Monthly Archives: June 2017

June 19, 2017

The Markets

All eyes on inflation!

Inflation is the way economists measure changes in the prices of goods and services. The United States has enjoyed relatively low inflation for a significant period of time. Last week, the consumer price index indicated inflation had moved lower in May.

Inflation is our focus because it is at the core of two very different opinions that currently are influencing markets and investors. A commentary on the Kitco Blog explained:

“One of the most important economic debates today is whether the economy will experience reflation or deflation (or low inflation) in the upcoming months. Has the recent reflation been only a temporary jump? Or has it marked the beginning of a new trend? Is the global economy accelerating or are we heading into the next recession?”

Another key factor is employment. Traditional economic theory holds when unemployment falls (i.e., when more people are employed) inflation will rise because demand for workers will push wages higher. That hasn’t happened yet in the United States even though unemployment has fallen significantly.

In fact, inflation remains stubbornly below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, reported The Economist. Regardless, the Federal Reserve believes higher inflation is ahead, so it raised the Fed funds rate last week and indicated it was preparing to shrink its balance sheet if the economy continues to grow as expected.

There is a group that disagrees with the Fed. They believe inflation will remain low regardless of employment levels. Barron’s wrote:

“In the theoretical world, low unemployment threatens to unleash a torrent of inflation, which needs to be staved off by tighter monetary policies. Back in the real world, disruption, innovation, and competition relentlessly drive down prices while wage growth is hard to come by.”

The difference of opinion was apparent in stock and bond markets last week. In the bond market, yields on 10-year Treasuries moved lower after the Federal Reserve raised rates. In the U.S. stock market, the top-performing sectors were Industrials, which tend to do well when investors are optimistic about growth, and Utilities, which tend to do well when investors are worried about the future.

 

A CENTURY-OLD MEDICINE MAY HELP WITH AUTISM. Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control suggest one in every 68 American children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Few effective treatments have been found, but a medicine that has been around for more than a century may prove helpful.

The Economist reported a very small human trial – only 10 boys were involved – showed a drug used since 1916 to treat the sleeping sickness spread by tsetse flies, may help children with autism. The trial paired the participating boys by age, IQ, and their level of autism. In each pair, one boy received the drug and the other received a placebo:

“Every participant given suramin showed statistically significant improvements in their performance on the tests at seven days. Those on the placebo showed no significant improvement. At 45 days, the boys who were given the drug were performing better on the tests than they had before the infusion, but it was clear that as suramin was leaving their system, their autistic traits were returning.”

The study’s results were published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology in late May; however, the research summary did not include parent’s personal statements. The study’s first author Dr. Robert Naviaux published those statements on his website.

One parent wrote, “Immediately after the infusion, a kind of inner cheerfulness started to come out. When we were walking back to the car, he was holding me hand. He started giggling and looked up at me and said, ‘I just don’t know why I’m so happy.’”

Another wrote, “In fact, his teachers at school were unaware of the trial and one day we got a note from the teacher asking about what we had changed. We were naturally concerned and when we asked they told us that, ‘He has completed 3 weeks of schooling in 3 days!’”

Let’s hope larger trials prove the drug to be safe and its positive effects enduring.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
–Dr. Stephen Shore, Autistic professor of special education at Adelphi University

 

* These views are those of Peak Advisor Alliance, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indices referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in 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.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! 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.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://www.barrons.com/articles/bond-yields-are-going-up-right-not-so-fast-1497674052?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_Barrons-Bond_Yields_are_Going_Up_Right-Not_So_Fast-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://www.kitco.com/commentaries/2017-06-16/Reflation-Deflation-and-Gold.html
http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PhillipsCurve.html
https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21723422-economists-and-federal-reserve-are-not-about-abandon-phillips (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_TheEconomist-Inflation_Has_Not_Yet_Followed_Lower_Unemployment_in_America-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.barrons.com/mdc/public/page/9_3063-economicCalendar.html (Click on U.S. & Intl Recaps, then “Central banks move markets”)
http://www.barrons.com/articles/is-the-federal-reserve-living-in-the-real-world-1497674080?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_Barrons-Is_the_Federal_Reserve_Living_in_the_Real_World-Footnote_6.pdf)
http://www.barrons.com/articles/stocks-mostly-edge-forward-on-muddled-data-1497675744?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_Barrons-Stocks_Mostly_Edge_Forward_on_Muddled_Data-Footnote_7.pdf)
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21722732-it-was-only-initial-trial-suramins-effects-were-dramatic?zid=318&ah=ac379c09c1c3fb67e0e8fd1964d5247f (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-19-17_TheEconomist-A_Drug_Used_to_Treat_Sleeping_Sickness_May_Also_Help_with_Autism-Footnote_9.pdf)
https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2017-05-26-century-old-drug-potential-new-approach-to-autism.aspx
http://naviauxlab.ucsd.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Parent-Statments.pdf
http://the-art-of-autism.com/favorite-quotes-about-autism-and-aspergers/

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June 5, 2017

The Markets

The bull market in U.S. stocks is getting really old!

In fact, this bull has been charging, standing, or sitting for more than eight years. In April, it became the second longest bull market in American history, according to CNN Money.

There are some good reasons the stock market in the United States has continued to trend higher. For one, companies have become more profitable. During the first quarter of 2017, companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reported earnings increased by 14 percent, year-over-year. That was the highest earnings growth rate since 2011, according to FactSet.

In addition, the economy in the United States has been chugging along at a steady pace. CIO Charles Lieberman wrote in Bloomberg View:

“…U.S. economic growth is continuing at a moderate pace, an economic recovery is finally underway in Europe, inflation is under control, corporate profits are rising, and there is some prospect for tax reform and deregulation, even if whatever gets implemented is less than what is really needed. These conditions imply continued growth in corporate profits.”

Last week’s employment report boosted both stock and bond markets. Financial Times opined the report was weak enough to ease pressure on bond rates and strong enough to boost share prices higher.

No one can say with certainty how long a bull market will last. Typically, bull markets are interrupted by corrections – declines in value of 10 percent or more. Historically, bulls have turned into bears, eventually. That’s why it’s important to employ investment strategies that manage risk and preserve capital even when markets are moving higher.

 

FRESH FROM THE ANNALS OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH. Anyone who enjoys the Ig Nobel Prizes – which spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology by making them laugh and then making them think – may like The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). An enthusiastically nerdy science humor magazine, the publication offers readers the opportunity to read about new and improbable things every other month.

During its 21-year history, AIR has covered a variety of topics, including:

• The Taxonomy of Barney. “In February 1994, we observed on television an animal which was there identified as a dinosaur, Barney. Its behavioral characteristics suggested that it was dissimilar to the diverse dinosaurian faunas that are so well documented…To test the hypothesis that Barney is a reptile descended from the true dinosaurs, we went into the field in order to capture and study a living specimen. This we accomplished with remarkable ease, as Barney was advertised to be appearing at a local shopping mall.”

• Horse Calculus. “The idea is that a heart is like a little battery, pushing weak electric currents in a three-dimensional pattern round the body…During each heartbeat, the vector (tip of the arrow) draws a loop – the heart loop – whose shape is a powerful diagnostic of health. Therefore it is useful to measure this loop…His specific question was: does the theory apply to a real horse or only to an ideal cylindrical horse…The moral of this is that applications of mathematical knowledge can be unexpected; you may find yourself taking a surface integral over a horse.”

• Which Feels Heavier – A Pound of Lead or a Pound of Feathers? “Which weighs more – a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?” The seemingly naive answer to the familiar riddle is the pound of lead. The correct answer, of course, is that they weigh the same amount. We investigated whether the naive answer to the riddle might have a basis in perception. When blindfolded participants hefted a pound of lead and a pound of feathers each contained in boxes of identical size, shape, and mass, they reported that the box containing the pound of lead felt heavier at a level above chance.”

Lurking beneath the unusual is some potentially useful scientific research.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Being a scientist is like being an explorer. You have this immense curiosity, this stubbornness, this resolute will that you will go forward no matter what other people say.”
–Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

* These views are those of Peak Advisor Alliance, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indices referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in 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.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! 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.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/29/investing/stocks-2nd-longest-bull-market-ever/
https://insight.factset.com/hubfs/Resources/Research%20Desk/Earnings%20Insight/EarningsInsight_060217.pdf
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-30/stocks-rally-as-washington-burns-and-that-s-not-odd
https://www.ft.com/content/1fab9c52-bc35-31d8-a3a3-f428649ca203 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-05-17_FinancialTimes-US_Stocks_Set_New_Records_as_Wall_St_Shrugs_Off_Disappointing_Jobs_Report-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.yardeni.com/pub/sp500corrbear.pdf
http://www.improbable.com/ig/ (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-05-17_Improbable-About_the_Ig-Footnote_6.pdf)
http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume1/v1i1/barney.htm (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-05-17_Improbable-The_Taxonomy_of_Barney-Footnote_7.pdf)
http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume16/v16i4/Horse_calculus.pdf (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-05-17_Improbable-Horse_Calculus-Footnote_8.pdf)
http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume20/v20i5/Feathers-Research-Review-20-5.pdf (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/06-05-17_Improbable-Feathers_Research_Review-Footnote_9.pdf)
http://blog.ted.com/the-ted2015-conference-in-30-quotes/

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