Fourth Quarter Market Commentary
The fourth quarter was dramatic in the financial markets, with a notable increase in stock market volatility. Interest rates rose throughout the year, then fell during the quarter; oil prices plunged to close the year at about $45.00 per barrel. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made hawkish comments about continuing to raise interest rates for another year or two, seeming to be out of touch with market expectations. The year finished with continued worries about a global economic slowdown and economic conflict with China.
2018 will go into the books as a year in which nothing worked very well. Domestic stocks were down, bonds were flat, and international stocks were even weaker. However, we remain optimistic about the market going forward, as economic numbers continue to be very good. The fundamentals of the U.S economy and earnings have been healthy. The broadest measure of the economy, the gross domestic product (GDP), had a growth rate of 4.2% for the second quarter and 3.5% in the third quarter. The fourth quarter is widely expected to be about 2.5%, meaning that the full year should be about 3%. Job creation has been strong, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 3.7%, its lowest level in decades. Weekly unemployment claims have hit 50-year lows. Retail sales were very strong during the holiday shopping season as the result of a surge in consumer confidence.
Corporate earnings growth was very strong in 2018 with the second and third quarters showing year-over-year gains well in excess of 20%. Tax law changes helped drive these gains, as well as the elimination of many job-killing regulations. The sharp sell-off in the fourth quarter may set the stage for recovery and a potentially good year in 2019. The outlook for the economy continues to be positive, and we believe it is unlikely that we will dip into a recession in the year ahead.
9258 Tax Preparation and Planning Welcomes Edwina!
Edwina Martin, CPA, has joined 9258 Tax Preparation and Planning as Vice President, Assistant Director – Tax Planning effective January 2019. Edwina graduated from Cedarville University, majoring in business and accounting. She has extensive tax and accounting experience in both personal and corporate taxation, spanning over 30 years.
Most recently, Edwina worked for over 11 years with Teradata Corporation, located in Dayton, Ohio. She managed their state and local income taxes as well as personal property taxes, encompassing 40 states and many jurisdictions. Her responsibilities also included tax audits, tax planning and research. Edwina’s personal tax knowledge and experience includes complex to simple individual tax returns. She has worked with owners of small and medium sized businesses, providing compilation of financial statements, net worth statements, and other professional tax and accounting services relevant to the individual business owner’s needs. Edwina earned her Certified Public Accountant credential in 1992. The Ohio Society of CPA’s requires 120 hours of continuing professional education every three years in order to maintain a professional license. This recurring reporting standard ensures that she stays up to date with tax and accounting issues. Edwina is a native of West Virginia, and has lived as a Buckeye for nearly 30 years. During her leisure time, she enjoys travel, baking, hiking, boating, and other outdoor activities. She also enjoys volunteering with Special Olympics, and has organized volunteers to serve for the past 8 years. Edwina will report directly to Matt Tranquilli, CPA, CFP®, CRPS®. Matt serves as the Director of Tax Planning for 9258 Tax Preparation and Planning, a recently formed LLC subsidiary of 9258 Wealth Management.
Recently, Matt Tranquilli successfully tested for and received his CFP® certification. This certification is owned and awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. A candidate aiming to earn the CFP® designation must meet requirements in four categories: education, work experience, ethics, and the CFP® exam. The exam focuses on over 100 topics of concern to the financial planning field, such as taxes, insurance, estate and investment planning, and retirement. The candidate must answer 170 questions which include case studies, multiple mini-case problem sets and stand-alone questions designed to assess the students ability to apply his or her knowledge of the aforementioned areas.
Attaining the CFP® designation takes experience and a substantial amount of work. CFP® professionals must also complete continuing education programs each year in order to maintain their certification status. The CFP® certification mark represents one’s proven expertise within the financial planning profession. Matt serves 9258 Wealth Management as an Executive Vice President, and Director of Retail and Retirement Plan Operations. In addition he was recently named the Director of Tax Planning for the newly formed LLC subsidiary, 9258 Tax Preparation and Planning.