By The Numbers February 2019
1. BAD THEN GOOD – The S&P 500 gained +8.0% (total return) in January 2019, a performance that ranks in the top 4% of monthly returns in the last 30 years. Ironically, the S&P 500 lost 9.0% (total return) in December 2018, a performance that ranks in the bottom 2% of monthly returns in the last 30 years. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).
2. ALMOST ALL WERE UP – 458 individual stocks in the S&P 500 were up during the month of January 2019, including 40 stocks that were up at least +20% for the month (source: BTN Research).
3. ROLLER COASTER – The best stock in the S&P 500 during January 2019 was up +42.8% for the month. This follows a 32.2% loss for the stock during 2018, a +26.7% gain in 2017 and a 17.9% loss in 2016 (source: BTN Research).
4. YELLEN vs. POWELL – During the 4-years that Janet Yellen served as Fed Chair (i.e., 2/03/14 to 2/02/18), the S&P 500 gained +72.4% on a total return basis (an average of +14.6% per year) and achieved 156 record closing highs. The first year for Jerome Powell serving as Fed Chair ends today (2/05/18 to 2/04/19). Over the last year, the S&P 500 has set 5 all-time closing highs while losing 0.04% (total return)(source: BTN Research).
5. REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS – If you turned age 70 ½ sometime in 2018, then you must begin taking annual withdrawals from your IRA accounts no later than 4/01/19. If you delay your 1st withdrawal until 4/01/19, you must also take a 2nd distribution by 12/31/19 (source: Internal Revenue Service).
6. ESTATE TAXES – An estimated 2.8 million Americans died in 2018. Of the 2.8 million deaths, an estimated 4,000 of those deceased individuals (i.e., 1 in every 700 deaths) died with an estate worth more $11.2 million, the maximum dollar amount that can be passed estate tax-free per decedent with proper tax planning (source: Tax Policy Center).
7. HOW LONG COULD YOU LAST? – Just 29% of working Americans surveyed in the summer 2018 had emergency savings set aside that would allow them to survive at least 6 months without any current cash flow from a job (source: Bankrate’s Financial Security Index).
8. ONE ESPRESSO PLEASE – 27% of 1,000 Millennials surveyed in July 2018 spend more money on coffee each month than what they set aside and invest monthly for their eventual retirement (source: Lendedu.com).
9. BACK AT WORK – American employers reported an increase of +304,000 new net jobs in January 2019, the 100th consecutive month of jobs gains in our country, i.e., from October 2010 through and including January 2019. An average of +202,000 new jobs each month have been created over the100-month run (source: DOL).
10. CHINA WEAKNESS – US exports to China were $110.6 billion in 2012, rising +18% (i.e., +3.3% per year) to $130.4 billion in 2017. US exports to China are $102.5 billion YTD through 10/31/18, reflecting the impact of tariffs and a slowing Chinese economy (source: Commerce Department).
11. TWO TIMES TO THREE TIMES – Estimated mandatory expenses of the US government are twice as large as discretionary expenses during the current 2019 fiscal year, i.e.,$2.695 trillion to$1.334 trillion. Estimated mandatory expenses of the US government are 3 times as large as discretionary expenses during the 2029 fiscal year, i.e., $4.584 trillion to$1.530 trillion (source: Congressional Budget Office).
12. BACK IN BUSINESS – Greece issued 2.5 billion Euros of 5-year sovereign debt on Tuesday 1/29/19, the first debt issued by Greece’s government in 9 years (source: Financial Times).
13. FROZEN – The low temperature in Chicago in the early hours of Wednesday 1/30/19 fell to -23 degrees, tied for the 5th coldest day in the city’s history. The record is -27 degrees set on 1/20/85. Weather records have been maintained in Chicago since 1872, i.e., for the last 147 years (source: CBS Chicago).
14. SUPER BET – Prior to the 2/03/19 Super Bowl # 53, the underdog in the big game had won just 17 of 52 games but had won 7 of the last 11 games. The Los Angeles Rams were 2 ½ point underdogs in 2/03/19 football game vs. the New England Patriots (source: BTN Research).
15. SAME CITIES – The Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games to win the 2018 World Series, winning the clinching game on 10/28/18. Just 98 days after winning baseball’s title, the New England Patriots faced off vs. the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl # 53 (2/03/19) in Atlanta (source: BTN Research).