Stocks Slip for Second Week
In This Issue
Last week, major indexes experienced losses for the second week in a row, with the S&P 500 falling 1.21%, the Dow giving back 1.01%, the NASDAQ dropping 1.26%, and the MSCI EAFE declining 0.14 %.[1] 

Markets closed on April 14 for the Good Friday holiday, but in the four trading days, a number of headlines dominated the news cycles:
  • International tensions surrounding Syria and North Korea continued to heighten.[2] 
  • The U.S. dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan.[3] 
  • United Airlines lost $250 million in market value on Tuesday after footage emerged of a passenger's violent removal from an overbooked flight.[4] 
These headlines drew great attention last week, and we will continue to follow events as they develop. Meanwhile, we want to focus on newly released data from last week that gives perspectives on where the economy is today - and what we should watch for in the coming months. In a nutshell, the reports hinted at relatively slow growth in the first quarter of 2017.[5] 

Inflation and Spending Dropped
  • The producer price index, which measures price changes for producers of goods and services, missed expectations and fell 0.1% in March.[6] 
  • The consumer price index, which measures price changes in a group of goods and services consumers purchase, fell 0.3% - much more than predicted.[7]  
  • Retail sales declined 0.2% in March, the second monthly drop in a row.[8] 
Consumer Sentiment and Jobless Claims Were Positive
  • The April Consumer Sentiment Index readings beat expectations, revealing people's assessment of current economic conditions being at the highest point since 2000.[9] 
  • Jobless claims came in well below expectations to show fewer people filing first-time unemployment claims - indicating a strong labor market.[10]
Analyzed together, this new data could indicate that the Federal Reserve will be less likely to raise rates in June. [11] However, we still have two more months of data and market performance until that meeting, and much can change in that time. Consumer spending accounts for approximately 70% of the total economy. Thus, high consumer sentiment and a tightening labor market - coupled with delayed income-tax returns -could help the economy pick up in the coming months. [12]

Right now, we are in the thick of quarterly earnings season. Last Thursday, we saw J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup exceed their earnings estimates and still lose value in their shares that day. [13] Determining whether this investor response is industry specific or indicative of other sentiment changes will be a key detail to examine in the coming weeks. The forthcoming reports will give key insights into the health of corporate America - and the market's reaction to the companies' performance.

We will continue to watch political and market developments and how they affect our overall economy. In the meantime, we encourage you to keep a focus on your long-term goals and the strategies that can help support your financial life. 

Monday: Housing Market Index
Tuesday: Housing Starts, Industrial Production
Wednesday: Beige Book
Friday: Existing Home Sales

Know What Makes a Gift Taxable

When you give gifts of property or money to people, you may need to pay a gift tax to the IRS. Here are some points to consider as you prepare to file your taxes this week.

Are all gifts taxable?
Generally, no. While you should keep in mind that the gift tax could apply to you, most gifts that you give do not trigger the gift tax. Here are nontaxable gifts:
  • Gifts that are worth less than the annual exclusion amount for the applicable tax year 
  • Tuition or medical payments you made on behalf of another person to an education system or medical facility
  • Gifts to your spouse
  • Gifts to political organizations
  • Gifts to charities
What is the annual exclusion amount?
The annual exclusion amount for 2016 is $14,000. You typically won't have a gift tax for any gift you give another person that is under this amount.

Does the person who receives a gift pay a gift tax?
Typically, no; they aren't responsible for paying a tax on the gift.

If you gave a taxable gift, file Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return. Other details may apply, and you can find more information on the IRS website.

*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 courtesy of [15]
Cut Down Your Water Use at Home

Water may seem like an endless resource as it pours from your showers and faucets at home, but with droughts hitting us around the world, water scarcity is becoming an ongoing problem. You can do your part to reduce waste by cutting down on how much water you use. Here are a few easy ways to make changes:

Use a shower bucket: When you turn water on to prep hot water for a shower, put a bucket under the faucet to capture the flowing water. Save the water to use later for things like watering plants.

Turn off water while brushing your teeth: Every time you let water pour out of a faucet, you are releasing 2.5 gallons per minute. You can cut this waste by turning off the water as you brush your teeth, and only turning it back on when you need to rinse.

Install rain barrels: Lawns and gardens use a lot of water. You can reduce how much you use by collecting rain in barrels and recycling the water whenever you need to water your plants. 

Tip courtesy of [18]
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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 S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are the leading measures of U.S. residential real estate prices, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate. The index is made up of measures of real estate prices in 20 cities and weighted to produce the index.

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 Marketing 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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