POCKETBOOK Week Ending March 15, 2019

 

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Debts matter.

 

 

  • Surveys say….

J.D.Powers recently released data from two surveys and found, among other things, that boomers and pre-boomers  have concerns about their financial well-being, and, aren’t really that keen on mobile communications such as online/web and phone apps.

From the press release of the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study comes this about the performance from their full-service investment providers: ““Three-fourths (75%) of Boomers and Pre-Boomers indicate they are the same or worse off than last year…”

Clearly, nothin to crow about.

Of the 2,478 customers surveyed, the following three financial instituitons were ranked the highest by investors: Edward Jones (853) ranks highest in overall investor satisfaction, followed by RBC Wealth Management (848) and Advisor Group (846).

As for that mobile world, turns out not everyone is all that jazzed up about mobile whatevers with the wealthy (those with $1million or more in investable assets) being  the least thrilled.

From the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Wealth Management Mobile App Satisfaction Study the press release: “Mobile continues to be the channel with the lowest satisfaction among full-service investors across all generational segments, trailing both online/web and phone, and is especially low among Boomers (671) when compared with Gen X (787) and Millennials (853).

Why am I not surprised to learn this.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

An up week on both year-to-date returns and those representing a 1-year time frame.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, March 15, 2019.

DJIA 9.10% YTD up from the previous week.

  • 1 yr. Rtn 2.23% up from the previous week 2.23%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   12.59% YTD up from the previous week’s 11.84%

  • 1 yr. Rtn 2.74% up from the previous week’s 0.15%.

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 15.87% YTD up from last week’s 11.65% %

  • 1yr Rtn 2.76% up from last week’s -0.27%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

A repeat from last week’s entry:

As one might expect, at the close of business on Thursday, March 7, 2019, the year-to-date total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was10.86%. That’s down a sum from last week’s figure of 12.98%, according to Lipper.

Of the 25 Largest Mutual Funds that Lipper tracks, iShares Russ 2000 ETF had the best y-t-d performance of 13.19%.

Behind it were the iShares: Core S&P Md-Cp at 12.46%. And behind it the Invesco QQQ Trust 1 at 11.22%.

The three worst y-t-d- performing funds were DoubleLine at 0.90%: the PIMCO TotRtnl at 1.34%; and iShares: Core US Agg Bd at 1.44%

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending March 8, 2019

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  • One old, fat ETF turns 20

On March 10, 1999, Invesco introduced their hugely popular and successful QQQ ETF. Now, 20 years later, the QQQ is the sixth largest U.S. listed ETF, has $66.4 billion in assets under management and was the second most traded ETF in 2018.

What’s  it’s appeal? The QQQ tries to reflect the performance of the Nasdaq-100 Index, and we all know how hot Nasdaq stocks can be.

According to INVESCO, “A lot of investors think it’s just technology, and actually, today, it’s about 40% technology and 60% other sectors, so we really look at it as large-cap growth and has a lot of the biggest innovators that we know in the economy today,” John Frank, QQQ Strategist for Invesco, said at the Inside ETFs Conference.

Since it’s original launch QQQ had an original weighting of 78% toward technology—a reflection of the dot.com world that was swinging in high form way back then.

Now the portfolio looks like this: 43.0% information technology, 23.3% communication services, 16.1% consumer discretionary, 8.5% health care, 6.0% consumer staples, 2.5% industrials, 0.4% utilities and 0.3% financials. Additionally its components include large-cap growth companies (60.8%), large-cap blended names (23.6% and large-cap value stocks (13.0%).

Top components include Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT) 9.9%, Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL) 9.6%, Amazon.com (NasdaqGS: AMZN) 9.3% and Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) 4.8%, among others.

As for performance, since inception the QQQs annual return is around 7.2%; over the last 15 years it was 13.7%; and during the past 10 years has returned almost 21.4%.

Kinda sorta impressive, isn’t it.

 

  • Believe what you want, but….

According to a recent Reuters piece, based on data from the Federal Reserve,
“U.S. household wealth fell by a record $3.8 trillion, or 3.5 percent, at the end of 2018..”

In other words, based on percentages, the 5.9% fall represented the biggest quarterly percentage stumble in household finances since 2008.

Oh my.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Not such a hot performance week for the three major indices followed here. In fact, year-to-date returns on each lost ground. Oh, dear.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, March 8, 2019.

DJIA 9.10% YTD down from the previous week’s 11.57%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn 2.23% down from the previous week 5.76%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   11.84% YTD down from the previous week’s 11.84

  • 1 yr. Rtn 0.15% down from the previous week’s 4.71%.

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 11.65% YTD down from last week’s 14.47%

  • 1yr Rtn -0.27% way down from last week’s 5.78%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

As one might expect, at the close of business on Thursday, March 7, 2019, the year-to-date total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was10.86%. That’s down a sum from last week’s figure of 12.98%, according to Lipper.

Of the 25 Largest Mutual Funds that Lipper tracks, iShares Russ 2000 ETF had the best y-t-d performance of 13.19%.

Behind it were the iShares: Core S&P Md-Cp at 12.46%. And behind it the Invesco QQQ Trust 1 at 11.22%.

The three worst y-t-d- performing funds were DoubleLine at 0.90%: the PIMCO TotRtnl at 1.34%; and iShares: Core US Agg Bd at 1.44%

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending March 1, 2019

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  • 10 years ago

On March 6, 2019, it will be 10 years since the market bottomed that month in 2009. Time sure does fly. And with that flight has come changes to equity prices that few—looking forward back then–would likely  have imagined.

According to CNBC.com, the S&P 500 has delivered an annualized return of 17.8 percent since that March 2009 drop. Who knew? And pretty good, right?

Well, surprise surprise: That is the same kind of 10-years-after annualized returns experienced 10 years after the crash of 1987 and 10 years after the August 1982 bottom.

How about that!

Too bad past performance is no guarantee of what’s to come.

 

  • The high cost of an old life that needs care

I’m getting old and no one is more surprised by that than me. It’s not that I didn’t think I’d age. Nope. It’s just that I didn’t really believe that along with aging would come a reflection in the mirror that always semms to elicit a, “That can’t be me?” response.

And, a cost of living that’s literally staggering—if not impossible to comprehend. As for preparing for that cost. Well, I didn’t think much about that. Or, what  the cost of living into my senior years would be. Or,  imagined that assisted living care would run around 5 grand a month, for god knows how many years.

According to Genworth’s 2018 Beyond Dollars study, the median cost of a private room in a nursing home is $8,365 a month; the median cost of assisted living is $4,600 a month; and the median cost for home health aides is $4,195 a month.

Given that women live longer than men, on average, word is that the average lady will need long-term care services for 3.7 years and the average guy 2.2 years.

Doing the math, let’s just call it 4 years for the ladies at a monthly rate of 5Gs per month and one has to have a long-term care fund with something in the neighborhood of 240,000 bucks in it. Need private room nursing home care and the fee for that  care  comes to more than $400,000.

Got that?

 

  • Market Quick Glance

During the first two months of 2019 indices have reported year-to-date performances that really have been impressive —so far.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, March 1, 2019.

DJIA 11.57% YTD down a breathe from the previous week’s 11.59%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn 5.76% up a jump from the previous week 4.28%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   11.84% YTD

  • 1 yr. Rtn 4.71%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 14.47% YTD up from last week’s 13.45%

  • 1yr Rtn 5.78% up from last week’s 4.40%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

The move upward continued.

At the close of business on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, the year-to-date total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 12.98%. That’s up a bit from last week’s figure of 12.62%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

Equity Leveraged Funds continue their march upward with an average return of 24.25%, y-t-d through 2/28/19, and Dedicated Short Bias Funds continue to rake in the poorest performance of -18.14%.

Of all of Lipper’s categories, those really are the best and worst year-to-date figures this year.

The Sector Equity Funds group averaged 11.30% and the World Equity Funds average was 10.12%.

So count yourself fortunate if your funds’ y-t-d performance figures are around 12%. And than, hope that average stays around the same or continues upwards.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Feb.22, 2019

 

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The cost of stuff.

 

 

  • Sage advice

When asked about a 10-year investment horizon, Warren Buffett was asked where he’d plop his money—stocks or bonds?

Buffett’s answer, according to CNBC.com was this: “If I had a choice today for a 10-year purchase of a 10-year bond at whatever it is…or buying the S&P 500 and holding it for 10 years, I’d buy the S&P.”

What do you think?

 

  • Fidelity’s 401(k) balances

Having $100,000, or any six-figure sized 401(k), is a common goal for many who are saving for their retirement. And while it’s noble, truth is many of us are going to a seven-figure coffer to cover us for the 20, 30 or more years of retirement.

Fidelity is home to more than 16.2 million 401(k) accounts. I’m guessing, no two of them with the same account balances.

That said and if you’re curious, at the end of September 2018 the average balance in those accounts was $106,500.

But wait there’s more: We all aren’t average and a better look at the numbers is represented by the median size of those retirement accounts. (The median represents the middle between the high and the low balance.)

In that case, the figure changes precipitously resulting in a median figure amounting to tens of thousands of dollars less than the average figure: The median amount at that time was $24,800.

Feeling better?

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Indices up last week….

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Feb.22, 2019.

DJIA 11.59% YTD up from the previous week’s 10.96%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn 4.28% up from the previous week 2.71%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-NASDAQ 13.45% YTD up from last week’s 12.62%

  • 1yr Rtn 4.40% up from last week’s 2.98%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

Funds have enjoyed a big jump up from their  January 10 performance figures.

At the close of business on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, the year-to-date total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 12.62%. That’s nearly 3x higher than the average return of 4.70% registered on Jan. 10, 2019, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various equity headings shows the following:

-The highest total return under the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds umbrella was Equity Leveraged Funds, 23,76%; the lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -17.8%.

-The Sector Equity Funds group averaged 11.37%; the highest fund type under that category was Commodity Energy Funds, 17.21%; the lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -1.65%.

-World Equity Funds average 9.51%; the fund type with the highest ytd return was Global Small/Mid-Cap Funds, 12.97%; the lowest India Region Funds, -5.07%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Feb.15, 2019

 

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 Happy Presidents Day to you  from four of our most outstanding past presidents.

 

 

  • Got Debt? No Problem?

Way back in the last few decades of the last century when I first began selling municipal bonds, one of the roads to financial success for a new salesperson—-according to management—was to get yourself into debt. Big debt. You know, the kind of debt that gets you to buy that new BMW 5 series you’ve always wanted when what you really could afford was a used Toyota. The reasoning behind management’s thinking was that responsible salespeople with debt will work hard to pay off—or down—their debts. And while that really didn’t follow the Minnesota money logic I was raised with, I was in Florida after all and things, as we all have come to learn, can be very different on Florida’s Wall Street.

I tell you this because that kind of money management logic still exists today. And, still plays a big part in how many people manage their own personal finances as well as how our government manages its debts.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, our US annual budget deficit will  top $1 trillion in three years, by 2022. The key to managing that debt and seeing that its gets tended to is simple: America’s growth rate has to keep growing and wind up greater than what the cost of what carrying that debt is.

It’s a keep working kind of thing.

Trouble is, America’s growth rate, its GDP, changes year to year. Much like how one’s salary or annual income can.

Knowing that and the risks inherent in any changing environment, life has taught me that it’s best to live below one’s means than it is to hope for some future income that may or may not materialize.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Big time moves upward for year-to-date returns for the indices below. Big time slides backwards for 1-year returns.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Feb.15, 2019.

DJIA 10.96% YTD up plenty from the previous week’s 7.63%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn 2.71% down bigly from the previous week 5.22%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   10.72 % YTD up lots from last week’s 8.02%

  • 1 yr. Rtn 1.63% down plenty from last week’s 4.92%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 12.62% YTD up plenty from last week’s 9.99%

  • 1yr Rtn 2.98% way down from last week’s 7.69%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

Repeat from January:

Looking up.

At the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, the total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 4.70%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

-U.S. Diversified Equity Funds average, 4.70%; highest Equity Leveraged Funds, 11.08%; lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -8.88%

-Sector Equity Funds average 4.88%; highest Energy MLP Funds, 11.74%; lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -2.20%

-World Equity Funds average 4.07%; highest Latin American Funds, 9.01%; lowest India Region Funds, -1.23%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

  • Recession Ahead?

A recent Bloomberg.com story, noted that S&P 500 profits are expected to fall in Q1.

From that piece, pub date 2/16/19 by Titiana Darie, titled “Wall Street Is Split on Profits: Does an “Earnings Recession” Loom?” come these words worth considering:

“Based on the average of analysts estimates, U.S. firms are on the cusp of suffering two consecutive quarters of profit declines, the common definition of a recession. Earnings will contract in the first quarter, and while a small increase is currently projected for the following period, that is likely to evaporate. Analysts have been lowering forecasts since the start of the year as companies continue to slash outlooks, citing everything from a stronger dollar to weaker demand in China and rising costs.”

 

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Feb.10, 2019

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•Tax Cuts.

If you’re expecting a big fat refund check from the IRS this year, don’t hold your breath. Turns out Trump’s big fat tax cuts haven’t turned out to reward  tax payers as generaosly as they have the wealthy and large corporations. But that comes as no surprise if you’ve been a follower of this site.

Basically, tax cuts work best when taxes are high—which makes sense. And the highest max tax rate has been high for corporations, sort of:That said, corporations have always had more ways to reduce their tax bills and reduce the tax rate paid thanks to a number of write-off’s companies can take vs. the puny few available to individuals.

Additionally, all the poppycock the Trump administration spewed about how his 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act would put more money into people’s pockets, bring about more jobs and pump up salaries along the way, really hasn’t happened.

Sadly, cutting the corporate tax rates wound up rewarding those very same corporations more than they have individuals. One of the results has been smaller refund checks for individuals as the average tax refund check is down 8 percent this year over last translating into about $170 less, according to the IRS.

To put your best tax foot forward, do yourself a favor and take another look at the number of dependents claimed on your withholding. Changing it could mean less in your take home paychecks but maybe possibly could be more in the size of next year’s refund check.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Positive strides upward on year-to-date returns for the three indices below and big jumps up on 1-year returns.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Feb.8, 2019.

DJIA 7.63% YTD up a hair from previous week’s 7.44%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn 5.22% huge jump from the previous week -4.29%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   8.02 % YTD up from last week’s 7.97%

  • 1 yr. Rtn 4.92% hugely improved from last week’s -4.09%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 9.99% YTD up a bit from last week’s 9.47%

  • 1yr Rtn 7.69% huge jump up from last week’s -1.65%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

 

-Mutual funds

Repeat from early January:

Looking up.

At the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, the total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 4.70%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

-U.S. Diversified Equity Funds average, 4.70%; highest Equity Leveraged Funds, 11.08%; lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -8.88%

-Sector Equity Funds average 4.88%; highest Energy MLP Funds, 11.74%; lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -2.20%

-World Equity Funds average 4.07%; highest Latin American Funds, 9.01%; lowest India Region Funds, -1.23%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

  • ETFs

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have come a long way over the past 20-some years. Not only have the number of them swelled right along with assets invested in them, advisors are using and suggesting them big time.

Cerulli Associates reports that 14.1% of financial advisors’ clients were allocated to ETFs at the end of 2018 compared with 5.4% in 2009.

With money pouring out of mutual funds the growing trend for ETFs shows no sign of stopping this year.

But buyer beware, ETFs do have their pluses but they also aren’t the appropriate vehicle for everyone. Make sure to do your homework and research what’s in an ETFs portfolio before investing.

 

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Feb.1, 2019

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  • Golden appeal

Turns out, central banks bought more gold in 2018 than any years since 1967, according to the World Gold Council. That’s good news for anyone loving this precious metal—just not always profitable news.

Surprisingly, that increase in what gold was being used for wasn’t in jewelry. Nope, counties such as China, Poland, Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan have been adding it to their reserves. Jewelry demand, on the other hand, was pretty much unchanged.

We’ve been told that gold is generally thought of as a good bet during times of political or economic unrest and turbulence. And, it’s always been thought of as a kind of balancer, or hedge, to one’s existing equity portfolios during volatile markets even though making money from it hasn’t been a slam dunk.

That said, if you’ve an interest in the glittery stuff, here’s a brief look at how its per ounce price has performed over the years according to data from KITCO.com;

-10 year high 1900.30; low 868.70

-5 year high 1382.; low 1050.6

-1 year high 1353.30; low 1173,70

-Today, Monday, Feb.4, 2019 at 2:52 pm—1313.70

“Economic uncertainty, slowdown, (and the) U.S.-China trade conflict supported investment flows,” said the World Gold Council’s head of market intelligence, Alistair Hewitt who added. “This dynamic is likely to run through 2019.”

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Nice jump ups last week on the year-to-date returns for the three indices followed here. But can that trend, if it is a trend, continue? Time will tell.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Feb.1, 2019.

DJIA 7.44% YTD up from the previous week’s 6.04%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn -4.29% improved from the previous week -6.2%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   7.97 % YTD down from last week’s 6.30%

  • 1 yr. Rtn -4.09% improved from last week’s -6.15%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 9.47% YTD up from last week’s 7.98%

  • 1yr Rtn -1.65% improved from last week’s -3.32%

NASDAQ reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

Repeat from early January:

Looking up.

At the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, the total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 4.70%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

-U.S. Diversified Equity Funds average, 4.70%; highest Equity Leveraged Funds, 11.08%; lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -8.88%

-Sector Equity Funds average 4.88%; highest Energy MLP Funds, 11.74%; lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -2.20%

-World Equity Funds average 4.07%; highest Latin American Funds, 9.01%; lowest India Region Funds, -1.23%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

  • Christian Investing

I remember learning that it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it was for a rich man to get into heaven. I’m going to guess that the folks who run the various portfolios of the Timothy Plan might see that differently.

The Timothy Plan group of funds was created 25 years ago to meet the needs of Christian investors who didn’t want their money invested in companies that support things such as pornography, abortion, wars, any anti-family causes or simply companies whose products run contrary to the teachings of Scripture.

To date that’s paid off for them as the family now has over $1 billion under management.

From their recent press release: “The impact of our investments affects more than the return column on our account statements, it enables companies of high moral character to establish a greater presence in our community at large—Kingdom Impact Investing.”

Believers in that style of investing can learn more about their funds, fund performances, etc.  at TimothyPlan.com.

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Jan. 25, 2019

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  • I’m Melting

Meltdowns appear to be the trend in this New Year as stocks prices gyrate up, melt down and then seemingly slide into a pool of yuck.

Like that Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, whose nastiness eventually reduced her to a puddle, the one thing that totally destroyed her was water. Yes, clear, simple, every day, everywhere water.

If only a market meltdown could be corrected by a serious splash of water we’d probably all gleefully  click our ruby slippers together. But ruby slippers aren’t in. So the best we can do is to recognize a trend when we see one and address our investing money goals and needs accordingly.

According to Daniel Pinto, co-president of J.P. Morgan Chase, the market’s performance in December is likely to continue throughout this year—and to date he has been correct.

From CNBC.com: “Over time, you will probably see several more market events like we saw in December,” Pinto said last week in an interview at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.”

Some of the things fueling the markets’ current meltdown pattern include the behavior of our leaders, changes in investor habits/beliefs and an aging economic situation. Oh, and then there’s the huge lump under the living room rug that everyone seems to not see and walk around: America’s huge debt.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Continuing up in tiny bits on year-to-date returns but that’s not the case for 1-year returns.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

DJIA 6.04% YTD up from the previous week’s 5.917%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn -6.2% down from the previous week -5.04%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   6.30 % YTD down from last week’s 6.54%

  • 1 yr. Rtn -6.15% down from last week’s -4.55%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 7.98% YTD a tiny bit from last week’s 7.87%

  • 1yr Rtn -3.32% down from last week’s -1.90%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

 

-Mutual funds

Repeat from early January:

Looking up.

At the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, the total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 4.70%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

-U.S. Diversified Equity Funds average, 4.70%; highest Equity Leveraged Funds, 11.08%; lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -8.88%

-Sector Equity Funds average 4.88%; highest Energy MLP Funds, 11.74%; lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -2.20%

-World Equity Funds average 4.07%; highest Latin American Funds, 9.01%; lowest India Region Funds, -1.23%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

  • Forever costs more

Forget that 50-cent Forever stamp as they’ve become a thing of the past.

Beginning a couple of days ago, (January 27, 2019), the U.S. Postal Service added a nickel to the price of the Forever stamp. That means it’s not two for a buck anymore.

Here, from USATODAY.com are some of the Postal Service price hike details:

  • “First-Class letter (1 ounce) will go up to 55 cents: The nickel increase is the largest percentage rise since 1991, when postage increased from 25 to 29 cents.
  • Additional letter ounce costs will decrease: Each additional ounce will drop from 21 cents to 15 cents. Mailing a 2-ounce letter, a wedding invitation’s typical weight, will cost 70 cents instead of 71 cents.
  • Postcard rates will remain the same: Mailing a postcard will run travelers 35 cents.
  • Priority Mail prices will jump: A small box that previously cost $7.20 will rise to $7.90, while a medium box will jump from $13.65 to $14.35.
  • Priority Mail Express fees will increase: Those looking to ship an envelope ASAP can expect to pay $25.50 instead of $24.70.

 

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Jan. 18, 2019

 

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Jack Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group  was 89 years old when he passed away on January 16, 2018

 

  • You can thank Jack

When I began selling securities in the early 1980’s, mutual funds offered investors a way to purchase a basket of stocks instead of having to select one-by-one which company’s stocks to invest in. Back then, mutual funds had been around for 50 years and little by little were gaining ground among investors and particularly those selling them.

Way back then, the draw for investors was the bundle of stock idea; the draw for brokers selling them was the sales charge (a one-time fee similar to a commission) —typically 8.75% on equity funds.

Something not always addressed back then was a mutual fund’s annual management fees that averaged as high as 1.75% per year. That fee relates to what we hear of as the cost of “active or passive management”. Or, the cost of a fund’s professional management relating to what stocks are purchased and sold in a mutual fund’s portfolio.

Additionally and more importantly, back then there were no equity funds with low sales charges funds, low management fees or index funds around to invest in.

While there are a few reasons when, why and how the sales charge costs and annual management fees have dropped on funds, there’s one man who had a huge impact on a couple of fronts on this product: John C. Bogle.

Thanks to the research, proven investment philosophy and the continued drum-beating of Bogle, Wall Street and investors learned two really important things. First, it’s hard to beat the market—the market representing the performance of an index such as the S&P 500. Second, costs matter. Cost like paying a sales charge on your fund investments and the cost of paying annual management fees on the equity funds you own.

In 1974, Bogle created the Vanguard fund family and in 1976 introduced the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, a low-cost passively managed portfolio of stocks designed to mimic the performance of the S&P 500 index.

And mimic it has done resulting in a solid track record of making money for its shareholders  as actively managed funds have had a hard time beating the performance of the S&P 500 over the long-term.

Depending upon the type of equity fund and the performance years measured, it’s difficult to come up with one figure that represents how often and by how much a passively managed fund, such as an index fund, beats the performance of an actively managed equity fund. Figures for it differ from year to year and fund type to fund type and may range as high as 90-some percentage of actively managed funds that don’t beat that of the S&P 500 in one year to underperforming actively managed ones in another. But more often than not it’s fair to say that index funds often outperform actively managed ones.

Bottom line: Jack Bogle influenced the mutual fund industry in a hugely positive way and provided a wonderful, simple approach to investing through low-cost, passively managed index fund investing. (FYI: The  symbol for various  S&P 500 index funds include: SPDR S&P 500 (ETF), SPY; Vanguard 500 Index  fund is VFIAX; Vanguard Total Stock Market fund, VTSAX; an Fidelity 500 Index fund, FXAIX.)

That said, there will always be risks to equity investing and there are no guarantees that your fund choice(s) will be financially rewarding or punishing no matter what syle of stock selection or management style  is used.

Making money, whether it be in funds or individual stocks, always depends upon two things: Your choices and the time period you’ve participated in the market.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Refreshing.

After plenty of minuses, for the second week in a row the indices are smiling.

All three made nice gains last week with the Nasdaq’s year-to-date return ending higher than the other indices and sat at nearly 8% at the close of business on Friday..

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the three major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

DJIA  5.91% YTD way up from the previous week’s 2.87%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn -5.04% improved from the previous week -6.17%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500   6.54 % YTD way up from last week’s 3.57%

  • 1 yr. Rtn -4.55% improved from last week’s -6.19%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ  7.87% YTD way up from last week’s 5.07%

  • 1yr Rtn -1.90% improved from last week’s -3.33%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

Repeat from last week:

Looking up.

At the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, the total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 4.70%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

-U.S. Diversified Equity Funds average, 4.70%; highest Equity Leveraged Funds, 11.08%; lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -8.88%

-Sector Equity Funds average 4.88%; highest Energy MLP Funds, 11.74%; lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -2.20%

-World Equity Funds average 4.07%; highest Latin American Funds, 9.01%; lowest India Region Funds, -1.23%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

  • Palladium

A while back I mentioned palladium and I’m mentioning it again. Why? Because in 2018 it beat the performance of gold and some think  it could do the same this year and going forward.

That thinking is that due to demand and supply imbalance and the fact that other commodities are being dragged down by a strong dollar and the global slowdown.

Oh…then there is the biggie: Palladium is used to make catalytic converters in gasoline automobiles.

And, as the world begins to switch from gas-fueled autos to hybrid vehicles that matters. A lot.

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POCKETBOOK Week Ending Jan. 11, 2019

 

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As for the market’s direction, could it be a bear in wedding dress clothing? Time will tell.

 

  • Credit Card Debt

Put aside the fact that America’s national debt has risen by huge leaps and bounds under the current administration, what may or may not surprise you is that personal credit card debt has risen too.

According to TheBalance.com, U.S. consumers now have acquired over $1 trillion in credit card debt. Divide that by the number of households in the country and that breaks down to $5,700 in debt per household.

But wait, there’s more: Look at just the households that already have credit card debt and the average debt for those households is heading for $10,000, ($9.333), according to ValuePenguin.

All of which makes me wonder about how really great is this economy that you hear so much about. Or the fabulous job numbers. Or, the low inflation.

Something does add up.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

For one week there were positive signs of life on Wall Street as all three indices followed here showed some nice one week gains.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the four major indices—DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ — including the dates each reached new highs. Data is according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.

DJIA 2.87% YTD way up from the previous week’s 0.45%.

  • 1 yr. Rtn -6.17% improved from the previous week -6.55%

Most recent DJIA a new ALL-TIME CLOSING HIGH was reached on Oct.3, 2018 of 26,951.81. The previous high was reached on Sept. 21, 2018 of 26,796.16.

 

-S&P 500 3.57% YTD up from last week’s 1.00%

  • 1 yr. Rtn -6.19% improved from last week’s -7.05%

The S&P 500 reached a BRAND NEW CLOSING ALL-TIME HIGH on Sept. 21, 2018 of 2,940.91. The previous closing high was reached on August 29, 2018 of 2,916.50.

 

-NASDAQ 5.07% YTD way up from last week’s 1.56%

  • 1yr Rtn -3.33% improved from last week’s -4.79%

Nasdaq reached a BRAND NEW 52-week CLOSING HIGH on August 30, 2018 of 8,1333.30. The previous high was reached on August 24, 2018 of 7,949.71.

 

-Mutual funds

Looking up.

At the close of business on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, the total return for the average stock fund under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading was 4.70%, according to Lipper.

Looking at the fund types with the highest year-to-date gains under the various headings shows the following:

-U.S. Diversified Equity Funds average, 4.70%; highest Equity Leveraged Funds, 11.08%; lowest, Dedicated Short Bias Funds, -8.88%

-Sector Equity Funds average 4.88%; highest Energy MLP Funds, 11.74%; lowest Alternative Managed Funds, -2.20%

-World Equity Funds average 4.07%; highest Latin American Funds, 9.01%; lowest India Region Funds, -1.23%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

 

  • Banking on banks

Turns out, 2018 was a great year for banks if being a great year means that none failed.

CNBC reported “ 2018 was the first year since 2006 and only the third since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was created in 1933 that a calendar year passed without a bank failure, according to Bloomberg.”

FYI, the peak year for failures was 2010 when 157 institutions bellied up. And during the savings and loan crisis, in 1989 there were 534 lenders that failed.

 

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