Stocks Up, GDP Down 
In This Issue
After a brief pause during inauguration week, stocks continued to climb last week. The S&P 500 added 1.03%, the NASDAQ was up 1.90%, and the MSCI EAFE increased by 1.29%.[1] The Dow also grew, adding 1.34%, ending the week above while hitting 20,000 for the first time ever.[2]
Consumer confidence matched this positive performance, as the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment measurement beat expectations in January and reached the highest levels since 2004.[3] However, one piece of data we received last week gave a less rosy view of the economy: initial GDP reports.

What Happened: GDP Missed Projections
On Friday, we received the first report on real GDP for the fourth quarter of 2016. Growth declined significantly to come in at 1.9% - down from the third quarter's reading of 3.5%.[4] 

Looking Deeper
Many aspects of our economy showed solid growth in the fourth quarter. Household purchases grew, business-equipment spending advanced for the first time in over a year, and inventory accumulation increased.[5] Net exports, however, pulled growth down by 1.7% - the biggest drag since 2010 - as we saw a jump in imports coupled with a decline in exports.[6] Working to increase U.S. exports is important because it can help strengthen America's economy, support additional jobs, and promote sustainable growth.

Without net exports pulling down economic expansion, fourth-quarter GDP could have been even higher than in the third quarter. Trade is integral to our economy, and changes in the balance between imports and exports measurably effect growth. The new administration's potential plans to tax Mexican imports, change trade relationships with China, and restrict visitors from certain countries could affect our imports and exports - and thus our economy.[7] 

Between lagging GDP and the Dow reaching historic levels, this week showed us a range of perspectives on where the economy now stands. The markets will always have uncertainty and unanswered questions, and - as always - we must stay focused on the fundamentals that drive performance in the long term. For now, we will continue monitoring policy developments and the trade deficit to determine how they may impact economic growth in 2017 and beyond. We will also pay close attention to the economic data that gives the deep insight upon which we build our strategies for pursuing your goals.

Monday: Personal Income and Outlays
Tuesday: Consumer Confidence
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, ISM Manufacturing Index, FOMC Meeting Announcement
Thursday: Productivity and Costs
Friday: Employment Situation, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Manufacturing Index

Notes: All index returns exclude reinvested dividends, and the 5-year and 10-year returns are annualized. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, S&P Dow Jones Indices and International performance is represented by the MSCI EAFE Index. Corporate bond performance is represented by the SPUSCIG. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

"Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye."

- Helen Keller
Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Bisque
A warm dish that's full of flavor!

Serves 6


1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 cup dried apricots, quartered
1/4 cup onion or shallots, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Thai red chili paste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chopped cilantro (optional)
4 tablespoons pomegranate juice or seeds (optional)

  1. Place sweet potatoes, lentils, apricots, onion, chili paste, and broth in a large pot.
  2. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Bring pot to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce to low heat once boiling and cover with lid.
  5. Simmer until lentils are breaking down, about 25 minutes.
  6. Uncover soup and let sit for 10 minutes.
  7. Add coconut milk.
  8. Puree soup in blender until smooth, in batches if needed.
  9. Pour pureed soup into bowls.
  10. Top soup with cilantro and pomegranate juice or seeds, if using.

Recipe adapted from Dana Jacobi,[8]

Prevent Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a common ailment many people experience-and for some it's a chronic challenge. Living with such pain can debilitate you, keeping you from your normal routines and daily lifestyle. You can develop lower back pain from actions such as:
  • Introducing new or more intense workouts
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Sitting for long periods

These three techniques can help you prevent lower back pain:

  1. Don't overtrain when exercising: Remember "No pain, no gain"? Well, this adage just is not true. Instead of training for pain, you need to build up your strength methodically and efficiently.                                                     
  2. Practice proper lifting techniques: Don't let shoveling snow or lifting boxes throw your back out. Always remember to bend with the knees and lift from your legs when picking up heavy items. Ask for help when you feel something is heavier than you should carry on your own.                                
  3. Sit less: Sitting compresses the vertebrae and can create a host of complications. You should try to not sit for consecutive periods longer than one hour. Be sure to stretch a different part of your body for one minute every hour.

 Tip courtesy of Doctors That DO & WebMD[11]

Help the Earth and Yourself by Taking the Stairs

Elevators may take us where we want to go quickly, but they usually rely on
electricity to operate. This means that every single time you take the elevator, you are more than likely contributing to actions that can harm the environment. To operate electrically, the elevator may require uranium or fossil fuel mining, nuclear or fossil fuel plant operation, and greenhouse gas emissions.

To minimize your pollution contributions, you can swap the elevator for stairs. In the process, you'll also contribute to improving your health, since going up and down stairs requires physical effort. While elevator rides are usually quicker, this simple change can lessen your environmental impact and whip your body into shape (meaning you might not need the stair-climbing machine at the gym anymore!).

Tip courtesy of The Nature Conservancy[12]
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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.

International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.

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.

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