Phase-One Trade Deal Reached

The Week on Wall Street

The U.S. and China announced a limited trade agreement last week. That news lifted U.S. and foreign stocks, leading to weekly gains.

Advancing 0.91% on the week, the Nasdaq Composite outperformed the S&P 500 (up 0.73%) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (up 0.43%). The MSCI EAFE index, measuring the performance of developed markets overseas, improved 0.42%.[1][2]

Phase-One Trade Deal Reached, December Tariffs Averted

Friday, White House and Chinese officials confirmed an agreement on what has been characterized as an initial step toward a larger trade pact. As a result of this phase-one deal, new U.S. tariffs (slated to go into effect on December 15) were canceled. The 15% tariffs (imposed on $110 billion of Chinese goods in September) now fall to 7.5%.

In return, China commits to buy greater quantities of American crops, factory goods, and energy products.[3]

Fed Holds Steady on Short-Term Interest Rates

The last Federal Reserve meeting of the year brought no adjustment for the federal funds rate. The vote to leave short-term rates unchanged was unanimous.

After the meeting, Fed chair Jerome Powell told the media, “as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with [our] outlook, the current stance of monetary policy will likely remain appropriate.”[4]

Retail Sales Disappoint

Economists, surveyed by Bloomberg, expected a retail sales gain of 0.5% for November, but according to the Department of Commerce, the advance was only 0.2%. In a bright spot for analysts who wanted to see a strong start to the holiday shopping season, sales at online retailers rose 0.8% last month.[5]

Note: There will be no Weekly Market Update next week, but we will be back on December 30 with a special “Year-in-Review” edition of the WMU. Have a happy holiday season!

THE WEEK AHEAD: KEY ECONOMIC DATA

  • Tuesday: The Census Bureau offers a snapshot of November residential construction activity.
  • Thursday: A look at November existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors.
  • Friday: November personal spending data and the third estimate of third-quarter economic expansion from the federal government, plus the year’s final University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (which measures consumer confidence levels).

Source: Econoday, December 13, 2019
The Econoday economic calendar lists upcoming U.S. economic data releases (including key economic indicators), Federal Reserve policy meetings, and speaking engagements of Federal Reserve officials. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The forecasts or forward-looking statements are based on assumptions and may not materialize. The forecasts also are subject to revision.

THE WEEK AHEAD: COMPANIES REPORTING EARNINGS

  • Tuesday: FedEx (FDX)
  • Wednesday: General Mills (GIS), Micron Technologies (MU), Paychex (PAYX)
  • Thursday: Accenture (ACN), Nike (NKE)
  • Friday: CarMax (KMX)

Source: Zacks, December 13, 2019
Companies mentioned are for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Any investment should be consistent with your objectives, time frame and risk tolerance. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Companies may reschedule when they report earnings without notice.


“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

-Dalai Lama


Recipe of the Week

Bacon Egg Cups

These bacon egg cups are the perfect little goodies to wake up to. They’re easy to make and will certainly prove that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

[6 servings]

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon (you can also use turkey bacon if you want a healthier version)
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup Cheddar cheese
  • Salt, pepper, and chives to taste
  • A muffin tin

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Wrap the slices of bacon around the muffin tins and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the bacon and pour out any excess grease. Replace the bacon.
  4. Crack an egg in the center of each of the bacon circles and sprinkle the top with cheese, salt, and pepper. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the bacon cups to get them out of the pan. Garnish with chives.
Recipe adapted from Tasty[6]

Tax Tips

What’s in a Password?

One of the best ways to keep your data safe online is to have a strong password. The IRS shares some tips on how to create and protect your passwords:
  • Your password should be a minimum of eight characters. The longer, the better.
  • Your password should include a combination of letters, numbers, symbols, and special characters.
  • Don’t include personal information, including names of family members or pets, identifying information about where you live, or other personal details.
  • Don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Substitute special characters and numbers for common letters to make your password more difficult to guess (ex: @ for a, ! for i, 8 for B, etc.).
  • Be aware of scams asking for your password and never tell people your passwords.

If you find yourself forgetting your passwords, a tool like LastPass can help. This tool encrypts your passwords, so they stay safe and can be downloaded on your computer. It will remember your passwords, so you don’t have to.

* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.

Tip adapted from IRS.gov[7]

Golf Tip

Tips for Golfing in the Winter: Part Two

We’re back with more winter golfing tips. Enjoy your favorite game all year round with these handy tips:

  • Keep your hands warms by placing hand warmers in your pockets or your golf gloves.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated, even in colder weather. It might be tempting to reach for a nice warm mug of hot chocolate, but water will help your health and your game.
  • Use brightly colored balls to keep track of your shot. It will be much easier to see a bright yellow, orange, or pink ball in frost or leaves. Some of the leading ball makers make them, and they are leagues better than a cheap driving range ball of the same color.
  • When tracking your ball in the winter months, remember that the sun will often be lower. So, instead of following its entire flight path, track it with your eyes until it gets lost in the sun, and then look towards the ground where you think it will land. This will save your eyes and make it harder to lose your ball.

Tip adapted from Leading Courses[8]


Healthy Lifestyle

Practice Mindfulness Everywhere You Go

We know how important it is to take care of our bodies, but it’s equally (if not more) important to take care of our minds. During this holiday season, it can feel impossible to take some time to meditate, but practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be a huge, involved process and a time-consuming task. With the rise of mindfulness apps, you can take as little as 5 minutes and enjoy the benefits of taking care of your brain. Some top mindfulness apps include:
There are countless other apps available, or you can search for quick mindfulness exercises on YouTube. All you need to create some space in your head is a quiet spot and a smartphone. Take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and practice mindfulness with these easy apps.
Tip adapted from Developing Good Habits[9]

Green Living

Energy-Saving Tips When Cooking for the Holidays

If you’re preparing a big meal for the holidays, consider your kitchen habits to save energy and money! Here are a few energy-saving tips to use when cooking:

  • Switch on the oven light to check on your baked goods instead of opening the oven door. When you open the door, you let out a lot of heat, forcing the oven to use more energy by having to heat back up to the set temperature.
  • Speaking of ovens, cook your food on the top rack of the oven, when possible. When the food is closer to the heating element, it can cook 20% faster.
  • If you need to thaw frozen items, throw them in the fridge. The cool air coming off the frozen food will help the fridge cool down, hence using less energy.

Tip adapted from Money Crashers[10]


[1] www.wsj.com/market-data

[2] quotes.wsj.com/index/XX/MSCI%20GLOBAL/990300/historical-prices
[3] www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-announces-phase-one-china-trade-deal-and-scraps-dec-15-tariffs-2019-12-13
[4] www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-11/fed-leaves-rates-unchanged-and-forecasts-show-no-change-in-2020
[5] www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-13/u-s-retail-sales-miss-forecasts-for-pickup-as-restaurants-drop
[6] tasty.co/recipe/bacon-egg-cups
[7] www.irs.gov/newsroom/strong-passwords-help-keep-tax-data-safe
[8] www.leadingcourses.com/blog/winter-golf-10-simple-tips/
[9] www.developgoodhabits.com/best-mindfulness-apps/
[10] www.moneycrashers.com/electronic-e-waste-recycling-disposal-facts/