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If recent manufacturing data is any indication, Wednesday’s Beige Book report could be quite dovish.

The Federal Reserve releases its ‘Beige Book’ report of regional economic conditions tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2 PM ET.  We believe the report could offer some of the most cautious comments on U.S. economic momentum that we have seen in some time, particularly in regard to the manufacturing sector.       

Just six months ago, consensus expectations of the Fed’s first rate hike were firmly focused on June.  Since that time, however, inflation expectations have drifted steadily lower, along with a further drop in oil prices and additional strengthening of the U.S. dollar.   As such, we have seen many forecasters migrate their estimate of the first Fed rate hike to the September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  We believe this is a prudent adjustment that could ultimately be pushed-out even further.

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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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Despite another round of less than robust economic news, U.S. equities continued their recent climb last week. The S&P 500 added 0.6 percent, for its third straight weekly gain. This increase came although home builder sentiment dropped, along with housing starts and building permits. Producer prices also fell, bringing the year-over-year increase to 0.0 percent. The manufacturing sector did manage a modest increase, but capacity utilization fell, while industrial production edged higher.

But stocks seemed to take their cue from events in Europe, where the expectation of an agreement between Greece and the Troika began to build throughout the week, culminating in a deal on Friday. And although the agreement appeared to be one that was far more favorable to its creditors than to the newly elected government in Greece, it was enough to push the threat of a Greek exit from the Economic and Monetary Union aside, at least for a few months.



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What’s Different This Time? Corporate Earnings

Despite being up only fractionally on the year, the S&P 500 established a new record high last week. In doing so, it managed to overcome a 15 percent drop in the energy sector over the past six months, offset by a 15 percent increase in healthcare stocks during the same interval, and a positive contribution from each of the remaining eight sectors.
 
But it wasn’t until the energy sector rejoined the party four weeks ago, and has climbed 12 percent since, that a new high was established. But, as welcome as it may be, a new high in the S&P 500 is not such big news. It has been consistently establishing a series of all-time new highs for the better part of the past two years.



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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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