inflation forecasts picked up in conjunction with a Federal Reserve that appears more likely to raise interest rates in its December meeting.

 
 
On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Between now and then, attention should largely focus on efforts to facilitate an orderly transfer of power, but there will be no shortage of conjecture over what may happen after the inauguration. While changes are likely, the specifics and scope will take time to unfold. For now, here are three key financial issues to watch.

 
 
If you are the adult child of aging parents, you may find yourself in the position of having to assist them with handling their finances. Whether that time is in the near future or sometime further down the road, there are some steps you can take now to make the process a bit easier.

 
 
Global securities markets took a step back in October, as equity markets weighed the potential investment implications of a tight (and contentious) presidential race in the U.S. Bond markets, too, sold-off given continued rhetoric from the Federal Reserve all-but-stating that economic data is supportive of a possible interest rate hike in December. Financials were the lone bright spot during the month given that banks benefit directly from higher interest rates; healthcare stocks lost nearly 7% as policymakers mulled regulation to address recent drug price inflation. A steepening yield curve provided a headwind for bonds, compelling investors to sell corporate bond funds and other “bond surrogates” such as MLPs and REITs.