Last Week in Brief: March 14

March 14, 2014

Global equities lost ground last week. China's economic slowdown and tensions in Ukraine weighed upon investors, who responded by selling riskier assets.
This week, Investors hope for more dovish comments from Fed Chairwomen Yellen. Should the Fed announce any intentions to expedite tapering or current monetary policy? Expect to see markets respond negatively.
The Good
Earnings growth remains solid, with Q4 2013 having approached 10% growth.
Retail sales exceeded expectations, though enthusiasm was blunted by negative revisions to previous quarters.
The number of American millionaires reached a new high at 9.63 million, versus a total of 9.2 million millionaires in 2007. More here.
The Bad
Copper prices have declined around the world. As copper prices and demand tend to be a leading economic indicator, some view this as a bad omen.
Michigan Consumer Confidence disappointed. Of course, with the weather we've had, the Affordable Care Act in limbo, Russia in Ukraine, and jumbo jets simply vanishing, can you blame folks for feeling down?
With tensions dialing up in Ukraine, Americans are increasingly viewing Russia as a threat (69%), according to a new CNN poll. Further, 40% fear nuclear war with Russia. Considering that we're only about 25 years out from the old cold-war policies of MAD (mutually assured destruction), who can blame people for a bit of anxiety? I, for one, have never quite decided whether the MAD policy was, given the times, brilliant or abject lunacy. Of course, that covers about thirty percent of what transpires in D.C.
If you're interested in learning how some traders/investors are playing the news in Crimea, check this out. Further, if you care to understand why machinations in the Crimea are more a game of chess than battleship, read this.
The Ugly
Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who allegedly recruited Mohammed Atta and helped to plan the 9/11 attacks, is a free man. Currently in Syria, he may soon rejoin his family in Germany where the 10-year statute of limitations on supporting terrorism has already passed. How does this happen? Time to contact The Star Chamber? Read more here.
The Bottom Line
As you've long heard from us, the stock market surge these last five years has not involved most Americans. In fact, 75 percent of Americans say that the last five years' growth has had no impact on their financial well being. More here.
Why? Because many investors continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following the 2008 credit crisis.
That said, it's not too late. Inflation is in check. The Fed remains accommodative. Earnings growth continues. And indicators like employment, PMI, hours, wages and spending continue to log gains.
Hesitant, and in need of a plan? Call us. Otherwise, dip your toes in while the water's still warm.
Weekly Results
Major markets finished lower last week. The DJIA fell 2.35%, the S&P 500 dropped 1.97%, and the Nasdaq declined 2.09%. Small cap stocks lost 1.82%. And the 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 14 basis point to 2.65%. Gold climbed $42.67 per ounce, or 3.18%.

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