November 15, 2019
Our winning streak continued as the Dow Jones Industrial Average set three all-time record highs this week alone. The record setting run was fueled by positive announcements from Dow components Boeing and Disney. Boeing flew higher this week on news that its grounded 737 Max will resume U.S. commercial service in January 2020. Meanwhile, investors cheered the House of Mouse throwing its hat into the streaming wars ring on Tuesday with the launch of its new streaming service, Disney+. The service appears to have captured strong early momentum with 10 million+ sign-ups since its launch. Turning to economic news, the data was relatively light this week with retail sales and inflation figures being the highlights of the week. With news from the White House on Friday that the U.S. and China continue to inch closer towards a trade deal, the Dow posted a 1.17% gain for the week to finish at a new all-time high of 28,004.89.
Retail Sales Rebound
Coming off a weak August and September, traders cheered October retail sales figures. For the month, retail sales rose 0.30% to $526.5 billion. Core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, rose 0.30%. Leading retail sales higher for the month was a 0.90% increase in online shopping, a 0.50% increase in auto sales, and a similar 0.50% increase for food and beverage stores. The report suggests the consumer remains strong despite tariffs as we head into the busy holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation is forecasting a strong holiday season for retailers with sales expected to rise between 3.80% and 4.20% from 2018. That range is above the 3.70% averaged over the previous five years.
Prices Hold Steady
Despite new tariffs on imports, consumer prices have held relatively steady. For the 12 months ending in October, consumer prices rose 1.80%. That’s relatively in line with the 1.70% year-over-year (yoy) increase in September. Core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy prices, rose 2.30% from the year ago period, near the Federal Reserve’s 2.00% target level. Overall, consumers have remained relatively insulated from trade levies as businesses have hesitated to pass along those costs and run the risk of hurting demand. Aside from tariffs, businesses have not experienced much in the way of price inflation to push them to raise prices on consumers. For the 12 months ending in October, producer prices rose 1.10%, their smallest increase since October 2016. That’s down from the 1.40% yoy increase in September. Core producer prices, which excluded volatile food, energy, and trade services, were up 1.50% in October. That was down from the 1.70% yoy increase the prior month. Overall, inflation appears to be modest, keeping the Fed on the sidelines for now.
With economic data showing the economy continues to expand at a modest pace and positive announcements from major Dow components Boeing and Disney, the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to post another set of record highs this week. Retail sales in particular were encouraging as they show the consumer remains confident to continue spending despite the continued uncertainty surrounding a U.S.-China trade deal. A strong consumer is crucial as we head into the busy holiday shopping season.
The Week Ahead
U.S. economic news is relatively light in the week before the Thanksgiving holiday. Housing starts and existing home sales figures will be on tap. In overseas action, the Eurozone releases manufacturing numbers.
What You Need to Know about RMDs
Tyler Ozanne shares advice and guidance for avoiding year-end tax pitfalls
An individual’s RMD is calculated based on one of three life expectancy tables according to the IRS (IRS Publication 590-B).
- 1. Uniform Lifetime Table – most common table used for original IRA owners
- 2. Joint Life Expectancy Table – used by an original IRA owner whose spousal beneficiary is more than 10 years younger
- 3. Single Life Expectancy Table – used primarily by non-spouse beneficiaries
Under current IRS regulations, the first year’s RMD equates to roughly 3.65% of a person’s aggregate qualified savings (again, with a few exceptions). There is a proposed regulation currently being vetted by the United States Treasury and IRS that would lower this starting distribution amount to 3.44% in consideration of longer life expectancies. While there is no guarantee the new regulations will go into effect, it is believed they will, which should be good news for retirement savers.
Some people distribute enough from qualified savings throughout the year to satisfy — or more than satisfy — their RMD well before the year-end deadline. However, many investors either delay taking their distributions or simply forget that they are required to distribute anything until the end of the year. Probity Advisors monitors our clients’ RMDs, and, around this time each year, we begin reaching out to clients who have yet to meet their requirements. There are several important considerations we address with our clients when discussing RMDs. Some of these include:
Tax Withholding: Since distributions — including the required ones- from qualified savings accounts result in ordinary income taxation on distributed amounts, many clients prefer Federal and State Income taxes to be withheld from the distributions and to receive the net amount. Withholding is optional.
Charitable Intent: The IRS allows individuals to donate any or all of their required minimum distributions directly to charity (up to a $100,000 annual limit) and avoid the taxation on the donated amount. We encourage our clients to satisfy their charitable intent with their required distributions to the extent possible.
Method of Distribution: Clients have several options for receiving their required distributions. These include (a) receiving distributions via a check or direct deposit to your bank account, (b) reinvesting the distributions in a non-qualified investment account for continued growth, (c) gifting distributions to charity, or (d) choosing a combination of options.
RMDs can be complicated — especially those who have multiple and different qualified savings accounts. We are here to help. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (214) 891-8131.