The Miller Financial Group
Friday's "Relief Rally"
In This Issue
Stocks experienced another rollercoaster week, pummeled by a dismal global growth forecast and missed earnings reports. However, markets ended a four-day losing streak on Friday with a "relief rally" as energy prices rebounded slightly.[1] For the week, the S&P 500 lost 1.26%, the Dow fell 1.27%, and the Nasdaq dropped 1.48%.[2]
The World Bank underscored investors' concerns about the global economy by slashing its global growth forecast for 2015 and 2016. Citing disappointing growth in Europe and concerns about some emerging markets, the development organization cut its predicted global economic growth rate to 3.0% from 3.4% in June.[3] Though U.S. growth remains strong, slowing demand overseas may hurt U.S. firms. 

December holiday sales reports arrived, and the news wasn't very jolly, showing that overall retail sales dropped 0.9%. Cheaper gas, earlier shopping, and significant discounts all contributed to the drop, and retailers have chosen to call the season a win. The National Retail Federation says that overall holiday spending rose 4.0%, making it the best season since 2011. Investors were less enthusiastic about the data, which could indicate weakness in consumer spending.[4]
Earnings season shifted into high gear last week, bringing total S&P 500 company reports to 37. So far, the news isn't great. Financial companies are the first large group to report in, and although there are some individual success stories, the Major Banks sector (which includes companies like JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup) was dragging, with earnings down 13.7% since the same time last year. However, outside the Finance sector, the picture is brighter, with total earnings up 17.4% so far on higher revenues.[5] Though it's still early in the season, S&P Capital IQ predicts that overall earnings for the S&P 500 increased 6.5% in the fourth quarter.[6] Though the U.S. demand picture appears to be strengthening, external factors like oil prices and the dollar's strength relative to other currencies is likely to significantly affect company performance this year.

Does January's rocky start bode ill for the rest of 2015? Probably not. Right now, Wall Street is preoccupied with the murkiness of recent data. Macro issues like oil prices, the dollar's strength, central bank moves, and global growth forecasts are overriding individual company data, which makes it hard to pick winners and losers. Fundamental trends within the U.S. economy haven't changed: U.S. firms are hiring, Americans are more confident about their prospects, and many sectors of the economy are showing improvement. Markets were closed on Monday, but the week ahead is filled with more earnings reports as well as Tuesday's State of the Union address by President Obama. 

Tuesday: Housing Market Index
Wednesday: Housing Starts
Thursday: Jobless Claims, PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, EIA Petroleum Status Report
Friday: Existing Home Sales

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.

NY Post Twitter feed hacked, traders respond. Investors were shocked when the New York post tweeted Friday that the Federal Reserve was holding an emergency meeting to set interest rates. Though the paper quickly regained control of the Twitter account and deleted offending tweets, some traders may have responded to the news. Lessons? Don't believe everything you read.[7]

Swiss franc soars after 1.20 euro peg dropped. The central bank of Switzerland abandoned a 3-year-old currency agreement by dropping the floor on the Swiss franc Thursday, allowing it to float freely against the euro. Traders responded by rushing for the euro exits, buying Swiss francs and pushing the currency 30% higher against the euro.[8]

U.S. import prices post record drop in December. The cost of U.S. imports fell by the largest amount since 2008 as petroleum costs continued to plunge. Import prices fell by 2.5% in December, dropping 5.5% for all of 2014. Weak import inflation may help stave off Fed rate hikes.[9]

U.S. foreclosures down 64% from 2010 peak. The number of foreclosed U.S. homes fell again in November, bringing monthly foreclosures down 64% since the peak in September 2010. Though foreclosure activity is falling, analysts believe it won't reach normal levels for at least two years as distressed loans continue to move through the system.[10]

Quote Of The Week
Quote Of The Week
Fountain Pen

"We are not put here on earth to play around. There is work to be done. There are responsibilities to be met. Humanity needs the abilities of every man and woman."

- Alden Palmer

Recipe Of The Week
Recipe Of The Week
Fork and Knife

Raspberry Chocolate Pastry Puffs

These easy pastries are perfect for a dinner party.

Serves 6 

1 sheet (1/2 pound) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
3 tablespoons raspberry jam
6 tablespoons semisweet or dark chocolate chips
1 large egg
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee (or finely ground regular coffee)
1 pint coffee ice cream

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Beat the egg in a small bowl.
  2. Lay the puff pastry sheet on a clean, well-floured surface and cut lengthwise into thirds. Cut each piece in half to create six 4x6-inch rectangles.
  3. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon of the raspberry jam into the lower center of each rectangle. Top with 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips. Brush the edges of each rectangle with the beaten egg and fold in half over the filling. Press the edges together with a fork to seal.
  4. Place the pastries in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each with the remaining egg and bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
  5. While they are baking, mix the coffee with the sugar and set aside.
  6. Serve the pastries warm with the coffee ice cream and sprinkle with the flavored sugar.

Recipe adapted from Jean Galton |[11]



Tax Tips
Tax Tips

Should You File Taxes Early or Wait?

Tax season officially begins on January 20, which is the earliest day that the IRS will begin accepting tax returns. If you have all the necessary paperwork in hand, you might wonder whether it's a good idea to file as soon as possible or wait until April 15.

If you expect a refund, you should file your taxes as early as possible. Since the IRS processes refunds on a first-come-first-served basis, the sooner you file, the sooner you get your money back. Since most taxpayers wait to file, the refund process can take longer as you approach the April 15 filing deadline.

If you anticipate owing a big tax bill, you might benefit from waiting to allow more time to collect the money you owe. However, that benefit can be easily offset by the added stress of waiting as well as the risk of missing the filing deadline and owing additional penalties. Another option would be to file early and wait until April to send the check.

For more information about filing your taxes or help finding a qualified tax professional, please contact our office.

Tip courtesy of US News[12]
Golf Tip
Golf Tip

Listen For the Ball


The colorful Sam Snead was famous for saying, "Hear your putts," by which he meant maintaining his stance until he heard the ball rattle in the cup, thereby ensuring that he never exited his swing too early. Coming out of your stance too early can ruin more than just your putts. When chipping, coming up early can wreck the path of your swing and cause you to chip "thinly" and send your ball to the wrong side of the green.

The next time you chip, stay with the swing until you hear the distinctive thud of the ball hitting the green.

Tip courtesy of Barry Goldstein, PGA | Golf Tips Mag[13]
Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy Lifestyle
Medical Cross

 Improve the Quality of Your Sleep


If you have a tough time falling asleep or enjoying a restful slumber, researchers have identified "sleep hygiene" habits that can make it easier for you to enjoy a good night's sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other sleep-sabotaging chemicals before bed.
  • Remove televisions, computers, and bright screens from the bedroom.
  • Make your bedroom a comfortable place to sleep by adding heavy curtains or eye masks, and reducing noise through earplugs or a white noise machine.
  • Keep pets out of the room if they wake you up.
  • Ease the transition to sleep time with a relaxing pre-sleep routine like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditation.

Tip courtesy of Harvard Medical School[14]


Green Living
Green Living

Check Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Protect your family by making sure that your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are functioning properly. CO alarms should be installed near your furnace and/or water heater and also near bedrooms. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and check batteries at least once a year. Try and find smoke detectors and CO alarms that use the same batteries and keep a dedicated stash on hand so that you can immediately replace them when necessary.

Tip courtesy of[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. 


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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