Major Indices Move Lower
In This Issue
The Week on Wall Street
Stocks declined last week as mixed signals emerged about the progress of U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Nothing Conclusive Regarding Trade
As the market week ended, there was still haziness surrounding the state of U.S.-China trade discussions. Were negotiators on the cusp of a phase-one deal or further away? 

Friday, President Trump told reporters that a deal was "very close," but Chinese President Xi Jinping said that his country could decide to "fight back" against certain terms. Last week, a bill intended to support Hong Kong protesters advanced through Congress, and that development was not taken well in Beijing.[3][4]

The Fed Assesses the Economy
Federal Reserve officials gathered for their October meeting "generally saw the economic outlook as positive" according to minutes from the central bank's October monetary policy meeting released Wednesday. Some of them termed the economy "resilient."

The minutes also noted that the Fed would wait to assess the impact of its recent interest rate cuts and that any upcoming policy decisions might be data dependent.[5]

Strength in the Housing Sector
Existing home sales improved 1.9% last month, by the estimation of the National Association of Realtors. Year-over-year, sales were up 4.6% through October, and the median sale price was $270,900, 6.2% above where it was 12 months earlier.

Wednesday, the Census Bureau said that single-family home construction increased for a fifth straight month in October. In addition, the pace of building permits for new homes hit a level unseen since 2007.[6][7]

What's Ahead
This will be an abbreviated trading week on Wall Street. U.S. stock and bond markets are closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday), and then reopen for a half-day session on Friday.

Tuesday: The Census Bureau issues its latest new home sales snapshot, and the Conference Board releases its November Consumer Confidence Index.
Wednesday: October consumer spending numbers appear from the Department of Commerce, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis publishes a new estimate of third-quarter economic expansion.

Source: Econoday, November 22, 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.

Blattel News
Holiday Magic Toy Drive
Our 10th annual toy drive is now in full swing. Help us bring holiday magic to needy children in the community at Sts. Teresa & Bridget Parish in North St. Louis.

Please consider donating new or gently-used, unwrapped toys.


Need ideas? Check out our Amazon Wish list, or ask the experts - the children in your life.


We will be collecting toys until December 6. You can drop your donations off at our office (just knock), as well as at Dudas Fitness, Nutrition Stop, Rosciglione Bakery, Thies Farm, or Cutter & Company. If you drop toys off at Dudas Fitness this year, you can join in their Holiday Magic Toy Drive Bootcamp on December 7th for free


Thank you in advance for your consideration.


Year-End Reminders
  • 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.
  • 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.

November 1 - December 6: Holiday Magic Toy Drive
Please consider donating a toy to a needy child during our annual Holiday Magic Toy Drive.
November 28 & 29: Office Closed
Blattel & Associates will close at 3 pm on Wednesday, November 27, and will be closed for the rest of the week to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.
December 6: Holiday Open House
Blattel & Associates invites you to celebrate the season with light refreshments and good conversation from 3:30 pm until 6:30 pm on Friday, December 6.
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.

Office Notes

We want to let you know Gary Scott is no longer with Blattel & Associates. While we will miss him, we wish him the best of luck on his future endeavors. Since we work as a team, you should see minimal differences in your interactions with us. It is our priority to continue to provide all of our clients the high level of service they expect. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Kate directly at .

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

- Oprah Winfrey
Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is here! If you still need a last-minute dish, this sweet potato casserole is sure to be a hit with any crowd. 

[6 to 8 servings]


For the Filling:
  • ½ stick of butter
  • 1¾ pounds of sweet potatoes (approximately 3 or 4 whole potatoes)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • 2 large eggs
For the Topping:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  1. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and add them to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let them simmer until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Mash the sweet potatoes.
  3. For the filling, preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and eggs. Transfer to a baking dish.
  4. For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt, and mix until the ingredients clump together. Stir in pecans and spread evenly over the sweet potato mixture in the baking dish. Bake until the top is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. 

Recipe adapted from The Food Network [8]

End-of-the-Year Tax Tips

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, taxes are likely the last thing on your mind. You have until April, right? Well, there are a few end-of-year tips that you should get ahead on now to save yourself time (and money) come April. 
  • Donate stock that has appreciated in value - You can donate stock that has appreciated in value that you've had for at least a year. This can result in significant income tax savings. Also, donating stock saves you more on taxes than donating cash because there's no capital gains tax when these stocks are given to a nonprofit. You also save on future capital gains taxes.
  • Increase your 401(k) contributions - You're allowed to contribute up to $19,000 this year if you're under 50 and $25,000 if you're 50 and older, and contributing more to your 401(k) by the end of the year means that you will have a lower income tax. This is especially beneficial if you're between tax brackets.
* 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 Kiplinger [9]

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