REPOST: A year-end checklist for your investments

Before this year ends, CNN has got some important and helpful tips for you investments:

 

What do I need to do before the end of the year, to be ready for tax-time and whatever next year may bring?

 

Even if performing a check-up on your investments isn’t typically on your list of things to do before the end of the year, this is one year you don’t want to skip.

 

Markets have been unusually volatile and investors may be leery about the year ahead. The 2018 tax year will also mark the first year in which the tax reforms took effect. That means there are several variables and new factors to consider as you close out the year.

 

Here are some important details to check in on before the end of the year.

Reallocate and rebalance

 

With the market on a tear for the past nine years, many investors’ portfolios have become stock heavy and may no longer reflect big picture goals, says Samuel Wieser, CEO and investment advisor for Northman Financial.

 

Asset allocation is a significant driver of portfolio performance, he says, and periodic rebalancing is a critical part of ensuring you are sticking with your investment strategy.

 

“If your portfolio has a bloated stock allocation, you are likely exposing yourself to excess risk,” Wieser says. “Many experts believe we may see a significant downturn in the economy and stock market in the coming months after the longest bull market in history. If you haven’t rebalanced lately, now would be a great time.”

 

A common mistake when rebalancing, he says, is to only focus on your IRA or brokerage accounts. Make sure you also look at your 401(k) or any other employer sponsored plan. Usually, the allocations in your account are completely up to you even though there may be a third party investment manager looking after the plan as a whole.

 

As a guideline for asset allocation, advisers recommend holding equities in the amount of 100 minus your age. So a typical 40 year old will hold 60% in equities. But consider that guideline alongside the fact that Americans are living longer and earning fewer rewards from low-risk investments. Your risk tolerance may be higher.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Market Updates – 12 December 2018

Global markets mixed Tuesday on positive trade hopes.

 

Image source: moneycontrol.com

 

Asian equities mixed, Japan’s Nikkei closing 0.34% lower as banks and transport stocks fell.

 

The China’s CSI and Hong Kong’s HSI closed higher.
China’s CSI up 0.48% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng with modest gains.

 

European equities surged in early and midday trading up over 1.75% across the region, stumbling towards the close, however, still closing with gains across the region. London’s FTSE and the EURO Stoxx 50 both closing up 1.27%.

 

Choppy trading plagued US equities. Opening with over 1% in gains, slumping to the red midday and closing mixed but mostly lower.

DOW down 0.22%.
S&P down 0.04%.
NASDAQ closing 0.16% higher.

Repost: Approaching Neutral

Here’s a Market update from LOM Financial for the latest Global Market Performance:

 

 

Markets rebounded sharply last week with the MSCI World Index gaining 3.40% while the S&P500 rose 4.91%. The bond markets were mainly flat on the week.

 

The Federal Reserve

 

The Federal Reserves’ role is to balance unemployment with inflation. It achieves that goal by controlling the cost at which banks can borrow money and by buying companies stocks and bonds in the open market (known as quantitative easing). By lowering interest rates and buying up shares of companies in the open market, they prop up the economy. When they believe the economy is overheating (e.g., almost everyone that wants a job has one and prices of goods are rising), they try to cool things down by raising the interest rates and reducing their balance sheet. The latter is important because an overheated economy would be more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors and unchecked inflation can erode our ability to save and plan over the long-term.

 

The new Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, inherited an environment with historically low interest rates and a strong economy. He has been on record expressing concern that the low rates were creating a bond market bubble (declining interest rates increase the price of existing bonds). At the beginning of the year, the aggressive schedule of four rate hikes appeared unlikely. As the impact of the tax cuts appeared to stimulate the economy while the effects of an uncertain quantity of tariffs were yet to be felt, the Fed felt comfortable enough to raise rates.

 

Markets got spooked in October, when Mr. Powell implied that we were “a long way” from neutral, a rate level that would neither heat up or cool down the economy. That uncertainty, along with other risks like a trade war escalation and a potential hard Brexit, weighed down markets.

 

In a televised meeting at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday, Powell was quoted as saying we are now “just below neutral.” I believe this implies the band would be 3-7% (since the historical average is close to 5%). Markets took this as good news, rallying sharply into the second half of the week.

 

Continue reading HERE.

 

Repost: Asian stocks take a breather after days of declines

Asian stocks saw gains on the day. Take a look at CNBC‘s latest market updates:

 


Following a closely watched OPEC meeting in Vienna on Thursday, the cartel reportedly agreed to decrease oil production but did not specify the exact number of barrels it aimed to bring off the market.

 

Shares in Asia were mostly higher on Friday on the back of a report suggesting the U.S. Federal Reserve could consider a slower tempo of increasing interest rates than had been previously expected.

 

The hard-hit mainland Chinese markets ended the trading day mostly unchanged, with both the Shanghai composite and the Shenzhen composite largely flat at around 2,605.89 and about 1,350.70, respectively.

 

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong traded down by around 0.1 percent as of its final hour of trade.

 

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.82 percent to close at 21,678.68 while the Topix index gained 0.61 percent to finish the trading week at 1,620.45.

 

Shares of Softbank, which saw significant declines in the previous trading day, extended losses as it fell 2.09 percent on the day. The company had earlier announced that there was no change in its earnings and dividend forecasts after a mobile service outage on Thursday.

 

Over in South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.34 percent to close at 2,075.76, with shares of chipmaker SK Hynix rising 1.21 percent.

 

The ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.42 percent to close at 5,681.50, with almost sectors in positive territory. That was a rebound from Thursday, when the index saw declines amid a broader sell-off across the Asia Pacific region.

 

Shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four banks saw gains on the day. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.16 percent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 1.00 percent while Westpac advanced 0.23 percent and National Australia Bank climbed up by 0.25 percent.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Repost: Stock Rout Eases on Trade Pledge; Pound Advances: Markets Wrap

Today’s Global market updates from Bloomberg:

  • U.S. futures rise after rout; cash market, Treasuries closed
  • Crude oil is little changed; cryptocurrencies extend declines

 

European and Asian stocks dropped on Wednesday following the rout on Wall Street, though declines were contained and U.S. equity futures rose after China pledged to start delivering on trade agreements reached with America. The pound gained as traders weighed the latest on Brexit.

 

Global markets were left reeling following Tuesday’s steep sell-off in New York, but nerves appeared to steady after China’s Commerce Ministry said Beijing will start to quickly implement specific items where there’s consensus with the U.S. and will push forward on trade negotiations within the 90-day “timetable and road map.” While the Stoxx Europe 600 Index slumped 1.2 percent, that was far less than the 3.2 percent plunge recorded by the S&P 500 a day earlier. Futures for America’s benchmark gauge advanced, though the U.S. market is closed on Wednesday to mark the death of President George H. W. Bush.

 

Stocks fell in Japan, Korea, Australia and Hong Kong, and China’s yuan gave up some of its recent surge. The pound edged higher as investors digested legal advice over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which confirmed that the so-called customs backstop — the insurance mechanism that kicks in if the Irish border issue cannot be resolved — could remain “indefinitely.” Benchmark German bunds rose before reversing, while Italian bonds jumped on mounting optimism for a positive end to the country’s budget spat with the EU.

 

 

The break in trading in the U.S. offers respite to investors after a roller coaster few days, and a chance to reassess what might be behind the latest bout of selling. From the trade war to flattening Treasury yield curve there’s no shortage of culprits, but the underlying narrative appears to be mounting concern that the global growth picture is not as robust as it seems.

 

Continue reading HERE for more insights.

REPOST: Five Books of 2018 That Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Check out Entrepreneur’s book suggestions for new and seasoned business owners:

 

 

Every year, hundreds of books about leadership, entrepreneurship and business are published, with each offering a unique insight into how we can work towards creating a better version of ourselves and our work.

 

As we get ready to welcome the holiday season and the new year, let’s take a look at some of the books that were published in the past 11 months and what makes them must-reads of 2018.

 

Written by Daymond John, the New York Times bestselling author of The Power Of Broke, this 320 pager explores how grit, persistence and hard work are the backbone of every successful business and individual. John, an entrepreneur himself, shares his experiences with several popular artistes to drive home his point. From how musician Carlos Santana strikes work-life to how female actor Catherine Zeta-Jones keeps herself focused, the author weaves several anecdotes with his personal philosophies on how to stay productive every day.

 

From the book: “A kung fu master could be the ultimate at 40 years old, and you think he doesn’t need to learn any more moves. But a kung fu master needs to learn a different set of moves at 70, when his muscle retention and reflexes aren’t the same. To still be a master, he has to find other things to do to replace what is gone. And so I think (work) is a constant learning curve.”

 

Continue reading HERE.

Three important traits that define a successful investor

Image source: LOM Financial

Investing in stocks, bonds, real estate, and other high-risk opportunities is like gambling. They are relatively profitable, but the journey as a whole is highly unpredictable. Having an abundance of investible assets doesn’t guarantee you success, as it requires both efficient money management skills and excellent personal qualities. Before taking the leap, it’s vital to assess yourself first.  Here are some disciplines you should exercise to become a successful investor in the future:

 

  1. Be a proactive learner

 

A great investor should never stop learning. According to Warren Buffett, one of the most successful billionaire investors in the world, a good investor must continue to learn new (and useful) things every day and make it a habit. Whichever investment you are in, be a savvy and proactive individual to help build up your financial acumen. The more informed you get, the better plans you can make.

 

  1. Be bold and have patience

 

Good things come to those who wait, as the cliché goes. However, in the volatile world of investing, having patience isn’t the sole gauge to put your money in great risk. Nothing will happen if you keep on waiting and hoping for a higher return. Make a bold strategic decision on how to gamble your money well. Sometimes, investors get easily disheartened whenever they face shortfalls and eventually give up, oftentimes leading to unnecessary waste of money and effort without realizing it.

 

  1. Seek mentorship from professional wealth advisors

 

Choosing which investment opportunity to go with is a tall order for people who lack enough knowledge in investing. That is why seeking advice from financial experts and experienced professionals is necessary to help you monitor and manage your own investments. Offshore investment centers, such as The Cayman Islands and Bermuda, are excellent locations to find the best wealth managers who can custom-design your investments based on your goals, financial capacity, and risk profile.

Filing and IPO: What happens when private companies get ready to “go public”?

Image source: LOM Financial

The stages of “going public” through an Initial Public Offering usually involve strict and regulated procedures. Most importantly, the process does not happen overnight. In fact, an IPO typically takes three to four months before a company can finally begin their first day of trading on the stock exchange.

 

Underwriting

A company can file an IPO through the help and expertise of an investment bank, also called “underwriters”. Investment banks can either work alone or with a team of banks to help distribute the funding, helping spread around the risks.

Negotiations between the banks and the companies take place, to determine how much money can be raised by the public offering. The type of securities to be issued will depend on the results of the final agreements.

 

Registration Statement

The parties involved will then put together the necessary documents and registration statement that should be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. After investigations and other evaluations, the SEC will finally approve and set a date for the IPO. The same body will present a prospectus.

 

The Road Show

The financial information of the company doing the IPO in the form of the prospectus is then presented to potential investors around the world, thus, a “road show”. Underwriters have the legal power to grant shares to prospects before officially listing the stocks in the exchange.

 

Pricing and Going Public

The company and the underwriter will be the ones to decide the pricing. Some factors, however, will be considered like the present market condition and more importantly, the results of the road show. Choosing which exchanges are allowed to get the new stocks also requires decision-making from both the firm and the underwriter.

After the selection and following the date set by SEC, the company can now finally go public for the first time.

Top companies that ‘fuel’ the highly-industrialized world

Image source: pixabay.com

The modern world is powered by the leading providers of energy. In fact, their role in the sustenance of a highly-industrialized generation is considered irreplaceable, making the oil-based energy industry one of the most important providers that fuel the modern era. As such, oil companies are an extremely valuable component in many investment portfolios, including those managed by leading asset management firms like LOM Financial.

Based on their market capital and their ability to deliver millions of products per day, here are the world’s biggest energy companies today:

British Petroleum

With a BPD (barrel per day) estimate of 3.3 million, British Petroleum (BP) is one of the largest producers of oil and gas not only in Europe but in the world. The company is based in London and has an estimated market cap of over $142 billion. BP has operations in 29 countries worldwide that cover activities such as exploring for new oil and natural gas resources, developing access to such resources, as well as producing, transporting, storing, and processing oil and natural gas.

PetroChina

The energy company is a state-run producer of oil and gas in China. PetroChina’s oil production rate has been estimated to have delivered an impressive 4.1 million of BPD based on a January 2018 report. With a market cap of over $248 billion, this energy company controls at least 31% of the country’s crude oil refining operations.

Gazprom

Russia is one of the top energy providers in the world and it’s actually ranked first for its efforts in thermal energy generation – worldwide. The company delivers 8.38 million BPD, with a market cap of almost $60 billion. Moreover, Gazprom owns and operates the largest gas transmission system in the world. The company also expressed their future plans to expand its operations specifically for gas development projects to the Russian Far East.

Exxon Mobil

As an American oil giant, Exxon Mobil has an estimated market cap of over $366 billion, producing 5.5 million barrels of oil per day. That’s why it easily ranks among the world’s biggest oil companies. Additionally, the company does significant research on clean energy technologies that it may commercialize in the near future: algae biofuels, biodiesel from agricultural waste, and carbonate fuel cells.

From traditional to technology-driven: Digital transformations in the finance industry

Image source: pixabay.com

For many decades since the establishment of the finance industry, banks, insurers and other related sectors have relied on relatively similar business models. While such traditional practices have proven to be profitable for a time, the new demands of today’s modern society require a more advanced and digitally dominated industry. Here are some examples of the leading digital transformations that are shaping the industry at present.

Blockchain trade finance platform

Today, digital innovations and technological tools are set to disrupt how the industry does their business. China is leading a digital transformation in finance like no other, and it includes one of the biggest newcomers in technology today: blockchain.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the country’s central bank, will launch a live blockchain trade finance platform in September 2018. The main goal of this transformation is to boost transparency to data sharing, reduce frauds and increase credit availability among its participating financial institutions.

A current total of 21 banks will take part as participating nodes in the said platform, and it includes internationally renowned institutions like Standard Chartered and HSBC.

Cryptocurrency

The blockchain is the same technology that is responsible for the birth of the latest craze in the finance world: digital money, popularly known as a cryptocurrency. Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (Ether), and Ripple (XRP) are just some examples of the most popular digital currencies today.

Last year was a huge year for cryptocurrencies, boasting a market capitalization from its humble $18 billion to the current $800 billion in January 2018.

Robo-advisors

The presence of robots in plant operations and manufacturing scenes is nothing new, but how about in the finance industry? One of the new services offered in finance is an automated “robo-advisor” assists clients in money management, asset allocation, tax-loss harvesting, and automated rebalancing. However, this AI-controlled technology is still at its infancy and its efficiency as compared to that of actual financial advisors is yet to be determined.