Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday
and a very happy new year!
From all of us at Blattel & Associates
Bob Scott Kate Scott Erin Adam
Stocks Ride Out a Choppy Week
BI-WEEKLY UPDATE - DECEMBER 10, 2019
|The Week on Wall Street
Key Wall Street benchmarks were up and down last week - or rather down and then up. A Tuesday retreat was offset by a Friday rally spurred by the Department of Labor's November jobs report.
Hiring Surpasses Expectations
Employers added 266,000 net new jobs last month, 79,000 more than economists surveyed by Dow Jones had projected. The main jobless rate ticked down 0.1% to 3.5%. The U-6 rate, counting both the unemployed and underemployed, also declined 0.1% to 6.9%. Wages grew 3.1% year-over-year, above the 3.0% Dow Jones estimate.
These numbers do not indicate an economy cooling off. While they were influenced by the return of striking General Motors workers to their jobs, November hiring gains were spread across several categories.
Markets Might Wait Well into 2020 for a China Trade Deal
The U.S.-China trade dispute has gone on for 21 months. Wall Street would like to see a new phase-one trade agreement signed this month, but the timeline could lengthen. On Tuesday, President Trump said that he was considering the option of waiting until after the 2020 election to sign off on such a pact.
On December 15, the U.S. is slated to impose a new set of tariffs on around $160 billion of Chinese products. Tech companies are eyeing this date with concern.
Holiday shopping is critical to the economy, accounting for about 20% of annual retail sales. This year's calendar, however, does not favor retailers. The 2019 holiday shopping season is six days shorter than last year's, as Thanksgiving fell on November 28. So, expect traders to keep close tabs on the pace of holiday spending, even with consumer confidence indices and stock benchmarks at high levels.
THE WEEK AHEAD: KEY ECONOMIC DATA
Wednesday: The Federal Reserve makes its latest monetary policy statement, followed by a press conference featuring Fed Chairman Jerome Powell; also, the November Consumer Price Index appears.
Friday: The Department of Commerce releases its November retail sales report.
Source: Econoday, December 6, 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.
Our 10th annual toy drive has wrapped up. We sincerely appreciate every single one of you who donated a toy to our annual Holiday Magic Toy Drive. We collected over 125 bags filled with toys and delivered them to Sts. Teresa and Bridget's Church this past Saturday morning.
Next weekend, families from the North Grand Neighborhood will line up to purchase gifts for their children and grandchildren at a price they can afford. Toys are priced at $0.25, $0.50 or a $1.00. (The big items are raffled off.) This sale gives families the dignity of providing a nice Christmas for their children and grandchildren. Because of your generosity, these families are able to celebrate a magical Christmas morning. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
|Friends and family came together to help load up and then deliver all of the toys for the Holiday Magic Toy Drive.
- Allow for extra time. Please remember that the holiday season will affect timing on withdrawals and other transactions. Please allow for extra time to process your requests from now until the end of the year. Also, be aware that there are typically deadlines ahead of December 31 for certain activities to be reported for the 2019 tax year.
- Capital Gains. Please note that, if you look at your account during the next week, you may notice your balance going up and down. Every year, without exception, investors viewing accounts on any cap gains Ex-Date will see a temporary drop in account value roughly by the amount of gains that were distributed (plus or minus market activity for that day). Please note that this investment value will again 'become whole' the following day when gains are reinvested and additional shares are purchased automatically (as many investors have the reinvestment of dividends and cap gains set up on their account). For SEI accountholders, the Ex-Date could be December 11, 12, or 13 depending on the fund, with the "Pay Date" being the following day or December 16.
- Contributions to IRAS & Roth IRAs. In 2019, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000, or $7,000 if you are age 50 or over. Remember, you have to have taxable income to contribute to an IRA, but if you are married and filing jointly, you can each make contributions even if only one of you is working. Speak to a tax advisor to learn about how your deductions will be affected by an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
- Take your RMD. If you are at least age 70½, you are required to take minimum distributions from your traditional IRA - but not your Roth. You are generally required to take RMDs by December 31, though you have until April 15, 2020 if you turned 70½ in 2019. Please make sure to verify that you have taken your RMD from any IRA accounts that are not managed by us.
- Report your QCD. This is an early reminder that, if you took a qualified charitable distribution in 2019, you are responsible for reporting that amount to your accountant.
December 20: Office Closes at 11 am
Blattel & Associates closes early to celebrate the holiday with their staff.
December 24 & 25: Office Closed
Blattel & Associates will be closed for the Christmas holiday.
Please note that we will have limited staff the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
January 1: Office Closed
Our office will be closed for New Year's Day.
January 20: Office Closed
Our office will be closed for Martin Luther King Day.
"So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow."
Bacon & Cheese Apple Slices
Submitted by Adam
- Green Apples, Sliced 1/3"
- Cheese: Cheddar, Gouda, or your personal favorite
- Brown bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove, drain, and let cool.
- In a bowl, toss apple slices with juice of 1 lemon.
- Arrange apple slices on a platter.
- Top each apple slice with a piece of cheese.
- Break off a piece of cooked bacon, and place it on top of cheese.
- Drizzle honey over entire platter.
Submitted by Scott K
- 1 (10 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons seasoned salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans cola-flavored carbonated beverage
- 1 apple, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon salt & black pepper
- Preheat smoker to 225 to 250 degrees F (110 to 120 degrees C).
- Rinse turkey under cold water, and pat dry. Rub the crushed garlic over the outside of the bird, and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place in a disposable roasting pan. Fill turkey cavity with butter, cola, apple, onion, garlic powder, salt, and ground black pepper. Cover loosely with foil.
- Smoke at 225 to 250 degrees F (110 to 120 degrees C) for 10 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C) when measured in the thickest part of the thigh. Baste the bird every 1 to 2 hours with the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan.
Classic Green Bean Casserole
Submitted by Erin
- 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 dash black pepper
- 4 cups cooked cut green beans
- 1 1/3 cups French Fried Onions
How to Make It
- Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
- Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
- Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.
Classic Corn Casserole
Submitted by Kate
- 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
- 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 stick butter, melted
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.
Old Fashioned Gingersnaps
Submitted by Bob
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- additional 1/2 cup sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, Silpat, or by greasing it.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed. Add egg and molasses and mix.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger together.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl on low speed until everything is incorporated and a dough forms.
Scoop dough into balls. I used a scoop that measures about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Roll the dough ball in the sugar and place on the baking sheet (12 per sheet). No need to flatten the dough balls. They will spread out as they bake.
Bake for 11-13 minutes. Allow them to cool on a cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Submitted by Scott
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar, more for rolling
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Nonstick spray or vegetable oil for cookie sheet, optional
- 5 dozen (one 11-ounce package) Hershey's Kisses, foil removed
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing thoroughly. If the dough is very soft, refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray, oil or line a cookie sheet with nonstick liner and set aside. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. (For a precise number of cookies, divide the dough into 5 pieces, and shape each piece into 12 balls.)
Roll cookies in sugar and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake until very light brown and puffed, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and lightly press a candy kiss into center of each cookie, allowing it to crack slightly. Return to oven until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely and store in an airtight container.
What to Know About Flexible Spending Accounts at the End of the Year
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are savings accounts reserved for out-of-pocket health care costs. They are offered through an employee benefit plan and allow you to use pretax dollars to pay for medical costs that insurance might not cover.
FSAs can save you money because they are funded with pretax dollars, but they are "use it or lose it," meaning that if you don't use the funds by the end of the year, they don't roll over into the next. There is some flexibility, and employers may extend the deadline to use funds until March 15, but participants might want to aim for the end-of-year deadline to be safe. That means, come December, you should have a plan of how to maximize your FSA funds.
Not sure how to spend your remaining FSA dollars?
has thousands of items that are eligible, including first aid items, travel essentials, pain relief items, and much more.
* 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 TurboTax
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