The Miller Financial Group
Markets Shake Off
Global Gloom

Weekly Update - March 24, 2014 

In This Issue
Stocks shook off their global worries and advanced on some upbeat data that suggests the economy may be picking up steam as the weather warms. Despite losing some ground on Friday in pre-weekend jitters, the major averages all closed out the week on a positive note. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 1.38%, the Dow grew 1.48%, and the Nasdaq advanced 0.74%.[1]
The cold winter may be losing its hold on the economy. New unemployment claims rose less than expected, and the four-week moving average fell to a four-month low, giving analysts hope that the job market is gaining momentum after a slow winter.[2] Industrial production also appears to be emerging from its winter blues; U.S. manufacturing output rebounded in February and notched its highest growth in six months.[3]

The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee (FOMC) met last week and voted to continue tapering, reducing its monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion. The Fed also clarified its forward guidance, stating that it had dropped its 6.5% unemployment rate target in favor of "ongoing improvement in labor market conditions" and stable long-term inflation.[4]

The situation in Ukraine continued to occupy headlines last week as Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine to join the Russian Federation, and Moscow moved to formally annex its newest member. The U.S. and Europe responded by denouncing the validity of the vote and instituting sanctions against major Russian oligarchs. Although these sanctions may prove uncomfortable for Russian leaders, they aren't the harsh sanctions investors feared might interfere with economic growth in Europe.[5]

Although the threat of a regional military conflagration seems to have passed, investors are still worried about how a standoff between Russia on one side and Ukraine, Europe, and the U.S. on the other side might play out. Geopolitically, Ukraine is important because of its capacity for food production, position as a transit route for Russian natural gas into Europe, and possession of strategic Black Sea ports (some of which are now in Russian hands). In the broadest terms, Russia wants Ukraine in order to extend its influence westward. Western nations want to keep Ukraine out of Russia's hands and keep it from disintegrating into squabbling factions. However things work out, the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis could set the stage for East-West relations for years to come.[6]

Looking at the week ahead: With the last FOMC meeting behind us, investors will be turning their attention to a raft of new economic data due to be released this week. Analysts are particularly interested in manufacturing data and consumer spending and will be looking for hints that cold-weather-related slowdowns are in the past.


Monday: PMI Manufacturing Index Flash
Tuesday: S&P Case-Shiller HPI, New Home Sales, Consumer Confidence
Wednesday: Durable Goods Orders, EIA Petroleum Status Report
Thursday: GDP, Jobless Claims, Pending Home Sales Index
Friday: Personal Income and Outlays, Consumer Sentiment

Notes: All index returns exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. Sources: Yahoo! Finance and International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Corporate bond performance is represented by the DJCBP. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.  



House Republicans want balanced budget vote in April. Republicans in the House of Representatives plan to vote on a budget plan that retains 2015 spending levels but reaches balanced spending levels in 10 years. An early memo suggests the plan would include deep cuts to social programs while retaining defense spending.[7]


Fitch Removes Negative Ratings Watch on U.S. Fitch Ratings took the U.S. off its negative ratings watch list and reaffirmed the country's AAA credit rating. The agency cited improved economic and demographic trends in its decision.[8]


Stress tests show 29 of 30 banks could withstand major recession.

The Federal Reserve's annual bank stress tests found that most U.S. banks could withstand a deep economic slump and still meet all of their financial commitments. The Fed runs an annual two-part test to ensure that banks don't fall prey to the mismanagement that led to the need for bailouts in 2008.[9]


Housing starts fall in February. Groundbreaking on new houses fell for the third month in a row in the latest sign that the harsh winter may be undermining the housing recovery. However, housing permit applications grew 7.7% in February, indicating that homebuilders may be optimistic about spring demand.





Quote Of The Week
Quote Of The Week
Fountain Pen

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."

- Babe Ruth
Recipe Of The Week
Recipe Of The Week
Fork and Knife

Chocolate Ricotta Icebox Cake



This simple no-bake chocolate cake is fast and delicious.




2 15-ounce containers of ricotta
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate squares
1 9-ounce package of chocolate wafer cookies
cup chocolate shavings or sprinkles for garnishing   



  1. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler or microwave until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. 
  2. Puree the ricotta in a food processor, adding the cooled chocolate until the mixture is very smooth.
  3. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the two longer sides to help with unmolding later.
  4. Spoon a layer of the ricotta mixture onto the bottom of the pan, spreading until smooth with a spatula. Cover it with half of the wafer cookies, breaking them if necessary to fit into the corners. Repeat this process so that you have two layers of cookies and three total layers of the ricotta mixture.
  5. Refrigerate the dessert at least 12 hours or overnight. To serve, use the parchment paper to remove the cake from the pan, slice, and sprinkle with the chocolate shavings or sprinkles. The cake will keep up to two days in the refrigerator. 
Recipe adapted from Kate Merker and Sara Quessenberry |

Tax Tips
Tax Tips

Time's Running Out for 2010 Refunds


If you're one of the estimated 900,000 Americans who didn't file taxes in 2010, you may be eligible to collect a refund. The unclaimed funds apply to people who didn't file a federal return in 2010, such as students, part-time workers, or those who thought they didn't make enough income to require filing. Those who may have mistakenly paid too much in taxes may also qualify for a refund.

The three-year window to collect a possible refund closes on April 15, 2014. In order to file a claim for a refund, you must file a new or amended 2010 federal tax return by the deadline. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.

For more information, speak to your tax advisor or visit  

Tip courtesy of[11] 
Golf Tip
Golf Tip
Practice Proportionally

Did you know that over 60% of your strokes come from within 100 yards? While many golfers spend a lot of their time working on drives, most of your practice should be spent on your short game. Focus on chipping and putting drills since these two shots are essential to a solid short game.

Tip courtesy of John Hughes | PGA Golf Tip of the Day[12]

Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy Lifestyle
Medical Cross

  Sleep Better By Avoiding Some Foods Before Bed


The foods you eat before bed can affect your sleep patterns. If you're having a hard time sleeping soundly, consider eliminating some of these foods before bed:

  • Celery has a high water content that can lead to midnight trips to the bathroom.
  • Tomatoes contain tyramine, which can encourage the body to release stimulants and delay sleep.
  • Rich foods that are high in fat can be difficult to digest at night and may interfere with medication.
  • Alcohol may help you fall asleep quickly but can interfere with REM cycles, robbing you of quality sleep.
  • Dark chocolate helps keep your heart healthy but contains caffeine. Skip it before bed if you're sensitive to caffeine.

Tip courtesy of AARP[13]


Green Living
Green Living

  Tune Your TV Brightness


Save your eyes and your electric bill by reducing the brightness on your high definition television. Many new televisions come from the factory set at the highest brightness level for optimum picture quality in a well-lit showroom. Using your TV remote, go to the setup menu and either lower your brightness manually or look for a setting called something like "home mode." 
Tip courtesy of AARP[14]  


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Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. 


Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.


The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. 


The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896. 


The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies. 


The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia. 


The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is a 96-bond index designed to represent the market performance, on a total-return basis, of investment-grade bonds issued by leading U.S. companies. Bonds are equally weighted by maturity cell, industry sector, and the overall index. 


The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are the leading measures of U.S. residential real estate prices, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate. The index is made up of measures of real estate prices in 20 cities and weighted to produce the index. 


The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. 


Google Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. 


Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. 


Past performance does not guarantee future results. 


You cannot invest directly in an index. 


Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. 


Fixed income investments are subject to various risks including changes in interest rates, credit quality, inflation risk, market valuations, prepayments, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors. 


These are the views of Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information. 


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Rob Miller, CFP
The Miller Financial Group
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