The Best Super Bowl Commercials Ever

… which awesome commercials will run during this match-up?

Sunday, February 4th. Super Bowl LII. With the Eagle’s Carson Wentz out for the season, will Nick Foles be able to take the heat from Tom Brady and the Patriots? And, an even bigger question … which awesome commercials will run during this match-up? We are looking forward to an exciting game, great food, and the best ads of the year.

Check out our new video, The Best Super Bowl Commercials Ever, a compilation of CTS Financial Group’s favorites. https://youtu.be/NqMGke-8IAQ

The Best Super Bowl Commercials Ever2018-01-31T14:08:15-04:00

Stocks Jump Again

The Weekly Update

Week of January 29, 2018
By Christopher T. Much, CFP®, AIF®

Stocks had an impressive week yet again, as each of the domestic indexes reached record highs and gained at least 2%. The S&P 500 added 2.23%, the Dow increased 2.09%, and the NASDAQ grew 2.31%. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined the growth, adding 1.49%.

On Monday, January 22, the government shutdown ended after 3 days, as House and Senate members reached an initial compromise. President Trump signed the measure on Monday evening, securing government funding until February 8.

With the funding discussion set aside for the next week or so, we believe 3 topics were of particular interest for the markets:

  1. Corporate earnings
  2. Global growth
  3. Gross domestic product (GDP) readings

1. Corporate Earnings
We are in the middle of the best corporate earnings season in 5 years. So far, 80% of S&P 500 companies that released 4th-quarter data have exceeded their earnings estimates—and 82% beat sales. In addition, the average earnings-per-share estimate for the 1st quarter of 2018 is also increasing. This data point has not gone up for 7 years.

2. Global Growth
Last week, many of the world’s economic leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. Talk of “increased global growth momentum” contributed to a mood that many people described as more positive than in many years. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, described the current economic situation as a “sweet spot.” Many delegates echoed her enthusiasm, while others warned of becoming too elated.

During the meeting, the IMF released revised estimates for global growth, indicating that they expect the momentum to continue through at least 2019.

3. GDP Readings
We received the initial reading for 4th quarter GDP, which showed that the U.S. economy grew by 2.6% between October and December. This increase fell short of analysts’ expectations, but it still reveals healthy economic growth. In addition, when going beyond the headline, the data indicates that many key GDP contributors performed well.

In the 4th quarter, consumer spending, residential investment, and government purchases all helped to drive economic growth. Inventories and net exports pulled down the GDP increase. If you exclude these two contributors, the economy grew by 4.3%.

As we prepare for what 2018 has in store, we are happy that data continues to show a strengthening economy. However, we will work with the knowledge that risk exists in every market environment. Along the way, we are here to answer any questions and provide the insights you seek.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:
Monday: Personal Income and Outlays
Tuesday: Consumer Confidence
Wednesday: ADP Employment Report, Employment Cost Index
Thursday: Motor Vehicle Sales, PMI Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending
Friday: Employment Situation, Consumer Sentiment, Factory Orders

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We are excited to introduce the new CTS Major Markets Performance graph. Look for this new format on a go forward basis.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Data collected from Investors FastTrack software.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/26/us-stocks-gdp-economy-trump.html
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/us/politics/congress-votes-to-end-government-shutdown.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=CBBEE944334B3989FC73E68D4EE65659&gwt=pay
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/26/us-stocks-gdp-economy-trump.html
http://www.dw.com/en/imf-hikes-global-growth-outlook-on-us-tax-cut-boost/a-42259064
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-26/bankers-policy-makers-at-davos-revel-in-sweet-spot-economy
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-26/bankers-policy-makers-at-davos-revel-in-sweet-spot-economy
http://www.dw.com/en/imf-hikes-global-growth-outlook-on-us-tax-cut-boost/a-42259064
http://wsj-us.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=485675&cust=wsj-us&year=2018&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top
Stocks Jump Again2018-01-29T14:50:56-04:00

Stocks Up as Shutdown Looms

The Weekly Update

Week of January 22, 2018
By Christopher T. Much, CFP®, AIF®

We’re only a few weeks into 2018, and stocks are showing quite a strong performance so far. Last week, major domestic indexes posted gains yet again, with all 3 up at least 5% this year. By Friday, the S&P 500 had added another 0.86%, and both the Dow and NASDAQ were up 1.04%. All 3 indexes hit new record highs at least once during the week.

In addition to the solid performance for U.S. equities, we’re also experiencing synchronized global growth. European and Asian stocks grew last week, and China’s growth data was more positive than expected. Overall, international stocks in the MSCI EAFE added a healthy 1.24% last week. Year to date, the MSCI is up 4.95%.

What happened last week?
Two key topics drove conversations: corporate earnings and a government shutdown.

1. Corporate Earnings
In the U.S., corporate earnings season dominated much of the economic news as reports continue to show companies doing well. For organizations that released their 4th-quarter results, 79% beat earnings projections and 89% exceeded sales estimates.

2. Government Shutdown
The Federal government shut down on Saturday morning, January 20th, after the House and Senate failed to pass a bill to extend funding. This shutdown is the first since 2013.

How did these occurrences affect the markets?

While a potential shutdown loomed last week, overall, investors had little reaction to its possibility. Volatility did increase last week as investors waited to see if the House and Senate would reach a compromise on government funding. However, the solid news from corporate earnings seemed to outweigh concerns about the Federal government. Rather than focusing on drama in Washington, many traders are paying attention to the strength in U.S. corporations’ fundamentals.

As more data unfolds, we will continue to monitor the relationship between government policy and economic performance. As always, if you have any questions about how current events and market developments may be affecting you, contact us any time.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR
Wednesday: Existing Home Sales
Thursday: New Home Sales, Jobless Claims
Friday: Durable Goods Orders, GDP

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Data collected from Investors FastTrack software.
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/19/us-stocks-government-shutdown-earnings.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/asian-stocks-face-mixed-start-treasuries-drop-markets-wrap
https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/19/us-stocks-government-shutdown-earnings.html
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/shutdown-all-but-certain-at-midnight-as-spending-bill-lacks-votes-2018-01-19
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/shutdown-all-but-certain-at-midnight-as-spending-bill-lacks-votes-2018-01-19
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/19/us-stocks-government-shutdown-earnings.html
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/shutdown-all-but-certain-at-midnight-as-spending-bill-lacks-votes-2018-01-19
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/19/us-stocks-government-shutdown-earnings.html
Stocks Up as Shutdown Looms2018-01-22T14:32:05-04:00

Equities and Inflation Climb

The Weekly Update

Week of January 15, 2018
By Christopher T. Much, CFP®, AIF®

Domestic markets continued their strong start to 2018, posting gains across the board for their 2nd week. The S&P 500 added 1.57% and closed at a new record high on Friday. The index just posted its best 10-day beginning to a year since 2003, with a 4.2% gain so far this year. The Dow also hit a new record on Friday and gained 2.01% for the week. The NASDAQ increased by 1.74%, while international stocks in the MSCI EAFE joined last week’s gains, adding 1.20%.

By week’s end, we didn’t receive a tremendous amount of economic data. However, the economy did provide details that reveal it continues to pick up speed. In particular, both corporate earnings and inflation appear to be on the rise.

What We Learned Last Week

1. Corporate Earnings Continue to Increase
Earnings season is upon us, and analysts expect the data will indicate strong corporate performance in the 4th quarter of 2017. Some projections show corporate earnings may have risen 11.2% between October and December last year. According to FactSet, each of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors will likely record growth in both revenue and earnings. We haven’t seen these kinds of broad increases since 2011.

In addition to gaining insight on last quarter’s performance, this earnings season will provide perspectives on how large corporations expect tax reform to affect them. As we make plans for 2018, this information will help inform our strategies.

2. Inflation Is Accelerating
On Friday, the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data came out, showing an unanticipated uptick in core inflation. At first glance, the inflation numbers don’t seem particularly noteworthy. The CPI’s December growth was 0.1%, and its annual rate was 2.1%, which met expectations.

When digging a bit deeper, however, you’ll see that the CPI rose at a 2.6% annual rate during the 4th quarter—significantly faster than the Fed’s 2% inflation target. Even the “core” CPI numbers, which don’t include the more volatile food and energy industries, have 2.5% annual growth over the past 3 months.

What This Information Means for You

Faster inflation, combined with our currently strong labor market and low unemployment, may mean interest rates will also pick up this year. With this latest CPI data, the Fed will likely increase rates at least 3 times in 2018.

Higher inflation may also impact stock performance. When Friday’s CPI numbers first came out, stocks stumbled as some investors worried that economic growth could slow if the Fed raises rates too much. However, the strong corporate earnings data helped demonstrate our economy’s vigor and reassure investors.

In short, we haven’t experienced such strong inflation increases in quite some time. As more details around inflation and economic growth come out, we will continue to monitor how they may affect your financial life. If you have any questions about your specific strategies and needs, we are here to talk.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR
Monday: Markets Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Wednesday: Industrial Production, Housing Market Index
Thursday: Housing Starts, Jobless Claims
Friday: Consumer Sentiment

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Data collected from Investors FastTrack software.
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX&region=usa&culture=en-US
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/us-stocks-earnings-season-dow-jp-morgan.html
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI&region=usa&culture=en-US
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/us-stocks-earnings-season-dow-jp-morgan.html
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/us-stocks-earnings-season-dow-jp-morgan.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/us-stocks-earnings-season-dow-jp-morgan.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/11/earnings-season-is-underway-and-its-going-to-be-a-really-good-one.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-11/asia-stocks-tipped-to-end-week-on-a-strong-note-markets-wrap
https://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2018/1/12/the-consumer-price-index-rose-0.1percent-in-december
https://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2018/1/12/the-consumer-price-index-rose-0.1percent-in-december
https://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2018/1/12/the-consumer-price-index-rose-0.1percent-in-december
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-11/asia-stocks-tipped-to-end-week-on-a-strong-note-markets-wrap
Equities and Inflation Climb2018-01-16T14:54:57-04:00

You can get away with murder until you screw up your income tax.

Al Capone made it clear. You can get away with murder until you screw up your income tax.

As one of the most famous Chicago mobsters in history, Capone seemingly got away with a lot. In the end, however, he was brought to justice not for murder, extortion, or bootlegging – but for failure to pay income tax.

At CTS Financial Group, we stay up to date with changing rules and regulations – including the details of new tax plan – so you don’t have to. Schedule your free tax consultation today, take $50 off tax preparation for your 2017 filing, and download our latest article deciphering the new tax plan – bit.ly/ctscapone

You can get away with murder until you screw up your income tax.2018-01-09T13:24:29-04:00

Stocks Start 2018 With A Jump

The Weekly Update

Week of January 8, 2018
By Christopher T. Much, CFP®, AIF®

The first week of 2018 is behind us, and across the globe, stocks experienced a strong start to the year. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE gained 2.44% last week. In the U.S., our major indexes also leapt forward, reaching several records and milestones.

Domestic Index Performance for the First Week of 2018

S&P 500:

  • Gained 2.60%
  • Hit 2,700 for the first time
  • Posted its largest weekly gain since December 2016

Dow:

  • Gained 2.33%
  • Hit 25,000 for the first time
  • Had its best yearly start since 2006

NASDAQ:

  • Gained 3.38%
  • Hit 7,000 for the first time
  • Posted its largest weekly gain since December 2016
  • Had its best yearly start since 2006

What drove markets last week?

A variety of factors affected the markets last week—from tax reform to commodity prices. Interestingly, considering the indexes’ positive performance, one of the biggest economic headlines seemed to provide negative data: The U.S. economy added fewer jobs than anticipated.

On the surface, this report may seem like bad news for the economy. The missed projection, however, is likely less of a big deal than it appears at first. While hiring was lower than expected, wages picked up and the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%—the lowest rate since 2000.

Ultimately, this jobs report may be positive news for the markets. It shows that the economy is still adding jobs but not at a blistering pace. As a result, slower job growth could keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates too aggressively. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she believes, “We’re basically at maximum employment from the view of monetary policy.” She anticipates 3 to 4 rate increases this year. If the Fed continues with its gradual rate increases, this move could have a favorable effect on stocks.

As we move forward in 2018, we will continue monitoring a myriad of economic perspectives that may impact you, including any changes to monetary policy. For now, we are pleased to see the markets’ positive start to the year and look forward to guiding you through whatever lies ahead.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR
Tuesday: JOLTS
Thursday: Jobless Claims
Friday: Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Data collected from Investors FastTrack software.
https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-04/asia-stocks-poised-to-extend-torrid-start-to-2018-markets-wrap
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/05/us-stock-futures-us-jobs-dow-politics-on-the-agenda.html
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/sp-eyes-another-historic-record-run-with-us-jobs-data-on-deck-2018-01-05
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-04/asia-stocks-poised-to-extend-torrid-start-to-2018-markets-wrap
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-05/u-s-adds-148-000-jobs-wages-rise-in-signs-of-full-employment
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/sp-eyes-another-historic-record-run-with-us-jobs-data-on-deck-2018-01-05
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/futures-trim-gains-december-jobs-134147154.html
Stocks Start 2018 With A Jump2018-01-08T15:48:28-04:00

What Does the New Tax Plan Mean for Investing?

The tax debate has settled (for now)

While much of the political fire and fury from Congress’ tax plan debate has settled, some of the economic smoke still lingers as financial analysts and private investors plot their way through the new $1.4 trillion law’s long-range ramifications. Along with new rates and deductions, the new tax law makes changes to the AMT and estate tax exemption levels.

Want to know more? Grab our new article now for some of the details http://bit.ly/newtaxplan

What Does the New Tax Plan Mean for Investing?2018-01-05T09:43:38-04:00

Special Update: 2017 In Review

The Weekly Update

Week of January 1, 2018
By Christopher T. Much, CFP®, AIF®

In the final trading days of a strong 2017, U.S. indexes lost some ground. During the holiday-shortened week, the S&P 500 dropped by 0.36%, the Dow lost 0.14%, and the NASDAQ gave back 0.81%. A selloff toward the end of the day on Friday contributed to the domestic indexes’ weekly losses. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE ended the week in positive territory, gaining 0.89%.

Despite the losses, all three major domestic indexes experienced their best year since 2013. During 2017, the Dow hit 71 record highs, and the NASDAQ gained in all but 1 month for the first time ever.

Overall, indexes posted the following growth for the year:

  • S&P 500 up 19.42%
  • Dow up 25.08%
  • NASDAQ up 28.24%
  • MSCI EAFE up 21.78%

In addition to sizeable gains, there was also very little market volatility in 2017. The S&P 500 only had 8 days when it lost or gained 1% or more. In 2016, the index had 48 days with at least 1% movement, and 2015 had 71 such days.

With high growth and low volatility, it’s little wonder that consumer confidence has reached its highest levels in 17 years. However, considering we are almost 9 years into this historic bull market, can the growth continue? Let’s look at a few economic indicators to examine where we are and what might be on the horizon.

Economic Highlights

  • Gross Domestic Product: Economic growth picked up in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and analysts believe the expansion could continue in 2018.
  • Labor: The unemployment rate dropped to 4.1% by October 2017, and some analysts believe it could fall even more in 2018.
  • Inflation: While inflation is below the Federal Reserve’s 2% goal, the most recent readings show a healthy increase. If inflation continues on this path, the Fed will likely continue to slowly increase interest rates in 2018.

Tax Changes in 2018

Many people are wondering how the new tax plan will affect markets and the economy in 2018.

On January 1, several changes went into effect, including new tax brackets for citizens and a permanent tax rate reduction for corporations. As a result, this law may impact both economic performance and your individual bottom line.

If you have any questions about how to prepare for what lies ahead—or want more details on what we expect in 2018—contact us any time.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR
Monday: Markets Closed for New Year’s Day
Tuesday: PMI Manufacturing Index
Wednesday: Motor Vehicle Sales, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending
Thursday: ADP Employment Report, Jobless Claims
Friday: Employment Situation, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg Index

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Data collected from Investors FastTrack software.
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/29/us-stocks-open-higher-sp-500-tracking-for-best-year-since-2013.html
https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/29/investing/stocks-2017-wall-street/index.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/29/us-stocks-open-higher-sp-500-tracking-for-best-year-since-2013.html
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=SPX&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=%21DJI&region=usa&culture=en-US
http://performance.morningstar.com/Performance/index-c/performance-return.action?t=@CCO
https://www.msci.com/end-of-day-data-search
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/29/us-stocks-open-higher-sp-500-tracking-for-best-year-since-2013.html
http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/29/investing/stocks-2017-wall-street/index.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/21/us-final-reading-on-q3-2017-gdp.html
https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000
https://www.thebalance.com/us-economic-outlook-3305669
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-22/u-s-consumer-spending-tops-forecasts-as-inflation-accelerates
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/28/tax-changes-are-coming-monday-heres-when-it-will-affect-you.html
Special Update: 2017 In Review2018-01-02T13:32:24-04:00