Tag Archives: mutual funds

POCKETBOOK: Week ending Aug.11, 2018

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•Grifter

Have to admit, I never really thought much about what a grifter was until I’d heard that Wilbur Ross, our United States Secretary of Commerce, was described as one. The 80-year old Jr., is supposed to be one of the richest members in Trump’s cabinet, who somehow didn’t divest all of his securities before accepting the position. As for how he accumulated all of his wealth, that Forbes estimates it to be around $700 million, all sorts of reasons swirl—including those resulting from the talents of a grifter.

From a Forbes story written by Dan Alexander published earlier this month: “If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.”

Who knows if that’s true or not. But, what does have a foundation in the truth is what a grifter is. Here are two definitions:

  • From www. vocabulary.com :” If there’s one type of person you don’t want to trust, it’s a grifter: someone who cheats others out of money. Grifters are also known as chiselers, defrauders, gougers, scammers, swindlers, and flim-flam men. Selling a bridge and starting a Ponzi scheme are things a grifter might do.”
  • From http://www.merriam-webster.com :”Grift” was born in the argot of the underworld, a realm in which a “grifter” might be a pickpocket, a crooked gambler, or a confidence man-any criminal who relied on skill and wits rather than physical violence-and to be “on the grift” was to make a living by stings and clever thefts.”

For some reason, I can’t help but think that their may be a few more grifters roaming around in Trump’s White House world.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

An upper of a week for all four indices here.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for the four major indices—DJIA, S&P 500, NASDAQ and the Russell 2000— including the dates each reached new highs. Data if according to CNBC.com and based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Aug.10, 2018.

DJIA 2.40% YTD down from previous week’s return of 3.01%

•1 yr Rtn 15.88% up the previous week’s 15.60 %

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500 5.97% YTD down from last week’s 6.24%

  • 1 yr Rtn 16.06% up from last week’s 14.89%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ 13.55% YTD up from last week’s 13.16%

  • 1yr Rtn 26.09% up from last week’s 23.21%

Nasdaq reached a new 52-week high on July 25, 2081 of 7,933.32. The previous high was reached on July 17, 2018 of 7,867.15.

 

-Russell 2000 9.85% YTD up from last week’s 8.98%

  • 1yr Rtn 22.90% up from last week’s 19.08%

The Russell 2000 reached a new 52-week high on July 10, 2018 of 1,708.56. The previous high was reached on June 20, 2018 of 1,708.1.

 

-Mutual funds

A jump up for the week’s average from two weeks ago. Then, the average total return for funds that fall under the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading was 6.97%. At the close of business on Thursday, August 9, 2018 that average return had moved ahead to 7.18%, according to Lipper.

Small-Cap Growth Funds was the group with the best average performance for the 592 funds that Lipper tracks under that heading — average total return of 16.48%.

Now is as good a time as any to that a look back at how equity  funds have performed over the past 52 week, 2 years, 3 years and 5 years. And, Small-Cap Growth Funds have done well, from this perspective. From the most recent (52 weeks) to the longest, (5 years) that group’s average performance was: 32.42%; 22.58%; 12.84%; and 11.99%.

Compare that with the average total returns for all of the U.S. Diversify Equity Funds and the performance numbers look as follows: 18.40%; 15.34%; 10.14% and 10.15%.

Small-Cap Growth Funds has outperformed in all.

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.

 

  • Turkeys

 Remember the old 1970s and 1980s saying, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down”?

Back then the turkey part had nothing to do with the country of Turkey. It referred to dealing with jerks and suggested not to let those who can wreck our day do just that.

Today, it’s the value of Turkey’s withering currency and their economic problems that have been playing havoc with our markets.

Combine that with President Trump’s desire to impose tariffs on pretty much everything, and perhaps it’s time to bring back that old saying.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending July 21, 2018

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We all know that President Trump sees things differently than most. The same is true when it comes to his math.
  • Trump Math

 By now we’ve all learned that President Trump isn’t well-versed in a number of things including American history, manners, telling the truth and yes, even math.

Last week he said that the stock market has gone up 40% since he was elected president. Better not take that to the bank never mind believe it.

According to CNBC.com, the S&P 500 is up 31% since Trump was elected president on Nov. 8, 2016. That’s a far distance from 40%. Additionally, the lion’s share of those gains were made last year in 2017. So far this year, the S&P has gained around 4%.

Math matters to every investor sophisticated or not,  Democrat, Republican, Independent or the Un-politically interested.

Bottom line: Betting on Trump’s math could be detrimental to one’s portfolio expectations.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

A few ups and a few downs but what counts the most is how your portfolio is doing.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, July 20, 2018.

DJIA 1.37% YTD up a tiny bit previous week’s return of 1.21%.

  • 1 yr Rtn 15.95% down from the previous week’s 16.08 %

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500 4.80% YTD up a hair from last week’s 4.78%

  • 1 yr Rtn 13.28% down from last week’s 14.44%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ 13.28% YTD down a bit from last week’s 13.36%

  • 1yr Rtn 22.38% down from last week’s 24.73%

Nasdaq reached a new 52-week high on July 17, 2018 of 7,867.15. The previous high was reached on July 13, 2018 of 7,843.53.

 

-Russell 2000 10.50% YTD up from last week’s 9.87%

  • 1yr Rtn 17.64% down from last week’s 18.34%

The Russell 2000 reached a new 52-week high on July 10, 2018 of 1,708.56. The previous high was reached on June 20, 2018 of 1,708.1.

 

-Mutual funds

A y-t-d total return for the average equity fund has handsomely outperformed the year-to-date returns of the DJIA and S&P500 by a couple of percentage points.

And, at the close of business on Thursday, July 19, 2018, the total return performance of the funds under the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading had an average return was 6.49%, according to Lipper.

To compare, th DJIA on Friday had a y-t-d return of about 1.4% and the S&P 500, 4.8%.

Nonetheless, it’s first still a small cap world as the average cumulative total return for Small-Cap Growth Funds continue to be the out performers averaging 17.41% returns, followed by Mid-Cap Growth funds, 12.34% then Multi-Cap Growth, 12.32%.

The only other category of funds coming close to the Small-Cap performance was Science & Tech Funds with a y-t-d average return of 15.57%.

On the other hand, the average y-t-d Commodities Base Metals Funds performance stinks— it was -17.85%.

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.

 

  • Golden Cross

The price of gold can’t seem to get out of its own way.

Gold analysts are now saying that the price of this precious metal has entered into a death cross. My, that’s ugly. And, that  they don’t see anything but more bad news ahead.

A death cross is a bearish technical signal that happens when the 50-day moving average crosses below the 200-day average. And that’s not happy news for those betting on the price of gold moving out of the woods anytime soon.

On the other hand, gold could be a buy for bottom buyers and those who consider themselves long-term optimistic  investors.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending July 14, 2018

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And from the recent running of the bulls comes this: a fake bull. Kinda sorta made me wonder about our market.

 

  • Millennial Yikes!

There’s a different world coming if you’re a believer in survey results

According to a recent 2018 Retirement Preparedness Survey commissioned by PGIM Investments, 31% of millennials aren’t saving for retirement at all BECAUSE they don’t see the point in preparing for it. They responded that “anything can happen between now and then.”

Well, that’s true. But, anything– whatever is meant by it– takes money. And heaps of it–particularly during the decades spent in retirement.

Additionally, 62% of those responding said they plan on retiring when they have enough money (wonder where they expect to get it?) and 66% said that they think full-time jobs would be kaput and that 75% of the public would work as freelancers in the future. And one more thing,  that “people will no longer retire comfortably in the future.”

Oh my.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

More ups over the short term, but not so for 1-year return figures.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, July 13, 2018.

DJIA 1.21% YTD back up into positive territory re previous week’s return of –1.06%.

  • 1 yr Rtn 16.08% up from the previous week’s 14.71 %

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

-S&P 500 4.78% YTD up from last week’s 3.22%

  • 1 yr Rtn 14.44% down a hair from last week’s 14.53%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

-NASDAQ 13.36% YTD a jump up from last week’s 11.37%

  • 1yr Rtn 24.73% down from last week’s 26.26%

Nasdaq reached a new 52-week high on July 13, 2018 of 7,843.53. The previous high was reached on June 20, 2018 of 7,806.6.

-Russell 2000 9.87% YTD down from last week’s 10.74%

  • 1yr Rtn 18.34% down from last week’s 20.93%

The Russell 2000 reached a new 52-week high on July 10, 2018 of 1,708.56. The previous high was reached on June 20, 2018 of 1,708.1.

 

-Mutual funds

A repeat.

At the close of business on Thursday, July 5, 2018, the total return performance of the funds under the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading had an average return of 4.35%, according to Lipper.

Nonetheless, it’s first still a small cap world as the average cumulative total return for Small-Cap Growth Funds averaged 14.34%.

The category of funds with the closest average y-t-d- return was–surprise surprise–Large Cap  Growth funds at 9.73%.

Double digit y-t-d average returns were also found under the Sector Funds heading with Science & Tech Funds, 12.04%, followed by Global Science/ Tech Funds, 11.64% and then Health/Tech Funds, 10.43%.

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 cost of trade wars

So far, estimates are that this just beginning trade war is going to cost households about $60 more bucks a year. Another source estimates that figure to be more than double–$127 per household.

I’m guessing it’s going to be considerably more. Time will tell.

Till then, consider this from the blog of money manager Doug Kass:

“History has proven that one trade tariff begets another and another until you get a full blown trade war. And the consumer seems to always get screwed. Currency wars always lead to trade wars and vice versa and which in turn could lead to hot war. ”

Kass says that trade wars aren’t supposed to be easy.

I’ll add, not cheap either.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 26, 2018

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  • Uber-Rich Goal Setting

Having a personal goal of a retirement account with $1 million in it is noble, even though 1,000,000 won’t necessarily get many very far in retirement. Certainly not as far as it did 20, 30 or definitely 50 years ago. Nonetheless, that target figure is worth shooting for for the masses.

For the super elite, however, it’s chump change.

According to Bloomberg, in the world of private bankers who cater to the uber-wealthy, having $25 million in investable wealth makes one considered rich and provides the “basic service” from private wealth bankers.

But wait. There’s more.

Business Class for the uber-wealthy in a private banker’s eye takes $100 million; First Class, $200 million; and Private Jet Rich, $1 billion.

Set your goals as your needs dictate.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Once again it was the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 indices where positive strides were recorded last week.

If the indices are telling investors anything, it’s to have a diversified portfolio.

Nothing exciting about that news except that it’s always wise advice.

Last week Bespoke Investments listed some of NASDAQs best and worst performing stocks so far this year. Here are the names of the most notable in each category:

  • Top 3 performing stocks from the NASDAQ 100:

Netflix (NFLX) up 81.96%; Micron (MU) up 12.41%; and Align Technology (ALGN) up 42.69%.

  • Three biggest losing stocks from the NASDAQ 100:

DISH Network (DISH) down -36.15%, NetEase(NTES) down -35.37%; and Dentsply Sirona (XRAY) down -29.80%.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, May 25, 2018.

DJIA 0.14% YTD moved up into plus territory from the previous week’s -0.02%

  • 1 yr Rtn 19.61% down from the previous week’s 19.61%

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500 1.78% YTD up a tiny bit from week’s 1.47%

  • 1 yr Rtn 12.68% down from last week’s 14.68%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ 7.68% YTD up a little from last week’s 7.24%

  • 1yr Rtn 19.80% down from last week’s 21.46%

Nasdaq reached a brand new all-time high on March 13, 2018 of 7,637.27. The previous high was reached on March 9, 2018 of 7,560.81.

 

-Russell 2000 5.95% YTD up a hair from last week’s 5.93%

  • 1yr Rtn 17.60% down from last week’s 19.51%

The Russell 2000 reached an all-time high on January 24, of 1,615.52. The previous high was reached on January 16, 2018 of 1,604.02.

 

-Mutual funds

With the beginning of summer fast approaching, and the old saying reminding investors to sell in May and go away, that play hasn’t been particularly a good one within the mutual fund arena—so far.

For example,the average performance of the funds under the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading was up 3.34% year-to-date at the close of business on Thursday, May 24, 2018. That’s much higher than it was three weeks before– on May 3 it was 0.65%.

Small-Cap Growth funds have made the biggest gains and were up on average over 10%,

Also with heading averages up 10% or more year-to-date were Science & Technology Funds, 10.98%; Global Science & Technology funds, 10.79%; and Commodities Energy Funds, 12.99%.

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.

 

  • Credit Card Debt Growing

Not sure who in Washington has noticed, but it has been apparent to most folks living across America that the cost of living is going up. Who hasn’t noticed that the increased cost of a gallon of gas makes an impact in the amount of disposable cash one has in their pockets? Or that groceries, even at places like Aldi’s, cost a little more? And that a buck or two increase in one’s hourly pay doesn’t translate to much?

So it may come as no surprise that people are using their credit cards more and more. And, not paying their balances off in full each month.

According to MyBudget360.com, there is more than $1 trillion in credit card debt outstanding in America these days.  Most of that debt is on cards issued by smaller banks.

From that source: “Credit card delinquencies at more than 4,700 small US banks are not past the figure reached at the peak of the last financial crisis.”

Oh my.

 

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 5, 2018

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  • Buffett’s advice

Warren Buffett has some investing advice all of us can learn from—even for those who don’t own any Apple stock—a stock he currently loves.

Three tidbits outlined in a recent CNBC.com story include:

  1. Circle of competence. Basically this means understanding and knowing if the business you are buying is making money and that you feel confident that money-making will be sustainable going forward.
  2. Piece of a business. Buffett was influenced big time by Ben Graham’s classic book “The Intelligent Investor”. Read it.
  3. Margin of safety. Buffett likes value and when looking at purchasing a company  “he wants the value at his entry price to be much lower than his value estimate for the company”. That spread difference is what he calls the “margin of safety”.

Why listen to Buffett’s advice? Guess it’s because from 1965 to 2017, Berkshire Hathaway’s stock’s annual return was 20.9% compared to that of the S&Ps 9.9%.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

The Russell 2000 and NASDAQ were the indices that scored the most on the upside of things last week.

And one more time: It’s been since January when, at that time, new all-time highs were reached on three of the four indices followed below: The DJIA, the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000. NASDAQ hit its last new high in March.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, May 4, 2018.

DJIA -1.85% YTD down more than the previous week’s -1.65%

  • 1 yr Rtn 15.80% down a hair from the previous week’s 15.87%

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500 -0.38% YTD down more than last week’s -0.14%

  • 1 yr Rtn 11.46% down from last week’s 11.77%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ 4.44% YTD up from last week’s 3.13%

  • 1yr Rtn 18.67% up from last week’s 17.70%

Nasdaq reached a brand new all-time high on March 13, 2018 of 7,637.27. The previous high was reached on March 9, 2018 of 7,560.81.

 

-Russell 2000 1.96% YTD up from than last week’s 1.35%

  • 1yr Rtn 12.73% up from last week’s 9.82%

The Russell 2000 reached an all-time high on January 24, of 1,615.52. The previous high was reached on January 16, 2018 of 1,604.02.

 

-Mutual funds

The average fund that falls under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading had a year-to-date return of -0.53% at the close of business on Thursday, May 3, 2018, according to Lipper. That’s a fall from the previous week’s 0.65% average.

Small-Cap Growth funds ended the week with an average y-t-d return  of 4.10% —down from the previous week’s 6.27%

Then again, Dedicated Short Bias Funds’ averagre returns had improved and were down only -4.25% instead of -5.43% from the previous week.

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.

 

  • Not running out of money

Well here’s some could be good news for retirees who don’t have $1 million or more bucks saved in their retirement accounts.

According to a Reuters piece by Gail Marks Jarvis, “The myth of outliving your retirement savings”, folks with less than $500,000 in savings on average spend “just about a quarter of it during the first 20 years of retirement.”

That data is from a study by Sudipto Banerjee of the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Huh. Not sure I believe that but if it’s true, wouldn’t that be nice to know.

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending March 30, 2018

  • file000242429675•April Fools

A new month. A new quarter. New Spring hopes. Maybe.

Take out any behind the scene guffaws from  White House policy makers, or economic and international surprises and the fourth month of the year could be a rewarding one for investors, if history is any guide.

Based on historical returns, ever since 1950 the S&P 500 has posted an average gain of 1.5% in April.

“From a purely seasonality point of view, April is a pretty good month…” says Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial.

And guess what? There’s a 50/50 chance he’s right.

We shall see.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Remember when the indices below were reaching new all-time highs all the time? Well, believer it or not, that was happening only three months ago in January —but for some reason it seems like oh-so long ago. That’s the funny thing about keeping too close an eye on watching year-to-date returns—they’re clearly fickle. And, unless you’re a day trader, can make you crazy and doubt your overall reason for investing.

Investing for most of us, is a long-term obligation. One that comes with bouts of the unexpected on both the up- and downsides. All of which brings us to the end of the first quarter of 2018. For  many it was in a word: lousy. The S&P 500, for instance, lost 1 percent, according to CNBC.com. It was the first time that quarter has “ended in the red  since 2009”.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

 

DJIA: -2.49% YTD improved but still down from the previous week’s -4.9%

•1 yr Rtn 16.28% up from the previous week’s 13.93%

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500:  -1.22% YTD improved but still down from last week’s -3.95%

  • 1 yr Rtn 11.52% up from last week’s 10.33%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ:  2.32% YTD up from last week’s 1.29%

  • 1yr Rtn 19.43% down from last week’s 20.20%

NASDAQ reached a brand new all-time high on March 13, 2018 of 7,637.27. The previous high was reached on March 9, 2018 of 7,560.81.

 

-Russell:  2000 -0.40% YTD improved from last week’s -1.66%

  • 1yr Rtn 10.64% down from last week’s 11.57%

The Russell 2000 reached an all-time high on January 24, of 1,615.52. The previous high was reached on January 16, 2018 of 1,604.02.

 

-Mutual funds

Not such a hot week. But there’s always tomorrow.

At the close of business on Thursday, March 29, 2018 the average fund that falls under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading had a year-to-date return of -0.37%. That’s down more than the previous week’s average of -0.11%.

Stepping back and taking a look at the big picture, while the average diversified fund was -0.37%, the average Sector Fund’s y-t-d return was -2.70 and the average World Equity Fund, kinda sorta almost flat at +0.11%.

Throw some fixed-income into the fold and the average Mixed Asset Fund’s y-t-d return was -0.90%; Domestic L-T Fixed Income Funds, -0.85%; and World Income Fund +0.97%.

Bottom line: Q1 of 2018 has turned out to be a stingy one for many investors. So, even though money market funds continue their puny returns, they nonetheless have provided people with positive returns. And as such, stand as a reminder that one keep some money in cash, short-term fixed-income investments and some in equities. How much and where is always your call.

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.

  • Gas up

Spring is here and along with it typically comes higher prices at the pump.

On a trip to Hutchinson Island over the weekend, the range for a gallon of regular gas that I saw ranged from about $2.69 to $2.72. That’s above the national March average of $2.56, according to AAA.

And it’s considerably higher than prices last year were when the national average price in March was $2.30. That, however, was way higher than in 2016 when it was $1.93.

But that 2.30 isn’t nearly as expensive as petrol was four years ago when, in 2014, the average price for one gallon of regular gas was—hold on to your hat—$3.51.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending March 24, 2018

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  • Remington’s got problems

Remington Outdoor, one of America’s oldest gun makers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Why? Sales are off.

In business since 1816, it was a Remington rife that was used in 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. Since then, school and mass shootings haven’t stopped, fears of new gun regulations have increased all resulting in gun ownership losing a lot of its pow.

Chapter 11 doesn’t mean Remington is going bust. The move provides protection for a company and gives it time to reorganize its business and debt obligations.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Oh my…..last week’s stock prices grounded as three indices lost all of this year’s gains—one up 1.3%. Big woo!

What happened? Donald Trump’s trade war ideas.

Yale economist Robert Shiller, in an interview in Beijing on Saturday, called President Trump “ a showman” who “obviously relishes” in his celebrity, but behaves in a way that’s ”totally unbecoming for a president”, according to a CNBC.com report.

Addressing the China Development Forum, the Nobel-winner warned about the likelihood of an economic disaster if there is a trade war between the U.S. and China.

We shall see.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, March 23, 2018.

DJIA -4.93% YTD down seriously from the previous week’s 0.92%

  • 1 yr Rtn 13.93% down from the previous week’s 19.161%

Most recent DJIA all-time high was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high was reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500 -3.95% YTD down seriously from last week’s 2.93%

  • 1 yr Rtn 10.33 % down from last week’s 15.56%

The S&P 500 reached its most recent all-time high on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ 1.29% YTD down seriously from last week’s 8.38%

  • 1yr Rtn 20.20% down from last week’s 26.80%

Nasdaq reached a brand new all-time high on March 13, 2018 of 7,637.27. The previous high was reached on March 9, 2018 of 7,560.81.

 

-Russell 2000 -1.66% YTD down a hunk from last week’s 3.29%

  • 1yr Rtn 11.57% down from last week’s 14.43%

The Russell 2000 reached an all-time high on January 24, of 1,615.52. The previous high was reached on January 16, 2018 of 1,604.02.

 

-Mutual funds

And there go this year’s gains.

At the close of business on Thursday, March 22, 2018 the average fund that falls under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading had a year-to-date return of -0.11%. That’s down from last week’s average of 2.70%.

Large-Cap Growth Funds lost about 5% and averaged 3.67%—down from the previous week’s average year-to-date return of 8.19%.

Small-Cap Growth funds provided shareholders with the week’s highest average year-to-date return of 4.32%–down from the previous week’s averge return of 6.38%.

But Science & Technology Funds were higher at 7.72%. And Global

Science/Technology Funds lead the way with average returns in each category of 8.51% —off from its previous return of over 12%, year-to-date.

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.

 

•How YOU doin?

Even with the stock market’s recent downward plunge, things aren’t as horrible as the tv talking heads might get you to believe.

For instance, Trump  supporters rave about Donald and what a great job he is doing as president, how great the economy is and how their investments have preformed.

I’m not so sure about the greatness of our economy, but, there is no arguing with the performance of the stock market: On the day that Donald J. Trump was inaugurated, January 20, 2017—which seems like 100 thousand years ago—the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 19,827.25.

While the ride since then has been bumpy and lumpy, these numbers  don’t lie.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Jan. 26, 2018

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Personal income up and so is spending

Funny thing about our money habits—the more we get the more we tend to spend. When it comes to income, personal income rose 0.4 percent in December and in all of 2017 rose 3.1%, according to the Department of Commerce.
Who can deny that there’s a bit of a rush in having more money thanks to an increase in salary, take-home pay or an unexpected bonus check. So for many, the answer to “What to do with the extra moola?” takes less than a nano-second to decide: Spend it.

Spending, lest you forget, is one of the big slight-of-hand strategies that can come with double-edged feelings: A gain on the one hand when received and the feeling of loss on the other after spent/redistributed.

While consumer spending was up in December (not surprising given the holiday season), the savings rate dropped to 2.4 percent that month, the lowest since September 2005.

What’s troubling about that low savings part is this: Are folks hitting their savings accounts because they believed the New Year would be hugely financially rewarding and as such they would be able to replenish their savings accounts? Or, are they tapping their accounts because their paychecks still aren’t enough to cover life expenses?

I’m inclined to go with the second point and root for a national minimum wage for every one of $25 bucks an hour. That’s doable, you know, and oh what a difference that would make to our lives and for the economy.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

New “up a lot” highs were recorded for all the indices followed here last week: Three on Friday and one, the Russell 2000, at the close of business on Wednesday, January 24.

Overhead: Two women were having lunch at a trendy restaurant and talking stocks when one asked the other how much higher she thought the stock market would go expecting a definite answer.

Her friend answered, “I don’t know but it’s gotta fall some time.”

“Well I know that,” the woman snipped back disappointed in her friend’s answer.

To which the friend replied: “That’s all there is to know.”

Smart friend.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

 

DJIA +7.28% YTD up a lot from last week’s 5.47%

  • 1 yr Rtn +32.42% up from last week’s 32.12%

Another new high for the DJIA was reached on January 26, 2018 of 26,616.71. The previous high reached January 18, 2018 was 26,153.42.

 

-S&P 500 +7.45% YTD up a lot from last week’s 5.11%

  • 1 yr Rtn +25.09% up from last week’s 24.15%

A new high for the S&P 500 Index was reached on January 26, 2018 of 2,872.87. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 2810.33.

 

-NASDAQ +8.73 YTD up a lot from last week’s 6.27%

  • 1yr Rtn +32.72% up a pinch from last week’s 32.42%

Nasdaq hit another new all-time high of 7,505.77 on January 26, 2018. The previous high was reached on January 19, 2018 of 7,336.38.

 

-Russell 2000 4.72%YTD up from last week’s 4.05%

  • 1yr Rtn +16.90% down a pinch from last week’s +16.97%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high on January 24, of 1,615.52. The previous high was reached on January 16, 2018 of 1,604.02.

 

-Mutual funds

Higher returns, again.

On Thursday, January 24, 2018, the year-to-date average cumulative total reinvested returns for equity funds that fall under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading was 5.32 %, according to Lipper. That’s up a heap from the 3.87% return posted one week earlier.

The three fund types under that heading that enjoyed the greatest y-t-d- increases were the same three this week as  from the previous week. Here’s a look at the changes in each:

-Equity Leverage Funds, +12.08% —last week +8.37 %.

-Large-Cap Growth Funds, +8.00%—last week +6.06%

-Multi-Cap Growth Funds, +7.47%—last week +5.59%

 

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.

  • Consider a stop-loss

There’s a whole heap of questions investors need to ask themselves before buying any stock. Some include: Why have I decided to purchase this company’s stock, at what price, what kind of return do I expect, how long do I plan on holding the stock, and at what price will I sell it?

Answering all of those questions is great prior to purchasing any stocks—and even logical. But logic isn’t necessarlity at home on Wall Street.

Given that fact, when it comes to the ups and downs of investing in stocks, one way to protect yourself when the market turns south is to use a stop-loss.

From investopedia.com:”A stoploss order is an order placed with a broker to sell a security when it reaches a certain price. Stop loss orders are designed to limit an investor’s loss on a position in a security.”

The market is not going to go up forever. At some point in time a correction is going to come along and if you don’t want to stomach seeing your stocks plunge say 15, 20, 25% or more, consider utilizing a stop-loss strategy. It may be the smartest investment move you make.

Like always, there is a down side as no one ever knows how low a stock price can go, when the fall will happen or how long it will take for that stock price to recover.

Nonetheless, a stop-loss order is worth considering.

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Jan. 5, 2018

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  • Dogs of the Dow 2018

I’m a big fan of dogs. And dividends. Both are rewarding in oh-so many ways. And, can provide us with some of life’s finest simple pleasures—- faithful companionship and income.

With that in mind, below are this year’s Dogs of the Dow. Lest you think this investment strategy  (basically purchasing the shares of the 10 stocks of the DJIA 30 that pay the highest dividends ), isn’t worth your time, think again.

Yes, it’s true that in 2017, the Dogs’ return of 19% didn’t match or beat that of the 25% return of the DJIA,  but 19% is nothing to turn your nose up at no matter what market conditions are.

That said, below are the 2018 Dogs of the Dow, according to DogsoftheDow.com:

Verizon 4.5%
IBM 3.9%
Pfizer 3.8%
ExxonMobil 3.7%
Chevron 3.5%
Merck 3.4%
Coca-Cola 3.2%
Cisco Systems 3%
Procter & Gamble  3%
General Electric  2.8%

FYI: New to the pack of 10 this year are Procter & Gamble and General Electric.

  • Market Quick Glance

After a year in which the equity market indices continued to make new highs and new highs and new highs, many investors were smiling all the way to the bank. That said, during the last week of 2017, all four indices followed below lost ground. Not a lot of ground—but all wound up lower than they had at the end of the previous week.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.

DJIA +2.33% YTD

  • 1 yr Rtn +27.12% up from last week’s 24.72%

A new high for the DJIA was reached on January 5, 2018 of 25,299.79. Its previous high was reached on December 18, 2017 of 24,876.07.

-S&P 500 +2.60% YTD

  • 1 yr Rtn +20.92% up from last week’s 18.87%

A new high for the S&P 500 Index was reached on January 5, 2018 of 2,743.45. The S&P 500 reached its previous new high on December 18, 2017 of 2,694.97.

-NASDAQ +3.38% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +30.04% up from last week’s 27.09%

Nasdaq reached a new high on January 5, 2018 of 7,137.04. Its previous new high of 7,003.89 was reached on December 18, 2017.

-Russell 2000 +1.60%YTD

•1yr Rtn +13.71% up from last week’s +12.64%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high of 1,560.84 on January 4, 2018. Its previous new all-time high was reached on December 4, 2017 of 1,559.61.

-Mutual funds

After a financially rewarding year for many mutual fund shareholders, on Thursday, January 4, 2018, the year-to-date average cumulative total reinvested returns for equity funds that fall under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading was 1.64%.

As a point of reference, on the day before the 2017 trading year ended, Thursday, December 28, 2017, the average return was for this fund category was 18.91%. All data figures according to Lipper.

Below are fund types with a weekly performance that screeched out of the box in this new year:

  • Equity Leverage Funds, up on average +4.20.

FYI: This group had the BEST average return for fund types that fall under the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds in 2017 of +42.86%.

  • Energy MPL Funds, up on average +4.16%.

FYI: This group was the WORST average return for fund types that fall under the Sector Equity Funds heading in 2017 of -5.95%.

  • China Region Funds, up on average +3.74%.

FYI: This fund group had the BEST average return for funds that fall under the World Equity Funds heading in 2017 of +43.34%.

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.

 

  • Investing round the world.

I’m a keeper of lots of paper stuff. Lots. The other day one of the items I ran across was a chart from Thornburg Investment Management. It was a Country Indices chart showing the annual return of 20 different countries from 1995 through 2004.

Given that country investing was rewarding for many investors in 2017—world equity funds, for example, were up over 22% on average—here’s a 20-year look back at what the top three performing countries were in 1997. And then in 1998.

In 1997, the top country performers were: Switzerland, +44.84%; Italy, +36.38%; and US, +34.09.

And in 1998, the top country performers were: Korea, +141.15%, Belgium, +68.73%; and Italy, +53.20%. (The US came in in sixth place that year, up +30.72%.)

Since it’s always been and will continue to be a changing world, and, that history has a way of repeating itself in that ever-changing environment, figured the above might be an interesting read.

Wishing you much investing luck in 2018 wherever you decide to place your bets.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Dec. 8, 2017

 

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My Bitcoin story at bottom of this blog. (Photo from Reuters)
  • Bulls

Last week’s AAII sentiment survey reflected that bull-o-mania continued to be alive and well in investors’ minds.

And, that that sentiment continued to break records: For 153 weeks straight that positive, making-money thinking has been going on, according to Bespoke.

That’s kinda scary as most investors know first-hand that bull markets don’t last forever—-even the most fertile of bulls need to take a rest every now and then.

Time to place your bets on when this one will.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

A few cracks in year-to-date and 1-year returns with all of the 1-year returns lower than they were the previous week.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results for four major indices— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, December 8, 2017.

DJIA +23.11% YTD up from last week’s 22.61%.

  • 1 yr Rtn +24.03% down from last week’s 26.26%

Another new high for the DJIA was reached on December 4, 2017 of 24,534.04. The previous high was hit on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 of  24,327.82.

On March 1, the Dow stood at 21,169.11.

 

-S&P 500 +18.43% YTD up a bit from last week’s 18.02%.

  • 1yr Rtn +18.04% down from last week’s +20.59%

The S&P 500 reached another new high on December 4, 2017 of 2,665.19. Its previous high was reached on November 30, 2017 of 2,657.74.

On March 1, 2017, that index stood at 2,400.98.

 

-NASDAQ +27.07% YTD down a bit from last week’s +27.20%.

  • 1yr Rtn +26.26% down a lot from last week’s 30.40%

 

The Nasdaq reached a new all-time high of 6,914.19 oon Nov. 28, 2017. The previous high of 6,890.02 was reached on November 24, 2017.

On April 5, 2017 the index closed at 5,936.39.

 

-Russell 2000 +12.13%YTD down from last week’s +13.26%

•1yr Rtn +9.76% way down from last week’s +16.99%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high on December 4, 2017 of 1,559.61. The previous high was reached on November 30, 2017 of 1,551.69.

On March 1, 2017 this index stood at 1,414,82.

 

-Mutual funds

Cracks here, too.

Last week the year-to-date average cumulative total reinvested return for equity funds that fall under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading, was +16.59% at the close of business on Thursday, December 7, 2017, according to Lipper. That’s down from the previous week’s return of +17.37%.

Fourteen of the 25 largest (most assets) funds around had year-to-date returns of over 20%. The most rewarding? The Fidelity Contrafund at +31.06%.

The least rewarding? Two of Vanguard’s bond funds: The Vanguard Total Bond II:Investors and the Vanguard Total Bond: Admiral. Both up +3.43% and +3.53% respectively.

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.

 

 

  • Betting on Bitcoin

I’ve been watching the per share prices on the Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) for the past couple of years. Over the past year I’ve seen its share price go from a low of around $60 to a high of$1,905.55. And through it all I’ve thought about kicking  myself for not buying at least a couple of shares.

The reason I didn’t pull the trigger was because of its so hugely volatile stock price. One day GBTC would spike up and a few days later fall dramatically.

But more important than deciding to buy into that trust was coming up with an answer about when to sell the  shares.

I know myself well enough to know that if I had actually purchased shares at say 100 or even 300 bucks a share, I probably would have sold those shares when/if they doubled or tripled in price.

I believe in taking profits.

Oldsters might remember Fidelity’s super-duper fund manager Peter Lynch. Stocks that doubled in share price after he’d purhased them he refered to as a double-bagger. Those that tripled, a triple-bagger. And so on.

It’s not every day of the year, or week, or month that a stock’s price moves up by two-, three-, ten-fold or more. I know that.

I also know that it would have been real easy to have purchased GTBC at $100 a share, sell it at say $300 and then wish I had held on longer.

But the name of the Wall Street game isn’t about kicking yourself for what you didn’t do: It’s about making money for what you did do re your investment choices.  Then moving on.

So not knowing how high–or low–a stock price will move over time  is what makes investing such a seductive and mysterious game. And one not everyone is equiped to handle.

That said, as  I wrote earlier, I believe in taking profits.

And then  being glad they were there to be had–no matter how big or little the reward.

 

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