(Un)Happy New Year: Fresh uncertainties in Europe, slowing economic growth, anticipation of a looming Federal Reserve rate hike, and a stronger dollar all contributed to a volatile month for equities. The losses weren't good news for believers in the January Effect (the idea that equities' behavior in January suggests what might happen during the rest of the year). However, it might also be useful to remember that the S&P 500 lost 3.6% last January but ended 2014 up 11.4%.
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Equities generally continued to push upward in November. The small caps of the Russell 2000 were the exception; they ended the month flat and were up less than 1% for the year. However, the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials once again hit new record levels, while the Nasdaq increased its year-to-date lead. Meanwhile, the Global Dow had its best month since February.
October lived up to its reputation for volatility as triple-digit intraday swings in the Dow became almost commonplace. Despite being spooked for much of the month--at one point the S&P 500 was down almost 8% from its most recent high--both the S&P and the Dow industrials rallied strongly to end the month at fresh all-time records.