Markets experienced another hot week as the Dow posted its best winning streak since 1996, with ten days up in a row, while the S&P 500 inched within 10 points of its historical high before closing lower on Friday. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.61%, the Dow gained 0.81%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.14%.

 We’re disappointed to report that lawmakers don’t appear to be making any headway on the sequestration front. President Obama met with House Republicans last week but made little progress in convincing them to accept tax increases as part of a deficit reduction plan. With criticism flying from both sides, it seems that they are still too far apart to hope for a deal. || Read more

Markets made history last week as the Dow set an all-time high above 14,400 and the major indices all posted solid gains, buoyed by strong employment numbers and renewed confidence in the economy. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 2.17%, the Dow gained 2.18%, and the Nasdaq gained 2.35%.

The jobs report was the big market mover of the week. Employers added a greater-than-expected 236,000 workers to their payrolls in February and the jobless rate fell to a four-year low of 7.7%, providing the strongest signal yet that the economy is coming back. However, digging deeper into the jobs data, it’s not all good news. Despite gradual improvement over the past few months, the labor force fell by 130,000 as people dropped out of the job search. Had labor force participation remained at its previous level, the unemployment rate would have held steady at 7.9%. This simply means that the labor market is improving overall, but not everywhere at the same time. While economists were pleased with the news, they caution that the economy still has a long way to go.

On a more positive note, the average weekly hours worked increased from 34.4 in January to 34.5 in February, meaning that || Read more

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably heard a lot about “sequestration.” We understand that many are concerned about the effect of these spending cuts on the economy and their financial future. We are reaching out to provide some information and reassurance.

Sequestration refers to the $85 billion in automatic federal government spending cuts that are scheduled to begin March 1.

A Brief Background

The Budget Control Act of 2011 established caps on federal spending designed to reduce the national debt and established a new debt ceiling, which is the federal government’s borrowing limit. The U.S. hit its borrowing limit on December 31, 2012. If lawmakers were unable to agree on deficit reduction measures and raise the debt ceiling, sequestration would kick in on January 1, 2013 and institute mandatory federal spending cuts across all aspects of governmental operations. These cuts formed part of the “fiscal cliff” debates in late 2012, and the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 reduced the size of the sequestration from $109 billion to $85 billion and postponed the deadline until March 1. || Read more

Markets slid last week as fears surrounding sequestration, Fed policy, and disappointing economic reports finally drained investor optimism. The S&P 500 snapped its seven-week winning streak, ending the week with a 0.28% loss; the Dow edged back into positive territory, closing up 0.13%, and the Nasdaq trimmed 0.95%.

On the sequestration front, President Obama phoned up Speaker of the House John Boehner and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, but no announcement was forthcoming, indicating that the two sides are still at an impasse with just a few days remaining before the March 1 sequestration deadline. While it’s possible that both sides may come to an agreement before mandatory spending cuts strike, it’s too early to know what the outcome will be. || Read more

Markets ended a quiet week basically flat, though the S&P 500 managed to chalk up its seventh week of gains. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.12%, while the Dow lost 0.08% and the Nasdaq trimmed 0.06%.[1]

There was quite a bit of economic data released last week – here are a few highlights: U.S. manufacturing appeared to stumble in January as factory output fell 0.4%, according to a Federal Reserve report. However, production was much higher in the final months of 2012 than expected, indicating that this could be a temporary setback.[2]  Europe is weighing on markets as a disappointing GDP report showed that the economies of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Portugal all contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012. As a result, the fourth quarter Eurozone GDP shrank 0.6% compared with the third quarter. [3]  On the positive side, consumer confidence beat expectations with a significant bump in January as Americans responded enthusiastically to the resolution of the fiscal cliff. Households earning less than $75,000 were among the most optimistic about the future, belying economists’ concerns about the weight of payroll taxes among this group.[4]  On the whole, we think the general trend shows that the economy is still plowing forward, despite concerns about budgets and federal spending. || Read more

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