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More holiday sales = economic growth (Part II)

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Our Chief Investment Officer reports on the outcome of his predictions made before Black Friday.

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Before Thanksgiving, we suggested that today’s consumers are financially healthier than in past years, which, we think, will drive a robust holiday spending season.

Some of the numbers reported appeared to be a bit Grinch-like. The National Retail Federation reported that Thanksgiving weekend sales were down 11 percent and online sales posted negative growth as well.

Our research at UMB leads us to a more cheerful conclusion, for two primary reasons.

  • Black Friday appears to be losing its reserve. You may recall that in the past retailers competed with one another to be the first store to open on Friday morning. Then they began opening the stores on Thanksgiving. Fast forward to today, when many retailers have promotional items on display prior to the holiday. Perhaps Black Friday has become Black November, meaning that the window of shopping days to be analyzed has become longer than just one weekend.
  • Several online retailers announced robust sales gains. We believe online sales are growing nearly 30 percent this season. We think this is due to the adoption of mobile technology. Since online retailers are open 24/7, so is the option to shop. We are also seeing a shift from brick and mortar stores to online retailers and we expect this trend to continue.

The retail sales data, along with other recently released economic data, supports our forecast of greater than 3 percent GDP growth in the fourth quarter, giving us nice momentum into 2015.

In Part I of this report, we anticipated material job growth this holiday season. The non-farm payroll growth in November proved that to be accurate with a gain of 321,000 jobs, again, supporting GDP growth of well over 3 percent.

Clearly the labor market is strengthening. Unemployment stands at 5.8 percent, and we think it will continue to head lower throughout 2015. Job openings are at a level we haven’t seen since 2001.

The labor market, along with higher stock and home prices and lower energy costs, has boosted consumer confidence. So it was no surprise to us that the University of Michigan’s Consumer Confidence Index has risen to a seven-year high.

Lastly, manufacturing data in the United States is hovering around a three-year high, also supporting our GDP forecast.

The bottom line is that all signs are leading us to believe that consumption will continue at a healthy pace. Since consumption is almost 70 percent of GDP, we think economic growth in 2015 will be between 3 to 3.5 percent; significantly higher than what we have seen throughout the last five years.

Given our optimistic economic outlook, we expect to see favorable returns in the stock market. In 2015 we expect 4 percent revenue growth and 6 percent earnings growth — that should lead to 10 percent total returns.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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More holiday sales = economic growth

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Black Friday is only 10 days away! Will you brave the mall? As you stand in the long lines, we’ll give you some tidbits to think about with how your purchases play a part in boosting the economy this holiday season.

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This year retailers are expecting much more than a lump of coal. Major retailers and shipping companies are expecting holiday sales to increase more than 4 percent. We haven’t seen 4 percent growth since 2011. Throughout the last decade, holiday sales have averaged 2.9 percent growth.

Many retailers have already announced significant hiring plans to meet the demand—so seasonal workers may be up as much as 10 percent from last year. A couple of primary shipping companies are even doubling their holiday workforce largely due to demand coming from e-commerce.
1So while you can see that most of the economic data in the United States supports a rather jolly shopping season, we can’t ignore some risks that could shake consumer confidence. A correction in the stock market, or signs of a recession in Europe are events that would in – fact, affect this forecast.

However, we strongly believe that consumers are in better financial health for a number of reasons:

  • Household net worth is at an all time high. This is due to higher stock and home prices.
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  • The labor market is solid. Unemployment is less than 6 percent and job growth has been increasing at a nice pace. These employment gains should continue as there are 4.8 million job openings, a level we haven’t seen since 2001.
  • You are probably noticing lower prices at the pump as well. That translates to more disposable income in consumer’s pockets.
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  • And finally, consumer confidence has been trending up since the Great Recession. And when we feel good about things, we consume.

There are even more factors that point to a better holiday season than last year:

  • Last year the government shutdown in the fourth quarter may have shaken consumer confidence and affected spending – we aren’t facing that situation this year.
  • Unseasonably cold and stormy weather led to some store closings across the nation.
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  • Lastly, in 2013 there were six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to 2012. This year there is one additional day, which makes year over year comparable sale easier to beat.

We think this holiday shopping season will support our forecast of 3 percent economic growth in the fourth quarter.  We also expect to see positive returns in the domestic stock markets.

I wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season. I’ll be back to deliver part two of this forecast after Thanksgiving.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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Veterans Day

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As we use Veterans Day to honor the many people who have sacrificed for us, we’ve been reflecting on what else we can do to better serve our veterans.

Our new job portal is geared specifically for those with a military background. It’s one way we’re trying to connect with veterans, but like many of you, we’re always looking for ways to thank these service men and women.

What ways have you seen organizations succeed in serving individuals and families connected to the military?

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Mariner is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.



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Presidential Terms: What does it matter to the economy?

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It’s election day! Last week we gave you our take on the economic impact of midterm elections.

Now let’s talk about the effects of the presidential cycle.

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Elections and the markets
Investors want to know what the midterm election will do to the markets. Historical data tells us that midterm election years are historically poor performing years in the stock markets.

Let’s step back and review the presidential cycle. Here’s what we found from analyzing 142 years of data:

  • worst performing: year two
    • average return of 2.7 percent
  • best performing: year three
    • equity markets gain on average 12.3 percent

One possible reason for the poor performance in the second year of the presidential cycle (which is also the midterm election year) could be that policy makers remove stimulus after a presidential election, leaving  the worst of the restrictive policy in year two of the presidential term.

Does party matter?
I hear many complaints about a Democrat in the White House being bad for business. Of course, everyone has a right to share opinions, but I’ll stick to fact-based data. I make the assumption that stock market returns are a proxy for business conditions. Going back to 1901, using the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a barometer, the best-performing markets have occurred with a democratic president. Further, the average return under a democratic president is 7.9 percent versus 3 percent with a republican president.

What if we are correct and the Republicans control Congress with President Obama in the White House? What can we expect from the equity markets? Historically that separation of control produces the best returns in the Dow. The average return in that scenario has been 9.8 percent. The worst returns – 1.7 percent – have been seen when the Republicans are in total control of Washington.

Perhaps our founding fathers structured it that way, to ensure no single party would have total control, at least not for long. Perhaps the financial markets don’t like abrupt changes and uncertainty. Gridlock ensures nothing will get done quickly and any policy tweaks will be relatively small.

 

We cannot disagree with data, but keep in mind that elections do matter on many fronts. So find a way to tolerate all those campaign ads, and go out and exercise your constitutional right to vote. If there’s any silver lining to having your political party in control of one side and your opposing party the other, remember it may be a good thing for the financial markets.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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Midterm elections: What does it matter to the economy?

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Elections are vital for more than just ensuring the democratic process (and inundating you with political campaign ads). They also decide which politicians will be making serious fiscal decisions for us. With the midterm elections being held next week, we want to discuss just how they affect the economy.

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Control change in Congress
The race worth watching in the midterm elections this year will be in the Senate. At this early stage we believe there is a slightly better than 50 percent chance that the Republican Party will win control of the Senate. As for the House, the Republican majority does not appear to be changing hands.

Currently, Democrats control the Senate with 53 seats and two Independents that both caucus with the Democrats. Republicans hold the remaining 45 seats.

Here’s the math that leads us to our conclusion that the Republicans have the edge this time:

  • 36 contested seats
    • 21 will go to the Democrats
      • These include seven Democrats in states that supported Mitt Romney in the presidential election. These seven states have substantially lower approval ratings of President Obama than the national average.
    • 15 will go to the Republicans
      • Only one of the Republicans up for reelection is in a state that President Obama carried.

Our research tells us that incumbency is a powerful thing.  During an average election cycle, 90 percent of incumbents win reelection. The Republicans need six additional seats to have the majority, which means it’s going to be close. This is why we put the odds at only slightly better than a coin toss.

What we find interesting is looking past the 2014 Senate race and into the 2016 cycle where we see the opposite happening. Out of the 24 Republicans up for reelection, seven are in states that supported President Obama, meaning the Senate may see a yo-yo effect in 2016.

Why it matters
Why does it matter if the Republicans control Congress? If they are in control, we believe Congress will focus its attention on a few major issues:

  • Spending and other fiscal issues – The debt ceiling will once again be a discussion point in March 2015. A Republican-controlled Congress may look for spending concessions.
  • The 2016 budget –The Republicans made a big deal out of the Senate’s failure to pass a budget in the past, so now it’s their turn to get it done. If Paul Ryan is Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, we could see discussions around tax reform and changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Immigration reform – This could be put on the back burner, which forces it to be addressed by our 2016 presidential candidates.

Stay tuned for part II of this topic on election day—November 4!

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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Business Banking for Dentists

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Should new dentists purchase their first home or buy their practice? Watch to find out our recommendation and some pitfalls to avoid when financing a dental practice.

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Dave Bauer is a Vice President / Region Manager for UMB Business Banking. He is responsible for leading the Business Banking teams in the St. Louis and Oklahoma City regions. He joined UMB in 2011 and has eight years of experience in the financial services industry.



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UMB Insights: Funding a Trust

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We’ve already walked you through the process of estate planning. Today, we’ll explain how to fund that trust and give you an important reminder to update it as your life changes.

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Ms. Gattis joined UMB in 2009. As a Senior Financial Planner, she is responsible for working with clients to insure that they are finding a solution to reaching their unique financial goals. Ms. Gattis has 20 years of experience in the financial industry. Prior to joining UMB, she served as a Private Client Manager for US Trust. Ms. Gattis earned Bachelors in Human Resource Management and Masters in Business Administration degrees from Wichita State University.



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Top 10 Market and Economic Variables to Watch…and 3 to Ignore – Part I

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At its core, investment management involves researching thousands of variables and data points. Careful analysis is required of all of these variables and data points to create a “mosaic of information” in order to draw a conclusion on market and economic directions. With the 24/7 news cycle, investors have more data, surveys and reports in front of them than ever before.

In the spirit of a classic David Letterman Top Ten, we’ve put together our own list, but with a twist at the end. KC visited The Street and The Hays Advantage on Bloomberg Radio to share his insights.

Watch…

ListenKC Mathews on the Hays Advantage

Below are the first two market and economic variables to watch in order to make sound decisions. In the next parts of this series, we’ll bring you more variables and three that perhaps, should be ignored. Let us worry about the rest of the noise.

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10. Earnings Momentum

We are fundamental investors and believe that the primary driver of equity prices is earnings. Regardless of short-term noise that may move markets, sooner or later earnings and earnings momentum will determine market direction.

There is a 77 percent positive correlation between earnings and equity prices. Occasionally you will see equity prices deviate from earnings growth due to various reasons. Since 1955, however, earnings have grown 6.5 percent annually, and the S&P 500 has increased about the same, growing 7 percent on average. In 2014, earnings were up 5 percent and valuations increased by 25 percent, resulting in the S&P 500 posting a 32 percent return.

We expect earnings growth to be in the 4 to 6 percent range this year and continue to expect positive returns in equities. We would not be surprised, though, if we experience a meaningful correction to get earnings and market performance back in line.


9. High Yield Spreads

High yield spreads will usually precede or confirm a material correction in the equity market.  We define a material correction as a decrease of 10 percent or more and haven’t seen this type of a correction since June 2012. Market corrections are a normal and healthy part of a secular bull market. As the domestic equity markets continue to increase, the probability of a meaningful correction also increases. Historically, changes in high yield spreads have either signaled or confirmed a correction in the equity market. For example, in early 1998, high yield spreads widened 65 basis points suggesting an oncoming correction. As expected, a 15 percent mid-year correction followed.  Again, spreads widened by 90 basis points in the summer of 2007, right before the peak of the S&P 500.

In the past two years we have seen smaller corrections ranging from 4 to 7 percent with virtually no widening of high yield spreads. This tells us the meaningful correction has not yet occurred, nor is a correction on the near-term horizon.

Remember to check back for the rest of the variables to watch (and ignore) next month!

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

DISCLOSURE AND IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS:

UMB Private Wealth Management is a division within UMB Bank, n.a. that manages active portfolios for employee benefit plans, endowments and foundations, fiduciary accounts and individuals.  UMB Financial Services Inc * is a wholly owned subsidiary of UMB Bank, n.a. UMB Bank, n.a., is an affiliate within the UMB Financial Corporation. Banking and trust services offered through UMB Private Wealth Management, a division within UMB Bank, n.a.

This report is provided for informational purposes only and contains no investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any specific securities. Statements in this report are based on the opinions of UMB Private Wealth Management and the information available at the time this report was published.

All opinions represent our judgments as of the date of this report and are subject to change at any time without notice. You should not use this report as a substitute for your own judgment, and you should consult professional advisors before making any tax, legal, financial planning or investment decisions. This report contains no investment recommendations and you should not interpret the statements in this report as investment, tax, legal, or financial planning advice. UMB Private Wealth Management obtained information used in this report from third-party sources it believes to be reliable, but this information is not necessarily comprehensive and UMB Private Wealth Management does not guarantee that it is accurate.

All investments involve risk, including the possible loss of principal. This information is not intended to be a forecast of future events and this is no guarantee of any future results. Neither UMB Private Wealth Management nor its affiliates, directors, officers, employees or agents accepts any liability for any loss or damage arising out of your use of all or any part of this report.

“UMB” – Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Copyright © 2012. UMB Financial Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

*Securities offered through UMB Financial Services, Inc. member FINRA, SIPC, or the Investment Banking Division of UMB Bank, n.a.

Insurance products offered through UMB Insurance, Inc. You may not have an account with all of these entities. Contact your UMB representative if you have any questions.

Securities and Insurance products are:

NOT FDIC INSURED * NO BANK GUARANTEE * NOT A DEPOSIT * NOT INSURED BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY * MAY LOSE VALUE


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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UMB: Inspiration – Agriculture

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UMB prides itself on being a financial institution with a heartbeat. We are passionate about what we do and want to share what inspires us with our readers.

Bill Watson, president of UMB Agribusiness, kicks off the UMB: Inspiration series as he shares why he loves agriculture. Take a minute to listen to what inspires him.

“I like agriculture because of the people, because they’re solid. They’re honest. I like agriculture because it’s beautiful. I get to drive across this country and see fields of cotton, wheat, corn and soybeans growing. It makes my heart good.”

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Mr. Watson serves as president of the UMB Agribusiness Division. He joined UMB in August of 2005 and has also served as the president of the UMB Kansas region. Watson is a graduate of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana with a major in Psychology. He has also attended The Colorado School of Banking, The National Commercial Lending School (where he has also been an instructor), and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking.



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2013 Year in Review

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Thank you to all of our associates, customers and communities for making the last 100 years an incredible journey. Cheers to the next 100!

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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