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November is a strange month. It starts off with earlier sunsets and gloomy days but builds up to Thanksgiving, the holiday season kick-off. Many people I talk to tell me they have mixed feelings about November. But, I think November can be the best month of the year, money-wise. It’s a great time to look back at the year and to evaluate our financial plan, and to make new goals around holiday spending, year-end taxes, and what we’re looking forward to in the new year.
There’s a lot of talk about what a change in Washington leadership means for the economy and the markets, but history tells us that midterm elections have little to no effect on markets. Instead of worrying about election results, there are things you are better off paying attention to, to keep yourself on track. Things like your asset allocation, your debts, and how much you save and spend. Oxford Financial keeps ahead of the curve and guides our client’s to do just that. Each month we take a snapshot of what’s going on in the markets and how it affects your money.
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• Stocks Trim Weekly Gains. U.S. stocks finished lower on Friday, trimming weekly gains as a two-week plunge in oil prices and an earnings-driven resumption in tech selling sparked investor angst. A stronger-than-expected gain in U.S. wholesale prices and 11.7% drop in Chinese auto sales also ignited concerns about the global economy.

• Weekly Performance. For the week, the S&P 500 advanced 2.21%, the Dow Industrials gained 2.84%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.74%, its first back-to-back weekly gain in two months. The S&P 500 gained 4.71% over the past two weeks, its strongest two-week gain since late February.

• Producer Prices Jump. The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.6% in October, the biggest jump since 2012 and core producer prices rose 0.5%, both well above consensus expectations. The PPI is up 2.9% from a year ago, while core wholesale prices are up 2.6% YoY. Separately, The University of Michigan’s preliminary November survey of consumer sentiment reached 98.3, falling less than forecast, but down from 98.6 in October.

• Healthcare Performs Best. Ten of the 11 major sector groups ended with gains last week, led by Healthcare (+4.08%), Real Estate (+3.71%) and Utilities (+3.21%). Energy (+1.21%) gained the least, while Communication Services (-0.19%) declined.

• Treasury Yields Weaken. Treasury securities rallied, sending yields lower across maturities with two-year Treasury notes down 4.1 basis points to 2.93% and 10-year yields falling over five basis points to 3.18%. The U.S. Dollar Index rose 0.37% last week to 96.905, while WTI crude oil fell 4.67% last week, extending its bear market plunge to 21.1% from its most recent high of $76.24 on October 3rd.

Financial Market Update

The elevated volatility in equity markets this year has brought down valuation levels for stocks. Earnings growth has remained strong, while U.S. stock returns have been in the low single digit range and international stocks have produced negative year-to-year (YTD) returns. The Price/Earnings (P/E) multiples for several major equity categories have come down significantly from their peak in late January, reducing the high valuation headwind that most equities faced, U.S. growth stocks being the notable exception. Rising interest rates and bond yields have also suppressed valuation multiples for stocks this year.

The result has been near or below historical average price levels for U.S. value stocks, U.S. small caps, International Developed markets, and Emerging markets. These areas are all trading at or below their 15-year average P/E level. Volatility is likely to remain elevated in equities as the bull market ages and interest rates normalize, but areas of the market that have below-average valuations are providing more opportunities for long-term investment appreciation. In the short run, sentiment has a big impact on returns, while in the long run, valuations and market fundamentals drive returns.

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This report is created by Tower Square Investment Management LLC

This report is created by Tower Square Investment Management LLC

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The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index, which was originally called the Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, is a broad based flagship benchmark that measures the investment grade, US dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market. The index includes Treasuries, government-related and corporate debt securities, MBS (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), ABS and CMBS (agency and non-agency) debt securities that are rated at least Baa3 by Moody’s and BBB- by S&P. Taxable municipals, including Build America bonds and a small amount of foreign bonds traded in U.S. markets are also included. Eligible bonds must have at least one year until final maturity, but in practice, the index holdings has a fluctuating average life of around 8.25 years. This total return index, created in 1986 with history backfilled to January 1, 1976, is unhedged and rebalances monthly.

The Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate High Yield Index measures the USD-denominated, non-investment grade, fixed-rate, taxable corporate bond market. Securities are classified as high yield if the middle rating of Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P is Ba1/BB+/BB+ or below, excluding emerging market debt. Payment-in-kind and bonds with predetermined step-up coupon provisions are also included. Eligible securities must have at least one year until final maturity, but in practice the index holdings has a fluctuating average life of around 6.3 years. This total return unhedged index was created in 1986, with history backfilled to July 1, 1983 and rebalances monthly.

The Bloomberg Barclays US Municipal Bond Index covers the USD-denominated long-term tax exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds, and pre-refunded bonds. Many of the subindicies of the Municipal Index have historical data to January 1980. In addition, several subindicies based on maturity and revenue source have been created, some with inception dates after January 1980, but no later than July 1, 1993. Eligible securities must be rated investment grade (Baa3/BBB- or higher) by Moody’s and S&P and have at least one year until final maturity, but in practice the index holdings has a fluctuating average life of around 12.8 years. This total return index is unhedged and rebalances monthly.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index is a broadly diversified index that measures 22 exchange-traded futures on physical commodities in five groups (energy, agriculture, industrial metals, precious metals, and livestock), which are weighted to account for economic significance and market liquidity. No single commodity can comprise less than 2% or more than 15% of the index; and no group can represent more than 33% of the index. However, between rebalancings, group weightings may fluctuate to levels outside the limits. The index rebalances annually, weighted 2/3 by trading volume and 1/3 by world production.

The CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®) is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices. Introduced in 1993, the VIX Index has been considered by many to be the world’s premier barometer of investor sentiment and market volatility.

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 MSCI All-Country World Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed and emerging markets. The SMCI ACWI consists of 46 country indexes comprising 23 developed and 23 emerging market country indexes. The developed country indexes include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Uninted States. The emerging market country indexes included are: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Eygpt, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.

The MSCI EAFE Index is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets (Europe, Australasia, Far East) excluding the U.S. and Canada. The Index is market-capitalization weighted.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is designed to measure equity market performance in global emerging markets. It is a float-adjusted market capitalization index.

The MSCI Europe Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure developed market equity performance in Europe.

The MSCI Pacific Index captures large and mid-cap representation across five Developed Markets (DM) countries in the Pacific region. With 470 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country.

The NASDAQ Composite Index includes all domestic and international based common type stocks listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a broad based index.

The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe and is a subset of the Russell 3000 Index representing approximately 10% of the total market capitalization of that index. It includes approximately 2000 of the smallest securities based on a combination of their market cap and current index membership.

The Russell 3000 Index measures the performance of the largest 3,000 U.S. companies representing approximately 98% of the investable U.S. equity market.

The Russell Midcap Index measures the performance of the mid-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe and is a subset of the Russell 1000 Index. It includes approximately 800 of the smallest securities based on a combination of their market cap and current index membership. The Russell Midcap represents approximately 31% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 1000 companies.

The S&P 500 is an index of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry grouping (among other factors) designed to be a leading indicator of U.S. equities and is meant to reflect the risk/return characteristics of the large cap universe.

The S&P GSCI Crude Oil Indexis a sub-index of the S&P GSCI, provides investors with a reliable and publicly available benchmark for investment performance in the crude oil market.

The S&P GSCI Gold Index a sub-index of the S&P GSCI, provides investors with a reliable and publicly available benchmark tracking the COMEX gold futures market.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is a crude oil stream produced in Texas and southern Oklahoma which serves as a reference or “marker” for pricing a number of other crude streams. WTI is the underlying commodity of the New York Mercantile Exchange’s oil futures contracts.

The U.S. Dollar Index is a weighted geometric mean that provides a value measure of the United States dollar relative to a basket of major foreign currencies. The index, often carrying a USDX or DXY moniker, started in March 1973, beginning with a value of the U.S. Dollar Index at 100.000. It has since reached a February 1985 high of 164.720, and has been as low as 70.698 in March 2008.