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Economic Outlook and Investment Policy for 3rd Quarter 2015 by Independence Trust Company.
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Economy Showing signs of improved growth. The end of the month marked the halfway point of 2015. A sluggish first quarter transitioned into a more upbeat economic environment as recent positive economic reports have added some stability and provided some optimism for the second half of the year. Updates on labor market conditions, consumer sentiment, real estate conditions, and manufacturing were generally positive across the board. Despite the better domestic economic environment, markets may continue to fret over higher interest rates and global geopolitical issues.

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Weather slows U.S. Economy in First Quarter.

Economic news for the month of March came in slightly weaker than expected, except for the housing sector which showed solid gains. The final revision to fourth quarter GDP showed that the economy grew 2.2%. This is unchanged from an earlier estimate released in February,but below expectations for 2.4% growth, and well below the 4.6% growth and 5.0% growth reported in the second and third quarters, respectively. While exports and consumer spending growth were both revised up, these were offset by a reduction in the contribution from inventory investment. It is widely expected that colder temperatures and significant snowfall in many parts of the country will impact first quarter GDP, similar to last year. Consensus estimates currently call for 2.4% growth in the first quarter of 2015. The latest Consumer Price Index report showed that prices increased 0.2% in February, with increases in shelter, energy, and food contributing to the rise. Excluding food and energy, core prices also rose 0.2% for the month.

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Economic Outlook and Investment Policy for 2nd Quarter 2015 provided by Independence Trust Company.

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The year 2014 ended on a positive note as the most of the domestic economic reports released in December continued with the same
theme we have seen over the past several months: stronger GDP growth, employment gains, better consumer spending, and lower oil
prices. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in eleven years in the third quarter, 5% on a
seasonally-adjusted basis, up from the previous estimate of 3.9%. Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of GDP, was
revised up to 3.2% from 2.2%, while growth in domestic demand came in at 4.1%, ahead of the 3.2% pace previously reported.
Spending on equipment, intellectual property product, and nonresidential structures pushed business investment growth to an 8.9%
pace as compared to the prior estimate of 7.1%. Combined, the second and third quarter GDP figures mark the strongest six-month
reading in more than ten years. The accelerating economic data is supportive of increased consumer optimism as we begin 2015.

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Economic Outlook and Investment Policy for 1st quarter 2015 provided by Independence Trust Company.

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3rd Quarter 2014 Market Review. Market sentiment has continued to be driven over the debate of the timing of the Fed’s interest rate increase sometime next year. Volatility has also been heightened with events in Russia, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and the first case of Ebola here in the U.S. The highly anticipated mid-month Fed monetary policy meeting concluded with not much changing in the language or interpretation of when the Fed might begin to raise interest rates. The Fed reiterated that it would keep rates low for a “considerable time” and Janet Yellen, in the press conference following the meeting, would not define what “considerable time” meant to avoid locking the Fed into a calendar deadline. Despite the continued insistence that the decision to raise rates would be “data dependent,” the Fed raised its median estimate for the federal funds rate to 1.375% at the end of 2015, up from the1.125% estimate at their June meeting.

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Economic Outlook and Investment Policy for 4th Quarter 2014
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Economic Outlook and Investment Policy for 3rd Quarter 2014

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Real GDP in the U.S. was revised down, again, to -2.9% for Q1 2014. Consumer spending in the service sector and net exports were the major downward movers; most other elements of the figure were unchanged. Despite many of the headline data points showing positive progress, this GDP number is the biggest non-recession drop since World War II. This reading was likely an exception rather than a trend as nearly every major factor, such as consumer strength, housing, and employment, has been strong or at least steady in the most recent months. However, adjusting the annual GDP forecast for a shockingly large drop in Q1 will result in a significantly lower consensus estimate for the year. As it now stands, the GDP for 2014 will likely come in closer to 2% than previous consensus of 3% to 3.5%. Nonetheless, the Q2 GDP release will be a highly anticipated indicator of where the U.S. economy stands.

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