Stocks Muted, Big Week Ahead
In This Issue
For the first time in months, U.S. markets experienced little movement last week. [1] The Dow and NASDAQ did have their 5th week of gains in a row, but their increases were small: 0.12% and 0.11%, respectively. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 broke its 4-week winning streak with a 0.22% loss. [2] Internationally, the MSCI EAFE also posted modest returns, gaining 0.47% for the week. [3]
What topics were on investors' minds?

Despite the relative lack of market drama last week, investors still had plenty to consider. For example, the following details emerged:
  • Conflicting messages came out on trade tension with China.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its forecast for global growth.
  • Corporate earnings season continued.[4] 

In addition, the longest federal government shutdown in history ended. After 35 days, the House and Senate voted unanimously to reopen the partially closed government. President Trump signed the bill, which includes funding through February 15.[5]  

This week could provide far more action in the markets when a number of key details emerge.[6]  

What's ahead this week?

These last days of January provide several noteworthy updates, including: 

  • Federal Reserve Meeting: Most people expect that the Fed will not increase rates this week. However, many investors will be studying how the central bank describes its plans for 2019 and assessment of the economy's strength.[7] 
  • Corporate Earnings: This week, 126 S&P 500 companies will release their earnings data.[8] Major reports could help provide insight into everything from U.S. consumers to global industry.[9]
  • China Negotiations: Chinese Vice Premier Liu and his delegation are coming to Washington to conduct additional trade discussions.[10] As we have discussed for months, the ongoing tension is affecting markets as investors look for clarity on what may lie ahead.[11] 

One data point we may not receive this week is the initial reading of 4th quarter 2018 Gross Domestic Product.[12] This report is one of many affected by the federal government shutdown. Although the government has reopened, we have yet to receive the latest data on retail sales, new home sales, durable goods orders, and more.[13]   

As the week unfolds, we will analyze all of the information that does come out - and continue to look for ways to pursue our clients' long-term goals in the current economic environment. If you have any questions about how these details affect your financial life, we're here to talk.


Tuesday: Consumer Confidence
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, GDP
Thursday: Jobless Claims
Friday: Motor Vehicle Sales, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending, Consumer Sentiment

*The federal government shutdown may delay some data releases.

Blattel News

For us, new years and new quarters are a great opportunity for us to hear what the analysts are saying and learn of opportunities for the coming months. This January has been no exception. We have attended or listened to analysts discuss outlooks on the markets and the economy, as well as more specific areas such as fixed income, U.S. equities, emerging markets, global opportunities, and so much more. We believe that learning never stops, nor does our mission of empowering clients with the knowledge to make smart financial decisions.

Looking at 2019, many industry experts believe that the economic fundamentals will remain solid. With respect to the financial markets, we expect market volatility to remain high. We believe this environment will present more favorable conditions for diversified portfolios. Accordingly, we encourage you to remain patient and stick with your long-term strategies.

As we meet with you throughout the year, we will be sharing what we are learning at these seminars and outlook calls. As always, feel free to reach out to us if you have questions regarding your personal situation.


February 9, 2019: Client Breakfast Seminar: Special Tax Edition
Dan Mioli, SEI Director of Planning, will be sharing a special presentation on the tax law changes and how you can benefit. Invitations have been mailed and emailed. We will be taking reservations until February 1st. Please call our office or click here Tax Law Changes & How You Can Benefit   t o RSV P.
February 18: Office Closed
Our office will be closed for Presidents 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.

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.

Halfway Across the World
By Gary Scott

When I was in fifth grade, I had the supreme fortune of meeting two gentlemen, Mike and Andrew, whom I am proud to call my best friends. This Thanksgiving, Andrew got married near his home in tropical Auckland, New Zealand. Mike and I, along with our wives, were able to share the moment with Andrew and his new bride, Katie. What evolved over the 16 days of that trip was a deep reminder that nothing matters in life nearly as much as the relationships we keep. This trip served as a recognition of Andrew and Katie, but it also made my friendships and marriage that much stronger.

I struggle to describe New Zealand, because I found the whole of the country to be beyond words. The beautiful scenery was to be expected and certainly lived up to the billing. The people are wonderful beyond description. Because very little is imported to the island, all of the dairy and food ingredients are grown just outside the city, making the food phenomenal at every hole-in-the-wall and five-star restaurant we tried. The city is clean, walkable and fun.

"The Shire" from Lord of the Rings was a blast, and the glow worm caves was a unique experience I will not soon forget. We hiked inside volcanoes, island hopped to the off-coast wineries and got a real sense of the native Maori traditions New Zealanders hold so dear. The black sand Piha Beach is now one of my favorite places on Earth.

Suffice to say, I will be returning, and encourage anyone looking for a vacation destination to do the same.

"Happiness is found in the absence of expectation and a continuous focus on appreciation."
Tony Robbins

Spinach-Orange Salad

  • 6 slices prosciutto (you can use bacon as a replacement)
  • 2 oranges, zest, and juice (zest them first, then squeeze the juice)
  • 1 - 2 additional oranges, sectioned (supremed)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 - 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 - 12 oz. fresh, pre-washed spinach
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the prosciutto slices on a baking sheet and bake until just crisp, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then crumble the prosciutto slices into a container. If you're using bacon, cut it into small pieces and cook on the stovetop in a frying pan until crisp.
  2. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth. Keep blending and slowly add the olive oil until combined. 
  3. Place the spinach into a large bowl. Put in the supremed orange sections and prosciutto (or bacon), then add a little of the dressing at a time as not to overdress. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Food Network[14]

Watch Out for Tax Scams *

Each year, thousands of taxpayers fall victim to phone and email phishing scams that are designed to obtain your personal information and/or your money. You could receive telephone calls offering sweepstakes, winnings, or tech support. These numbers can be blocked on most cell phones. Or you may receive emails claiming to be from the IRS (this is known as phishing, when an illegitimate entity purports to represent a legitimate organization). Don't open these emails or their attachments; they could contain a virus or other malware. Here's a short list of scams and how to report them:
  • Crooks impersonating the IRS to obtain banking and other information
  • FBI-themed ransomware scam
  • Last-minute email scams
  • Fictitious "Federal Student Tax" scam targeting students and parents and demanding payment
  • Automated calls requesting tax payments in the form of iTunes or other gift cards
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry

You can report IRS or Treasury-related fraudulent calls or emails to

* 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 advisor.

Tip adapted from[15]
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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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