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You can find reports from our Investment and Research team, timely and informative financial planning topics from our Wealth Management team, and deeper dives on various important topics in our white papers from any team member. Read online, share with friends, or download for your convenience.

Chart Recent Drop in Oil Prices

The price of oil has dropped sharply over the last few months, slumping 30% since its peak in early October 2018. A few factors are behind the move. The first is a continued surge in production from U.S. shale producers. Domestic oil production is up over 20% from a year ago. With OPEC pressing forward without supply cuts, the combination of booming U.S. oil production and stable OPEC production has led to a swelling of global oil supply. At the same time that oil supply has risen, concerns about global oil demand have started to surface. Just last week OPEC came out and cut their forecast for 2019 global oil demand for a fourth straight month. This confluence of factors has led the market to quickly and dramatically reevaluate supply/demand expectations as we move into 2019. While a further decrease in oil demand could mean that a slowdown in global growth on the horizon, thus far, the pullback in oil prices seems to be normal, albeit volatile, market behavior. 

With stock markets tumbling in October it is a great time to step back, evaluate the economy, and determine if this market correction is the start of the next big stock bear market. More likely than not this is the same run-of-the-mill correction we’ve seen four times in the last three years. But, as we move further along in this economic expansion, every decline deserves close attention. Needing no additional emphasis, it’s also never fun to see account values decline, even if only on a temporary basis. 

Several Allegiant team members recently heard Joe Deitch, author of the motivational book “Elevate" and Commonwealth Financial Network Founder and Chairman, describe his morning routine. He practices the habit of waking up and, before even getting out of bed, finding a few things to appreciate in his life. The appreciations he mentioned ranged from more commonly heard gratitudes, like health, family, and the sound of the ocean, to the more mundane: clean sheets, a favorite t-shirt, a comfortable bed.  As we enter the season of giving thanks, and then move quickly into the season of giving, we’d like to take a step back from our usual conversations, which often include discussions of portfolio values, volatility, and even charitable giving, and share some perspective on what we’re grateful for this holiday season - those we’re surrounded by, the community we’re part of, and the country we live in. 

Although the holiday season is known for gift giving and good cheer, it’s also known for an increase in cybercrime and identity theft. Before you get a jump start on your holiday shopping, follow these four tips to ensure that you’re protecting yourself this season.

APA Jones 3x4LOAs a Principal and Chief Investment Officer at Allegiant Private Advisors, Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF, is responsible for establishing the firm’s overall investment strategy, security selection, portfolio management, and research activities. Since joining the firm in 2005, we suspect you have come to know Ben through our market update presentations as well as his Monthly Insights. This month, Ben is sharing his personal story about an unpredictable path to a wonderful life in Sarasota and a career at Allegiant.

As most good things happen in life, my path to Allegiant happened somewhat unexpectedly. I first met Marty Kossoff, President of Allegiant, during the summer of 2004. I was down in Florida on summer vacation when Hurricane Charlie ravaged the area. Feeling fortunate that Sarasota avoided the worst of the storm, I wanted to help those impacted any way I could. I spent my first day in Arcadia passing out water and food to those impacted and the second day on an orange grove in Fort Ogden. It was while working cleanup and repair on that orange grove that I met Marty. The connection: the farm belonged to the family of one of our partners at Kerkering Barberio. Little did I know that this connection would turn into lunch a year later and a job a few months after that. As is often the case, when you give, there’s a good chance you get back much more than you gave. 

The transfer of wealth, your estate plan, communicates many things to those we leave behind. It says who is remembered, who is loved, who is important, and who we trust to be in charge. Therefore, dividing your assets between your children can be a stressful ordeal. Many parents want to be fair to everyone, which may equate to an even split of all assets. For most families, however, an even split doesn’t make the most sense. How you handle this delicate situation with your own family depends on many personal factors. Nonetheless, if you don’t make the division of assets clear in your estate documents, and overlook account titling and beneficiary designations, it could lead to many complications and mistaken messages for your children after you are gone. 

As a parent you might easily forget that you do have the option of leaving your estate to whoever you want, in whatever portions you want. You’re not required to split your assets fairly or evenly (and this may be heresy, but nor are children entitled to an inheritance either). In most cases, parents want to be fair to each child, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a necessity. 

Chart Similarities in Last Four 10 Market Dips

For years, equity markets have moved higher on very limited volatility. But, as we expected at the beginning of the year, 2018 has proven to be quite the opposite, already with corrections in both February and October. Although hard to remember, the S&P 500 has had four 10% corrections over the last 3+ years. The chart above overlays the last four market corrections over a three-month period, with the most recent decline shown in red. Although the current pullback has not lasted for the full three months yet, the general trends of all four periods look very similar. All of these market pullbacks were driven by concerns over trade, interest rates, and commodity price changes. Market pullbacks such as these can be nerve-racking, but often do not turn into a major bear market. However, it is very important to examine economic data during these market pullbacks to evaluate whether any fundamental economic data is flashing red. We are paying close attention to current market trends and the global economic environment to decipher whether or not a bigger economic and market downturn is on the horizon.

Q3 GDP 2018 Chart

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.5% in the third quarter, ahead of estimates which called for growth of 3.3%. Consumer spending, which accounts for over two thirds of the U.S. economy, grew by 4% - its strongest level since 2014. A robust labor market and record high consumer confidence are clearly leading consumers to spend. Government expenditures were also a positive contributor to growth, increasing by 3.3%, up from 2.5% in the second quarter. Despite these two factors driving the headline number higher, there were signs of weakness in some sectors of the economy. Residential investment contracted by 4%, its third consecutive quarterly decline. This weakness comes on the heels of a slowdown in many housing related indicators in the last few months. Higher interest rates and input costs seem to be starting to weigh on the housing market. Nonresidential business investment was also disappointing, growing at only 0.8%. This is underwhelming given an expected boost to business investment that was supposed to come on the heels of this year’s tax cuts. Finally, the always volatile inventory and net exports numbers added 2.1% and subtracted 1.8%, respectively. Overall it was a solid GDP report, despite the pockets of weakness. However, as this year’s fiscal stimulus begins to fade over the next few quarters and higher interest rates continue to provide a headwind, we expect growth to slow as we move into 2019.

Chart Wage Growth

With the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest level in decades, today’s jobs market has been touted as one of the strongest in history. However, one employment indicator has lagged well below what we have seen in previous economic expansions – wage growth. Americans have simply not seen the increases in their salaries that usually occurs when unemployment is this low. One interesting fact is that in terms of wage growth across different industries, much more wage growth has occurred in lower-paying jobs than jobs with more lucrative salaries. The chart above shows the percentage change in wages for restaurant/fast food workers, manufacturing, and professional and business services over the last five years. As you can see, the wage growth in restaurants has far outpaced those of higher-paying manufacturing and professional service jobs. Much of the increase in restaurant jobs has been driven by increases to the minimum wage, while higher paying jobs have not seen such increases. Recent data has shown that wage growth may finally be materializing, but until that happens, American workers will likely disagree if you classify today as the strongest job market in history.

APA Jones 3x4LOHere we go again - the fickle nature of markets is once more shining through. Last month I wrote about U.S. stock markets hitting new all-time highs and although contrary to popular belief, that meant it was time to prepare for a downturn, which we got. It has been quick and steep. And, it may not be over. A real test of the 400-day moving average is certainly possible, similar to the market decline of mid-2015 through early-2016. Why is this a good comparison? They both revolved around the same concerns and same fear.