AJA Weekly Recap

2024 | March 25


Here is your weekly market commentary. We hope you enjoy receiving our newsletters. If you have any questions about the following content, please let us know!

- The AJA Team

This Week….

  • The Markets
  • Retirement Contribution Deadlines
  • Happiness Report

The Weekly Focus

Think About It

“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.”


Brené Brown, author


The Markets

Stocks Gain

For the first time in 2024, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ, and the Dow each posted a weekly total return of 2% or more. That uniform progress pushed each index to a record high and marked a shift from the modest declines recorded in the previous two weeks.

Despite recently mixed progress in curbing inflation, a majority of U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers stuck with their earlier expectations to approve three interest-rate cuts by year end. Chair Jerome Powell said the first potential cut isn’t likely to occur until the Fed gains greater confidence that inflation is sustainably declining toward its 2% target.

Amid a slight pullback in historically high mortgage rates, U.S. sales of existing homes in February posted the biggest monthly gain in a year. Sales jumped 9.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million, according to the National Association of Realtors.

An index that tracks investors’ expectations of short-term U.S. stock market volatility fell to its lowest level in more than six weeks. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) fell about 9% for the week; relative to a recent intraday high on March 11, the VIX was down 18%.

U.S. companies bought back shares at a much faster pace in 2023’s fourth quarter than they did in the third quarter. Share repurchases by companies in the S&P 500 totaled about $219 billion, up 18% from the prior quarter’s $186 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. However, for full-year 2023, buybacks were down nearly 14% from 2022’s total.

A report scheduled to be released on Friday could clear up some of the recent uncertainty over inflation’s trajectory. The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index is the U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge for tracking inflation. Although that measure increased in January at the slowest pace since March 2021, two more recent inflation-related reports produced figures that were slightly higher than expected.

Source: John Hancock Investment Management

2023 Retirement Contribution Deadlines

We wanted to send a quick reminder to any clients wanting to make contributions to your retirement accounts for the 2023 tax year. The deadline for 2023 IRA and Roth contributions is April 15th, 2024. Note: if you live in or have a business in Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Montgomery, Robertson, Stewart and Sumner and Weakley counties (Tennessee), you will have until June 17th to make these contributions.

Self-employed clients who are looking to contribute to a SEP IRA will have until October 15th, 2024 to make their 2023 contributions, if you extend your tax filing date with the IRS.

If you are unsure how much you have contributed or if you can contribute, please reach out and we will be glad to help!


How Do You Measure Happiness?

The 2024 World Happiness Report relies on data obtained through a Gallup World Poll (GWP) that has been conducted since 2005. The GWP asks participants in various countries this question: 

“Please imagine a ladder, with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”7

The happiness rankings reflect the three-year average (2021-2023) of the answers received. While the number of participants varies from country to country (and there are no responses for some countries in some years), the usual number appears to be around 1,000 participants per country.

Next, the researchers try to figure out why people in one country are happier than those in another country. The researchers reported that six variables – economic prosperity, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and freedom from corruption – explained more than three-fourths of the variation in scores.

In 2023, Finland was the happiest country in the world for the seventh consecutive year. The happiest countries included:

1. Finland

2. Denmark

3. Iceland

4. Sweden

The least happy countries included: 

140. Sierra Leone

141. Lesotho

142. Lebanon

143. Afghanistan

The United States was not among the top 20 for the first time since the report was introduced in 2012. The U.S. ranked 23rd, down from 15th last year.

“For the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, happiness has decreased in all age groups, but especially for the young, so much so that the young are now, in 2021-2023, the least happy age group. This is a big change from 2006-2010, when the young were happier than those in the midlife groups, and about as happy as those aged 60 and over. For the young, the happiness drop was about three-quarters of a point, and greater for females than males.”

The difference in reported happiness between older and younger Americans was quite large. Americans who are age 60 and older ranked 10th for happiness, while Americans who are age 30 and younger ranked 62nd.

AJ Advisors

Phone: (615) 709-8709

Fax: (615) 505-3306


Charles Schwab


John Stauffer, CFP®

Andrew Quinn, CFP®

Emily Triano

Operations Manager


Maya Laws

Operations Associate


Past performance does not guarantee future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, strategy, or product (including those recommended or undertaken by AJ Advisors, LLC), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this communication will be profitable, equal any indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual circumstances, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. You should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this communication serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to their individual situation, they are encouraged to consult with the professional adviser of their choosing. AJ Advisors, LLC is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the content herein should be construed as legal or accounting advice. If you are an AJ Advisors, LLC client, please remember to contact the firm, in writing, if there are any changes in your financial situation or investment objectives or if you wish to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions on our investment advisory services. Until so notified, AJ Advisors, LLC will continue to rely on the most recent information provided. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request.