The Miller Financial Group
Markets Fired Up
WEEKLY UPDATE - AUGUST 11, 2014
In This Issue
Markets regained steam and ended the first full week of August on a strong note. Solid jobs data and hopes that Russia may be de-escalating the Ukrainian conflict contributed to the gains. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.33%, the Dow grew 0.37%, and the Nasdaq added 0.42%.[1]
The labor market continues to gain ground and weekly unemployment claims tumbled. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure of unemployment, fell to the lowest level since 2006. Even better, measures of long-term unemployment are also improving as steady hiring improves conditions for jobseekers.[2]

Global security worries continued to dog investors when President Obama announced strikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants. While it's too soon to know whether U.S. intervention will escalate or reduce tensions, markets reacted nervously to fears that the U.S. may be dragged back into Iraq. On the other hand, Russia announced an end to military operations on the Ukrainian border, giving us hope that Russia may be interested in turning down the heat on the conflict.[3] Overall, the geopolitical situation hasn't changed drastically, and we can expect continued volatility as markets weigh risks.
  
The bulk of earnings season is behind us, and we're comfortable saying that Q2 was very positive for businesses. Growth rates are up, companies are beating their estimates, and demand is coming back. As of Friday morning, total earnings for the 453 S&P 500 companies that reported in are up 8.7% from second quarter 2013 on revenue growth of 4.6%.[4]

Forward guidance about the third quarter is also cautiously optimistic, with some firms talking up their business outlook. While low guidance is still the norm - firms prefer to set a low bar and then try to exceed it - the number of firms reducing their earnings guidance is down from last year. All told, it sounds like business leaders are feeling much better about their chances.[5]
  
Looking ahead at this week, investors will be looking carefully at retail sales and consumer sentiment data to gauge how strong economic activity is likely to be in the third quarter. The back-to-school season is upon us and will be a major test for retailers battling low store traffic and bargain-hunting shoppers. The back-to-school season is second only to the holiday shopping season in importance and is also a key indicator of consumer spending.[6]
  
ECONOMIC CALENDAR:
  
Tuesday: Treasury Budget
Wednesday: Retail Sales, Business Inventories, EIA Petroleum Status Report
Thursday: Jobless Claims, Import and Export Prices 
Friday: PPI-FD, Empire State Mfg. Survey, Treasury International Capital, Industrial Production, 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:
  
U.S. trade deficit narrows on oil production boom. The gap between imports and exports narrowed as increased domestic oil production has reduced America's reliance on foreign oil imports. These better-than-expected numbers could lead to a higher estimate of Q2 Gross Domestic Product.[7]
  
U.S. services sector is boomingThe pace of economic activity in the services sector - comprising businesses like restaurants, retailers, entertainment, and financial firms - grew at a rapid rate in July. Growth blew past economists' expectations and reached its highest level in over eight years.[8]
  
Mortgage volume still low. Mortgage applications are still sliding, as fewer Americans refinance or buy new houses. Refinances are down 39% and purchase applications are down 14% from a year ago.[9]
  
ECB says EU economy threatened by Ukraine. The European Central Bank continued to keep interest rates artificially low, citing the economic threat from Ukrainian instability and economic sanctions against Russia. ECB leadership verbally committed to additional quantitative easing measures if the EU's recovery weakens further.[10]


  
Quote Of The Week
Quote Of The Week
Fountain Pen

"Eighty percent of success is showing up."
- Woody Allen

Recipe Of The Week
Recipe Of The Week
Fork and Knife
Sweet Berry Yogurt Twist Pops
These beautiful, easy pops are perfect for a summer evening!
 
Ingredients:
  
Makes 6 pops
  
1 pound of fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries, rinsed with stems removed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 6-ounce cups custard-style lemon yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
  
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the berries with sugar, crushing them slightly with the back of a spoon. Set aside for 30 minutes to macerate.
  2. Whisk together the milk and yogurt until smooth and creamy.
  3. Set aside 1/3 of the berry mixture. Puree the rest in a blender until smooth. Mix in the reserved berries.
  4. Using small paper cups or popsicle molds, layer 1 TB of the yogurt, 1 TB of the berry mixture, and 1 TB of yogurt. Swirl the custard with a toothpick or thin-bladed knife. Insert popsicle sticks and cover. Freeze until firm for about three hours or overnight.
Recipe adapted from Maureen Callahan | RealSimple.com[11]

    
  
Tax Tips
Tax Tips
Document
Tax Tips for Vacation Rentals
 
The IRS generally requires that you report all rental income on your tax return. However, if you only occasionally rent out a property for short periods of time and use it as a home for the rest of the year, you may not have to report the income. Here's what the IRS says about vacation homes:
  • A vacation property is defined as "a house, apartment, condominium, mobile home, boat or similar property.".
  • If you rent out a home for less than 15 days per year and use it as a home the rest of the time, you may not need to report the income.
  • You may deduct rental expenses related to the property from your taxes as long as they do not exceed the income received from the rental. If you also use the house as a home, you must segregate expenses accrued during the personal use period.
  • Personal use may include use by family, friends, or anyone who pays you less than market rate in rent.
For more information about tax issues around rental or vacation homes, consult a tax professional in your area or see IRS Publication 505, Publication 527, "Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes)."
  
Tip courtesy of IRS.gov[12]
 
Golf Tip
Golf Tip
Golfer
In The Rough? Think Wedge.
  
When you find yourself in the deep rough, it's hard to get out using longer irons or fairway woods. Why? Because longer clubs need a shallow angle of attack, putting too much rough between the clubhead and the ball. This makes it very hard to get the ball airborne and get any distance on it. Instead, reach for a high-lofted iron or your wedge, which uses a short, steep angle, allowing you to pitch the ball up and out to a comfortable distance.
  
Tip courtesy of Bobby Hinds, PGA | Golf Tips Mag[13] 

Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy Lifestyle
Medical Cross
Live "Super Long" With These Longevity Tips
  
Laugh often: Studies show that laughter reduces stress and improves your immune system.

Sleep late: Research suggests that adults 50 and older who get six to nine hours of sleep think better and have stronger brain function.

Lose the middle: The circumference of your waist is a big predictor of current and future health. Dropping some extra weight may help you live a longer, healthier life.
  
Tip courtesy of AARP[14]
 
Green Living
Green Living
Leaf
Consider Switching to Recyclable Batteries
  
Switching to rechargeable nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries is a great way to reduce the amount of toxic waste your household produces. AA and AAA NiMH batteries have longer life spans and better performance than alkaline rechargeables, making them a greener choice. Depending on where you live, your community may offer battery and gadget collection centers that make it easy to recycle batteries when they're no longer usable. Visit www.call2recycle.org to find out about battery recycling centers in your area.

Tip courtesy of Green Living Tips
[15]
 
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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.
  
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The Miller Financial Group
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