Weekly Market Insights for Feds: Markets Start 2021 on a High

Weekly Market Insights for Feds: Markets Start 2021 on a High

| January 12, 2021
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Good evening from Aliso Viejo, California, where it is Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at around 4:15 pm.  As I compose our first Weekly Market Insights of the new year I hope this edition finds you and your family doing well.  I also hope that you find our first edition of 2021 to be informative and insightful.  Rest assured, I am committed to keeping you abreast of meaningful federal, market, economic, and legislative developments as they'll occur throughout the coming year.  As much as I enjoy writing I am also committed to not clogging your inbox and to that end, while we'll continue to refer to this communication as our Weekly Market Insights, I'll endeavor to limit editions to monthly or weekly when there are meaningful items to report.  For 2021 I'm also adding some fun sections, which will change from time-to-time, such as "Healthy Living Tips" and "Photo(s) of the Week".  If you know me you know I like to travel so this edition's photo is one of mine favorites from last year.  If you have one you'd like to share please send it along and I'd be glad to potentially include it in one of our upcoming editions. 

On behalf of all of us here at Federal Retirement Report we greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve you, the federal employee, and promise to continue to do our very best toward helping you understand your federal benefits as you work toward meeting your retirement goals.  To that end if you'd like to learn more about possibly obtaining your very own personalized Federal Retirement Report® details are provided at the bottom of this blog.  Now, down to business:  

While the markets edged up slightly higher today, the DOW was up +60.00 and the S&P 500 +1.58, last week stocks powered higher to kick off a new year of trading, shrugging off COVID-19 infections and the disruption at the Capitol on January 6th.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.61%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 increased by 1.83%. The Nasdaq Composite index, which led throughout 2020, picked up 2.43%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, rose 1.45%.1,2,3

Fireworks to Start the New Year

Stocks got off to an inauspicious start amid the stuttering pace of vaccine distribution and concern that the economic recovery might take longer than anticipated. Uncertainty over the looming Senate runoff election in Georgia added to the broad retreat that marked the first day of 2021 trading.

From there markets turned higher, aided by firming oil prices with subsequent support provided by the Georgia Senate election results, which lifted hopes of additional fiscal stimulus. Stocks managed through political unrest mid-week, with banks, economically sensitive stocks, and technology shares leading the way.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose above 1% for the first time since March as investors fled bonds in anticipation of new federal borrowing.4

Stocks touched all-time highs on the final trading day, capping a strong week of performance.5

Employment Picture 

The U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, confirming fears of economic slowdown brought on by a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Not surprisingly, it was restaurants and bars that saw the greatest job losses, with the larger hospitality sector accounting for nearly all the job losses last month. Meanwhile, November job creation was revised upward, from 245,000 to 336,000.6

To help put the pandemic in perspective, December’s job report capped the worst year for job losses since the tracking began in 1939. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7%.7

This Week: Key Economic Data

Tuesday: Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

Wednesday: Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Thursday: Initial Jobless Claims.

Friday: Retail Sales, Consumer Sentiment, Industrial Production.

Source: Econoday, January 8, 2021
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.

This Week: Companies Reporting Earnings

Tuesday: KB Home (KBH)

Thursday: Blackrock (BLK)

Friday: JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), PNC Financial (PNC)

Source: Zacks, January 8, 2021
Companies mentioned are for informational purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost. Companies may reschedule when they report earnings without notice.

“Fun is a good thing, but only when it spoils nothing better.”

– George Santayana

Tax Tips for Those in the Military

The Internal Revenue Service has certain special tax breaks and programs for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Here are just a few.

Earned Income Tax Credit
If you get nontaxable combat pay, you may choose to include it in your taxable income. Including it may boost your earned income tax credit, meaning you may owe less tax and could get a larger refund. In 2015, the maximum credit for taxpayers was $6,242. The average amount of EITC claimed was more than $2,400. You may want to consider running both calculations to see what choice best benefits you.

Signing Joint Returns
As a rule, both spouses normally must sign a joint income tax return. If your spouse is absent due to military duty, you may be able to sign for your spouse. Keep in mind, however, that you may need a power of attorney to file a joint return.

Job Search
If you leave the military and look for work, you may be able to deduct some job search expenses. You may be able to include the costs of travel, preparing a resume and job placement agency fees.

* 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 IRS8

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

As the election season draws to a close, it's a great time to review what type of legislative support would be needed to pass certain policy proposals that may come forward from the Biden Administration.

It's important to remember that legislative changes take time, and it remains unclear what initiatives may take priority in the months ahead, especially with the ongoing pandemic.

It would also be foolish to think that the 117th United States Congress won't move forward with some new ideas and proposals. As has been said, "elections have consequences."

Here's a closer look at some of the policy proposals and what they require to pass:

  • Repealing the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This type of legislation would need the approval of the House of Representatives and 51 Senate votes.10

  • Increasing capital gains taxes. Legislation of this nature also would need the approval of the House of Representatives and 51 Senate votes.10

  • Providing additional fiscal stimulus, such as $2,000 checks. For this type of measure, legislation would need to move through the House and get 60 Senate votes.10

  • Evaluate China tariffs, other tariffs. The president can use his executive authority to move these concepts forward.10

If you are concerned about one or more of these potential policy initiatives, please give us a call. We'd welcome the chance to hear your perspective, and hopefully, we can provide some guidance.

Stay Healthy During Flu Season

This flu season, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy. Fortunately, with a few simple steps, you may reduce your risk this flu season.

  • Get the flu vaccination: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that last year, fewer than half of all Americans got the flu vaccine. While getting the vaccine may not prevent you from getting a strain of the flu, it may help you avoid one of the other strains. This is especially important for anyone with a chronic health condition, and for those who are 65 years of age and older.
  • Wash your hands: Handwashing remains one of the most effective ways to prevent the flu. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and wash your hands often.
  • Disinfect: Disinfect objects that you touch every day, like doorknobs, your car’s steering wheel, and other household items that you use regularly.

While this information should not substitute for medical advice from your healthcare provider, implementing better habits, like frequent handwashing, wearing a face mask, and avoiding anyone who is ill, may help you and your loved ones stay healthy this flu season.

Tip adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention9

Yesterday was Wednesday’s tomorrow. Tomorrow is Sunday’s yesterday. Given those circumstances, what day would today be?

Last week’s riddle: The railings on a 60-yard-long walkway have ornamental sculptures every 12 yards on both sides, starting at the east and west ends of the walkway. How many total sculptures are there on the walkway?  Answer: 12 sculptures total, as there are 6 per side if they occur every 12 yards (0-12-24-36-48-60).

Can you spot the camper van amongst the giant boulders? Pictured here is one of my favorite locations from 2020, the Alabama Hills and Whitney Portal just off state highway 395 near Lone Pine, CA.  Here you'll discover amazing scenery, camping, hiking, and even the set locations for many T.V. commercials, shows, and epic Hollywood films.

Feel free to email your favorite photo to gabby@federalretirementreport.com and we may feature it in one of our upcoming Weekly Market Insights. Please provide some information relating to the background and the location that we might be able to share with our readers.

GET EXPERT ADVICE AND ANSWERS WITH YOUR FEDERAL RETIREMENT REPORT©

Are you thinking about your retirement or maybe your just looking for clarity around your current federal benefits?  If so, you should consider taking advantage of our personalized Federal Retirement Report© service.  I think you'll be amazed at the tremendous value it presents.  I truly believe this may be one of the very best investments you can make in 2021.  For more information please click here or on the button below to be taken to our home page for all the details.

Footnotes and Sources

 

1. The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021

2. The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021

3. The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021

4. The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2021

5. CNBC, January 8, 2021

6. The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021

7. The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2021

8. IRS.gov, January 8, 2021

9. CDC.gov, September 25, 2020

10. WStreet.com, January 8, 2021

Investing involves risks, and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. The return and principal value of investments will fluctuate as market conditions change. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The forecasts or forward-looking statements are based on assumptions, may not materialize, and are subject to revision without notice.

The market indexes discussed are unmanaged, and generally, considered representative of their respective markets. Index performance is not indicative of the past performance of a particular investment. Indexes do not incur management fees, costs, and expenses. Individuals cannot directly invest in unmanaged indexes. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of large-capitalization companies on the U.S. stock market. 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 technology and growth companies. The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) and serves as a benchmark of the performance of major international equity markets, as represented by 21 major MSCI indexes from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. The S&P 500 Composite Index is an unmanaged group of securities that are considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

U.S. Treasury Notes are guaranteed by the federal government as to the timely payment of principal and interest. However, if you sell a Treasury Note prior to maturity, it may be worth more or less than the original price paid. 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.

International investments carry additional risks, which include differences in financial reporting standards, currency exchange rates, political risks unique to a specific country, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. These factors may result in greater share price volatility.

Please consult your financial professional for additional information.

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and they should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

Copyright 2021 Federal Retirement Report.

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