Stocks Post Small Weekly Gains
In This Issue
The Week on Wall Street
Major U.S. stock benchmarks eked out slight gains last week, with corporate profit reports and news about U.S.-China trade negotiations vying for investor attention over five trading sessions. The big three ended the week little changed from where they settled the previous Friday. [2]
Earnings Scorecard
As of last Friday, 66% of all S&P 500 companies had reported fourth-quarter earnings. So far, 71% of these firms have announced earnings exceeding estimates, and 62% have seen revenues top projections. [3]

Halfway through earnings season, 2019 future guidance has been a mixed bag for S&P 500 companies. [3] For Wall Street, future earnings can be just as important as current earnings. We keep a close eye on both.

State of the Service Sector
Many indicators help economists take the pulse of the overall economy. The Institute for Supply Management keeps a critical, but not widely followed, index, which helps gauge the health of the service sector.

The January reading on this index came in at 56.7. Any reading above 50 shows that the service industry is seeing solid growth. [4]

Final Thought
Over the next several weeks, we're expecting more volatility as the markets digest economic news, a new wave of corporate earnings, and twists and turns on the geopolitical front. We will be watching to see if anything changes our short-term and long-term view. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

Blattel News

Client Breakfast Draws Large Crowd

Blattel & Associates hosted their semi-annual client breakfast seminar this past Saturday at Old Hickory Golf Club. The presentation, "Tax Law Changes & How You Can Benefit" drew one of our largest crowds of the last few years. Dean Mioli, SEI Director of Planning, started his presentation with a short overview of the economy and the markets. His theme on this section seemed to be that, despite continued volatility, there aren't any major indicators saying we need to worry about 2019.
Mr. Mioli then dived into an overview of the tax law changes that went into effect in 2018. He spent the last portion of his presentation focused on tax planning ideas. He stressed the options of Roth conversions, charitable giving, and the clump-and-dump strategy.
The presentation was one of our longer ones, yet Mr. Mioli kept the attention of the audience with real actionable ideas. Not many tax presentations have the audience smiling and laughing, but Dean did an excellent job. For those of you interested in the information presented, you can request a copy of the presentation's slides by clicking here.
We would be happy to discuss any of the tax planning ideas with you the next time we meet. Thank you to everyone who attended the event.

Contribution Limits

Please note that in 2019, many of the contribution limits have increased. We have included both the 2018 and 2019 contribution limits below since you still have until April 15 to contribute under the 2018 tax year. Please contact our office if you have any questions.

IRAs and Defined Contribution Plans
IRA Contribution Limit
IRA Catch-up Contributions
SEP Maximum Contribution
SIMPLE Maximum Contributions
Catch-up Contributions
Elective Deferrals [401(k) and 403(b)]
Catch-up Contributions
Defined Contribution Limits
Source: Internal Revenue Service


February 18: Office Closed
Our office, and the stock market, will be closed for Presidents Day.
April 15: Tax Day
April 19: Office Closed
Our office, and the stock market, will be closed on Good Friday.

Tax Document Dates

For the 2018 tax year, the dates for printing and mailing recipient copies are as follows:
  • 1099-Rs (IRAs) available on:
    • SEI mail date: January 31
    • FCC mail date: January 31
    • 1099-Bs (non-Qualified) available on:
      • SEI mail date: February 15 &/or February 28
        • Will be produced & mailed in 2 batches; your mail date will depend on when SEI receives the information on the holdings within your account.
  • FCC mail date: February 15
Helpful phone numbers:
  • SEI - Call Us - 636-397-8303
  • First Clearing 1-800-727-0304
  • IRS help line 1-800-829-1040
If you or your tax preparer need us to help gather any information, please give us sufficient notice to fulfill your request. Please note that the new 2018 tax laws will mean a few new do's and don'ts, such as you do need to report your Qualified Charitable Distribution amount, but you don't need to report your advisory fees. Check with your tax preparers to make sure you understand what is needed for your specific situation this year. Do not hesitate to call our office at 636-397-8303 with any questions.

Blattel & Associates does not provide tax advice.  Please consult with your tax advisor with regard to your personal situation.

"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."
Victor Hugo

Chocolate-Strawberry Cake
Serves 8

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ Tbsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup boiling water


  • 1½ cups unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 4½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup fresh, ripe strawberries, washed, stemmed, and hulled
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract


  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. First, butter three 9", round cake pans and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer and beat on low speed. Increase speed to medium and add eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, then beat about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and add boiling water. Beat on high for approximately 1 minute.
  3. Pour batter evenly among the pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting, purée the strawberries in a food processor and set aside. Using the paddle attachment, cream the room-temperature butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gradually add confectioners' sugar until the mixture is smooth. Combine with the strawberry purée and add the vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy (approximately 3 to 5 minutes).
  5. Frost and stack the cakes; decorate with fresh strawberries. Try adding a dollop of fresh, whipped cream upon serving. 

Recipe adapted from Cake 'n Knife[5]


Egg-Citing News About Chickens

Backyard chickens boast benefits beyond the barnyard. With concerns about our food sources, fresh eggs may be higher quality, better tasting, and more nutritious. Some other benefits of chicken ownership:

Pest control. Chickens eat small bugs and worms. They hunt and peck for little critters and insects.

Compost. The waste from your coop can be used in the garden as compost, which nourishes the soil as natural, environmentally friendly fertilizer.

Less food waste. Chickens eat scraps, so you can add scraps of bread, fruit, or veggies to their feed. Be sure to feed scraps in moderation and to check guidelines on what they can and can't eat before sharing your leftovers.

Companionship. Tending chickens can help you to de-stress, unwind, and get outdoors.

Check to see if your city supports backyard chickens before you build your coop. Many communities allow chickens, but not roosters. 

Tip adapted from USA Today[9]
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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.

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 indices from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

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.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

You cannot invest directly in an index.

Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Fixed income investments are subject to various risks including changes in interest rates, credit quality, inflation risk, market valuations, prepayments, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

These are the views of Platinum Advisor Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer or Investment Advisor and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.

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