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U.S. Consumers Stir to Life, Shaking Off Winter Slumber

The hibernating U.S. consumer showed signs of shaking off its winter slumber and stirring to life last week. In the first quarter of the year, personal consumption was estimated to have grown at a somnolent annualized rate of just 0.3 percent. By comparison, over the past three years personal consumption has averaged 2.9 percent. It was the weakest quarterly pace of consumption in eight years, and followed an average rate of 3.25 percent in the second half of last year. Admittedly, the accuracy of first quarter economic reports has been challenged for several years. But even faulty seasonal adjustments likely don’t fully explain just how weak the quarter was, especially for an economy dependent upon the consumer spending for 70 percent of its total activity.

Markets March Ahead Through Dizzying Slew of News

There were enough potentially market-moving events last week to make one’s head spin. The House voted to replace Obamacare, the Fed chose to leave rates unchanged, the president signed a bill to keep the government funded through September, the economy created three times as many jobs in April as in March, one-fifth of the S&P 500 reported earnings, and France went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president.

A Sigh of Relief Follows First-Round French Election

Investors worldwide breathed a sigh of relief following the first round of the French presidential election. Once it became clear on Sunday that at least one of the moderate centrist candidates would make it to the second round on May 7, in this case Emmanuel Macron, the euro immediately spiked, climbing from 1.07 to 1.09. In midday trading in France on Monday, the CAC 40 index was higher by a whopping 4.5 percent. The EuroStoxx 50 index was also up almost 4.0 percent. And futures in the U.S. were higher by 1.0 percent.

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Keys to a successful financial relationship for couples

Money is a common topic that can cause disagreements between couples. A new Ameriprise study reveals strategies to help you improve your financial relationship with your partner or spouse.