Tag Archives: Allaboutfunds.com

POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 19, 2017

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  • Loving our rides

About 43% of the population has an auto loan. That translates to a record 107 million Americans and up from 80 million in 2012, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Of those 107 million, roughly 6 million people are 90 days or more behind on their car payments.

Oh dear. That’s bad news for people who need their vehicles but can’t afford them. And good news for those with the how-in-the-world-can-they-do-that-job Repo Man.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Although the 1-week and 1-year returns on all of the four indices below show mixed results, what’s staggerily delightful is how these indices have performed over the past year: The DJIA up over 19%; the S&P 500 up over 16%, NASDAQ ahead over 29% and the Russell 2000 up nearly 25%. Those kind of 1-year returns aren’t common—they are exceptional.

Be mindful of that.

Below are the weekly and 1-year performance results— including the dates each reached new highs— according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending on Friday, May 19, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.27% YTD down from last week’s 5.74%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.33% up from last week’s 17.92%

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

 

-S&P 500 +6.38% YTD down from last week’s 6.79%

  • 1yr Rtn +16.75% up from last week’s +15/83%

The S&P 500 reached a new all-time high of 2,405.77o on May 16, 2017. (The previous high of 2403.87 was reached on May 9, 2017. Before that, the previous high of 2,400.98 was reached on March 1, 2017. )

 

-NASDAQ +13.01% YTD down from last week’s +13.71%

  • 1yr Rtn +29.10% down from last week’s 29.21%

The NASDAQ reached another new all-time high for the fourth time this year of 6,170,16 on May 16, 2017. (The previous high of 6,133 was reached on May 9, 2017 and before that 6102.72 reached on May 2, 2017. Before that the new high of 6074.04 was achieved on April 28, 2017 and before that date a high of 5,936.39 hit on April 5, 2017.)

 

–Russell 2000 +0.75% YTD down from last week’s +1.89%

  • 1yr Rtn +24.90% up from last week’s +24.73%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high of 1,425.7 on April 26, 2017.

(Its previous high of 1,414,82 was reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, May 18, 2017, the average year-to-date performance of U.S Divesifed Equity Funds was +4.77%.

Under that broad umbrella heading it was Large-Cap Growth Funds that lead the way, up 12.68%, followed by Multi-Cap Growth Funds, up 11.41% and then Equity Leverage Funds, up 11.39%.

Under the Sector Funds heading it was Global Science/Technology Funds returning the most with the average fund in it up 20.95%. And under the World Equity Funds heading, India Region Funds continue to reign, up on average 24.56%.

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.

•Keeping up with the Jones’ and the U.S. Census Bureau

According to TheBalance.com, every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau comes out with figures that measure the average net worth of all of us.The last time the numbers were calculated  was in 2011 and the next one coming is in 2021. Their net worth results take into consideration upon both household income and age. For instance, while the median wealth per household for all households is $68,828, the median wealth of those younger than 35 is only $6,676.Look at other age groups and you’ll find different results. For those aged 55-64, the median wealth jumps to $143,964. And where you’ll find the wealthiest households is for those  in which the age range is 75 or more, it’s $155,714.If you’re puzzled by these figures, and think they seem considerable lower than what you may have heard or read before, keep in mind that the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. government don’t count things in the same way. Surprise. Surprise.Why? Because the gov looks at wealth by income while the U.S. Census Bureau by net worth. Using the governments income figures, for the 20 percent of folks whose income falls in the lowest quintile their median net worth is -$6,029. Those in the middle, have an average net worth of $68,828. And those in the top 20 percent have an median net worth of $630,754.So that explains why there is such a huge difference in median net worth figures. And, how close to impossible it is to keep up with the Jones’.
Read the full story, “What Is the Average American Net Worth?”, written by Kimberly Amadeo and updated on May 12, 2017 at www.thebalance.com ,

 

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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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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Feb. 11, 2017

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  • It’s golden

Don’t know if it’s just because of Valentine’s Day but gold has regained popularity once again. Any why not? Who doesn’t love a golden bobble and wouldn’t covet a closet full of gold bars.

The ask price of an ounce of gold was $1226.30 at 9:24 this morning, 2/13/17, according to Kitco.com where you can follow live prices of it and other precious metals. For a point of reference, between August 15,2016 through Feb. 10, 2017, gold traded as high as $1352.10 an ounce in August to its December low of $1128.20, according to the site.

Word is, the rally in it is supposed to continue. If you are a believer, you can buy the stuff in various easy, or not-so-easy, ways to handle. Or, consider individual mining stocks, mutual funds or ETFs.

To begin your research make sure to read the Feb. 6, 2017, CNBC.com pieced titled, “Look out:Gold and bonds are sending a signal reminiscent of 1987 and 1973 market crashes”.

That warned, a very few of the ETFs you might want to research include SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), iShares Gold Trust (IAU) and ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares (SGOL) . Gold mners ETFs such as Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX) and Sprott Gold Miners ETF (SGDM). Or triple leveraged ones like Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X Shares (NUGT) and Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Index Bull 3x Shares.

Don’t forget, gold is touchy and as such can be a very fickle investment. Handle with care inside and outside of your portfolio.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Big time scores on the major indices for the week ending Feb. 10, 2017 with new all time highs reached on three of the four indices followed below.

A few changes in the Market Quick Glance figures: Gone is the P/E ratio and added is the date each index  reached it all time high. And, I’ve also changed sources for the data because Bloomberg.com has changed its format. As a result, the new site, its look and changes for the free user aren’t as complete as they previously were.

So…below are the weekly and 1-year performance results— including the dates each has reached it high—for four popular stock indices based on the close of business prices at the close of business on Friday, Feb. 10, according to CNBC.com

-Indices:

-Dow Jones + 2.56% YTD, up from last week’s 1.56%

  • 1yr Rtn +27.36% up from last week’s 22.86%

The DJIA reached its all time high of 20,298.21 on 2/10/17 (previous high was 20,125.58 on 1/26/17).

 

-S&P 500 +3.45% YTD up from last week’s 2.62% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +25.07% up bit last week’s 20.86%

The S&P 500 reached its all time high of 2,319.23 on 2/10/17 (previous high was 2,300.99 on 1/26/17).

 

-NASDAQ +5.27% YTD up a bit from last week’s 5.20%

  • 1yr Rtn +33.86% way up from last week’s 25.81%

The Nasdaq reached its all time high of 5,743.43 on 2/10/17 ( previous high was 5,669.61 on 1/26/17).

 

–Russell 2000 +2.34% up from last week’s +1.53%

  • 1yr Rtn +44.158% up from last week’s 36.38%

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1,392.71 on 12/9/16.

 

-Mutual funds

A good week for mutual funds! Turns out the year-to-date return for the average fund was 3.11% at the close of biz on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2011, according to Lipper. That’s a big jump from the previous week’s close of 1.81% for funds included under the U.S. Diversified Equity Fund umbrella.

Under the Sector Equity Funds heading, biggest scores went to Precious Metals Funds, up on average 21.19% and biggest losers were Commodities Equity Funds, down 5.73%.

BTW, the average Sector Equity Fund was up 3.49%. That’s more than the return for the average U.S. Diversified Equity Fund and way less than that of the average World Equity Fund. It’s up 5% thanks in part to the average India Region Funds’ return of 11.68%.

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.

 

  • Dear Valentine

With all of the commercial hoopla about Valentine’s Day going on, its easy to forget—or simply overlook—the fact that this day may not be the greatest for everyone. In fact, I’d say that having a sad, sour or disappointing Valentine’s Day is a reality for many, if not most, of us.

That said, last week I received an email about this Feb.14th day, that’s worth a read. It’s about making the most of this day no matter what your circumstances are.

Written by author Susan Alpert, I’m going to guess that if you follow any one or number of her suggestions that your Valentine’s Day this year will have more meaning to it than you ever could have imagined.

Here is it: “Surviving Loss During Valentine’s Day

February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is almost here.  Everywhere you go you see colorful and enticing ads for flowers, jewelry, and photos of blissfully happy couples. Does it make you smile or make you want to crawl up into a ball and hide? There are millions of people who are without that special love, through death, divorce, separation or personal situations.  Are you one of them?

If that iconic Valentine’s red heart is broken in your eyes, there are steps you can take to put a patch on it, even for just this one dreaded day.  You’ll find there can be pleasure, joy and smiles; even if it’s not in the form you envisioned. Happiness comes in the most surprising ways:

  • First acknowledge that you’re feeling alone and in pain, it’s natural.
    Give yourself permission to feel down and even depressed, it’s your right.
    Make certain to get dressed, get out of your house and socialize.  It’s a temporary fix, but it helps.
    Reach out to someone else who needs love.
    Give a valentine card or heart to a little child. Sometimes they get left out in school. Watch the smile on their face.
    Buy yourself a present.  You deserve it. Repeat to yourself that you are loved by others.
    Help a stranger; volunteer at a charity, a shelter.  It will automatically make you feel better.
    Take yourself, or better yet, go with a friend, to a movie (not a romantic, mushy one), exercise; another positive diversion.
    Thank someone who has loved you; a parent, relative, friend, children, grandchildren).  Wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day.
    Remember the good times and remind yourself that there will be more to come. Then, believe it and it will happen.”

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Dec.31, 2016

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  • It’s all about the numbers

If you were in the stock market in 2016, odds are you made money.

According to CNNMoney, 77% of investors made money. How much? OpenFolio reported that the average investor enjoyed a 5% increase in the value of their investments.

Unfortunately, men’s portfolios outperformed those owned by the ladies, reports that same source. Which, BTW, is nothing new. That trend has been going on for the past three years. Oh my.

  • Market Quick Glance

The chart at the top of this blog sums up the performance of the indices in 2016  very nicely with one exception: It’s missing the performance of the Russell 2000—- it  ended the year up a whopping 19.48%, according to CNNMoney.com

Here are a very few of the best and worst performing stocks in 2016:

  • The top performing stock in the DJIA was Caterpillar, up 36.46%, according to CNBC.com. The worst, Nike, down18.67%.
  • The best performing stock in the S&P 500 was Nvidia, up 224%, and the worst was  Endo International, down 73.1%, according to Salon.com.

Although no one knows how the markets will perform in the short-term, as in 2017, the  chart below, cockeyed as it is, shows how the DJIA has moved over the past 10 years, from 2007 through 2016.  (Source: It and the chart at the beginning of this blog are pictures  I took of charts  found at CNBC.com on Friday, December 30, 2016.)

A DJIA 10-year mountain chart:

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-Mutual funds

All was shiny and bright for many stock fund investors as at the close of business on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016, the performance of the average U.S. Diversified Equity Fund was up 11.23%, off a bit from the previous week’s clost of 11.53%, according to Lipper.

Under that broad heading, Small-Cap Value Funds’ scores were the highest with the average return up 27.25%. Dedicated Short Bias Funds were down the most, off 25.69%.

Under the Sector Equity Funds heading, where the highest gains (and losses) are likely to be found, Precious Metals EquityFunds were the winners—up on average 58.53%. Biggest losing group? Commodities Specialty Funds, down 15.13%.

And, the average General Domestic Taxable Fixed-Income Fund ended the year up 7.47%.

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.

•Hoping 2017 is a happy, healthy and rewarding one for all of us!

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Hillary’s hit and miss

file000244446264Hillary Clinton’s loss in her run for president of these United States reminded me of an old doctor joke: The operation was a success but the patient died. Yes, she did win the popular vote. But, lost the one that leads directly to the White House—the Electoral College vote. Shocking results, for sure. Not, however, the end of the world.

If you’re like most investors, the results of this campaign were both unexpected and unsettling. Stock and bond prices since the election have been predictively volatile and are likely to remain so going forward. For how long, depends upon so many variables included but not limited to inflation and recession worries, commodity and currency concerns and investor sentiments.

Then there are the questions of when the fulfillment of promises made by the president-elect will begin. When, for instance, will construction on the wall separating the U.S. and Mexico begin? Will Hillary be thrown in jail? Undocumented immigrants be forced to leave? The door for Muslims and others slammed shut? The Affordable Care Act dismantled? Taxes for the wealthy and corporations reduced?

All of those things, plus others, have been purported by president-elect Trump to make America great again.

Oh and BTW, what will happen if president-elect Trump is found to have had a hand in the December rape trial of an underage girl?

Time will tell.

But until then, it has become more important than ever for you–the money-minded individual investor—to focus on you. Period.

Spend some time this week reviewing and assessing what your current financial goals and needs are; what your intermediate- and long-term goals are; and making sure your current investment plan is on track to achieving them. Realizing, of course, that all along the way plans don’t always work out exactly as hoped.

Making money via the financial markets —whether you are buying or selling stocks and or bonds— has never been easy. And, growing money for future use even tougher.

But choose to participate in the markets and you’ve wandered into mysterious territory where things may appear to look one way and then turn out to be quite another.

It’s that way in politics, too. Just ask Hillary.

 

POCKETBOOK: Week ending Oct.29, 2016

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•A cup of joe

I love my morning coffee. Make eight cups of it every morning in an old Mr. Coffee  and it’s all gone by noon. Lately I’m enjoying Seattle’s Best 5 described as  dark and intense.

It’s no secret that coffee consumption is a big deal in America. But, bet you did’nt know that Europe is the biggest consumer of coffee in the world,  and, that  the popularity of it is growing rapidly in Asia—with Vietnam leading the way. This according to the International Coffee Organization.

What you also might not know is that  a warming Earth isn’t good for coffee beans.

From a recent SeekingAlpha.com story, “The Future of Coffee Prices”, comes this: “If Earth’s climate continues to warm over the coming decades, obstacles to coffee cultivation will multiply. Consider Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica), the species grown for roughly 70 percent of worldwide coffee production. Arabica coffee’s optimal temperature range is 64°-70°F (18°C-21°C). It can tolerate mean annual temperatures up to roughly 73°F (24°C).”

According to my Google search,  Brazil, for instance, where coffee bean production is huge, temperatures in the summer  can reach 86 to 104 degrees in Rio de Janeiro and  regions in the south.

Investing in coffee-related anything comes with a jolt of risks as all commodity investments do. And, doing your homework is paramount before taking any caffinated leap.

With that in mind, coffee fans who like ETNs might consider researching the iPath Dow Jones-UBS Coffee ETN (JO). Or large company dividend-paying stocks like Starbucks (SBUX), Nestle (NSRGY) or The J.M Smucker Company (SJM).

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Last week the equity indices experienced more downs than ups  with the Russell 2000 losing the most ground, according to Bloomberg reflecting prices at the close of business on Friday, October 28, 2016.

Below are the weekly and 1-year performance results for four popular stock indices along with their respective P/E Ratios.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +6.47% YTD up from last week’s 6.38%

  • 1yr Rtn +5.60% down from last week’s 5.61%

P/E Ratio 17.30 up from last week’s 17.23

 

-S&P 500 +5.88% YTD down  from last week’s 6.60%

  • 1yr Rtn +4.51% down  from last week’s 5.46%

P/E Ratio 19.94 down from week’s 20.11

 

NASDAQ +4.76% YTD down from last week’s 6.11%

  • 1yr Rtn +4.10% down  from last week’s 5.92%

P/E Ratio 30.64 down  from last week’s 31.30

 

Russell 2000 +5.83% YTD down from last week’s 8.51%

  • 1yr Rtn +3.77 down from last week’s 6.05%

P/E Ratio 41.84 down from last week’s 43.48

 

-Mutual funds

As of Sunday afternoon, Lipper’s Weekly Mutual Fund Performance Data hadn’t made it to my desk.

In the meantime, you can still visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see 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.

  • 3rd graders beat money manager performance records

It’s been said before (and no doubt will be said again ) but most money managers don’t do a great performance  job over the long haul. Making that point comes this title from a recent ETF TRENDS.com story, “97% of All Money Managers Don’t Do as Well as a Third Grader.”

Results from a Dimensional Fund Advisors study found that “only 17% of money managers beat the S&P 500 Index over 15 years.” And,  “Investing in the S&P 500 Index simply means owning a fraction of every one of the largest 500 companies in the US. No skill is involved at all; a third grader can do this.”

Dimensional isn’t the only  group to find out that not-so-hot news. Dalbar Inc., a Boston-based research group, revealed that only 3% of money managers were able to beat the performance of the S&P 500 Index over 20 years.

Additionally, another Dalbar study fund investors who choose actively managed funds over passively managed ones—like index funds–earn 3% to 4% less each year.

Time matters. And fees do  too.

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POCKETBOOK:Week ending Aug.27,2016

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•A rate hike is coming. A rate hike is coming. A rate hike is coming. Big deal!

With all the talk about Janet Yellen and the if-she, won’t-she, when-will-she gives the signal that begin moving interest rates up, you’d think the increase was going to be a leap of many percentage points. But you’d be wrong. It won’t be.

Whether interest rates are increased in September or December, two, three or four times during the rest of this year, they won’t be hiked up by much. Don’t expect more than one-quarter of 1% or one-half percent of 1% increase if there are any increases at all.

Even if rates were to rise  by a full 1%, that’s no big deal, people. It still will keep the yields on money market funds and savings accounts miserably low. And, continue to drive folks into the stock market whether for growth opportunities or income via sound dividend-paying stocks. Or both.

So don’t let the fear of an interest rate hike keep you from taking advantage of the delightfully low interest rates one can get on things such as home and car loans. Provided, of course, you qualify. That, of course, has been the stickler for far too many.

Bottom line: Refinance if you need to, or can.

  • Market Quick Glance

As always, the market surprises us. During the week ending Friday, August 26, 2016, three of the four indices lost ground, according to Bloomberg.

Below are the closing YTD performance numbers of four popular US indices along with their 1-year performance figures.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +7.63% YTD (Down from the previous week’s +8.45%)

  • 1yr Rtn +13.46 % (Down from +15.77%)

-S&P 500 +7.68 % YTD (Down from +8.39% YTD)

  • 1yr Rtn +11.47%(Down from from +13.27%)

NASDAQ +5.20 % YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +9.58 (Down from +12.98%)

Russell 2000 +10.03 % (UP from last week’s +9.90 % YTD)

  • 1yr Rtn +8.07%

 

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, August 25, 2016, U.S.Diversified Equity Funds lost a bit with the average YTD performance of +6.08% for the 8,417 funds under this heading, according to Lipper.

Precious Metals Equity Funds, those gems that  have been leading the way with their soaring performance returns aren’t as hot as they have been. Now the group’s average return is only up +102.24%. Still significant and nothing to pooh-pooh.

Decades ago, the head of Oppenheimer Funds told me about an investment strategy he used. It went something like this: At the beginning of each New Year he would change the line-up of funds in his retirement account from those he had to those representing the poorest performing funds at the close of the previous year. It was a strategy he said worked well for him.

While I don’t know the specific details, I do know that one  year’s worst performing funds, fund types and various sectors frequently have turned out to be the next year’s big performance winners.

On that note, here are the poorest performing fund types under Lipper’s Sector Equity Funds the average of which is down from the previous week and currently sits at +12.51%:

-Health /Biotechnology Funds, -6.70

-Global Helth/Biotechnology Funds, -6.10

-Global Financial Services Funds, -4.08

-Speciality/Miscellaneous Funds, -0.23

There ya go. Who knows, maybe next year it will be bio-tech and banking funds that perform well. We shall see.

Wondering how best to use Lipper’s fund performance figures? Use their YTD returns as a guideline for how your individual fund(s) are performing. For instance, the average stock fund is up about 6.5 percent so far this year. Are your stock funds doing better or worse than that?

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see 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.

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

  • Got debt?

According to a Congressional Budget Office report published earlier this month that examined trends in family wealth comes this: “An increase in debt among the bottom 25 percent of families….jumped from $24,000 to $36,000 on average between 2007 and 2013.”

 

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POCKETBOOK:Week ending Aug.19,2016

  • IMG_0204Class distinctions

How much the top 1%ers are really worth is difficult to nail down. Depending up the source, time frame considered and what you’re counting—family wealth or income—the figures change. Nonetheless, that very tiny elite sliver of our society known as the 1%ers owns pretty much everything. Like an abundance of shares of stock, megamillion dollar homes, super yachts, watches worth what most of us would consider a comfortable retirement nest egg etc., etc.

With so much focus on them you’d think the other 99% of us were chopped liver. (If “chopped liver” is too politically incorrect for your taste, think “worthless” instead.) But we are not. Without us this nation wouldn’t be worth nearly what it is today.

Sticking only to dollar values—and not to what’s inside our hearts where our true and real wealth lies— below is a look at the incomes levels of the various income classes in America based on 2014 income levels from the Urban Institute, according to CNN Money.com:

-Rich, incomes, $350,000+

-Upper Middle, $100,000 to $350,000

-Middle, $50,000 to$100,000

-Lower Middle, $30,000 to $50,000

-Poor, <$30,000

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Funny thing about the indices: Sure, the year-to-date performances over the past week was good, although not much improved from the previous week. But it was the 1-year total returns when all four indices really shined. Make sure to check them out.

Below are the closing YTD performance numbers of four popular US indices as of Friday, August 19, 2016, according to Bloomberg. One-year performance figures are also included.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +8.45% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +15.77 ( A BIG increase here from last week’s +9.14%)

-S&P 500 + 8.39% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +13.27 (Also a big jump up from last week +6.75%)

NASDAQ +56% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +12.98(Yuge increase from +4.92%)

Russell 2000 +9.90 % YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +8.56 (A sweet jump up from last week’s number of +3.59%)

Here’s a little bit of performance trivia from the Bespoke Investment Group about Nasdaq: “Since the two-day 6.5% decline following the Brexit vote in late June, the Nasdaq has gone 37 trading days now without posting back to back daily declines.  In the Nasdaq’s history dating back to 1971, there have only been seven other periods where the Nasdaq went longer than 35 trading days without back to back declines and the current streak of 37 ranks as the longest since December 2004!  If the Nasdaq can go three more trading days without a two-day losing streak, it will be the longest streak since 1978!”

Bespoke published that on August 18. So we shall see….

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, August 18, 2016, U.S.Diversified Equity Funds ended the week up a bit with the average YTD performance of +6.56% for the 8,429 funds under this heading, according to Lipper.

Here’s a look at the YTD average total return for various umbrella fund headings along with the number of funds included under each of Lipper’s headings:

-Sector Equity Funds up 14.40% (2,294 funds)

-World Income Funds up 11.18% (807 funds)

-World Equity Funds (4,445 funds)

-Mixed Asset Funds up 6.23% (5,782 funds)

-Domestic Long-Term Fixed Income Funds up 6.10% (4,027)

Wondering how best to use Lipper’s fund performance figures? Use their ytd returns as a guideline for how your individual fund(s) are performing. For instance, the average stock fund is up about 6.5 percent so far this year.

That’s pretty good especially when you compare it to the barely above 0% returns on your bank’s money market fund.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see 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.

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

  • Presidents and job creation

Without jobs Americans suffer and so does our nation.

But there’s more to building a strong economy than jobs. Our national debts, recessions, depressions etc., all play a part

TheBalance.com recently ran an interesting article titled “Which President Created the Most Jobs?”. Not only does it address the number of jobs our presidents have created, it includes tidbits such as the debt the jobs created along with other economic and historical data.

Back to the presidents, here’s a look at our presidents, the years they were in office and the number of jobs each created:

-Bill Clinton (1993-2000) created the most number of jobs, 21.5 million jobs.

-Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) 15.9 million jobs.

-Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1968) added 11.9 million jobs.

-Jimmy Carter added 10.5 million jobs

-Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1944) created 10.3 million jobs.

-Barack Obama (2009-2016) at the end of 2015 had created 8.3 million jobs. A somewhat skewed picture as it does not include his entire presidency or that 8.7 million jobs were lost due to the 2008 Financial Crisis.

-Richard Nixon (1969-1974) added 8.8 million jobs.

-Harry Truman (1944-1952), 8.3 million jobs.

-Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1960), 3.6 million jobs.

-John F. Kennedy (1961-1963), 3.6 million jobs.

-George H.W. Bush (1989-1992) added 2.6 million jobs.

-George W. Bush (2001-2008) added 2.1 million jobs. He also lost the most jobs– “ 3.6 million between January and December 2008.

-Gerald Ford (1976-1979) added 2.4 million jobs.

There is much more to this story  that’s  worth a read. You will find the entire piece at:

www.thebalance.com/job-creation-by-president-by-number-and-percent-3863218

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending July 9, 2016

  • IMG_0204Ranges of the Top 1%

Life would be much simpler if facts were carved in stone–unchangeable. Something you could count on. Take to the bank.

But they’re not. So if you think that becoming a member in that elite sliver of 1 percenter’s lakes an income of $1,000,000 you’d be way off.

All it takes to be considered part of the 1% crowd, a family only needs an income of around $390,000. That’s it, according to CNNMoney.

But wait, there’s more: According to IRS, 1% status varies from state to state.

So, wanna be a Big Wig and live in Connecticut, the average income of  the 1% there  is $659,979. In Massachusetts the level is more than  $100,000 less; $539,055. In New York, $517,557.

Have an annual income of less than  $250,000 and you’d be in that 1% group if you live in West Virginia, Arkansas, or New Mexico.

•Market Quick Glance

 

Below are the YTD performances of various US indices ending Friday, July 8, 2016, according to Bloomberg. One-year performance figures are also included.

 

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.66% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +4.93%

-S&P 500 +5.45%

  • 1yr Rtn +4.85%

NASDAQ -0.28% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +0.53%

Russell 2000 +4.49 YTD 

1yr Rtn -4.52%

If you’re looking for future guidance in today’s current market, perhaps Bob Dole, senior portfolio manager at Nuveen Asset Management said it best. In  a Bloomberg interview he  said we are in a period of “more muddle thorough.”

I believe he has hit the nail on the head.

-Mutual funds

Through Thursday, July 7, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund was up 1.44 percent, according to Lipper.

Under this umbrella heading that included 8,403 equity funds, Equity Leverage Funds had an  impressive YTD average return of 13.02%. But don’t get too excited about hopping on this fund type train as performance can be seriously rocky. For example, a week ago the average fund here was down 0.7%. And, the average performance over the past 52 weeks  down  4.9%. But,  over the past 5 years, up 7%.

Screaming into the over 100% average performance return lane are Precious Metals Equity Funds. At Thursday’s close the average one under this heading was up 115.54%. Miles behind it, but definitely with serious returns, are Commodities Precious Metals Fund, up 29.52%.

Leaving Sector Funds and  among  World Equity Funds,  Latin American Funds are up an impressive 22.61.% YTD.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see 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.

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

•Daily Improvements

Benjamin Franklin was no slouch. He was a statesman, author, inventor, etc. who left us with oh-so much including a simple prescription for how to live a productive life.

Anyone who wants to make a  brilliant difference in the world, as Franklin did, might want to follow the disciplined habits of his daily life.

According to a post at Inc.com by Michael Simmons, Franklin got up early and spent one hour every day reading/learning. He also set goals, hung out with like-minded artisans and tradesmen, turned his ideas into experiences and spent time each day in reflection.

Amazing how simple habits can reward us.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 28, 2016

  • american-flag-cupcakes Memorial Day

Since our country first began, more than 1.1 MILLION Americans have perished in wars and conflicts fighting for and upholding the freedoms we all are fortunate enough to enjoy in this gorgeous, diversified, ever-changing and enduring country that we call home.

Do pause, honor and celebrate them.

  • Market Quick Glance

-Indices:

Here are the year-to-date performance figures for the major indices through May 27, 2016, according to Bloomberg. To provide a longer performance perspective, 1-year returns have been added.

All four of the indices below showed significant performance improvements from the previous week’s returns. Clearly that is something to cheer about. But the big question remains: Is this a positive performance trend that will continue or merely a short-term spike? As always, time will tell.

-Dow Jones +3.85% YTD  (almost double from last week)

1yr Rtn +1.85 % (up from -1.44%)

-S&P 500 +3.66%YTD (more than doubled from previous week of 1.32% YTD)

1yr Rtn +1.80% (up almost 50 basis points)

NASDAQ -0.85% YTD (a significant improvement from last weeks -4.18%)

1yr Rtn -1.37% (also a big move upward from last week’s -5.03%)

Russell 2000 +1.88 YTD (a delightful upside move from last week’s -1.53%)

1yr Rtn -6.34 % (a much improved return from last week’s -9.8 %)

 

-Mutual funds

Through Thursday, May 26, 2016 the average U.S.Diversified Equity Fund gained a smidge from the previous week ending this week down only 1.29 percent year-to-date, according to Lipper.

You’ve got to look back 3 years, 2/28/13 through 5/26/16, to find a lip-smacking average return for this broad category of fund types. The average fund in that period of time was + 9.02 percent.

As an aside, following the Rule of 72, a 9 percent annual rate of return means  money doubles in value in 8 years. So $10,000 invested at a 9 percent rate of return would be worth $20,000 in 8 years. On the other hand, an investment earning a 1.39 percent rate of return would take about 55.8 years to double in value.

Back to mutual fund performances, of the 25 largest mutual funds around, the top three performing funds year-to-date through May 26, 2016 were all from the American Funds  Fund Family: American Fund ICA, +5.72 percent; American Funds CIB, +5.30 percent; and +American Funds Inc., 4.60 percent.

The worst performing fund over that same time frame was the Dodge & Cox Intl Stock fund, -1.29 percent.

Visit 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 www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

  • Donald Trump says…

From where I sit, Donald Trump appears to have a lot of issues—- personally and professionally. In addition to his bullying behavior, the one that bothers me the most professionally has to do with money.

That five-letter little word means an awful lot to this presidential hopeful who boasts about his wealth but at the same time won’t disclose any real figures regarding his income, or, reveal his tax returns. Transparency, it seems, isn’t a part of the art of his deal.

That raises a red flag for me from an honestly and integrity level. It makes me wonder what kind of player this Commander-in-Chief wannabe would be for America and in the world arena.

In North Dakota last week, at a rally of his supporters, Mr. Trump told his audience that “you have to be wealthy in order to be great.”

Don’t believe that. It’s total hogwash.

America is a great country. Right now. Even as it is today.

Is there room for improvement in our country on a number of fronts ? Absolutely. But as many of us already know, throwing money at a problem doesn’t necesssarily solve it or make things better. We also know that rich leaders aren’t necessarily better leaders than those of lessor or minimal fortunes. And more importantly, that money doesn’t make a country great, rather it is the people who live in and govern the country that do.

So don’t let anyone try to tell you that what it takes to be great —or for America to be a great country— is money. That is both a lie and a cheap shot.

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