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Investment Commentary

Global stocks closed February with a 6th straight week of gains and are now up 5.7% in the first two months of 2017 (MSCI All World Index) as compared with a -6.6% decline during the same period of 2016.  US stocks outpaced foreign stocks in February as the triple whammy of renewed earnings growth, increasing investor confidence in the domestic economic outlook, and pro-business White House rhetoric all support the domestic stock market.  

Since the start of November, the S&P 500 Index is up 12% - one of the best post-election runs since World War II as depicted in the adjacent chart.  T
he cyclical story of reduced regulation and tax reform from the Trump administration has bolstered investor optimism but the acceleration in corporate earnings, which began midway through 2016, is the under-publicized catalyst of stock market gains.  Analysts expect double-digit earnings growth in 2017 and not just in the US but in Europe and Japan, as well.         
The bond market plodded along until last week when it became increasingly clear that inflation pressures, stock market gains, and an improving employment picture make a March Fed rate hike more likely.  The Barclays Aggregate Bond Index lost 0.8% last week, giving up nearly all of 2017's prior gains.  

You can click here to view our February market snapshot which features market returns and economic metrics.  As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about the markets or your portfolio. 


Use Your FSA Funds.  For many employees, March 15th is the deadline to use any remaining 2016 FSA funds on eligible expenses.

Revisit 401(k), IRA, HSA, and Other Retirement Plan Contributions.  April 17th is the deadline for making 2016 HSA and IRA contributions.   
  • 2016 IRA contribution limits are $5,500 for individuals under age 50 and $6,500 if age 50 or older.
  • HSA contribution limits for 2016 are $6,750 for families and $3,400 for individuals.  Individuals over age 55 can contribute an additional $1,000.
Did you turn 70 1/2 during 2016?  If so, you are required to take minimum distributions from your IRA before April 1, 2017.

Fun Stuff and Free Resources

Looking for discounted hotel rooms at luxury hotels?  Consider Roomer, a website where people with noncancellable hotel reservations that they can no longer use sell their rooms at dramatically discounted rates.  All reservations are validated and Roomer takes care of all the behind the scenes work.  

Wirecutter used to be a website for technology reviews but has turned into the Tripadvisor of gadgets, home goods, and equipment - a massively useful website if you're buying nearly anything from headphones to cars to backpacks to computers. 

RPG News and Notes 

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