Optimism & Decreased Volatility
In This Issue
The Week on Wall Street
Stocks rallied last week as optimism about a potential U.S.-China trade deal grew. The renewed prospects for a trade pact were not the only development investors found appealing last week. There were indications that the Federal Reserve might be a bit less committed to its plans to raise interest rates further this year.

A Look at the Fed Minutes
There were no surprises from the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, who released the transcript from their January meeting on Tuesday. Investors pore over the meeting minutes looking for clues about the Fed's next move on short-term interest rates.

Fed policymakers appeared split on what's next. Some felt another rate hike was needed to help slow the strong economy, while others favored a "wait-and-see" approach. [3] 

Home Sales Slump
In January, existing home sales were at their slowest pace since November 2015, and down 8.5% year-over-year. One factor: rising home values. Last month, the median single-family home sale price was $247,500, almost $7,000 higher than a year ago.

Mortgage rates have now fallen for three consecutive weeks, a development that may influence home buying decisions in coming months. Thursday, a Freddie Mac survey found the average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan at just 4.35%. [4][5] 

Final Thought
The Dow Jones and Nasdaq have posted gains for nine straight weeks and are now at levels unseen since early November. Concerns over volatility have decreased, but that does not mean it is off the table. Whatever the market does in the coming weeks and months, remember your investing strategy should be based on your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. [2]

Tuesday: Fed chair Jerome Powell begins two days of testimony on monetary policy in the Senate.
Wednesday: The National Association of Realtors releases its latest pending home sales index.
Thursday: The federal government provides its first estimate of fourth-quarter economic growth.

Source: Econoday / MarketWatch Calendar, February 22, 2019
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 release of data may be delayed without notice for a variety of reasons, including the shutdown of the government agency or change at the private institution that handles the material.

Blattel News

Retire on Purpose Workshop Registration Now Open
We are excited to offer you a unique retirement workshop. You will receive actionable
tips on what you can start doing today to enrich your life in retirement. Throughout the Retire on Purpose workshop, you will engage in thought-provoking exercises specifically designed to create the life you envision.
We will be hosting a series of workshops in our office designed to help our clients, their friends, and families to 'Retire on Purpose' in 2019. Our first one will be held on March 15. Please click on the reservation link below to sign up. Or, email us if you are interested in the workshop but cannot attend and we will notify you of our next workshop day.

March 13 & 20; March 19 & 26: Retirement Classes
Bob will be teaching two sessions of the Passport to Retirement course this spring at St. Charles Community College. Call our office if you'd like us to send you a brochure to share with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Suggesting this class is a great way for you to help others become more knowledgeable about retirement and investments.
March 15: Workshop
Join us for our Retire on Purpose workshop at 1 pm. Click here to reserve your seat.
April 15: Tax Day
May 27: Office Closed
Our office, and the stock market, will be closed on Memorial Day.

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.

Contribution Limits

Please note that in 2019, many of the contribution limits have increased. You still have until April 15 to contribute under the 2018 tax year, so please be clear as to which year you intend your contribution for. Contact our office if you have any questions.
Qualified Charitable Distribution Reminder

Some of our clients took a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) in 2018. For those of you that did, make sure to give your tax preparer your 2018 QCD amount, whether or not they specifically ask for it. Please contact our office if you have any questions.

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
Herman Melville

Roasted Sunday Chicken
Serves 4

  • 2 bunches of fresh herbs, such as basil, flat-leaf parsley, marjoram
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 2- to 4-lb. whole chicken (preferably, free range)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary 
  1. Place a roasting tray in the oven, then preheat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Chop the herbs, cut the lemon in half, and tear or crumble the bay leaves.
  3. Rub the cavity inside the chicken with sea salt.
  4. To season, carefully grab the skin at the top of the chicken breasts and gently pull away from the meat of the breast. Rub in salt, insert pieces of butter, and push in most of the chopped herbs.
  5. After putting the lemon halves, bay leaf and rosemary sprigs inside the chicken, return the skin of the chicken breast over the flesh.
  6. Tuck the wings under and firmly tie up the legs.
  7. Rub oil and butter over the chicken skin, sprinkle on the remaining herbs, and add salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Put a few small slashes in each thigh to allow the heat to penetrate directly.
  9. Take the heated tray out of the oven and drizzle with enough oil to coat the pan. Put the chicken into the tray (breast-side down and leaning to one side), then place in the oven and brown skin. Roast for five minutes, then lean it to the other side. Cook for an additional five minutes, then place the chicken on its bottom and cook for approximately one more hour until skin is crispy and golden brown and juices run clear.
Recipe adapted from jamieoliver.com [6]

Gut Health for Total Wellness

When your gut is unhealthy, you'll probably feel it. From weight management and mental health to mood and immunity, the health of your gut matters significantly to your overall wellness. If you consume a lot of alcohol, sugar, and the wrong kinds of fats, you could have poor gut health. Here are a few tips to help balance your good bacteria, which could assist in maintaining (or improving) the microbiome of your gut:

Eat a wide range of high-fiber foods: Eat legumes, beans, and fruits, which are all high in fiber.

Eat fermented foods: Eat yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and drink kombucha to increase dietary intake of good bacteria.

Eat foods that contain prebiotic fiber: Eat artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats, apples, and other foods that contain prebiotic fiber, a special carbohydrate that facilitates the growth of good bacteria.

Take a probiotic supplement: These supplements contain live bacteria, which can help maintain levels of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics can also help restore bacteria levels in the gut when they are compromised, such as after taking antibiotics.

Eat food high in polyphenols: These are plant compounds found in red wine, green tea, dark chocolate, olive oil, and whole grains.

Take antibiotics only when necessary and as prescribed: Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria. So, replenish your gut's microbiome after you've completed your course and only take these medications when necessary.

Tip adapted from Healthline[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.

A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is a conventional home loan meeting the lending requirements of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but it is not a mortgage guaranteed or insured by any government agency. Private mortgage insurance, or PMI, is required for any conventional loan with less than a 20% down payment.

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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[1]  quotes.wsj.com/index/SPX



[2] www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-reclaims-26000-and-ends-at-3-12-month-peak-as-stock-market-levitates-on-tariff-hope-2019-02-22

[3] www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-20/fed-minutes-show-officials-unsure-on-need-for-rate-hikes-in-2019

[4]  tradingeconomics.com/united-states/existing-home-sales

[5] www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/02/21/mortgage-rates-fall-third-week-row

[6] www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/my-perfect-roast-chicken/

[8] www.menshealth.com/trending-news/a19531965/expert-approved-golf-tips/

[9] www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health#section8
[10] www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a24885/make-at-home-cleaners/

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