Thursday, September 29, 2011

Global markets tumbled this week on fears that the United States may be headed for its second recession in four years. Investors threw in the towel following remarks by Fed Chairman Bernanke announcing the specifics of "Operation Twist" and his comment that the US economy was "at serious risk."

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 732 points (-6.41%) closing at 10,771. The S&P 500 lost 80 points (-6.54%), and the Russell 2000 fell 62 points (-8.66%). For the month, the DJIA is now down 7.25%, the S&P 500 is off 6.77%, and the Russell 2000 is down 10.23%. All the major indexes are now solidly down for the year. The DJIA down 6.96%, the S&P 500 is down 9.64%, and the Russell 2000 is off 16.74%.

For yet another week, all 11 of the major economic sectors were negative. Materials, Energy, Financials, and Real Estate were the worst performers significantly underperforming the major US indexes. Utilities, Information Technology, Consumer Staples, and Health Care were the best performing sectors and handily outperformed the same US indexes. For the year, Financials have lost nearly 25% to lead all sectors on the downside; and the Energy sector has severely corrected to move into second worst spot on the list of worst performing sectors. Utilities, Consumer Staples, and Health Care are the year's best performing sectors and still positive.

Europe is a mess. It has been a mess and it will likely remain a mess. The MSCI EAFE index fell 7.33% last week and is now down nearly 20% for 2011. I addressed this subject in detail in my last Weekly Update and my view remains unchanged. Greece is going bankrupt, the European Union (EU) is being pulled down because of its currency and economic ties to Greece, and the EU is too bureaucratic to respond in a timely or effective manner. They may come up with another stop-gap measure to attempt to help, but it will end up not addressing the fundamental issue of member countries buried in insurmountable debt. Overlay all of this with a global economy that is sputtering and you get the type of week we just experienced.

The Euro continued to fall against the US dollar last week losing almost 3 cents (-2.10%) to close at $1.350. I would suggest that the Euro is being propped up by the European Central Bank's (ECB) insistence to hold interest rates at current levels. A drop in interest rates by the ECB would push the Euro down further and actually help European exports.

The price of precious metals tumbled this week with gold losing $154.00 (-8.49%) per ounce to close at $1660.70. Friday's drop of 5.8% was the worst one-day loss in 5 years. The consensus of gold analysts is that the sell-off of gold is being driven by profit taking, not because of a fundamental change in their opinions about gold or a decrease in global uncertainty. Oil followed the rout in commodities last week as the price of WTI Oil fell $7.97 (-9.06%) to close Friday at $79.99. The UBS Commodity index, a broad basket commodity index, fell 9.14% as commodity markets in general reflect growing fears of a second global recession and a subsequent drop in demand for raw materials. The best performing sectors within the commodity space were livestock and grains.

The US bond market, particularly long-term US Treasuries, did well last week as investors threw money at the seemingly last safe-haven for money. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to a low of 1.70% on Friday morning before prices fell pushing the yield up to a close of 1.826% by the end of the day. The 30-year Treasury yield also fell to record lows on Friday morning reaching 2.77% before prices also fell to push the closing yield Friday up to 2.89%. The Federal Reserve's decision to initiate "Operation Twist" (purchasing longer-term Treasuries) was the catalyst to drive interest rates to historical lows, but did not deliver on investor's desire for a third round of quantitative easing. International bonds continued their sell-off over European debt worries and a rising dollar has added to the fall in internationals bond prices. For the year, long-term US Treasuries is the best performing bond sector while high yield, preferreds, and international emerging markets are the worst. The Barclays Aggregate U.S. Bond Index closed the week up 0.74% and is now up 7.55% for the year.

FEAR AND DOUBT ARE IN CONTROL

All eyes will be on the meeting this weekend in Washington of the International Monetary Federation. Expectations are that world leaders will take some type of unified action to stem the loss of confidence in global financial systems and inject liquidity to prevent a repeat of 2008.

The stakes could not be higher. All around the world economic data reflect slowing economies. Here in the United States, weekly first time joblessness data remains fixed above 400,000 and there is little hope that the overall unemployment rate will fall below 9%. The Euro Zone Gross Domestic Product contracted in the 2nd Quarter to 0.7% from a 1st Quarter gain of 3.0%, and in China the preliminary HSBC manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 49.9 in September (any number below 50 shows contraction).

The question remains whether the key economic players can come to agreement and offer policy actions that will stem this loss of confidence. I remain skeptical. Here in the United States political rifts have never been higher. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel has suffered from an unbroken series of local political defeats, and the European Union is mired in a dysfunctional bureaucratic system that requires separate country votes and potential treaty modifications to act in concert.

Yet this is precisely the environment that demands strong leadership and effective policy actions. Time will tell if the current crop of international leaders can forge sound economic policies and restore investor confidence.

LOOKING AHEAD

As I have often said in previous Weekly Updates, stay focused on what the markets are doing-not on predicting what they will do and act accordingly. So what is going on?

Within the five major asset categories I follow-US stocks, International stocks, Commodities, Currencies, and Bonds, US stocks have actually moved into the number one position of the five and Commodities slipped to the second position on a relative strength basis. Currencies are in the third, Bonds are fourth, and International stocks a very distant fifth. If you throw a cash position into the mix, cash would be fifth and International stocks sixth. Put another way, as bad as the US markets have been, everything else has been worse.

The key indicator of market supply and demand, the New York Stock Exchange Bullish Percent (NYSEBP), has reversed to a column of O's indicating supply is in control and the current reading is a very weak 24.2%. The 2011 low of the NYSEBP occurred on August 8th at 21.4%, and the previous low before that was March 5, 2009, when the NYSEBP dipped to 13.6%. I want to make two key points: first, the NYSEBP has not exceed the previous low from August which remains a positive for now; second, a reversal back up into a column of X's would confirm that the markets are in a protracted bottoming process. Both would be positive signs and an indicator that the opportunity to make a major move back into the equity markets may come sooner rather than later.

For my newer readers, the NYSEBP is calculated by evaluating each stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and determining if the stock is in a point and figure buy signal or a sell signal. The total number of buy signal stocks is divided by the total number of stocks on the NYSE to arrive at a percentage (the NYSEBP). Below 30% is considered to be oversold and a lower risk position while a reading over 70% is considered to be overbought and a higher risk position. I will be watching the NYSEBP very closely to see if it continues to fall or in fact establishes a higher bottom than the August low.

Although US stocks are the best performing major asset category, it still fails the cash bogey check meaning that on a relative strength basis, cash has outperformed in the short-term. Therefore, US stocks should remain underweighted. Within the US stock asset category, mid-capitalization growth stocks are currently favored. Among the eleven major sectors, Utilities, Consumer Staples, and Health Care are favored.

Within the other major asset categories, Commodities continues to fail the cash bogey check. Precious metals and agriculture remain the strongest sectors within the Commodity space. A further sell-off of precious metals will undoubtedly place this ranking at jeopardy.

Within the bond asset category, International Bonds and Inflation Protected Bonds continue to be favored.

There is a series of important economic data scheduled to be released this coming week. On Monday is the August New Homes Sales data. Tuesday will be September's Consumer Confidence Index. This will be particularly important because of this index's weighting towards expectations vs. backward looking data. Consensus calls for an increase from last month's reading of 44.5 to 46.5. Wednesday will be the August Durable Goods Orders. Consensus calls for a decrease from July's robust reading of 4.0% to 0.2%. Thursday will be the second revision of the 2nd Quarter US GDP data. Economists are expecting a slight revision upward of 0.2% to 1.2%. With nerves already frayed over last week's sell-off, investors are going to be hoping for any sort of good news. What all of this means is that if you are risk averse you should be favoring cash and bonds.

The NYCE US Dollar Index is a measure that calculates the value of the US dollar through a basket of six currencies, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, the British Pound, the Canadian Dollar, the Swedish Krona, and the Swiss franc. The Euro is the predominant currency making up about 57% of the basket.

Currencies and futures generallyare volatile and are not suitable for all investors. Investment in foreign exchange related products is subject to many factors that contribute to or increase volatility, such as national debt levels and trade deficits, changes in domestic and foreign interest rates, and investors' expectations concerning interest rates, currency exchange rates and global or regional political, economic or fi nancial events and situations.

Corporate bonds contain elements of both interest rate risk and credit risk. Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest, and if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. U.S. Treasury bills do not eliminate market risk. The purchase of bonds is subject to availability and market conditions. There is an inverse relationship between the price of bonds and the yield: when price goes up, yield goes down, and vice versa. Market risk is a consideration if sold or redeemed prior to maturity. Some bonds have call features that may affect income.

Emerging market investments involve higher risks than investments from developed countries and also involve increased risks due to differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, political instability, and currency fluctuation. The main risks of international investing are currency fluctuations, differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, economic, political or financial instability, and lack of timely or reliable information or unfavorable political or legal developments.

The Dow Jones UBS Commodities Index is composed of futures contracts on physical commodities. This index aims to provide a broadly diversified representation of commodity markets as an asset class. The index represents 19 commodities which are weighted to account for economic significance and market liquidity. This index cannot be traded directly. The commodities industries can be significantly affected by commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. These investments may not be suitable for all investors, and there is no guarantee that any investment will be able to sell for a profit in the future.

As always, if you have any specific questions on your portfolio or wish to talk to me, please do not hesitate to call.

P.S. If you think this type of analysis would be of benefit to anyone you know, please share this communication with them.

Sincerely,

Paul Merritt, MBA, AIF(R). CRPC(R) Principal NTrust Wealth Management

Past performance is not indicative of future results and there is no assurance that any forecasts mentioned in this report will be obtained. Technical analysis is just one form of analysis. You may also want to consider quantitative and fundamental analysis before making any investment decisions.

Information in this update has been obtained from and is based upon sources that NTrust Wealth Management (NTWM) believes to be reliable, however NTWM does not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates constitute NTWM's judgment as of the date the update was created and are subject to change without notice. This update is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of a security. Any decision to purchase securities must take into account existing public information on such security or any registered prospectus.

The bullish percent indicator (BPI) is a market breath indicator. The indicator is calculated by taking the total number of issues in an index or industry that are generating point and figure buy signals and dividing it by the total number of stocks in that group. The basic rule for using the bullish percent index is that when the BPI is above 70%, the market is overbought, and conversely when the indicator is below 30%, the market is oversold. The most popular BPI is the NYSE Bullish Percent Index, which is the tool of choice for famed point and figure analyst, Thomas Dorsey.

All indices are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment by the public. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The S&P 500 is based on the average performance of the 500 industrial stocks monitored by Standard & Poors, this is a market capitalization weighted index, meaning the largest companies in the S&P 500 have a greater weighting than smaller companies. The S&P 500 Equal Weighted Index is determined by giving each of the 500 stocks in the index the same weighting in the index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is based on the average performance of 30 large U.S. companies monitored by Dow Jones & Company. The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is comprised of 96 investment grade issues that are divided into the industrial, financial, and utility/telecom sectors. They are further divided by maturity with each of the sectors represented by 2, 5, 10 and 30-year maturities. The Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Europe, Australia and Far East (EAFE) Index is a broad-based index composed of non U.S. stocks traded on the major exchanges around the globe. The Russell 2000 Index is comprised of the 2000 smallest companies within the Russell 3000 Index, which is made up of the 3000 biggest companies in the US.

Securities and Advisory Services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network(R), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The growing crisis in Europe is shaking investor confidence around the world and helped push US markets to their fourth worst weekly performance in 2011. The US dollar is benefiting from a rush to safety and has just broken a two-year downward trend.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 248 points (-2.21%) closing at 10,992. The S&P 500 lost 20 points (-1.68%), and the Russell 2000 gave back 9 points (-1.38%). September is proving to be another tough month for the major indexes as the DJIA is now off 5.35%, the S&P 500 is down 5.30%, and the Russell 2000 is off 7.27%. Thirty-five weeks into 2011, the DJIA is off 5.06%, the S&P 500 is off 8.22%, and the Russell 2000 is now down a sharp 14.00%.

No sectors managed a positive return this past week, but Information Technology, Real Estate, Consumer Staples, Health Care, and Utilities were the top five sectors while Telecom, Industrials, and Financials were the worst. For the year, Utilities, Health Care, and Consumer Staples remain in positive territory. Financials continues to be the worst performing sector in 2011 losing more than 20% followed by Industrials (-14%) and Materials (-11%).

The growing uncertainty in Europe caused a sharp sell-off among international stocks reflected by a 5.53% drop of the MSCI EAFE Index. The unexpected departure of German J├╝rgen Stark from the Executive Committee of the European Central Bank (ECB) Friday seemed to be an exclamation point on a very disconcerting week. Mr. Stark's departure apparently stemmed from his opposition to the ECB's increasing purchases of Spanish and Italian bonds.

The Euro fell sharply against the US dollar last week losing nearly 5 ½ cents (-3.80%) to close at $1.366. The loss is the largest weekly drop in 2011 and pushes the Euro down to levels not seen since February. The sell-off of the Euro is linked directly to the problems with Greece and on speculation that problems may spread throughout the rest of Europe.

The price of gold closed down $2.30 (-0.12%) per ounce at $1867.70 in extremely volatile trading. Market indicators suggest that gold investors are growing more pessimistic as the Federal Reserve continues to remain on the sidelines without any additional quantitative easing. WTI Oil gained $0.36 (0.42%) per barrel to close Friday at $87.01. Oil prices may come under pressure this week as economic fears in Europe translate to slacking demand and a strengthening US dollar.

Bond markets, especially US Treasuries, continued to rally on fears from Europe sending bond investors searching for safety. The 10-year yield briefly dropped below 1.9% before closing Friday at 1.918%. As a result, long-term government US Treasuries continue show strong gains and is the best performing bond sector. International bonds of all types suffered and were down last week. For the year, long-term US Treasuries is the best performing bond sector while high yield is the worst. The Barclays Aggregate U.S. Bond Index closed the week up 0.19% and is now up 7.36% for the year.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT ON EUROPE

At some point, the political leadership in Europe is going to have to come to terms with the flaws of the European Union (EU) and with it, the Euro. The biggest problem the Europeans face is how to have a common currency without a common fiscal authority.

When the governments of the European Union first envisioned the Euro they expected member countries to adhere strictly to a number of important economic benchmarks concerning important areas such as inflation, debt, and long-term interest rates. With the strength of the large European economies like Germany and the Netherlands backing the currency and the expected adherence to the economic benchmarks, weaker governments like Greece were able to borrow money much more cheaply than had it been a stand-alone country. By the time the private sector woke up to Greece's uncontrolled borrowing and spending along with lax enforcement by the other EU members, circumstances rapidly spiraled out of control.

Underlying all of this is the financial exposure of banks, primarily in Europe but also around the world, to not only Greek debt but also to Italian debt, Spanish debt, and other weak EU members' debt. The Germans have been trying to push for discipline within member countries as a condition to further bailouts, but it appears that patience is running out. First, you have the Greeks who seem incapable of accepting their current situation. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Greece last week to protest austerity measures the socialist government is attempting to impose leaving the Germans and others to doubt Greece's ability to deliver on promises to reduce spending and debt. Second, German Chancellor Merkel's political party has been losing local election after local election as the German populace expresses its displeasure with Merkel's efforts to help the EU. At some point, these domestic political defeats will force the German leadership to rethink its strategy. This is why an article in Bloomberg.com discussing whether the German's were preparing to throw in the towel over Greece caught my attention. Without German support, the Euro is going to come under increasing pressure and the threat to European banks (exposure to default by Greece) and the international banking system is becoming direr.

This narrative is the underlying story behind the sharp drop in the Euro this past week. Investors are growing increasingly skeptical that the EU is going to find a solution to the Greek problem (and thus the fundamental flaw in the Euro system) and are therefore seeking a safe haven in the US dollar. As I noted at the start of this Update, the US dollar has just broken a two-year downward trend. The longer a trend has been in place, the more important a reversal of that trend may be.

A strengthening US dollar brings with it another set of complications, but one important consideration is the impact on commodity prices.

Historically when the US dollar gains in strength, commodity prices at home drop. The strength of commodities in portfolios has come on the heels of a long-term trend of a weakening US dollar. While commodities may begin to suffer, historically this scenario has contributed to a stronger stock market by reducing the price of oil and other raw materials into the price of goods benefiting consumers and manufacturers alike. Inflation worries also subside. How all of this plays out remains to be seen, but we must watch very closely.

LOOKING AHEAD

Every time it looks like the markets are going to start recovering they pullback. It feels like being trapped under a waterfall. If I can offer a sense of conciliation, it is that the markets appear to be in a classic bottoming process. By that, I mean they go up, down, up again, down again, and each time they do, they seem to rebound at a slightly higher point than the time before. While we are not out of trouble by any stretch, by

watching the technicals closely, you can at least try to discern between all of the negative headlines and general pessimism, and what is actually going on in the markets.

There have been no changes to the relationships between the five major asset classes I follow and their ranking currently remains: Commodities, US Equities, Foreign Currencies, Bonds, and International Equities. Additionally, cash is still out-performing the top two asset classes on a relative strength basis so if you have a low risk tolerance or short time horizon, I suggest you consider underweighting your allocation to stocks.

Within the Commodities asset category, the precious metals and agricultural sectors are favored. Among US equities, equal-weighted indexes rank above capitalization-weighted indexes, and mid-capitalization stocks rank above small- and large-capitalization stocks. Consumer Staples, Real Estate, and Utilities are the strongest relative strength sectors.

Within the bond asset category, International Bonds and Inflation Protected Bonds are favored.

It will be another relatively quiet week concerning economic data. The Producer Price Index and Retail Sales will be released on Wednesday; and Jobless Claims, the Consumer Price Index, the Philadelphia Fed Survey, and Empire State Manufacturing Survey on Thursday. Another point of awareness is that this Friday marks a Triple Witching Week. Triple Witching occurs when stock options, futures and futures options all expire on the same day. Friday, September 17th, will be the third such "triple witching" of 2011; the preceding events coming in March, June, and December each year. Triple Witching Week historically sees increased volatility both up and down, so keep that in the back of your mind if markets jump around this week.

The NYCE US Dollar Index is a measure that calculates the value of the US dollar through a basket of six currencies, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, the British Pound, the Canadian Dollar, the Swedish Krona, and the Swiss franc. The Euro is the predominant currency making up about 57% of the basket.

Currencies and futures generallyare volatile and are not suitable for all investors. Investment in foreign exchange related products is subject to many factors that contribute to or increase volatility, such as national debt levels and trade deficits, changes in domestic and foreign interest rates, and investors' expectations concerning interest rates, currency exchange rates and global or regional political, economic or fi nancial events and situations.

Corporate bonds contain elements of both interest rate risk and credit risk. Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest, and if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. U.S. Treasury bills do not eliminate market risk. The purchase of bonds is subject to availability and market conditions. There is an inverse relationship between the price of bonds and the yield: when price goes up, yield goes down, and vice versa. Market risk is a consideration if sold or redeemed prior to maturity. Some bonds have call features that may affect income.

Emerging market investments involve higher risks than investments from developed countries and also involve increased risks due to differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, political instability, and currency fluctuation. The main risks of international investing are currency fluctuations, differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, economic, political or financial instability, and lack of timely or reliable information or unfavorable political or legal developments.

The Dow Jones UBS Commodities Index is composed of futures contracts on physical commodities. This index aims to provide a broadly diversified representation of commodity markets as an asset class. The index represents 19 commodities which are weighted to account for economic significance and market liquidity. This index cannot be traded directly. The commodities industries can be significantly affected by commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. These investments may not be suitable for all investors, and there is no guarantee that any investment will be able to sell for a profit in the future.

As always, if you have any specific questions on your portfolio or wish to talk to me, please do not hesitate to call.

P.S. If you think this type of analysis would be of benefit to anyone you know, please share this communication with them.

Sincerely,

Paul Merritt, MBA, AIF(R). CRPC(R) Principal NTrust Wealth Management

Past performance is not indicative of future results and there is no assurance that any forecasts mentioned in this report will be obtained. Technical analysis is just one form of analysis. You may also want to consider quantitative and fundamental analysis before making any investment decisions.

Information in this update has been obtained from and is based upon sources that NTrust Wealth Management (NTWM) believes to be reliable, however NTWM does not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates constitute NTWM's judgment as of the date the update was created and are subject to change without notice. This update is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of a security. Any decision to purchase securities must take into account existing public information on such security or any registered prospectus.

The bullish percent indicator (BPI) is a market breath indicator. The indicator is calculated by taking the total number of issues in an index or industry that are generating point and figure buy signals and dividing it by the total number of stocks in that group. The basic rule for using the bullish percent index is that when the BPI is above 70%, the market is overbought, and conversely when the indicator is below 30%, the market is oversold. The most popular BPI is the NYSE Bullish Percent Index, which is the tool of choice for famed point and figure analyst, Thomas Dorsey.

All indices are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment by the public. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The S&P 500 is based on the average performance of the 500 industrial stocks monitored by Standard & Poors, this is a market capitalization weighted index, meaning the largest companies in the S&P 500 have a greater weighting than smaller companies. The S&P 500 Equal Weighted Index is determined by giving each of the 500 stocks in the index the same weighting in the index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is based on the average performance of 30 large U.S. companies monitored by Dow Jones & Company. The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is comprised of 96 investment grade issues that are divided into the industrial, financial, and utility/telecom sectors. They are further divided by maturity with each of the sectors represented by 2, 5, 10 and 30-year maturities. The Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Europe, Australia and Far East (EAFE) Index is a broad-based index composed of non U.S. stocks traded on the major exchanges around the globe. The Russell 2000 Index is comprised of the 2000 smallest companies within the Russell 3000 Index, which is made up of the 3000 biggest companies in the US.

Securities and Advisory Services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network(R), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The jobs report issued by the Department of Labor on Friday showed no job growth for August and has brought the fear of another recession back into the minds of investors here and abroad.

For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 44 points (-0.39%), the S&P 500 lost 3 points (-0.24%), and the Russell 2000 gave back 8 points (-1.22%). These benign statistics hide the fact that in the last two days of the week the DJIA shed 373 points (-3.21%) eliminating all of the gains of the first three days. The month of August produced losses of 4.36% for the DJIA, 5.68% for the S&P 500, and 8.81% for the Russell 2000. For 2011 the DJIA is now down 2.91%, the S&P 500 is down 6.65%, and the Russell 2000 of off 12.80%.

Real Estate, Utilities, and Consumer Staples were the best performing sectors last week while Financials, Telecom, and Information Technology were the worst. Financials continue to lag all sectors for the year followed by Industrials and Materials. Utilities, Consumer Staples, Health Care, and Real Estate lead and remain positive for 2011.

The MSCI EAFE Index gained 2.14% last week, however, international stocks-especially European stocks-were hit hard on today's (September 5, 2011) trading as worries renewed about the European debt crisis and concerns that the United States may be slipping back into another recession. The European Central Bank is calling for much more dramatic action by European leaders to provide immediate additional funding for Greece and even greater unity in fiscal policy. If this sounds all too familiar, it is. To fix Europe in its current form, countries are going to have to give up significant fiscal sovereignty and there is no indication that this will happen especially with German Chancellor Merkel's political party suffering additional losses this past weekend in Germany. German voters appear to be running out of patience with their southern neighbors and the entire bailout process.

The Euro fell slightly against the US dollar last week and fell further today. As of market close on Monday, September 05, 2011, the Euro closed at $1.41 compared to Friday's close of $1.42. The recent weakness in the Euro comes as growth rates for the region drop to two-year lows.

Gold continues to play to investor fears and gained $44.40 (2.43%) per ounce to close Friday at $1870.00. Gold continues to be the safe haven play for many investors around the world. WTI Oil gained $1.15 (1.35%) per barrel to close Friday at $86.65. The price of oil will likely remain dependent on expectations of global demand for now.

The Dow Jones UBS Commodity Index, which measures a broad basket of commodities, gained 0.85% last week as gold prices and some agriculture futures increased. This index was up 0.99% for August and is up 0.08% for the year.

Bond markets, especially US Treasuries, continued to rally as interest rates drop to near record lows. The 10-year yield closed Friday at 1.984% its lowest level in history. As a result, long-term government treasuries have shown strong gains and is the second best performing asset class behind gold. Investors are looking to park money in low-risk investments and Treasuries are that place (along with gold). Inflation protection bonds also gained for the week and ranks the as the third strongest asset sector for 2011. The Barclays Aggregate U.S. Bond Index closed the week up 0.88% and is now up 7.15% for the year.

JOBS AND CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

No new net jobs in August. That is what the government reported Friday morning sending markets into a 253-point decline. Without a growing and vibrant work force, the economy will continue to struggle and Gross Domestic Product growth will likely remain dormant. I do not know if the US will slip into a second recession, and frankly do not think that is relevant to investment decisions today. Recessions are not confirmed until well after the fact and I do not expect this time to be any different so speculating about recession/no recession is best left for talking heads and pundits. As I noted in the last Weekly Update, markets are forward looking and, if they follow historical norms, will be on their way to recovery before any recession is confirmed.

Another interesting statistic is the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) reported monthly by the Conference Board, a non-profit, non-partisan business organization. The August CCI showed a sizeable decline and

confirms that many people are pessimistic about jobs growth, income growth, and business growth. When viewed in historical context, the CCI has been a good indicator of market tops and bottoms and is worthy of inclusion in the data we should monitor. Most recently the CCI reached a near-term high in July 2007 just three months before markets began a steep decline in response to the 2008 credit crisis, and it bottomed in February 2009 just one month prior to when markets began their 2009 rebound.

So coupled with the general Dorsey Wright indicators, the 10-year US Treasury yield, and the price of gold; you now have another tool to help you make educated and unemotional decisions about when you should be emphasizing or de-emphasizing the stock holdings in your portfolios.

LOOKING AHEAD

The start of the week does not look good. A sharp sell-off in Europe Monday does not bode well for the first full week of trading in September. However, I caution everyone to avoid letting their emotions get the better of them in the wake of large daily swings in the markets. Evaluate your allocations and make sure they are consistent with your risk tolerance.

There have been no changes to the relationships between the five major asset classes I follow and their ranking currently remains: Commodities, US Equities, Foreign Currencies, Bonds, and International Equities.

Additionally, cash is still out-performing the top two asset classes on a relative strength basis so if you have a low risk tolerance or short time horizon, I suggest you consider underweighting your allocation to stocks.

Within the Commodities asset category, the precious metals and agricultural sectors are favored. Among US equities, equal-weighted indexes rank above capitalization-weighted indexes, and mid-capitalization stocks rank about small- and large-capitalization stocks. Consumer Staples, Real Estate, and Utilities are the strongest relative strength sectors.

Within the bond asset category, International Bonds and Inflation Protected Bonds are favored.

There are few major economic reports coming this week. Thursday's Initial Jobless Claims report will remain a focus especially in light of the President's speech to Congress Thursday night. I will also be watching the impact on the banking sector following last Friday evening's announcement that the government was suing most major US banks over selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bad home mortgages during the mortgage boom in the 2000's. This action, in my opinion, will continue to restrict bank lending and further dampen the already anemic economic growth prospects for the country.

I mentioned in my last Weekly Update that I would spend time addressing the differences between West Texas Intermediate Oil and Brent; however, the jobs report took precedent and I will come back to my discussion of oil in a future Update.

This is not a time to panic nor is it a time to be complacent. If you have any questions regarding your current portfolios, please give me a call.

On a final note, this Sunday marks the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy known as 9-11. I hope everyone will take a moment to remember those that perished and reaffirm our commitment to stand up to the type of tyranny that swept over our country that horrible day and remains in the shadows today.

The NYCE US Dollar Index is a measure that calculates the value of the US dollar through a basket of six currencies, the Euro, the Japanese Yen, the British Pound, the Canadian Dollar, the Swedish Krona, and the Swiss franc. The Euro is the predominant currency making up about 57% of the basket.

Currencies and futures generallyare volatile and are not suitable for all investors. Investment in foreign exchange related products is subject to many factors that contribute to or increase volatility, such as national debt levels and trade deficits, changes in domestic and foreign interest rates, and investors' expectations concerning interest rates, currency exchange rates and global or regional political, economic or fi nancial events and situations.

Corporate bonds contain elements of both interest rate risk and credit risk. Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest, and if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. U.S. Treasury bills do not eliminate market risk. The purchase of bonds is subject to availability and market conditions. There is an inverse relationship between the price of bonds and the yield: when price goes up, yield goes down, and vice versa. Market risk is a consideration if sold or redeemed prior to maturity. Some bonds have call features that may affect income.

Emerging market investments involve higher risks than investments from developed countries and also involve increased risks due to differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, political instability, and currency fluctuation. The main risks of international investing are currency fluctuations, differences in accounting methods, foreign taxation, economic, political or financial instability, and lack of timely or reliable information or unfavorable political or legal developments.

The Dow Jones UBS Commodities Index is composed of futures contracts on physical commodities. This index aims to provide a broadly diversified representation of commodity markets as an asset class. The index represents 19 commodities which are weighted to account for economic significance and market liquidity. This index cannot be traded directly. The commodities industries can be significantly affected by commodity prices, world events, import controls, worldwide competition, government regulations, and economic conditions. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. These investments may not be suitable for all investors, and there is no guarantee that any investment will be able to sell for a profit in the future.

As always, if you have any specific questions on your portfolio or wish to talk to me, please do not hesitate to call.

P.S. If you think this type of analysis would be of benefit to anyone you know, please share this communication with them.

Sincerely,

Paul Merritt, MBA, AIF(R). CRPC(R) Principal NTrust Wealth Management

Past performance is not indicative of future results and there is no assurance that any forecasts mentioned in this report will be obtained. Technical analysis is just one form of analysis. You may also want to consider quantitative and fundamental analysis before making any investment decisions.

Information in this update has been obtained from and is based upon sources that NTrust Wealth Management (NTWM) believes to be reliable, however NTWM does not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates constitute NTWM's judgment as of the date the update was created and are subject to change without notice. This update is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of a security. Any decision to purchase securities must take into account existing public information on such security or any registered prospectus.

The bullish percent indicator (BPI) is a market breath indicator. The indicator is calculated by taking the total number of issues in an index or industry that are generating point and figure buy signals and dividing it by the total number of stocks in that group. The basic rule for using the bullish percent index is that when the BPI is above 70%, the market is overbought, and conversely when the indicator is below 30%, the market is oversold. The most popular BPI is the NYSE Bullish Percent Index, which is the tool of choice for famed point and figure analyst, Thomas Dorsey.

All indices are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment by the public. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The S&P 500 is based on the average performance of the 500 industrial stocks monitored by Standard & Poors, this is a market capitalization weighted index, meaning the largest companies in the S&P 500 have a greater weighting than smaller companies. The S&P 500 Equal Weighted Index is determined by giving each of the 500 stocks in the index the same weighting in the index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is based on the average performance of 30 large U.S. companies monitored by Dow Jones & Company. The Dow Jones Corporate Bond Index is comprised of 96 investment grade issues that are divided into the industrial, financial, and utility/telecom sectors. They are further divided by maturity with each of the sectors represented by 2, 5, 10 and 30-year maturities. The Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Europe, Australia and Far East (EAFE) Index is a broad-based index composed of non U.S. stocks traded on the major exchanges around the globe. The Russell 2000 Index is comprised of the 2000 smallest companies within the Russell 3000 Index, which is made up of the 3000 biggest companies in the US.

Securities and Advisory Services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network(R), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.