The Miller Financial Group
Choppy Week Ends Mixed
Weekly Update - May 12, 2014
In This Issue
The major indices closed out a volatile week on a mixed note, though the Dow was able to notch another all-time closing record on Friday.[1] Though stocks showed some momentum mid-week as investors bought the dip, they lost conviction on Friday as traders trimmed exposure ahead of the weekend. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 0.14%, the Dow gained 0.43%, and the Nasdaq fell 1.26%.[2]
Last week was fairly quiet in terms of economic reports. The jobs market continues to show improvement. Jobless claims fell more than expected last week, snapping three weeks of increases. Though the four-week moving average rose slightly, the level is consistent with stable growth.[3]

Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke before the House and Senate about the state of the economy. Her testimony was mostly upbeat and she reassured lawmakers that economic activity should pick up speed after the slow first quarter. However, she expressed concern about weakness in the housing sector and indicated that Fed economists will be watching the sector closely in the coming months. Despite housing sector worries, the Fed will continue to pare back bond purchases and still plans to wrap up current quantitative easing programs by this Fall.[4]

Ukraine is slipping closer to civil war as pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine move ahead with a disputed referendum on self-rule. Though Russia denies any role in the escalating conflict, Western leaders fear that Russia is funding rebels in order to absorb the Russian-speaking eastern portions of Ukraine.[5] On the positive side, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems reluctant to engage in a showdown with the West by sending in troops. A destabilized Ukraine could lead to disruptions to natural gas supplies and other economic damage in Europe.

The week ahead is packed with important economic data, and analysts will be closely watching retail sales and business inventory numbers as well as the next consumer sentiment report to get a feel for how strong demand is in the second quarter. Though housing data is still expected to be weak, analysts are hopeful that warmer weather will boost activity.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: Treasury Budget
Tuesday: Retail Sales, Import and Export Prices, Business Inventories
Wednesday: PPI-FD, Housing Market Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report
Thursday: Janet Yellen Speaks, Consumer Price Index, Jobless Claims, Empire State Mfg. Survey, Treasury International Capital, Industrial Production, Philadelphia Fed Survey
Friday: Housing Starts, Consumer Sentiment




Notes: All index returns exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. Sources: Yahoo! Finance and Treasury.gov. 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.

HEADLINES: 

Strong wholesale inventories may reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) downgrade. Though economists may lower first quarter GDP estimates, a better-than-expected increase in wholesale inventories in March - a key component of GDP estimates - may temper the downgrade.[6]

China will avoid large-scale economic stimulus. Despite the signs of a slowing Chinese economy, its central bank will not employ any significant stimulus programs - similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve's quantitative easing - to boost the economy.[7]

Mortgage applications rise. After weeks of lethargy, mortgage markets picked up as loan applications rose. Total mortgage volume rose on a surge of home buying activity spurred by lower interest rates and continued job market growth.[8]

Cash deals rule in housing market. High demand and low supply are forcing homebuyers to get competitive with all-cash offers, which accounted for 43% of total home sales in the first quarter. Strict lending standards have reduced the opportunities for many traditional homebuyers and given investors a competitive edge.[9]



Quote Of The Week
Quote Of The Week
Fountain Pen
 
"We become what we think about."

- Earl Nightingale

Recipe Of The Week
Recipe Of The Week
Fork and Knife
Chopped Salad with Avocado Dressing

Add deli ham or bacon for a heartier salad

 

 

Ingredients:

Serves 4

1/2 avocado
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup), plus more for serving
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 head romaine, chopped (about 8 cups)
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
Pita chips, for serving

Directions:

1. Using a blender or food processor, chop the avocado, parmesan, yogurt, lemon juice, parsley, oil, tsp salt and tsp pepper, and cup water until smooth and creamy.

2. Toss the romaine lettuce, chickpeas, chicken, tomatoes, and avocado dressing in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve the salad topped with pita chips and garnished with additional grated parmesan.

Recipe adapted from Lindsay Hunt | RealSimple.com



Tax Tips
Tax Tips
Document

Free IRS Webinars for Small Business Owners 


The IRS offers special help for small business owners through its Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. In honor of Small Business Week, May 12-16, the IRS will offer two free webinars targeting small business owners.

Both webinars will start at 2 P.M. EST and run for approximately one hour. Participants will be able to engage in a live Q&A with IRS tax experts.

Tuesday, May 13: Payments to Independent Contractors
Thursday, May 15: Avoiding the Biggest Tax Mistakes

Tip courtesy of IRS.gov[10]

Golf Tip
Golf Tip
Golfer

Putting Drill for Precision 

 
Unlike long shots, your short game requires you to be able to focus on a smaller target. Here's a simple drill that will help you improve the precision of your putts: Take five balls and set them on tees in a straight line about a fingers-width apart from each other. Tee up about five feet away with your putter and try and knock each one off of its tee. Go in any order you choose, but if you miss or knock the wrong one off, you have to start over. 

Tip courtesy of Dale Abraham, PGA | Golf Tips Mag[11]
   
Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy Lifestyle
Medical Cross

Drinking Beer Could Reduce Women's Risk of 

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

 
A recent study found a surprising link between beer consumption and painful rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that typically strikes women between the ages of 30 and 60. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that having two to four beers a week cut the odds of getting rheumatoid arthritis by about one third. However, researchers did have a few caveats:
  • They are unsure about the intricacies of the relationship between beer and RA;
  • For those who already have RA, mixing alcohol and medication can be risky, due to possible liver complications;
  • Excessive drinking can be harmful, so check with your physician before upping your intake.
Tip courtesy of AARP[12]
   
Green Living
Green Living
Leaf

Join the Freecycle Network 

 
The Freecycle Network is an international nonprofit dedicated to building a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves resources, and builds stronger communities. Every day, network members list items online that they're hoping to get rid of or receive. Depending on the size and activity level of your local group, you may be able to find or get rid of old computers, furniture, books, baby items, and many other items. By gifting your unwanted household items, you're giving them a new life while reducing waste. To find a group in your area, visit www.freecycle.org.

Tip courtesy of AARP[13]
   
 
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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.

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