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The Sandy Spring Way

It’s important to remember that markets ebb and flow over time.

March 11th, 2013 | By Beau Mercer

Brian OettingerDuring periods of strong market performance, like the one we’ve experienced since the end of last year, it’s important to remember that markets ebb and flow over time. Since December 31, 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Index has gained 9.9 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 8.8 percent. Last week, the Dow reached highs last seen during 2007, and the S&P 500 ended the week less than one percent from its record high, which was also realized during 2007.

While the strong performance of U.S. stock markets has given investors reason to smile, significant economic challenges remain. The effect of sequester spending cuts on the American public and economic growth remains relatively unknown. Also, U.S. earnings growth appears to be slowing and that could affect stock prices. (Earnings are a measure of a company’s profitability and influence its share price.)

Global markets were largely up last week, too, as investors seemed to celebrate stronger U.S. and Chinese economic data, as well as the fact that Central banks in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Canada met and left their monetary policies unchanged.

In the Eurozone, economic growth remained relatively weak and inconsistent. While the European Central Bank has stepped up to help countries affected by poor demand for bonds, insufficient bank-to-business lending has negatively affected economic growth, especially in southern Europe, leaving some countries mired in recession.

In the United States, yields on 10-year Treasuries rose higher last week despite Federal Reserve assurances that it will continue to pursue its current monetary policy for some time.

Data as of 03/08/13 1-Week YTD 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)







10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)







Gold (per ounce)







DJ-UBS Commodity Index







DJ Equity All REIT TR Index







Notes: S&P 500, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Is a wedding in your future? If so, prepare yourself.

Between the planner, venue, food, flowers, cake, dress, drinks, photographer, videographer, invitations, programs, and all the rest, you’re likely to be hearing a lot of this: Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

More than $50 billion is spent on weddings in the United States each year. According to the 2012 Wedding Report, the average wedding has about 133 to 143 guests and costs more than $25,000, not including the honeymoon. The good news is the average cost of a wedding in 2011 was less than the average cost in 2007. The bad news is that, according to CostofWedding.com, the cost of any wedding could increase by 50 to 100 percent if the planners choose designer labels, popular event locations, custom products and services, or if they invite significantly more guests.

Here are a few tips that may help ensure wedding costs don’t spiral out of control:

  • Establish a budget. Set a budget for the wedding, but make sure you build in a cushion of 10 to 15 percent for cost overruns, just as you would if you were putting an addition on your house or remodeling.
  • Understand venue and reception costs. When negotiating the cost of your reception, it’s important to ask for the per person cost, all-inclusive. If you’re given an all-inclusive price and you find the words ‘additional costs may be incurred’ or ‘plus the cost of setup and delivery’ in your final contract, ask what those costs are, specifically, and be prepared to negotiate.
  • Make smart liquor choices. The drinks served at the reception often are a significant expense. Many venues charge for every bottle opened. To save on the cost, you could opt to serve beer, wine, and champagne for toasts. Alternatively, you could offer signature cocktails that require a single type of liquor, which can help limit the number of bottles opened.

After evaluating costs, you may decide that the best option is for the happy couple to elope, marry in an exotic locale, and celebrate with a big party when they return. If that’s not an option, make sure to take advantage of the plentiful online resources available.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

–Victor Hugo, French poet and novelist