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December 8, 2014

posted Dec 9, 2014, 11:26 AM by Katie Shook
On a Personal Note
 
 
T'was three weeks before Christmas, and all through the house, decorations were strung... and strung... and strung.  Along with lights, and nutcrackers, and snowmen, and candles, and who knows what else. 
 
In years past I used to almost get depressed that it was dark so early in the evening.  Now I barely have time to notice.  Between holiday decorations, year-end office wrap-ups, family get-togethers, kids' activities and the like, there's not a single weekend left unaccounted for.   And the dark?  Well, I like all the lights on the houses.  It just means I get to enjoy the festive atmosphere on the way home.
 
With the Holidays here, our Littlejohn Clan kicked of the Christmas season Saturday with a visit to home depot for kid projects.  Then it was off to the annual Santa visit (apparently our girls made the local paper for this one), followed by even more decorations and lights on the house. 
 
The big day was Sunday though.  We took the Griswold -- er, Littlejohn -- family sleigh up up up into the Oregon wilderness with a small group of family friends to cut down a Christmas tree.  This was a new experience for me.  Certainly, I've been to Christmas tree farms before.  And, alas, I've even been to tree lots a few times in the past.  But this time it was high adventure.
 
When all was said and done we found ourselves about a 12-foot-tall noble fir.  I carried the 7,000 pound monstrosity like a caveman for approximately 31 miles up hill both ways in the mud (because most of the snow had melted).  Amazingly, it did fit on the roof of our vehicle.  Fortunately, we remembered a saw and skipped the shovel.
 
The experience, for all the work, was definitely worth it.  Great friends, great weather, and great memories.  That's another true wealth experience if you ask me.
 
Just a reminder:  we're holding our own little Holiday party at the office this Thursday.  If you can make it,please click here to RSVP and let us know.

      
    

The Markets
 

In the United States, it was more of the same ole, same ole…
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 closed at record highs for the 34th time and 49thtime this year, respectively. The impetus last week was a jobs report that far exceeded expectations. For the 10thconsecutive month, more than 200,000 jobs have been created. That’s the longest string of improvements since 1994, according to Reuters. Not only did U.S. employers hire the most new workers in three years, wages ticked higher, too. An expert cited by Barron’s said the underlying report data was promising:
 
“The average workweek was 34.6 hours, up from 34.5, and where it was before the 2008 crisis. That level acts as an effective ceiling to additional hours and suggests employers will have to increase hiring, he says – hence the pop in bond yields. The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield jumped to 2.31 percent from 2.26 percent on Friday. (Bond prices move inversely to yields.)”
 
Analysts told CNBC.com the strong jobs report might mean the Federal Reserve will begin to raise the Fed funds rates by mid-2015.
 
The Stoxx Europe Index closed at a relatively high level, even though things weren’t so rosy economically in the Eurozone. Inflation continued to fall and is now close to zero. The last time inflation was at 2 percent, which is the level targeted by the European Central Bank (ECB), was two years ago, according to The New York Times.
 
The ECB continues to talk a big game without taking any action, according to Barron’s. Last week, President Mario Draghi said the ECB plans to assess the success of its current stimulus programs as well as the effects of lower energy prices early in 2015. However, he offered no specific monetary easing measures or a timeline for action. It was the same message he delivered in October and November of 2014. Experts cited by The New York Times indicated the ECB could lose credibility if it fails to act early next year.
 


Data as of 12/5/14
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)0.4%12.3%16.3%18.2%13.5%5.7%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.3NA2.92.13.54.2
Gold (per ounce)1.0-0.6-2.3-11.90.910.2
Bloomberg Commodity Index-0.7-10.8-10.4-8.3-3.6-2.6
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index-0.426.026.917.517.38.3
 

S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
Pondering the effects of long working hours. In 1960, about one-half of the jobs in the United States were at least mildly physically strenuous. Gosh, how things have changed. Today, we’re a lot more sedentary. Just 20 percent of jobs are at all strenuous and has produced the wrong type of growth, according to Joelle Abramowitz, an economist at the U.S. Census Bureau and author of a paper entitled, The connection between working hours and body mass index in the U.S.: a time use analysis.
 
Abramowitz found 70 percent or more of people who work 40 or more hours a week are overweight. All those extra hours people put in trying to impress the boss, or wining and dining clients, don’t pay off when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. For every 10 hours worked – over and above the weekly 40 – at a non-strenuous job, men gain about 1.4 pounds and women gain about 2.5 pounds. The Economist theorized longer work hours might translate into less exercise time, more take-out meals, and fewer hours of sleep. All of these have the potential to affect weight.
 
In a separate article, The Economist pointed out there has been a significant shift in the leisure time of the rich and the poor. One expert cited said, “In the 19th century you could tell how poor somebody was by how long they worked.” That has changed over time. In 1965, college-educated men, who tended to earn more than men without college degrees, had more leisure time than men with only high school diplomas. By 2005 the college-educated enjoyed eight hours less leisure time each week than the high school grads.
 
It’s interesting to note less than 60 percent of Americans who work 20 or fewer hours a week are overweight.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”   --Anne Frank, Writer
 
All the Best!,
 

 
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This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://online.barrons.com/articles/another-record-high-for-stocks-1417847033?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-08-14_Barrons-Job_Report_Lifts_Indexes_to_Record_Highs-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/05/us-usa-economy-idUSKCN0JI1EC20141205
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102243186#.
http://online.barrons.com/articles/silver-lining-in-europes-dismal-data-1417841141?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns(or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-08-14_Barrons-Silver_Lining_in_Europes_Dismal_Data-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/business/international/ecb-rate-announcement-draghi.html?_r=0 (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-08-14-NewYorkTimes-ECBs_Draghi_Hints_at_More_Stimulus-Footnote_5.pdf)
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11150-014-9267-4?sa_campaign=email/event/articleAuthor/onlineFirst
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2014/10/working-hours
http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21600989-why-rich-now-have-less-leisure-poor-nice-work-if-you-can-get-out
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/annefrank133186.html

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