Newsroom

Much of last week’s economic focus was on the first quarter U.S. GDP report, which registered barely positive growth, at least in the first estimate. Although the 0.2 percent annualized growth rate was at the lower end of the range of expectations, the overall weakness didn’t surprise anyone. The now familiar but nevertheless influential culprits of cold weather, West Coast port closures and the strong dollar were blamed.



Read full article
MINNEAPOLISAPRIL 28, 2015 – Ameriprise Financial (NYSE: AMP) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the retail assets of JHS Capital Advisors (“JHS”), an independent broker-dealer and investment advisor based in Tampa, Fla. The transaction will build on the successful track record of growth in advice and wealth management at Ameriprise.
 
JHS is privately owned and provides comprehensive financial services to clients through a team of 150 financial advisors operating across the U.S. JHS generated over $38 million in revenue in 2014 and at year-end had retail assets totaling $4.1 billion. Like Ameriprise, JHS operates both employee and independent advisor channels. JHS advisors are expected to join one of the existing channels at Ameriprise.
 
“We’re pleased to welcome JHS advisors to the Ameriprise family,” said Neal Maglaque, Ameriprise Chief Operating Officer and head of business development within the company’s advice and wealth management division. “This is a natural fit in terms of both firms’ shared commitment and dedication to providing outstanding service to clients. We look forward to helping JHS advisors grow and serve their clients under the Ameriprise banner.”
  View More

The major U.S. stock averages posted new all-time highs last week, despite further evidence that economic activity in the first quarter was sluggish. The S&P 500 gained 1.8 percent on the week, while the Nasdaq Composite index added 3.2 percent, raising their respective year-to-date gains to 2.9 and 7.7 percent. Prices rose despite a report that showed durable goods orders were once again soft in March (after backing out the volatile transportation component). In fact, capital goods orders in the private sector, ex-aircraft, fell for the seventh straight month.

 



Read full article

When Greece was granted a four month extension to its bailout agreement on February 20, just days before it was set to expire, there was hope that the extra time would allow the new government to find a way to both satisfy its creditors and also to fulfill its election promise of pushing back on the austerity measures imposed by the bailout.
 
After falling sharply ahead of the national election in January, stocks rallied in anticipation of new, less onerous terms that might allow the Greek economy more breathing room.
 
Unfortunately, the good feelings were short lived. Stocks peaked the day after the agreement and have fallen ever since. From the close on February 24, through last Friday, the Athens Stock Exchange General Index is down 22 percent. Bank stocks are down even more. The yield on Greek ten-year government bonds has climbed to 12.79 percent from 8.37. Shorter-term note yields are now quoted in the high-20s. And according to Bloomberg, the credit default swap market, in essence a bond default insurance exchange, is currently pricing in an 82 percent chance of default.
 



Read full article
Now that the March Fed minutes have been released, we are onto the data dependency phase of deciphering when interest rates might first be raised. And since the seemingly interminable winter of 2015 seems to have finally ended, we can look forward to data that is free of weather-related distortion.
 

Read full article

The value of the U.S. dollar has risen dramatically over the last nine months in comparison to many of the other major currencies across the globe. Different strategies by some of the world’s largest central banks have led to a miss-match of currency supply fundamentals and a rapid rebalancing of currency exchange rates. Most notably, since July 1, 2014, the U.S. Dollar Index has jumped 23 percent, its sharpest pace of appreciation in more than 30 years (see chart below). The Dollar Index is a measure of the U.S. dollar’s value in comparison to the world’s other major currencies.



Read full article

The much anticipated March jobs report was decidedly weaker than expected, adding to the already ample evidence of a sluggish first quarter. But investors have so far taken the softer data in stride, expecting growth to rebound now that winter is receding into memory. The jobs report seems to be an outlier. Although the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5 percent, far fewer jobs were created than expected and the previous months’ totals were revised somewhat lower. But the 126,000 new non-farm jobs that were created in March was the lowest monthly total in over a year, and does suggest that weather played a role.



Read full article

The year’s first quarter ends this week, and as with last year, U.S. economic growth in the period is expected to have disappointed due to extenuating circumstances. It may be recalled that GDP fell at annualized pace of 2.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014, as growth ground to a halt in the grip of the Polar Vortex. That the quarter’s performance was clearly an aberration was highlighted by the fact that it followed two quarters of 4.5 and 3.5 percent, and preceded two quarters of 4.6 and 5.0 percent, even accounting for some catch up in lost activity.



Read full article