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As expected, the Federal Reserve inched closer to its first interest rate hike since 2006 last week by dropping the word "patient" from its post-meeting statement. Having previously indicated that the word "patient" implied no rate hike at the two subsequent meetings, the Fed has now left open the possibility of a June increase.

The operative phrase for Fed watchers now becomes "data dependency." With the artificial constraint of restrictive forward guidance now removed, the Fed's future actions and their timing will depend upon the strength of the economic data, specifically regarding the labor force and inflation.

Between now and the Fed's June meeting, it will get three additional monthly jobs reports. And with unemployment currently at 5.5 percent, it did not want to find itself in June in the position of not being completely free to raise rates if unemployment had fallen significantly lower. Wage pressures have yet to emerge, but the fear is they may begin to do so soon.



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After establishing a new record high on Monday, stocks ended last week lower, derailed by a stronger than expected jobs report that rekindled fears of higher interest rates. The S&P 500 shed 1.6 percent, with most of the damage coming after the Labor Department reported that 295,000 new jobs were created in February and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent. Although average hourly earnings grew by just 2.0 percent year-over-year, suggesting no imminent inflationary threat, the worry is that diminishing labor market slack will soon force the Fed’s hand to begin lifting interest rates.

Along with falling equity prices, bond yields spiked following the report. The ten-year Treasury note yield jumped 12 basis points to 2.24 percent, its highest level since late December and sharply higher than its low of the year of 1.64 percent on January 30. The two-year note yield jumped to 0.73 from 0.64 percent. Not surprisingly, it was the yield-sensitive utilities equity sector that suffered the worst losses, plunging 3.1 percent after the jobs report. Defensive consumer staples and healthcare stocks lost close to 2.0 percent. Ultimately, no sector was spared on the day.



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A barrage of economic data and policy initiatives are confronting investors this week, as they attempt to identify where in the world the prospects for growth are most promising.
 
India Releases Budget
 
On Saturday, the Indian government released its much anticipated budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1. While it appears to have fallen short of the so-called big bang of economic stimulus and liberalization for which many had hoped, it does further the cause of reform, albeit at a more gradual pace. Stocks in India were higher by 7.1 percent in rupee terms (9.4 percent in dollars) so far this year, after a modest gain of 0.3 percent on Monday, the first chance for investors to react to the new budget. But they have also risen by 41 percent in the past year, driven by optimism over the expected reforms under Prime Minister Modi’s government, in place since last May.



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Stocks rallied last week, taking their cue from a rise in the price of oil. North Sea Brent crude climbed $4.81 to $57.80 a barrel, a gain of 9.1 percent. In response, the S&P 500 climbed 3 percent, its best weekly showing since mid-December, as the energy sector rose 5.7 percent. In fact, it was most of the cyclical sectors that led the way as investor confidence turned higher. Financials, materials, and consumer discretionary sectors were particularly strong, while consumer staples, healthcare, and telecom trailed the overall index, and only the utilities sector turned lower. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 3.4 percent.

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Minneapolis(February 3, 2015) – A new study released today by Ameriprise Financial (NYSE: AMP), finds that more than three-quarters (76%) of baby boomers who retired within the past five years felt “in control” of their decision to retire. According to more than half of recent retirees, physical health (53%) and emotional preparedness (52%) are the main contributors towards this sense of control boomers are feeling. 
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Choosing to retire is the biggest financial decision most people will make during their lifetimes, and numerous factors influence how and when an individual chooses to pull the retirement trigger. The Retirement Triggers study, commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, examines the financial and emotional aspects of retirement preparation that recent retirees say led them to have the confidence to officially enter retirement.

We asked for input from the first wave of retiring baby boomers to understand how various actions, plans and life events played a role in making the decision to leave their primary profession. After hearing from 1,000 respondents who have been formally retired for five years or less, we learned more about the elements within their careers, families, social circles and bank accounts that led them to have the confidence to retire.

What we found is that, while financial preparation for retirement was a strong focus for these new retirees, emotional preparation is an equally important part of the retirement equation and can have an impact before, during and after one’s retirement date. We also found that most who prepare carefully for retirement feel in control of their decision to leave the workforce, but some still inevitably experience an unexpected event that causes an early or unplanned retirement.
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MINNEAPOLIS – February 2, 2015 – Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (NYSE: AMP) today announced that Jim Cracchiolo, chairman and chief executive officer, is scheduled to speak about the company’s business and strategy at the Credit Suisse Financial Services Forum on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at approximately 11 a.m. (ET).
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MINNEAPOLIS – January 28, 2015 – The Board of Directors of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (NYSE: AMP) has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.58 per common share payable on February 27, 2015 to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 9, 2015.
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MINNEAPOLISDec. 23, 2014 – Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (NYSE: AMP), together with its employees and advisors, donated $12 million and volunteered more than 66,000 hours at nonprofit organizations in 2014. Support from the company and its people will aid programs that help individuals in need and build stronger communities, with particular focus on combatting domestic hunger. In continuation of its national partnership with Feeding America® and through support to hunger-relief nonprofits, Ameriprise has provided the equivalent of 10 million meals for families facing hunger. View More