For the week ending Feb. 20, 2016

•Seniors and spousal spending
Turns out, the over 65 crowd can be pretty stingy.
According to a CreditCard.com poll, 24 percent of couples that aged and above said their partner should spend no more than $25 without telling them. Yikes. Ya can’t go far on that. Then again, maybe that’s the point.

•Market Quick Glance
Below are year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through February 19, 2016  according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

-Dow Jones -5.47% YTD
1yr Rtn -7.30 %
-S&P 500 -5.85% YTD
1yr Rtn -7.17%
1yr Rtn -7.96%
-Russell 2000 -10.95% YTD
1yr Rtn -16.85%

-Feeling funky about investing? Re-feel.
In this goo-goo goofy election year when some are saying America is in a horrible fix and in need of big-time repair, if you decide to plug your ears to that kind of chatter  other voices can be heard. Like this one from Jack. A. Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

In his Current Market Update letter, dated February 17, 2016,  the subject focus was mainly oil but included this: “Despite the campaign trail rhetoric, the fact remains that wages are up 2.5 percent in the last year, gas prices are in the basement and the American fleet goes much farther before requiring a fill-up.  Our “wages-to-miles” metric just broke the previous record of 341 miles “per hour” set in 1999, when a gallon of gas was 90 cents.

“American consumer confidence is on the rise with most of the improvement attributed to lower pump prices.  Don’t be surprised if consumer spending data ushers in sunshine this spring.  “

•Investment Ideas
I’m sticking with the dividend paying stock ideas this week just because selecting the right ones for your portfolio can be smart—-widows-and-orphans investment style smart.

In case you’ve neglected dividend paying stocks in the past consider the following:
–    Since 1930, dividends have accounted for an incredible 42% of the S&P 500’s total return.
–    According to a study by Fidelity, S&P 500 dividend-paying stocks perform 50% better in down markets than non-dividend paying stocks.
–    Dividends are tax advantaged. Your dividend income is taxed at a lower rate—20%—than capital gains.
–    The S&P 500 dividend yield is higher than that of the 10-year U.S Treasury.

That’s all according to Louis Navellier’s Market 360 letter. And yes, he does manage  a Dividend Growth Fund (along with a number of other funds) and  I’m not trying to sell you. I’m just sayin…Navellier is an old-hand at investing, has a well-established reputation and you might want to check his group out when  researching funds and investigating investment managers who have been around for decades.

-Mutual funds
Through Thursday, February 18, 2016  the average U.S.Diversified Equity fund was down 7.82 percent, year-to-date, according to Lipper.

Of the General Equity Funds, Dedicated Short Bias funds have performed the best so far this year, up on average 10.95 percent. And Diversified Leveraged funds, the worst, down 14.74 percent, on average.

Not surprising,  Precious Metal Funds were top performers under the World Equity Funds heading—up on average almost 30 percent (29.66 percent)

Visit http://www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how 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.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at http://www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

-Wealth and the working
Two points to ponder gleaned from Princor’s Weekly Market Review:
-“The 20 wealthiest Americans (worth a combined $732 billion) own more wealth than the bottom 50% of the U.S. population.”
(Source: Institute for Policy Studies).
-“There are 151 million American workers today. There are 775 million Chinese workers today.
(Source: Department of Labor).



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