October a Not-So-Scary Month for Markets

October turned out to be a strong month for global stocks and not “spooky” at all. The MSCI ACWI IMI index of global stocks (you know, our favorite stock market index that no one has ever heard of) was up 7.5% for the month, recovering most but not all of the losses of August and September. The index was down 3.3% over the last three months. No one likes losses, but this loss is relatively modest for three months. Year-to-date 10/30/15, the index stands relatively flat at a positive 0.3% return.

U.S. and large company stocks continued to fare better than foreign stocks and U.S. mid and small company stocks. In October the S&P 500 was up 8.4%, the S&P 400 MidCap index was up 5.6%, and the S&P 600 SmallCap index was up 6.1%.

One lesson learned in October 2015, as many times before, is that one can’t predict the short-term direction of the stock market. But that doesn’t keep people from wanting to do so or trying, and more importantly, it doesn’t keep the media from making forecasts headline news. Like most free advice, it is best ignored.

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Last month we wrote about low inflation, and the news carried forward in October with announcements that there will be no cost of living adjustment increase in monthly Social Security checks in 2016. Likewise, the retirement plan contribution limits for IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans will remain the same in 2016 as 2015—$18,000 for 401(k) contributions, $24,000 if you are age 50 or older.

Medicare premiums could have potentially increased for select individuals under this no Social Security cost of living increase scenario, but such an impact was negated by H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (don’t you love the name?) also made important changes to Social Security benefit claiming strategies for individuals near Social Security retirement age. Rather than try to summarize the changes here (and, quite frankly, we are still learning about them ourselves since it was just signed Monday), we will be reviewing the changes and their specific impact one on one with our clients. Believe me; you don’t want to read a long explanation! But if you have any immediate concerns or questions, feel free to contact us directly.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I think the spirit of gratitude is so important. So enjoy the season of Thanksgiving, and we sincerely thank you for the opportunity to serve you and for your confidence and trust in us. Happy Thanksgiving!

As always, please contact us with any questions, news or comments.