Two men on bikes riding through the country-side with fields on the left and sun setting or rising over the fields.

It’s September and spring is in the air. It’s time to shake off the winter cobwebs, get out into the garden or the great outdoors. It’s also a good time to plan your summer break.

The big news from Excel this month is our new website is now live – the old website was showing it’s age and starting to fall apart at the seams after 7 years. The new website is still a work in progress and there will be a lot more content added over the coming weeks and months. Sometimes you just have to bight the bullet and go with what you have – in our case it was launch now or pay another 12 month contract on the old website.

August was a challenging month for investors. Global markets reacted negatively to an escalation in the US-China trade war and the looming no-deal Brexit. US economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 2 per cent in the June quarter, down from 3.1 per cent the previous quarter. China’s economy is also slowing – industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment all recorded lower growth in the year to July.

To stimulate the US economy, the US Federal Reserve cut rates by 25 basis points, the first cut since 2008. US short-term bond yields rose as did the US dollar, but shares fell around the globe. In the US, shares were down around 2 per cent for the month while Australian shares shed 3 per cent. The Hong Kong market fell more than 7 per cent as protests continued and UK shares fell 5 per cent on Brexit worries.

In Australia, most companies reported positive earnings for the 2019 financial year, but only a little over half managed to lift profits. One challenge is retail spending, up 0.2 per cent in the year to June, the weakest in 28 years.

On the bright side, Australia’s trade surplus hit a new record high of $49.9 billion in the year to June. The Australian dollar finished the month lower at around US67c, which should support our exporters.

This month’s articles are about the benefits of having a positive mindset, some changes to insurance held through super funds, and the growing trend of turning hobbies into a second income stream.