The H Group Blog

Investment and Financial Planning news from some of the best in the business.

Weekly Review - November 28, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, November 28, 2016


During a shortened Thanksgiving week, durable goods orders came in stronger than expected, which buoyed hopes for business capex spending. In real estate, home prices and existing home sales both showed continued growth.

Stock markets in the U.S. ended with positive returns again, with several all-time highs reached in a variety of both large- and small-cap indexes. Bonds were mixed as interest rates ticked upward a bit, but at a slower pace than prior weeks. Commodities were slightly higher as industrial metals experienced gains, but oil declined slightly.

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Putting the 19,000 Dow into Perspective

Ron Kelemen - Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finally closed above 19,000 for the first time. Why do we say “finally”? Because it took a long time, 483 trading days over nearly two years. The gain from 18,000 to 19,000 comes to a 5.9% return. Doing the math, this comes to an average gain of 0.01% each trading day with a lot of volatility thrown in for good measure. Other milestones, from, say 16,000 to 17,000 happened faster and represented a higher percentage gain.

And that brings up another point: a 1,000 point gain ain’t what it used to be. The gain from 10,000 to 11,000 in 1999 represented a 10% gain, and the gain from 5,000 to 6,000 in 1996 equals a 20% advance—both occurring over shorter time periods.

Finally, while the Dow is a shorthand way of describing how certain equities in general are doing, it doesn’t give you a true picture of the financial markets. This index consists of only 30 very large stocks, excluding many other large, international, medium, and small companies and bonds, While the Dow is a celebrity index grabbing today’s headlines, the Nasdaq index has done much better recently. So enjoy this new benchmark, but party responsibly.

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Weekly Review - November 21, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, November 21, 2016


In the week after the election, attention refocused onto potential policies as well as the strength of current data to again gauge the probability of a Fed rate increase in December. Retail sales and manufacturing data both came in better than expected, as did housing starts and jobless claims. Inflation showed more tempered gains, as represented by PPI and CPI.

Equity markets gained in the U.S. in a continuation of a post-election rally. Foreign stocks gained in local terms, but a stronger dollar headwind pared these to declines. Investment-grade bonds lost ground again on higher interest rates, while floating rate debt fared well. Commodities gained on the back of higher oil prices.

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2017 Medicare Premiums - A Mixed Bag

Ron Kelemen - Thursday, November 17, 2016

The 2017 Medicare premiums have been announced. Many beneficiaries already receiving Social Security, won’t notice the increase, but it basically eats away the increase in the monthly Social Security cost of living benefit.  However, if you are enrolling in Part B for the first time in 2017, you don’t already receive Social Security benefits, or you are billed directly for your Part B premiums, you will pay $134 per month in 2017 (up from $121.80 per month in 2016).  The news is not so good for higher income beneficiaries who  make more than $85,000 or $170,000 as a couple.  You’ll pay from $187.50 per person per month to $428.60 per person per month, depending on your income (up from $170.50 to $389.80 in 2016). You’ll also have to pay a surcharge of $13.30 to $76.20 per month on top of your Part D prescription-drug premiums (up from $12.70 to $72.90 per month).  There are many more details than we can briefly describe here, but this link to an excellent Kiplinger article goes into more detail, especially for those who may be hit with higher premiums.  As always, feel free to meet with us to help you navigate this complexity.   Read Entire Article Here

What does a Trump Presidency mean for investment markets?

Guest Post - Monday, November 14, 2016

What does a Trump Presidency mean for investment markets?

Here's a quick snapshot of possible repercussions from Tuesday's election results. This is not exhaustive by any means, and is focused on economic/financial as opposed to societal issues. Some of these polices are based on traditional Republican positions, whereas others are more Trump-specific. Note that several of these policy priorities could be longer-term in nature, requiring legislative discussion and action, so any opinions at this point are speculation.

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Weekly Review - November 14, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, November 14, 2016


In a relatively light week for economic data, the political surprise was obviously the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election. Otherwise, labor data was decent, while bank lending standards were little changed.

Equity markets moved sharply higher, before and somewhat after, election results came in. Foreign stock results were also positive in local terms, but were reduced by the impact of a stronger dollar. Bonds suffered with upward movements in interest rates across the yield curve. Commodities declined, with oil prices falling upon supply concerns and gold losing ground due to higher interest rates.

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2016 Election Analysis

Brenna Baucum - Friday, November 11, 2016

We know many of you have spent the last couple of days reading. Reading headlines. Reading email forwards. Reading posts and shares on your social media accounts. We wanted to give you our take on the election results this week, and appreciate you making this one of the many things you will read today. Read Entire Article Here

Weekly Review - November 7, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, November 07, 2016


Economic news was highlighted by the Fed's lack of action (which really was no news), while manufacturing activity was again mixed and non-manufacturing/services growth pared back a bit. The employment situation report again disappointed relative to expectations, but wasn't a complete loss, either.

Equity markets declined during the week in both the U.S. and aboard with election jitters and other policy headlines. Bonds fared far better as interest rates across the yield curve declined. Commodities fell sharply led by the price per barrel of oil dropping by several dollars on more supply concerns.

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Don't Bet Against America!

Ron Kelemen - Monday, November 07, 2016

We know this has been a trying political season for just about everyone. Before and after election day, we'd like to leave you with this comforting thought from Warren Buffett in his 2015 letter to shareholders: Read Entire Article Here

Weekly Review - October 31, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, October 31, 2016


Economic data for the week showed mixed results, with a decent GDP report for Q3, but weaker durable goods orders. Real estate prices showed continued gains, as did pending home sales, while new home sales came in a bit weaker than expected.

Global equity markets were generally lower, with mixed earnings and economic data. Bonds lost ground as well, as interest rates rose along with expectations of a Fed hike in December. Commodities declined in line with the price of oil falling by a few dollars a barrel.

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