Good Afternoon,

Winter is finally in full swing, and many people are feeling the cold from California to New York. It’s also cold at the Social Security offices since they announced they will be closed indefinitely for in-person appointments. Omicron is also in full swing just like the winter, with hospitalizations in many states at an all-time high and some stores cutting hours due to staff shortages. Fortunately, my husband, Jim, and I were able to getaway on a quick trip to Donnelly, Idaho and meet up with Harmon and Lea Kong for some hot cocoa and a few runs down the ski slopes. Let me tell you, when it is only 6 degrees, baby it’s cold outside.

The Social Security Administration is continuing to keep the public out in the cold. They announced that they have put a freeze on in-person appointments indefinitely. This does not come as a surprise due to the ongoing pandemic. This decision was made to protect older Americans and individuals with underlying medical conditions, and of course, their employees. They recommend using their online resources before placing a call to their offices. For more information, visit their COVID-19 web page.

Many retailers have begun to make changes to their store hours due to staff shortages brought on by the very contagious Omicron variant, leaving customers out in the cold. Nike, Lululemon and Starbucks are among the latest companies to cut back on store opening hours at certain locations. Macy’s, Athleta, Walmart, and Apple have already cut back and even temporarily closed some stores due to the surge of Covid-19 cases. Although the Omicron variant is more contagious, it is less severe for most.

The last few days, markets took a stumble as interest rates moved up to 1.8% early in the week. Yet, when headline inflation data released on Tuesday showed an uptick in inflation compared to the last month, fixed income & equities markets seemed unphased. To add to that, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell commented that the easy monetary policy would be wrapping up quicker than expected. One significant mover, though, was mortgage interest rates. Now just above 3.4%, mortgage rates are back to the levels seen just before the onset of the pandemic. As of last week Friday, the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq are down 0.7%, 0.3%, and 1.8%, respectively.

As we head into tax season, Schwab will be generating the first run of 1099 Composite forms beginning in late January to early February. The second run will be generated in mid-February. You will be able to see the 1099-Dashboard when you login to your Schwab Alliance account online to see updates for your tax forms. Schwab will be sending these via electronically or mailed to your address of record, depending on your document delivery preference. If you need us to send your tax forms to you or to your accountant, please let us know and our Client Services team will help facilitate those requests.

Your 4th Quarter reports from Apriem will be uploaded to your client portal or mailed to you by this Thursday, January 13th for you to review. Our office is still undergoing construction and we are not having in-person meetings at our Irvine location currently. Please call our office at (888) 253-0288 or email to schedule a meeting with your Wealth Manager.

Take care, stay safe, and have a great weekend!

Warmest regards,

Rhonda Ducote