All posts by dianvujovich

POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 21, 2017

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• Are you irrationally exuberant?

To be an equity investor you’ve got to have confidence in the market. Believing that it can be a financially rewarding place to invest your money is step one. But just like believing in ourselves isn’t a 100% always felt every day of our lives situation, our level of confidence in the stock market can go through huge swings over both the short- and long-term.

The Bespoke Investment Group looked at two of the four investment confidence questions that Yale’s International Center for Finance regularly surveys investors about. The four market confidence questions are about one year confidence, buy-on-dips confidence, crash confidence, and valuation confidence.

The two questions Bespoke recently addressed in a newsletter were the “one-year confidence and “valuation confidence” questions.

Yale’s survey found that individual investors are “crazy bullish on stocks”. While less than 2% of institutional investors don’t expect any gains from the Dow over the next year, individual investors have been head-over-heals bullish about the market as 90.9%  think it will be providing them with future gains over the next year.

This same individual investor group also doesn’t give much of a hoot regarding market valuations.

So, two questions you might like to ask yourself are what kind of returns do ou expect from the Dow over the next year. And, how confident are you about the stock market’s performance going forward.

Once you’ve answered those questions in that order, reverse the order and ask yourself once again. Your two sets of answers may  surprise you.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Last week was a week of uppers for the major indices followed here. All made positive gains with respect to their previous week’s performance, based upon Friday, April 21, 2017 figures . And that’s the good news.

As for what’s to come, well, Friday (the 28th) brings with it the very unwelcome opportunity for a government shut down and on Saturday (the 29th), it’s time for President Trump’s 100-day performance review. Additionally, the prez has also pretty much  promised a new health care bill and a tax reform presentation during the week, as well.

Whew!

With all of that, and the current existing world-wide tensions, if I were an oddsmaker, I’d be suspect of those expecting grandiose returns in the market over the next few days. Expecting less might wind up being more.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending on Friday, April 21, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +3.97% YTD, up a bit from last week’s 3.49%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.27% up a bit from last week’s 14.10%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.

 

-S&P 500 +4.91% YTD up from last week’s 4.03%

  • 1yr Rtn +12.30% up from last week’s +11.82%

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.

 

-NASDAQ +9.80% YTD up from last week’s +7.84%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.50% up from last week’s 17.37%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.

 

–Russell 2000 +1.67% YTD% up from last week’s -0.88%

  • 1yr Rtn +21.49% up from last week’s +19.20%

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.

 

-Mutual funds

Improvement again.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 20 ,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was 4.64%. That’s up considerably from last week’s 2.98% return, according to Lipper.

Just as World Equity Funds continue to reward equity investors, up 8.86% on average, fixed-income investors in bond funds investing around the globe have been reward too.

So, if you’re a fixed-income fan, the best year-to-date returns are in the World Income Funds arena. Lipper tracks 808 of them in five different categories.

In order of performance, year-to-date cumulative total reinvested performance for World Income Funds, as of 4/20/17, was as follows:

-Emerging Markets LC Debt Funds, +7.34%;

-Emerging Markets HC Debt Funds +5.31%;

-International Income Funds, +3.64%;

– Alt Currency Strategies, up 3.04%;

– and Global Income Funds, +2.75%.

As a comparison, the average return for the 2,511 funds under the General Domestic Taxable Fixed-Income Funds heading was 2.14%

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.

 

• Uppity drug prices

Some pharmaceutical companies seem to love overdosing on raising their drug prices. Then again, if they didn’t they might not have any growth to show.

According to a recent CNBC.com story addressing a study by Credit Suisse about drug companies, “Increases in the prices of drugs added $8.7 billion to 2016 net income for 28 companies analyzed.”

The Credit Suisse report identified three companies that were most dependent on price increases for their growth: Biogen, Eli Lilly and AbbVie.

The companies that relied the least on drug price increases were BioMarin, Gilead, Novo Nordisk and Regeneron.

 

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pbTrumpBits#9: Earth Day and Trump’s seawall

Pics of Mar-a-Lago on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, Friday, January 20, 2017. Note the water level on the seawall.

In the late afternoon of the day The Donald, (remember when he was called that?), took the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States, I figured it was in the best interest of all to do some simple water-level documentation.

Knowing that this prez does not believe in climate change, and has plans to cut off funds regarding it, having a snapshot of the water level at Mar-a-Lago’s seawall could one day prove to be worth it  for climate change deniers.

I even thought of starting a contest in which folks could pick the day, date, time and year in which the seawall would be breached and water flood the back lawn of the estate. Only problem is, Florida living brings with it a whole host of rainy, stormy and windy weather, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. And any one of them could raise the level of the water in Lake Worth, aka, the Intracoastal Waterway, behind the estate. Meaning, deciding when the water hits the grass because of climate change could be tricky.

So, my pictures will have to tell the how-climate-change-impacts-Mar-a-Lago story.

Anyone who is able to think knows that climate change isn’t fairy tale or fake news. It’s a true reality that’s backed up with facts like this: Sea levels in South Florida are now about four inches higher  than they were in 1992, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Additionally, every savvy realtor in the state realizes that a rise in sea levels can impact all properties along the ocean and  Intracoastal and swamp property values.  And Palm Beachers aren’t likely to see that as a  “Make America Great Again” plus.

So on this fabulous Earth Day, take the time to celebrate all the glory in nature that surrounds you. Then, take a moment to realize that all things on our planet Earth change over  time. That’s just how it is.

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 13, 2017

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• Pay me more

Sometimes I am totally baffled by the head-in-the-sand and sheer stupidity of many who make their  living on Wall Street, in Washington, the insurance industry, corporate America, etc.,  regarding wages.

Recently I read a headline in the financial section of an online source that hoped to draw readers in by listing the reasons why people don’t save enough money for their retirement.

The headline brought out a big Homer Simpson “D’oh” in me. Why? Because I see the answer as clear as the nose on my face.

If it isn’t clear to you, let me explain: The reason is because wages—for those with a job– still stink. And that translates into the simple reality that people aren’t bringing home a paycheck fat enough to cover monthly expenses never mind having enough to save for retirement. Many of whom, btw, live paycheck to paycheck, couldn’t handle a family emergency expense of 500 bucks and have no retirement account of any sort.

Thinking everybody has enough money to save for their retirement is just plain ignorant. About as ignorant as thinking that keeping healthy is a personal choice—no genetics involved there.

I’m not sure why the not-enough-money thing is so hard for those in corporate America, Congress, etc. to get. Unless, of course, keeping your company’s shareholders happy has become more important that paying a decent living wage to the individuals who keep your business in business. Or perhaps pure greed is behind it all. But we all know that greed has never made a country—or the citizens living in it— great.

It’s time for those who decide pay scales to wake up. Wages not keeping up with the cost of living isn’t a new story. It’s decades old. And unless serious changes are made, won’t be going away anytime soon.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Stock indices were all down at the close of this past 4-day week on Wall Street. Biggest hit was to the Russell 2000—its 1-year performance closed under water. We haven’t seen that kind of year-to-date return in more weeks than many would like to mention.

Re the markets, iIf you haven’t realized it by now, Americans don’t like wars. Or any worries or concerns about the likelihood of one anywhere in the world that the US might be involved or participate in.

And if you haven’t realized it by now, our current president has a bullying nature that some see as a positive while others find his  behavior as undermining our country’s security.

So, even though earnings reports may be strong in some sectors, nothing is stronger than fear. Realized. Unrealized. Made up. Or in-your-face.

These are delicate times. Invest carefully.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high, according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending  Thursday, April 13, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +3.49% YTD, down from last week’s 4.52%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.10% down from last week’s 17.75%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.

 

-S&P 500 +4.03 YTD down from last week’s 5.21%

  • 1yr Rtn +11.82% down from last week’s +15.36%

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.

 

-NASDAQ +7.84% YTD down from last week’s +9.19%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.37% down from last week’s 21.23%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.

 

–Russell 2000 YTD  -0.88% way down from last week’s +0.55%%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.20% down  from last week’s +24.87 %

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.

 

-Mutual funds

Ouch.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 13,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds closed at 2.98%, down from last week’s 4.17% return, according to Lipper.

Of the 20 different fund types that fall under the broad U.S. Diversified Fund heading, for the first time this year there wasn’t one group reporting a double-digit year-to-date average return. Top and bottom fund types include Equity Leveraged Funds, up on average 8.95% and Dedicated Short Bias, -6.75%.

Even World Equity Funds lost ground. The average fund under this heading was +8.21% down from last week’s 8.59%.

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.

  • The cat is out of the bag

There are no words to  excuse the violent behavior that grown adults imposed on United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao last week. Dr. Dao’s injuries include a broken nose, teeth knocked out, a concussion and the impossible to gage long-term trauma he will suffer.

One of the results of that horrible encounter is that airlines will pay.

No, I’m not speaking of the lawsuit Dr. Dao will likely bring but the pretty much kept-to-a-secret amount of money airlines would pay to passengers willing to give up their seat on overbooked flights.

On the day of the incident, United offered passengers $400 and a free night in a hotel if they chose to take a later flight, according to Graffiotech.com.

Turns out, the cap on dollars offered within the industry is $1,350.

Who knew?

I’m guessing not many passengers.  If they had  been offered a four-figure amount to get off that plane, perhaps that incident would not have happened. Perhaps.

As a result of this better-not-ever-happen-again incident, Delta Air Lines has just upped the please-take-another-flight-offer  ante: According to The Associated Press, Delta gate agents can now offer up to $2000 to passengers choosing to take another flight—that’s up from $800. And better yet, Delta supervisors can now offer up to $9,950—up from 1350.

Perhaps, sums like that will be attractive enough to passengers and make a change of plans more palatable for all concerned.

We shall see.

 

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pbTrumpBits#8: Easter Egg Hunting

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My dog Gracie, all decked out for Easter and hopping to find an official Easter Egg Hunt somewhere in Palm Beach realizes egg hunts aren’t all created equally.

Of course I want to give my dog the best. So of course I called Mar-a-Lago to find out if they were having an Easter Egg Hunt this weekend. And of course the woman who answered the phone said, “Yes.”

When I asked which day and at what time, she asked if I were a member of the Club. Of course I said “No.” That $200,000 membership fee would pretty much wipe out my retirement fund. Priorities, you know.

Learning I wasn’t a member, the phone person said she couldn’t give me any other information but did confirm that there would be an Easter Egg Hunt open to Mar-a-Lago Club members only.

Of course Gracie was disappointed. But I told her not to worry. There’s no telling if the eggs in the hunt would have been prepared properly anyway as inspectors have cited the Club for a number of food violations. And nobody, whether they have two- or four-legs, wants to deal with rotten eggs.

Of course she understood. Then, gave me one of those looks that said she was glad we hadn’t forked over any of our retirement money for a membership in a place that has less than a five-star spick-and-span kitchen and costs a fortune to hang out at. She is a very wise dog.

Fortunately,  Palm Beach isn’t a one-Easter-Egg-Hunt town.

On Saturday there’s an Easter Egg Hunt at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, that’s the church the Trump’s frequent on holidays. This year the hunt is a part of the church’s Spring Carnival, begins at 10 a.m. and is free to attend. No membership of any sort required.

And of course there is the Flagler Museum’s super spectacular Easter Egg Hunt. It’s on Saturday, gates open at 9 a.m. and the hunt for over 8,000 eggs begins at 10.

Nothing free about this hunt, unless you’re a member of the Museum. If you’re not a member, the Easter Egg Hunt tariff is $18  for adults and $15 for children.

Sadly, all of the Easter Egg Hunts mentioned are just for two-legged creatures. And ofcourse, Grace understands. She always does.

Happy Easter Egg Hunting.

 

POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 8, 2017

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• Jobs. Really?

However you’d like to spin the jobs story, truth is it’s worse, better and not as great as many would hope.

The bad news: In March only 98,000 jobs were created. The Street expected almost two times that amount, 180,000.

The good news: That month’s unemployment rate was at a 10-year low of 4.5 percent. CNBC.com  reported that the “real” unemployment rate is 8.9 percent—the lowest in over nine years.

Some not so hot truths: That same source reported that retail jobs fell by 30,000 and construction jobs totaled 6,000 after they gained  59,000 in February.

One tiny plus, average hourly wages are up 2.7 percent on an annualized basis.

That translates to a 0.54 cent an hour increase for those with a job paying 20 bucks an hour.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Some ups, some downs and NASDAQ  reached a new high during the week.

And that’s how it was when the market closed on April 7, 2017.

As for what’s to come, the bulls still see stock prices going higher. The bears, not so much. But what’s more important than those animals, is how your own portfolio is performing. Make the changes you need in order to meet your own personal financial goals.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending April 7, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +4.52% YTD, down a hair from last week’s 4.56%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.75% up from last week’s 16.84%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.

 

-S&P 500 +5,21 YTD down from last week’s 5.53%

  • 1yr Rtn +15.36% up from last week’s +14.71%

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.

 

-NASDAQ +9.19% YTD ‘bout the same from last week’s +9.18%

  • 1yr Rtn +21.23% down from last week’s 24.87%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.

 

–Russell 2000 +0.55 YTD% way down from last week’s 2.12%%

  • 1yr Rtn +24.87% up a bit from last week’s +24.41 %

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.

 

-Mutual funds

Downers and uppers.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 6,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds closed at 4.17%, down from last week’s 4.82% return, according to Lipper.

The average return for funds under the Sector Equity Fund heading were up 3.96%, a bit more that last week’s 3.51%.

World Equity Funds, on the other hand, lost a bit. The average fund under this heading was 8.59%. Last week that figure was 8.97%.

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.

  • Stores you once knew and loved are closing their doors

If the number of store closings is any indication of the times and our habits, it seems as though people prefer shopping online to walking into their favorite brick-and-mortar store and shopping there.

We can thank Amazon, drones, and people addicted to their hand-held shopping devices, i.e., smart phones, computers and tablets, for that.

From Bloomberg.com comes these tidbits on the subject: Payless Inc. has filed for bankruptcy and will be closing hundreds of stores; Ralph Loren Corp. is closing its flagship Fifth Avenue Polo store; Rue 21 is preparing to file for bankruptcy; HHGregg Inc., Gordmans Stores Inc. and Gander Mountain Co., have all entered bankruptcy. Radio Shack has filed for Chapter 11 for the second time in two years.

Sears Holding Corp., Macy’s Inc., and J.C.Penny Co. are closing hundreds of stores but have not filed for bankruptcy.

This picture isn’t pretty and there’s likely more closings and bankruptcies to come.

Sadly, shopping at the mall seems to be going the way of landlines, in-person meet- and-greets and all sorts of other human interactions.

Could this problem be solved if salaies for the low- and mid-level worker  got a big boost up and people had more money to spend? Me thinks so.

 

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pbTrumpBits#7: Stress

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You can find some peace  by getting lost in the beauty of the cherry blossom trees in Bradley Park. Extended long gazes at them are guaranteed to take away all of the stress built up thanks to the blocked traffic, protestors, road closures and  all of the confusion that will accompany the president during this visit.

 

It’s Thursday, April 6th, 2017, and driving in to town, around town, and  out of town is pretty much guaranteed to be a mess. A hassle. A headache. And, oh yeah, stressful.

Not only is the president in town for the sixth time –costing taxpayers many millions of dollars during each of his visits—  the president of China, Xi Jinping, is also here. Xi isn’t staying at Mar-a-Logo, however. He, and his group of many, are staying about 8 miles south of town at what was originally The Ritz Hotel but now bears the how-do-I-pronouce-it name of the Eau.   Officially it’s the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa.

FYI,  “Eau” is s pronounced “oh” and is a French word and meaning “water”, according to a receptionist at the hotel.

Those miles between where Xi is staying and Mar-a-Lago mean driving anywhere on South Ocean Blvd., in parts of Lake Worth and Manalapan, ( the town the Eau is located in),  will be challenging.  So, while road delays  will make getting to your condo or home a drag,   businesses along the way–and in the respective towns– are likely to suffer as well. And oh, if you had any hopes of hitting the beach at Phipps Ocean Park or Kreusler Park, forgetaboutit. They and their parking lots are closed today and tomorrow. As is the Phipps Tennis Center.

Even protestors and fans  who typically plan on standing on the Southern Blvd. bridge will have a hard time getting there. Parking isn’t allowed on Bingham Island now so those with things to say will have to park a distance away and walk to be heard.

No matter what anyone will tell you, Trump’s visits are an inconvenience on a host of different levels. Unless, of course, you’re a groupie of one sort or another.

If you are not, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Or better yet, sit a spell at Bradley Park and enjoy the cherry blossom trees while they are still in bloom.

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 1, 2017

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• The bull in the bull

Every investor knows, or at least has been told, that bull markets don’t go on forever. That said, they can, however, last a pretty long while.

How long? Thousands of days, according to data from FINRA.

Setting the current bull market aside, the longest bull market in US history lasted 4,494 days (October 1987 to March 2000). During that time period stocks gained 582%, and 308 hit all-time highs.

The shortest bull? Only 1,839 days. The market gained 152% during its 5-year run from August 1982 to August 1897. And, 152  stocks hit their all-time highs during it.

Bull market durations aside, according to  SchaefferResearch.com, when you look at the really big market performance picture —that includes both bull, bear and flat markets— the annualized return of the DJIA since 1920 is around 5.5%.

Bet you thought it was going to be higher, didn’t you.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Up for the week. Down for the year.

That’s how the major indices closed on March 31, 2017, according to CNBC.com.

What’s to come? It depends upon whose info you read: Some say this bull has room to roam; others, a sit down is coming.

Personally, I’d prepare for some upcoming buying opportunities.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending March 31, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +4.56% YTD, up from last week’s 4.22%

•1yr Rtn +16.84% down from last week’s 17.59%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.

 

-S&P 500 +5.53% YTD up from last week’s 4.70%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.71% down from last week’s +15.13%

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.

 

-NASDAQ +9.82% YTD up from last week’s +8.28%

  • 1yr Rtn +21.39% down from last week’s 22.11%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,928.06 on March 21, 2017.

 

–Russell 2000 +2.12%  YTD up from last week’s -0.18%%

  • 1yr Rtn +24.41% down from last week’s +25.28%

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.

 

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, March 30, 2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was 4.82%, according to Lipper. That’s up from the previous week’s close of 3.49%.

Under the broad Sector Equity Fund heading, three categories have shown double-digit returns at the close of the third-quarter while the average fund under this heading was up 3.51%.

Looking at those top performers,  the average YTD returns  were found in Global Science/Technology Funds, up 13.85%, Science & Technology Funds, up on average 12, 20% and Health/Biotechnology Funds, up 11.07%.

It is still  hard to top the performance of the average World Equity Fund. The 4,522 funds that Lipper tracks under that heading were up on average 8.97%.

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.

 

  • Baby Boomers Big Bomb

According to CWR & Partners, LLP, a public relations firm, 41% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 64) have no retirement savings at all; Social Security’s average payment is $1,360.00 per month resulting in a SS poverty level annual income of $16,320 ; and 1 out of every 65 year old will live past the age of 90.

Hum.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending March 25, 2017

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NEWS FLASH: It’s official, on March  27, 2017, the statue of the “Fearless Girl” was awarded more standing time. She will continue to be a symbol of strength,  female power and  ballsiness for the next full year. (Photo from an NBC tweet.)

• Of course we keep the “Fearless Girl” statue on Wall Street

In a world where women outnumber men yet at the same time are considered second-class citizens in many circles or aren’t paid the same as men for doing the same work, it’s crazy how overlooked one simple fact is: When it comes to money, it’s women who control most purse strings.

Way too many guys on Wall Street or Main Street still don’t want to not face up to that reality even though more often than not it’s her final word that decides whether a computer or car is purchased, which house to buy, how to dress the kids, what school they go to, what’s for dinner—- and the list goes on.

So of course the “Fearless Girl” statue ought to be a permanent feature on Wall Street.

How could it not be?

If the bull is the symbol of the strength of the markets, what better way to send the positive and oh-so-true statement that it’s women, young and old, who manage –directly or indirectly– billions of dollars in our economy and in economies around the world.

It takes guts to stare down anything. And America has a long history of creating vital, strong, bright and gutzie women who know that nothing can stand in their way once they are on a mission—even a 3000 pound, old, smelly snorting bull.

Thank you State Street Global Advisors for your part in creating this here-to-stay-if-I-have-my-say, “Fearless Girl” statue.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

The arrow pointed down for the major indices at the close of business on March 24, 2017, according to data from CNBC.com. One, the Russell 2000, even has a year-to-date return in minus territory. The first time we’ve seen that in a very long time.

Raymond James’ chieft investment officer, Jeffrey Saut, is expecting stocks to come under continued pressure and do some damage to what’s been referred to as the “Trump Rally”. He wouldn’t be surprised to see a five to 10% pullback in the S&P 500.

Re the long-term, on CNBC’s “Futures Now”, Saut said, “Secular bull markets tend to last 14, 15,16 years. We’re eight years into this one. It suggests there are years left to run.”

“Suggests” is the operant word to keep in mind here.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending March 24, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +4.22% YTD, down from last week’s 5.83%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.59% down from last week’s 19.64%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.

 

-S&P 500 +4.70% YTD down from last week’s 6.23 %

  • 1yr Rtn +15.13% down from last week’s +16.55%

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.

 

-NASDAQ +8.28%YTD down from last week’s +9.62%

  • 1yr Rtn +22.11% down from last week’s 23.58%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,928.06 on March 21, 2017.

 

–Russell 2000 -0.18 YTD% down seriously from last week’s +2.53%%

  • 1yr Rtn +25.28% down from last week’s +27.52%

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.

-Mutual funds

Up and down and up and down and up and down.

At the close of business on Thursday, March 23, 2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds closed at 3.49%, according to Lipper. That’s down over 2% from the previous week’s close of 5.23 %. Ouch.

That said, World Equity Funds continued to be rewarding—the average fund under its broad heading was up 8.34% at the close of business on Thursday. That’s down a tad from the previous week’s close of 8.46%.

Last week’s top five winning World Equity Funds continue to be the same this week as last–although their performance order has changed. The three funds with the highest ytd returns were: China Region Funds, up 12.86% ( up from last week’s 12.3%); Pacific Ex. Japan Funds , up 12.69% ( up from last week’s 11.83%); and Emerging Markets Funds, up 11.56% ( up from last week’s 11.09%).

Region Funds, up on average 17.21% (last week 17.53%); Latin American Funds, up 11.13% (last week 12.41%).

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.

  • Social Security Question #3

Straight from the mouth of the Journal of Accountancy comes the following question about Social Security:

“Richard just turned 60 and is thinking about upcoming decisions regarding Social Security, particularly, when he might need to start receiving his Social Security benefits. While there is flexibility on when an application can be made, which of the ages below is NOT an age that triggers a significant change in the amount of Richard’s Social Security benefits?

  1. Age 62
  2. Age 65
  3. Age 66
  4. Age 70 “

And the answer is: B.

“The correct answer is b. Age 62 is the earliest age that Richard can request a reduced Social Security benefit. From age 62 to 66, the benefit gradually becomes larger until age 66, Richard’s FRA (the age at which the full retirement benefit will be paid for people born between 1943 and 1954). If his benefit is not taken at FRA, the benefit continues to grow at 8% (noncompounded) until age 70. This is the latest age Richard can defer his Social Security benefit and receive an increased benefit. Age 65 is a significant decision age for applying for Medicare coverage, regardless of when Richard files for Social Security. “

See more at: http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2017/mar/social-security-quiz.html#sthash.5XB5DHqT.dpuf

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Trump and the sick,poor and aged

DSC04796Only one word accurately describes the Trump  administration’s proposed budget: Disastrous.

Ironically, while that is one of president’s most frequently used words when he has honed in on criticising/describing any one of a variety of previous administration’s programs, it is the one  word that best describes his  first-go-at-it re a budget—-particularly when you look at some of the details.

Looking only at the impact the suggested budget has on the elderly, what follows is a MUST READ.

It is the official statement from James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and is in response of the Trump Administration Budget Blueprint. A budget that certainly has no heart for the poor, sick or aged. Or the health care of millions of Americans.

Below  is Firman’s statement as posted at NOCA.org and dated March 16, 2017. Read it and weep. Then, if you find it unsettling, contact your state Senators and voice your opinion:

“The following is a statement from James Firman, National Council on Aging (NCOA) President and CEO, on the Trump Administration Budget Blueprint:

“The Trump Administration’s budget blueprint for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 would eliminate programs that help older adults find work, keep them safe while aging in their homes, and provide opportunities for them to give back to their communities, among many others.

“The blueprint eliminates the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), which provides job training and placement for adults 55 and over who have limited incomes and are trying to make ends meet. Among these are individuals who have taken time off to care for aging parents or family and are now trying to return to the workforce. Last year under SCSEP, 70,000 older adults received on-the-job training while providing nearly 36 million hours of staff support to 30,000 organizations. The value of this work exceeded $800 million, or nearly twice the program’s appropriations. It is ironic that a budget proposal focused on job creation would eliminate the only program dedicated to job training and placement for older, lower income Americans.

“The blueprint also eliminates the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides assistance to low-income households to meet the costs of electricity, heating, and cooling. About a third of the nearly 7 million households receiving LIHEAP benefits include an older adult aged 60 or older. For these families, LIHEAP benefits often mean they do not have to choose between paying for utilities, food, or medicine.

“Also on the chopping block is the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which provides states and localities with funding to improve community health and living conditions for low-income families and seniors with incomes below $15,075. For 2.4 million people 55 and older, these services include home care the keeps them out of nursing homes, congregate and home-delivered meals to keep them healthy, and transportation to doctor appointments.

“Finally, the blueprint eliminates the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which provides volunteer programs that serve distressed communities and vulnerable populations. This includes three Senior Corps programs—the Foster Grandparent Program, Senior Companion Program, and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Together, these programs provide the nation with approximately 96 million hours of service, with a value of $2.1 billion.

“All of these cuts would be part of the $18 billion taken from non-defense discretionary programs for FY17 and $54 billion for FY18. The blueprint eliminates the long-standing bipartisan agreement to spread funding cuts across defense and non-defense programs. And it comes at a time when non-defense discretionary spending is already on track to fall to the smallest amount as a share of the economy in history.

“Taken together, these proposals would be a serious blow to the health and safety of all older Americans and their families.”

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending March 18, 2017

  • 7be6974a-a70c-449c-b75f-92ef077bf8a2 Social Security and your taxes

It has been estimated that each day 10,00 Baby Boomers retire. Many, while not all, then begin looking forward to and accepting their well-earned Social Security checks.

But that new income isn’t always tax-free. No, no Nanette. A lot depends upon the age at which you begin collecting, the state in which you live  and of course any other work-related income.

To make us smarter than ever, here is one of the five questions included from a Journal of Accountancy “How much do you know about Social Security? “ quiz . I found it at their website, journalofaccountancy.com, and thought the info valuable.

I will publish the other four questions at a later time but until then you can test your Social Security smarts here:

“Andy chose to file for his Social Security worker’s benefit in 2016 when he turned 62. However, in February 2017 he decided to take a part-time job to earn some extra income. He earns about $2,000 per month before taxes and receives about $500 per month in dividend payments from his investment portfolio. Which statement is correct about the impact on his Social Security benefits?

  1. His Social Security benefits will all be taxable because he has earned income over $1,500 per month prior to his full retirement age.
  2. His Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 of earned  income over a monthly threshold of $1,410 in 2017.
  3. His Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 of earned income only over a monthly threshold of $1,410 in 2017.
  4. His Social Security benefits will be 85% taxable because he has earned income over $1,500 per month prior to his full retirement age.”

To find the correct answer, scroll down to the last entry –found under Mutual Funds— in this week’s Pocketbook.

  • Market Quick Glance

Mixed returns for the major indices over the past week with one bright spot: NASDAQ did reach a new high at the close of business on –of all days—Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending March 17, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.83% YTD, up a tad from last week’s 5.77%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.64% down from last week’s 22.99%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.

-S&P 500 +6.23% YTD up from last week’s 5.97%

  • 1yr Rtn +16.55% down from last week’s +19.25 %

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.

-NASDAQ +9.62YTD up from last week’s +8.89%

  • 1yr Rtn +23.58% down from last week’s 25.731%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,912.61 on March 17, 2017.

–Russell 2000 +2.53 YTD% up from last week’s +0.60 %

  • 1yr Rtn +27.52% down from last week’s +28.32%

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.

-Mutual funds

A better week for the equity funds as, at the close of business on Thursday, March 16, 2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was  5.23%, according to Lipper. That’s up from the previous week’s close of 4.02%.

It’s still World Equity Funds that are bringing home the bacon with the average return on the 4,500+ funds under its heading were up on average 8.46%. That’s over a 300-basis point gain in one week.

Fund types making money under that heading include: India Region Funds, up on average 17.53%; Latin American Funds, up 12.41%; China Region Funds, up 12.3%; Pacific Ex. Japan Funds , up 11.83%; and Emerging Markets Funds, up 11.09%.

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.

  • And the answer is: C

“Prior to full retirement age (FRA), earned income above a threshold ($16,920 per year or $1,410 per month in 2017) reduces the Social Security benefit by $1 for every $2 earned. The first year of earning, this is tested monthly, with subsequent years tested annually. In the year in which you reach your FRA, the benefits are reduced by $1 of every $3 eanred over a monthly threshold of $3,780. After FRA, additional earnings have no impact on the mount of benefits received. Taxability of benefits is a separate issue, but neither indicated above is correct.”

And you thought things would be simpler in retirement.

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