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This is probably a good time to ask that question, as the US equity markets put in one of their poorest performances of the year last week.

Schaeffer’s Investment Research noted, “All in all, it was a terrible week for the Dow, which slipped 2.9%, with losses somewhat lower on the NASDAQ, down 2.3%, and the S&P 500, off 2.1%. The DJIA extended its losing streak to four days, as soft earnings numbers again hurt, exacerbated by lackluster housing data and plummeting commodity prices.”

The S&P 500 essentially followed a pattern that market observers have now come to expect this year, traveling back and forth in a range from 2050 to 2130. The good news is the S&P 500 Index is testing all-time market highs at the top of the range—the bad news is it just cannot seem to break through.

A similar up-and-down cycle of investor emotions has accompanied this range-bound market. CNNMoney each week publishes its version of a “Fear and Greed Index.” Last week they noted a reading of “Extreme Fear,” which was a bit surprising given that the VIX Volatility Index finished the week well under 20 (13.7), registering relative calm.


Source: CNNMoney

CNNMoney’s Fear and Greed Index tracks some interesting measures (see below), none of which are directly reported market sentiment on the part of retail investors or investment advisors. This makes it somewhat different from many other types of sentiment analyses or “fear gauges” commonly used.

  • Market Volatility, as measured by the CBOE’s Volatility Index (VIX), which is constructed using the implied volatilities of a wide range of S&P 500 Index options. Now showing a Neutral rating, with spikes seen during the Greece crisis subsiding.

  • Junk Bond Demand, which tracks the spread between “safer” investment grade bonds and “more risky” junk bonds, showing a Fear rating based on a sharp uptick in the spread.

  • Market Momentum: The S&P 500 Index performance versus its 125-day moving average. Extreme Fear now, based on the speed in which the Index crossed below this moving average.

  • Stock Price Strength: The number of stocks hitting 52-week highs and lows on the NYSE. Extreme Fear currently, with this indicator at its lowest reading of the year, and lowest since October 2014.

  • Stock Price Breadth: The volume of shares trading in stocks on the rise versus those declining, based on the McClellan Volume Summation Index for the NYSE. During the last month, approximately 15.7% more of each day's volume has traded in declining issues than in advancing issues, pushing this indicator towards the lower end of its range for the last two years. (Extreme Fear).

  • Put and Call Options: Based on the CBOE 5-Day Put/Call Ratio, which compares the trading volume of call options relative to the trading volume of put options. While volume in bullish calls typically exceeds that in bearish puts, this ratio has seen a surge higher in June and July (Extreme Fear).  

  • Safe Haven Demand: The relative difference in returns for stocks versus Treasuries, with “safe haven” bonds outperforming stocks by over 3.3 percentage points during the last 20 trading days, close to the weakest performance for stocks relative to bonds in the past two years (Extreme Fear).

While one can certainly question the validity of this analysis and the “rating” system being employed, it is interesting to see how “actual” market measures are performing, as opposed to “self-reported” sentiment measures. And, as with most indicators, the trend is usually what is most important—and that certainly is headed in a southerly direction.
Source: CNNMoney

When markets hit these types of rough patches, the financial press jumps on the bandwagon, fanning the fears already present for many investors:

  • Will China’s weakening economy and turbulent stock market carry over to the performance of US corporations? (With concerns only growing after yesterday’s 8.5% market decline in the Shanghai Composite Index, the largest one-day drop since 2007.)

  • Is Greece really calm for the foreseeable future, or will it soon come back to haunt global markets?

  • Does a very mixed earnings season mean that corporations have finally reached the end of their cost-cutting, margin-boosting ability to keep EPS growing?

  • What does the global rout in commodities signify for global growth prospects?

  • Will a likely Fed interest hike (or hikes) this year impact economic growth and equity market confidence?

  • Has a long-in-tooth bull market finally run out of steam, with a significant correction, or even a bear market, lurking around the corner?

Bespoke Investment Group took a look over the weekend at the technical picture for each of the major US Indexes. The NASDAQ is far and away the strongest technically, while the S&P 500 has a relatively flat 50-day moving average. The DJIA and Russell 2000 are exhibiting the most technical issues, with the DJIA, says Bespoke, “horribly broken down to the bottom of its downtrend.” The chart below does not capture today’s very poor market action, with the Dow putting in a fifth straight day of losses. Bespoke summarizes: “With weak breadth continuing, any move higher over the space of the next couple days will probably be met with eventual selling. Market bulls have their work cut out for them for the remainder of the summer.”


Source: Bespoke Investment Group

It really is enough to start to psych out even the most rational and even-keeled investors.

Dr. Richard Peterson, a world-renowned behavioral psychologist and finance expert, and a keynote speaker at this September’s inaugural Proactive Advisor National Conference, has closely examined investor behavior and emotional reaction during all sorts of market environments. Words from the author of the very insightful book, MarketPsych, capture well this particular point in time:

“Risk-off behavior is a collective pursuit of financial safety, while risk-on describes the flow of capital to momentum-driven and higher yielding securities. Periods of risk-off are catalyzed by a growing sense of unpredictability, increasingly negative news flow, and rapidly falling prices. The seeds of doubt, once germinated, can begin to choke investors with tendrils of fear.”

So what is the bottom line for advisors and investors who employ the suitability-based strategies of Flexible Plan Investments? As FPI’s president and founder Jerry Wagner says consistently, “As an active money manager, we believe that dynamic risk management is the most important ingredient for investment success. We add active management and strategic diversification to our defensive toolbox to combat market volatility, playing defense first and offense second.”

While there are no guarantees anywhere in the investment world, hopefully the real-time application of that investment philosophy will help you avoid being psyched out by the market, both now and in the future.

Have a great week,

David

P.S., The following photo was taken by a neighbor’s daughter last Friday as a black bear was raiding the birdfeeder on their back deck—a very rare sighting in our area of Connecticut. I am hopeful it is not a literal precursor of that “bear lurking around every corner” phrase!

 


 

 

MarketPsych: How to Manage Fear and Build Your Investor Identity
by Richard L. Peterson and Frank F. Murtha  

 





TCA Liberty Mobile App

Financial Advisers and their clients who use Trust Company of America’s Liberty application to view balances and activity on their Strategic Solutions accounts will want to review this information from TCA about the optimal operating systems to use for various desktop, laptop, and mobile devices.

Liberty mobile app PDF

Contact clientservices@flexibleplan.com if you have any questions.


US equity markets were down last week. The NASDAQ Composite lost 2.33% last week, the S&P 500 was down 2.21%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded a weekly loss of 2.86%. All ten of the S&P industrial sectors were down for the week. The move downward was led by Materials (-5.47%), Energy (-4.07%), Industrials (-3.81%), and Telecommunications (-3.04%). The Quantified Funds were also down for the week: the Quantified Market Leaders Fund (QMLFX) lost 3.61%, the Quantified Managed Bond Fund (QBDSX) was down 0.11%, the Quantified Alternative Investment Fund (QALTX) lost 1.45%, and the Quantified All-Cap Equity Fund (QACFX) recorded a weekly loss of 2.62%.

Last week the Quantified All-Cap Equity Fund (QACFX) shifted its weightings in four leading stock baskets, which were over 52% of the portfolio’s composition: “All-Cap Liquidity Premium” (19%), “CPMS-Earnings Growth” (12%), “All-Cap Low Debt” (11%), and “CPMS-Price Momentum” (10%). Among domestic sector distributions, Information Technology and Financials led with portfolio allocations of 18% and 21%, respectively. The largest stock holdings in the All-Cap portfolio were in the common stock of Employers Holdings, Inc. (EIG, 1.92%) and the common stock of CTS Corp. (CTS, 3.00%).

The cash level within the All-Cap Fund remained at 10% last week. The Fund’s daily pattern trading of S&P 500 futures started the week neutral, changed to 8% short on Monday’s close, neutral on Tuesday’s close, and 8% long on Friday’s close to begin this week. Our TVA-based futures hedge started the week 5% long, changed to 16% long on Monday’s close, and neutral on Tuesday’s close to begin this week.

The Market Environment Indicator (MEI) remained bullish last week. On Friday, equity asset class allocations in the Quantified Market Leaders Fund remained at the following: Large-Cap Growth (4.80%), Mid-Cap Growth (9.60%), Developed Countries / World Stock (14.40%), and Small-Cap Growth (19.20%). Total sector ETF weightings changed to 52% from the prior week. Distribution of sector holdings and weights were as follows: Health Care (13.00%), Banking (13.00%), Internet (13.00%), and Biotech (13.00%). The individual ETF positions with the leading portfolio weightings were the First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index ETF (FDN, 13.00%), the iShares MSCI EAFE Index ETF (EFA, 10.88%), the iShares Russell 2000 Growth Index ETF (IWO, 8.60%), and the ProShares Ultra Russell 2000 ETF (UWM, 7.80%).

Within the Quantified Alternative Investment Fund (QALTX), the Long/Short Market Neutral Alternative sub-portfolio increased allocations to the Dreyfus Dynamic Total Return Fund (AVGRX, 3.15%) and the John Hancock Global Absolute Return Strategies Fund (JHAAX, 4.25%).

Among the largest ETF positions there were a few changes: allocations to the iShares US Industrial ETF (IYJ, 2.88%) and the iShares US Consumer Services ETF (IYC, 1.99%) increased, while allocations to the PowerShares Global Clean Energy ETF (PBD, 0.93%) and the First Trust Consumer Staples AlphaDex ETF (FXG, 2.78%) decreased.

The cash level within the Fund increased to 24.36% last week. The daily pattern trading of S&P 500 Index futures with 10% fund capital allocation started the week neutral, changed to 4% short on Monday’s close, neutral on Tuesday’s close, and 4% long on Friday’s close to begin this week. The 7.5% capital allocation of the volatility-based systematic trading of NASDAQ 100 Index futures started the week 4.5% long and changed to 6% long on Thursday’s close to begin this week.

The Quantified Managed Bond Fund’s (QBDSX) two leading broad-bond index ETF holdings, the Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond Index ETF (VGSH, 0.00%) and the Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration ETF (GSY, 0.05%), were mixed for the week.

The 10-year US Treasury yield decreased to 2.26% for the week. The Fund increased weighting in the SPDR Nuveen Barclay Capital Short-Term Municipal ETF (SHM) from 6.53% to 7.58% and in the iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF (SHY) from 5.00% to 7.40%, while decreasing allocations in the PIMCO Total Return ETF (BOND) from 6.00% to 4.00% and in the Vanguard Short-Term Government Bond Index ETF (VGSH) from 10.58% to 8.63%. Cash increased to 25.75%.

Total Return

Fund (Inception)

Symbol

Qtr Ending 6/30/15

YTD Ending 6/30/15

1 Year Ending 6/30/15

Since Inception Ending 6/30/15*

Annual Expense Ratio

The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund (7/5/13)

QGLDX

(1.51%)

(1.89%)

(13.62%)

(4.34%)

1.66%

Quantified Managed Bond Fund (8/9/13)

QBDSX

(2.50%)

(2.20%)

(3.84%)

(0.21%)

1.68%

Quantified All-Cap Equity Fund (8/9/13)

QACFX

(1.31%)

0.82%

0.68%

2.60%

1.51%

Quantified Market Leaders Fund (8/9/13)

QMLFX

(3.41%)

1.29%

(1.42%)

5.49%

1.71%

Quantified Alternative Investment Fund (8/9/13)

QALTX

(2.56%)

(0.94%)

(3.33%)

4.15%

2.20%

*Annualized

As of the most recent prospectus, the expense ratios for the Gold Bullion Strategy Fund are as follows: Investors’ Class (No Load), 1.66%; Class A, 1.66%; Class C, 2.41%. The maximum sales charge imposed on Class A share purchases (as percentage of offering price) is 5.75%. An additional 2% redemption fee applies to all share classes, including Investors’ Class, when shares are redeemed within 7 days of purchase.

The performance data quoted represents past performance; past performance does not guarantee future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate and an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. To obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end please call 1-855-647-8268.

Risks associated with the Quantified Funds include active frequent trading risk, aggressive investment techniques, small and mid-cap companies risk, counter party risk, depository receipt risk, derivatives risk, equity securities risk, foreign securities risk, holding cash risk, limited history of operations risk, lower quality debt securities risk, non-diversification risk, investing in other investment companies (including ETFs) risk, shorting risk, asset backed securities risk, commodity risk, credit risk, interest risk, prepayment risk, and mortgage backed securities risk. For detailed information relating to these risks, please see prospectus. 

The principal risks of investing in The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund are Risks of the Sub-advisor’s Investment Strategy, Risks of Aggressive Investment Techniques, High Portfolio Turnover, Risk of Investing in Derivatives, Risks of Investing in ETFs, Risks of Investing in Other Investment Companies, Leverage Risk, Taxation Risk, Concentration Risk, Gold Risk, Wholly-owned Corporation Risk, Risk of Non-Diversification and interest rate risk. “Gold Risk” includes volatility, price fluctuations over short periods, risks associated with global monetary, economic, social and political conditions and developments, currency devaluation and revaluation and restrictions, trading and transactional restrictions. 

An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of each Quantified Fund and The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds’ prospectus, which can be obtained by calling 1-855-647-8268. The prospectus should be read carefully prior to investing in The Quantified Funds or The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund. 


There is no guarantee that any of the Quantified Funds or The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund will achieve their investment objectives.

Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., serves as investment sub-advisor to The Gold Bullion Strategy and Quantified Funds. Advisors Preferred, LLC serves as the Funds’ investment advisor.

 

For more information on the Quantified Funds, sub-advised by Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., please review the prospectus and fund performance.

 

Current or historical holdings of the funds

 

 


 

Over last week, the gold spot price tumbled 3.09%, despite the weakened US Dollar Index. The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund (QGLDX) lost 3.08% for the week. The prices of short-duration fixed income ETF holdings rose slightly, on average, over last week, while the value of the COMEX gold futures, which has an early 1:30 PM close, fell 3.19%. The fund continued buying into three short-term corporate bond issues last week.

Total Return

Fund (Inception) Symbol Qtr Ending 6/30/15 YTD Ending 6/30/15 1 Year Ending 6/30/15 Since Inception Ending 6/30/15* Annual Expense Ratio
The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund (7/5/13) QGLDX (1.51%) (1.89%) (13.62%) (4.34%) 1.66%
Quantified Managed Bond Fund (8/9/13) QBDSX (2.50%)
(2.20%)
(3.84%) (0.21%) 1.68%
Quantified All-Cap Equity Fund (8/9/13) QACFX (1.31%)
0.82%
0.68% 2.60% 1.51%
Quantified Market Leaders Fund (8/9/13) QMLFX (3.41%)
1.29% (1.42%) 5.49% 1.71%
Quantified Alternative Investment Fund (8/9/13) QALTX (2.56%) (0.94%) (3.33%) 4.15% 2.20%

*Annualized

As of the most recent prospectus, the expense ratios for the Gold Bullion Strategy Fund are as follows: Investors’ Class (No Load), 1.66%; Class A, 1.66%; Class C, 2.41%. The maximum sales charge imposed on Class A share purchases (as percentage of offering price) is 5.75%. An additional 2% redemption fee applies to all share classes, including Investors’ Class, when shares are redeemed within 7 days of purchase.

The performance data quoted represents past performance; past performance does not guarantee future results. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate and an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. To obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end please call 1-855-647-8268.

Risks associated with the Quantified Funds include active frequent trading risk, aggressive investment techniques, small and mid-cap companies risk, counter party risk, depository receipt risk, derivatives risk, equity securities risk, foreign securities risk, holding cash risk, limited history of operations risk, lower quality debt securities risk, non-diversification risk, investing in other investment companies (including ETFs) risk, shorting risk, asset backed securities risk, commodity risk, credit risk, interest risk, prepayment risk, and mortgage backed securities risk. For detailed information relating to these risks, please see prospectus. 

The principal risks of investing in The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund are Risks of the Sub-advisor’s Investment Strategy, Risks of Aggressive Investment Techniques, High Portfolio Turnover, Risk of Investing in Derivatives, Risks of Investing in ETFs, Risks of Investing in Other Investment Companies, Leverage Risk, Taxation Risk, Concentration Risk, Gold Risk, Wholly-owned Corporation Risk, Risk of Non-Diversification and interest rate risk. “Gold Risk” includes volatility, price fluctuations over short periods, risks associated with global monetary, economic, social and political conditions and developments, currency devaluation and revaluation and restrictions, trading and transactional restrictions. 

An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of each Quantified Fund and The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds’ prospectus, which can be obtained by calling 1-855-647-8268. The prospectus should be read carefully prior to investing in The Quantified Funds or The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund. 


There is no guarantee that any of the Quantified Funds or The Gold Bullion Strategy Fund will achieve their investment objectives.

Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., serves as investment sub-advisor to The Gold Bullion Strategy and Quantified Funds. Advisors Preferred, LLC serves as the Funds’ investment advisor.

 

For more information on the Quantified Funds, sub-advised by Flexible Plan Investments, Ltd., please review the prospectus and fund performance.

Current or historical holdings of the funds

 


 

Last Sunday night/ Monday morning, when all of the world’s major markets were asleep, gold bears made a raid on prices, running through the stops when no one was there to defend them. They drove down the price of gold (in dollars) by over 4% in one minute!

This followed what was considered a bearish report on China’s central bank purchases of physical gold bullion. Gold prices slid further in the week, but then rebounded some.

The good news is that gold prices are well below production cost levels, which should cause mining companies to cut back until prices rise again. This creates an ideal price level to gold exposure to a portfolio.


Untitled Document

Trying week for stocks, gold & oil

Earnings letdowns sent the Dow down 2.86% last week, the Nasdaq down 2.33%, and the S&P 500 down 2.21%. Friday, the Dow settled at 17,568.53, the Nasdaq at 5,088.63, and the S&P at 2,079.65. Gold closed Friday at its lowest level since early June: $1,085.50. Futures fell 2.3% for the week on the COMEX. West Texas Intermediate crude prices slipped 5.4% in five days to a Friday close of $48.14.3,4

% Change Y-T-D 1-Yr Chg 5-Yr Avg 10-Yr Avg
DJIA
-1.43
+2.84
+13.71
+6.58
NASDAQ
+7.44
+13.79
+24.84
+13.49
S&P 500
+1.01
+4.61
+17.72
+6.92
Real Yield 7/24 Rate 1-Yr Ago 5-Yrs Ago 10-Yrs Ago
10Yr TIPS Yd
0.51%
0.25%
1.24%
1.94%

  June YTD returns
DJIA -1.14%
NASDAQ +5.30%
S&P 500 +0.20%

Sources: wsj.com, bigcharts.com, treasury.gov - 7/24/15 5,6,7,8
Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly.
These returns do not include dividends.


Existing home sales up, new home sales down

According to the National Association of Realtors, residential resales increased 3.2% in June with the median home value hitting an all-time peak of $236,400, 6.5% higher than a year ago. New home buying subsided 6.8% last month with the median sales price at $281,800, representing a 1.8% year-over-year decline. Even so, the pace of new home sales improved 21.2% across the first six months of 2015.1


Leading indicator index rises 0.6%

This June advance for the Conference Board’s LEI followed its 0.8% May gain; the LEI has risen at least 0.6% for the past three months. Six of its 10 indicators improved in June; only one declined.2



Citations

1 - cbsnews.com/news/new-home-sales-hit-june-slump/ [7/24/15]
2 - usnews.com/news/business/articles/2015/07/23/gauge-of-future-health-of-economy-up-06-percent-in-june [7/23/15]
3 - markets.on.nytimes.com/research/markets/usmarkets/usmarkets.asp [7/24/15]
4 - proactiveinvestors.com/companies/news/62576/gold-declines-08-to-1085ounce-wti-sheds-06-to-4814barrel-62576.html [7/24/15]
5 - markets.wsj.com/us [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=7%2F24%2F14&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=7%2F24%2F14&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=7%2F24%2F14&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=7%2F23%2F10&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=7%2F23%2F10&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=7%2F23%2F10&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=7%2F25%2F05&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=7%2F25%2F05&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
6 - bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=7%2F25%2F05&x=0&y=0 [7/24/15]
7 - treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyield [7/24/15]
8 - treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyieldAll [7/24/15]

 


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Disclosures

To our readers
Everything in the newsletter pertains to strategies available on our Strategic Solutions platform at Trust Company of America. The same strategies are implemented on many other products: mutual funds, variable annuity, variable life and retirement platforms. Therefore, we expect the strategic discussion may be of interest to you. Note, however, that since these products have their own subaccount and fund universes and different internal expenses, the results and trading of the same strategy on other platforms may differ substantially from those described herein.

Managed Retirement Plan Participants:
Most of you are managed using Lifetime Evolution and our sub-advised funds, so those topics will be most applicable to your account. But, more and more of you are in plans using Market Leaders. If so, that newsletter section may interest you

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