Tag Archives: mutual funds

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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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Sept. 29, 2017

 

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  • “In God We Trust”, money and then there’s Florida.

I’m a big fan of God. Trust too. But that phrase on money? Not so much. Money, after all, is simply one convenient way of exchanging services for goods/services for goods. Or, paying for stuff we want. In other words, money isn’t a God thing it’s an economic one.

That said, October 1, 2017 marked the 60th anniversary of the inclusion of the phrase “In God We Trust” on our $1 paper currency. Prior to 1967, God wasn’t part of our paper bills. The phrase “E pluribus unum” was. Translated it means “out of one, many”.

I remember when that change occurred and wondered why the need for the change.  “E pluribus unum” seemed to be a perfectly good, reasonable, common sense political phrase and the other so religiously focused. Wasn’t there supposed to be a separation of state and church? At least that’s how it looked to me, then a young Minnesotan. That however wasn’t the mid-1950s thinking of a Florida politician.

Floridian Representative Charles Edward Bennet was the guy who had enough influence to get “E pluribus unum” erased from our paper currency and replaced with “In God We Trust”.

According to Wikipedia, Bennet’s “ staunch ethical stance appeared to be too much for his colleagues in the House of Representatives, who nicknamed him, “Mr. Clean”.

FYI, “In God We Trust” had been the accepted state motto for Florida since the 1800s but wasn’t officially adopted until 2006 when Gov. Jeb Bush signed a House Bill making it so.

From where I sit,  it looks as though we were a more common sense economically sound nation before God made his way on to our money.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

As of yet there’s been no stopping the bull running on Wall Street.

At the close of business on Friday, September 29, 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had posted its first 8-quarter win streak in 20 years, according to CNBC.com.

Additionally, all three of the other indices followed here were up for the week with the Russell 2000 scoring the most. On a tear for the past few weeks, that index closed locking in a new high.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index performance results— including the dates each reached new highs—according to CNBC.com based on prices at the close of business on Friday, September 29, 2017.

 

-DJIA +13.37 YTD up a bit from last week’s 13.09%.

  • 1 yr Rtn +23.49% up from last week’s 21.51%

 

A new all-time high for the DJIA of 22,419.51 was reached on Sept. 21, 2017. The previous high of 22,275.02 was reached on September 15, 2017.

On March 1, the all-time high on that date for the year was 21,169.11.

 

-S&P 500 +12.53 % YTD up from last week’s 11.76%.

  • 1yr Rtn +17.12% up a lot from last week’s +14.93%

The S&P 500 reached a new high of 2,519,44 on September 29, 2017. The previous high of 2,508.85 was reached on September 20, 2017.

On March 1, 2017, that index closed at its then all-time high of 2,400.98.

 

•NASDAQ +20.67% YTD up from last week’s +19.39%.

  • 1yr Rtn +23.28% up from last week’s 20.37%

 

The Nasdaq reached its latest new all-time high of 6,497.98 on September 29, 2017. Its previous high of 6,477.77 was reached on September 18, 2017.

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

 

-Russell 2000 +9.85% YTD up a heap from last week’s +6.90%.

  • 1yr Rtn +20.45% up considerably from last week’s +14.83%

The Russell 2000 reached a brand new all-time high of 1493.56 on September 29, 2017.Its previous high was reached on July 25, 2017 of 1,452.09.

On March 1, 2017 the then high of this index was 1,414,82.

 

-Mutual funds

 Mutual fund average performance figures continue onward and upward.

The year-to-date average cumulative total reinvested return for equity funds falling under the broad U.S. Diversified Equity Funds heading ended the week at 11.86% on Thursday, September 28, 2017. That average is up from the previous week’s close of 10.7%, according to Lipper.

According to Bespoke, here are the year-to-date Asset Class Performance total returns, through 9/30/17, for various countries. Those with the greatest gains include Italy, up 31.89%, Hong Kong, up 28.90% and Spain, up 28.49%.

On the less-but-still-up side include: Russia, up 5.04%, Canada, up 11.58% and Japan, up 14.75%.

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.

 

  • Gun power

 Like it or not, sad to say, are we crazy or what….history has shown us that gun manufacturers make out like bandits after a national killing.

Before the stock market opened today, Monday, October 2, 2017, the day of America’s most recent mass shooting, gun stocks ticked upward.

According to CNBC, there have been 32 instances of mass shootings since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Looking at two well-known gun companies, Sturm Ruger (RGR) and American Outdoor Brands (AOBC), in the past both closed higher one-month after the date of the killing event: RGR gained 2.89%; AOBC up 5.36%; and the S&P 500 up 1.66%.

Currently,  around 12 noon today, 10/2/17, the S&P 500 had gained 2% from its closing price since  on Friday,  RGR was up 3.58% and AOBC up 4.07%.

Setting any possible financial gains aside, isn’t it ironic that deadly mass shootings bring out both a fear and the need to kill in many.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending July 28, 2017

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  • Fewer choices

Equity prices and market indices continued their tear. One reason? Could be because there are fewer stocks to choose from.

According to data from the University of Chicago’s Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) the number of stocks is at its lowest level in decades. In November of 1997, for instance, there were  7,355 U.S. stocks and now there are fewer than 3,500.

That’s a huge drop. Huge.

Also on the slide are the number of initial public offerings, IPOs, while the appetite for investing in the private market is growing.

That aside, in today’s high-rising market environment, investors ought not forget to remember –re the higher prices—  that what happens when a serious desire for equities mixes with a bounty of money and fewer publicly traded companies to choose from is  prices go up.

And that’s how bid/ask auction marketplaces work.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

As equity prices continued to rise, they brought with them new index highs. The DJIA, for instance, reached a new high when the market closed on Friday, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ hit there’s on Thursday and the Russell 2000 on Monday.

So much for consistency.

Speaking of which, if there is one consistent thing this bull has shown investors is that this time it really is different. And quite likely, the sooner everyone decides to believe that, the sooner the bears will probably begin to roar.

Below are the weekly and 1-year index 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, July 28,   2017.

-DJIA + 10.46% YTD up from last week’s +9.20%

  • 1 yr Rtn +18.28% up from last week’s 16.54%

The DJIA reached a new all-time high of 21,841.18 on July 28, 2017.

(Previous highs include: July 14, 2017 of 21,681.53; July 3,2017 of 21,562.75; 21,535.03 on June 20, 2017; 21,391.97 reached on June 14, 2017; 21,305.35 on June 9, 2017; 21,225.04 on June 2, 2017; and 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.)

 

-S&P 500 +10.42% YTD down a hair from last week’s 10.44%

  • 1yr Rtn +13.92% down from last week’s +14.20%

The S&P 500 reached a new all-time high on July 27, 2017 of 2,484.04.

(Previous high of 2,477.62 was reached on July 20, 2017. Prior to that date new highs and dates include: 2,463.54 on July 14, 2017; 2453.82 on June 19,2017; 2,446.2 reached on June 9, 2017; 2,440.23 reached on June 2, 2017; 2,418.71 reached on May 25, 2017; 2,405.77 reached on May 16, 2017; 2403.87 on May 9, 2017; 2,400.98 reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-NASDAQ +18.42% YTD down from last week’s +18.66%

  • 1yr Rtn +23.66% down from last week’s 25.89%

The Nasdaq reached a new all-time high of 6,460.84 on July 27, 2017.

(Previous highss include: July 20, 2017 of 6,398.26; 6,341.7 on June 9, 2017; 6,308.76 on June 2; 6,217.34 reached on May 25; 6,170,16 on May 16; 6,133 on May 9, 2017; 6102.72 on May 2, 2017; 6074.04 on April 28, 2017; and 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.)

 

-Russell 2000 +5.31% YTD down from last week’s +5.80%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.41% down from last week’s +19.27%

The Russell 2000 reached its latest all-time high on July 25, 2017 of 1,452.09.

(Previous highs include: 1,452.05 on July 21, 2017; 1,433.789 on June 9, 2017; 1,425.7 reached on April 26, 2017 and of 1,414,82 reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-Mutual funds

Average returns? Less than the week before.

The average U.S. Diversified Equity Fund lost a little ground last week closing at 9.59% at the close of business on Thursday, July 27, 2017, according to Lipper. That’s down from the previous week’s close of 9.84%.

If you’ve still only been thinking U.S. equities, one thing this year has shown investors is that better investment returns can be found in other places around the globe.

For instance, the average y-t-d return of the 4,516 funds that fall under the World Equity Funds heading,is 19.35%. That about 10% higher than what the average diversified equity fund has returned.

Yes, India Region Funds still rule—up on average 32.03%.

Of course the big question is how long will world funds continue to outperform U.S. ones. And the answer is: as long as other countries’ econonmies grow faster than ours.

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.

 

  • Happy Birthday Medicare & Medicaid

In case you missed it, it was on July 30, 1965 that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law. He also signed Medicaid into law that same day. Both amendments to the Social Security Act.

Here’s more about that  history from History.com: “At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card. Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945,had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.

“The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966. In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare.

“Medicare is funded entirely by the federal government and paid for in part through payroll taxes. Medicare is currently a source of controversy due to the enormous strain it puts on the federal budget. Throughout its history, the program also has been plagued by fraud–committed by patients, doctors and hospitals–that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

“In 1977, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) was created to administer Medicare and work with state governments to administer Medicaid. HCFA, which was later renamed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Baltimore…”

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending June 2, 2017

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  • About us

Each week I receive Jonathan Clements’ Humble Dollar newsletter. Data from a recent one included stats from a 2016 General Social Survey that shows how much attitudes about our financial lives have changed over 44 years.

Here’s what that survey revealed:

-“30% of Americans said they were very happy in 2016, unchanged from the 30% who described themselves that way in 1972. Over this 44-year stretch, inflation-adjusted per capita disposable income rose 120%. More money, it seems, hasn’t bought happiness.”

-“29% of Americans were satisfied with their financial situation, versus 32% in 1972. Meanwhile, the percentage who aren’t at all satisfied has climbed from 23% in 1972 to 27% in 2016.”

-“31% of Americans felt their incomes were below average or far below average, compared with 24% in 1972.”

-“58% agreed or strongly agreed that they had a good chance of improving their standard of living, versus 72% in 1987.”

If you’re a survey results believer, it seems like those of us who have been around for a while were  financially happier in ’72 than we are today.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

It was a week of new all-time highs reached for the  DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ but not  the Russell 2000. The Russell did, however, see a nice move upward in its year-to-date performance.

For the past few weeks I’ve been pointing out that the 1-year return figures have been worth watching and I’ll say the say the same this week. Even though most saw gains, they were modest at best. Any trend seekers might want to keep their eyes on that longer view for no other reason, perhaps, than to have something to talk about.

Although the 1-year return for our major indices are attractive, they pale in comparison with that of the Caracas Stock Exchange, Caracas General: Its year-to-date return through June 2, 2017 is + 146.46% and for 1 year is up 403.44%.

Below are 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, June 2, 2017.

-DJIA +7.30% YTD up from last week’s +6.67%

  • 1 yr Rtn +19.08% up from last week’s 18.24%

The DJIA reached a new all-time high of 21,225.04 on June 2, 2017. (The previous high of 21,169.11 was reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-S&P 500 +8.90% YTD up from last week’s 7.91%

  • 1yr Rtn +16.15% up from last week’s +15.58%

The S&P 500 reached a new all-time high of 2,440.23 on June 2, 2017. (Its previous high of 2,418.71 was reached on May 25, 2017. Prior to that, the previous high of 2,405.77 was reached on May 16, 2017. Before that the high of 2403.87 was reached on May 9, 2017and before that, the a high of 2,400.98 was reached on March 1, 2017. )

 

-NASDAQ +17.14% YTD up from last week’s +15.36%

  • 1yr Rtn +26.84% up a tad from last week’s 26.69%

The Nasdaq reached another new all-time high of 6,308.76 on June 2, 2017. (Its previous all-time high of 6,217.34 was reacged May 25, 2017. Then before that a high of 6,170,16 was reached on May 16, 2017; the high of 6,133 was reached on May 9, 2017; a high of 6102.72 was reached on May 2, 2017; 6074.04 on April 28, 2017; and 5,936.39 hit on April 5, 2017.)

–Russell 2000 +3.56% YTD way up from last week’s +1.85%

  • 1yr Rtn +20.06 % down from last week’s +21.28%

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

As you might expect, the year-to-date return for the average U.S. Diversified Equity Fund was up from the previous week. This, thanks to the new highs reached by equity prices. So, at the close of business on Thursday, June 1, 2017 the average equity fund’s year-to-date return was 7.56%, up a healthy amount from the previous week’s figure of 6.70%.

The top performance categories under that heading are beginning to sound like a broken record a Large-Cap Growth Funds continued to lead the way, now up 16.40 %—that week the figure was15.59%. Once again behind it were Equity Leverage Funds, up 16.02% (last week it was15.26%) and then followed by Multi-Cap Growth Funds, up 15.14% (last week’s figure was14.17%).

While the average Sector Fund return barely budged, it ended the week up 4.78% a breath above the previous week’s figure of 4.77%.

That said, Global Science/Technology Funds continued to lead the performance game, up on average 25.29% ( last week’s figure was 24.73%) while Commodities Energy Funds lost more ground during the week with an average return of -16.07% ( the previous week the figure was -13.72%.)

It continues to be the wide great big world that we live in where the most money looks like it’s being made. The average return for the 4,495 funds that fall under the World Equity Funds heading were up 15.48%–that’s up from last week’s 15.01%.

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.

 

  • Is a June Swoon on the way?

Wall Street seers have always had a way of coming up with clever ways to describe the investment world. A world in which making heads or tails about what’s going can only be read in a rearview mirror.

With May behind us, so goes the “Sell in May and go away” quip and in comes the “June swoon”.

In 30 days we will know if there is any truth to that little ditty.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 28, 2017

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  • It’s May

 Fans of the Wall Street adage, “ Sell in May and go away”, know the strategy has some merit  and historically has paid off. On paper anyway.

Folks at the Bespoke Investment Group did their research and found that  $100 invested for 50 years in the S&P 500 and owning stocks from May through October would have returned a puny $139. But investing 100 bucks and owning stocks for 50 years from November through April would have paid off to the tune of $2,136.

Huh.

  • Market Quick Glance

A big week for a couple of indices: Both the NASDAQ and the Russell 2000 reached new highs during the week ending Friday, April 28, 2017. Yippy skippy for them. The DJIA and S&P 500 preformed well too, just no new highs.

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 28, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.96% YTD up attractively from last week’s 3.97%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.447% up from last week’s 14.27%

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

 

-S&P 500 +6.45% YTD up from last week’s 4.91%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.86% up from last week’s +12.30%

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

 

-NASDAQ +12.34% YTD up handsomely from last week’s +9.80%

  • 1yr Rtn +25.85% up from last week’s 19.50%

The Nasdaq reached a new all-time high of 6074.04 on April 28, 2017.

(Its previous high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.)

 

–Russell 2000 +3.19% YTD up from last week’s +1.67%

  • 1yr Rtn +22.80% up from last week’s +21.49%

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

Moving ahead.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 27 ,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was 6.40%. That’s a nice jump up from last week’s 4.64%, according to Lipper.

Four fund types with the highest average returns under that broad heading and through that date were Equity Leverage Funds, 13.69%, Large-Cap Growth Funds, 12.14%, Multi-Cap Growth Funds, 11.42% and Mid-Cap Growth Funds, 10.05%

Under the Sector Equity heading where the average fund is up 4.07%, Global Science Funds were the biggest winners with average y-t-d returns of 17.98%. Commodities Energy Funds the biggest losers, down 13.68%.

And around the world it’s India where the money is being made. Lipper tracks 24 India Region Funds. Average y-t-d return for the group was 25.13%

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.

• Lookout

A few things to consider going forward:

  1. Last week I wrote that expecting less from the stock market might wind up being more so I’m with Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, who recently warned investors to plan for and expect lower returns going forward. “These are hazardous time. There are not cheap times. In the market, one never knows what is coming next,” said Bogle in a CNBC interview.
  2. Covering the costs of a tax reform plan that is based on the relative short-term future growth of our country is as goofy as thinking that the Earth is flat. Economic growth is not a sure thing in the near- or short-term. Outlooks, hopes and promises saying so are poppycock.
  3. Never invested in stocks before? Don’t start now unless you are absolutely positively sure that you don’t/won’t need the money anytime soon. Like in  the next three, five, 10 or 15 months or even a few years out. Investing over the short-term always comes with accepting much more risk than does investing for the long-term, like 10, 20, 30, or 50 years.

 

 

 

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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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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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POCKETBOOK: Week ending March 11, 2017

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  • High on stocks

Some sources report it’s the “dumb money” that’s bought most seriously into the Trump Bump party on Wall Street. The “smart money”  folks,  (they are considered to be the professional money managers and not the ordinary everyday “dumb money” investor), are apparently said to be sitting with more cash, on the sidelines, rebalancing portfolios and  well aware that investing comes with risks. Extended bull markets and frothing highs being two of them.

Market highs are one thing, the likelihood of a market correction is quite another. But without an accurate crystal ball, it’s pretty tough telling the short-term future.

One future that’s had a rewarding past and not gone up in smoke could be cannabis stocks. While there are mixed messages coming out of Washington with respect to cannabis, one industry-related Canadian stock has provided the kind of highs its investors enjoy.

Canopy Growth (OTCPL:TWMJF) is Canada’s largest grower of weed. Over the past year the stock is up over 245% and grew its revenues by 180% during the most recent quarter, according to Jason Hamlin, a SeekingAlpha contributing columnist. Hamlin thinks that there is room for this company to grow.

While the high is appealing, there is plenty of smoke surrounding this relatively new  company. Considered the largest non-pharmaceutical marijuana stock in the world, TWMJF closed Friday, (3/10/17), at $8.07 and over the past 52-weeks has traded as low as$1.84 and high as $14.39.

Whether pot is a smart money or dumb money play, is anybody’s guess. Unless, of course, you are in the business.

  • Market Quick Glance

A chink in the armor?

Look at the year-to-date and 1-year returns on the four stock indices followed here show some changes: Returns are lower, albeit not by much, but still lower.

As we enter the Ides of March week, words out of Washington regarding the debt ceiling and direction of interest rates could signal more moves in a  southerly direction. We shall see come next Friday.

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 10, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.77% YTD, down from last week’s 6.29%

  • 1yr Rtn +22.99% down from last week’s 23.97%

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

-S&P 500 +5.97% YTD down from last week’s 6.44%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.25% down from last week’s +19.55 %

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

-NASDAQ +8.89% YTD down from last week’s +9.06%

  • 1yr Rtn +25.73% up a lot from last week’s 24.71%

The Nasdaq reached an all-time high of 5,911,79 on March 1, 2017.

–Russell 2000 +0.60 YTD% down from last week’s +2.73 %

  • 1yr Rtn +28.32% down from last week’s +29.56%

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

-Mutual funds

Slip sliding away.

The average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds closed at 4.06 % at the close of business on Thursday, March 9, 2017, according to Lipper. That’s down from the previous week’s close of 5.22%.

There are 8,518 funds that make up the U.S. Diversified Equity Funds broad heading that includes 20 different types of funds from various cap and strategy funds to Equity Leverage and Alternative Active Extension Funds.

But there’s more in  the Lipper’s weekly performance report than U. S. diversified Equity Funds. Other headings include: Sector Equity Funds, 2,310 funds fall under this heading with roughly 27 different fund types included in it. At the close of business on Thursday, the average Sector Equity Fund was up 1.88?

World Equity Funds were up on average 5.56 %, with 4.518 funds falling with its 26 different types.

Add all the funds falling under those three large categories of funds together and for those 15,346 funds, their average YTD return was 4.16%.

Makes you kinda wonder what the birthday parties and Trump Bump celebrations are all about as 4.16% is nothing to really crow  much about.

That said, any plus-side return is better than a minus.

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.

  • Jobs

Here’s a thought about the jobs situation in the US that may make you rethink a thing or two. I received it last week from PNC Bank’s Florida and Texas Economists Mekael Teshome and Kurt Rankin respectively: “Job growth has averaged 196,000 over the past year, but is unlikely to maintain that pace throughout 2017. The issue is not one of demand for workers, but supply; it is unclear how many people there ae still standing on the sidelines who can come back into the workforce.

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending Feb. 4, 2017

  • img_1539REPEAT: Markets hate uncertainty

This was the opening piece in last week’s POCKETBOOK but it’s worth rereading particularly given the decisions, actions and tweets of President Trump over the past week.

Funny thing about the stock market: On the one hand it looks ahead, on the other it doesn’t like uncertainty. Or social unrest and there is plenty of that going on.

So, with a new President in town, and one who takes bold actions and is hard to figure, investors would be wise to expect a fair amount of market volatility going forward. Also, that life is going to be more expensive on a number of fronts for individuals and the country.

Re the country, expect more debt..

Even though the GOP is no fan of debt, President Trump has been called the King of Debt. Which is okay when your kingdom is a privately held corporation. But not so okay when you are a public servant.

  • Market Quick Glance

Once again the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed over 20,000 and at 20,071.46 on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. Nonetheless, the Dow lost ground over the week from its previous week’s close —and— for the past year.

Looking at just the 1-year returns, the Russell 2000 appears to have been the place to be: Up over 36% for the past year. But numbers can be deceiving—the Russell 2000 hit its all time high in December 2016 unlike the other three indices followed here. Each of them reached their new highs in January.

Below are the weekly and 1-year performance results for four popular stock indices based on the close of business prices at the close of business on Friday, Feb. 3, according to CNBC.com. (I’ve changed sources here because Bloomberg.com has changed its format and, in my opinion, the new site, its look and the changes for the free user are horrible.)

-Indices:

-Dow Jones + 1.56% YTD, down a bit from last week’s 1.78%

  • 1yr Rtn +22.86% down from last week’s 25.32%

The DJIA reached its all time high of 20,125.58 on 1/26/17

 

-S&P 500 +2.62% YTD up a bit from last week’s 2.60% YTD

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

The S&P 500 reached its all time high of 2,300.99 on 1/26/17

 

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

  • 1yr Rtn +25.81% way up from last week’s 24.36%

The Nasdaq reached its all time high of 5,669.61 on 1/26/17

 

–Russell 2000 +1.53% up from last week’s +1.05%

  • 1yr Rtn +36.38% up from last week’s 34.36%

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of1,392.71 on 12/9/16

 

-Mutual funds

A bit of a downer as far as the average goes for the 8,479 funds that fall under the U.S. Diversified Equity Fund umbrella. At the close of business on Thursday, Feb.2, 2017 the average year-to-date return for those funds was 1.81%, according to Lipper. That was down the previous week’s 2.61% average.

Under that broad U.S. Diversified Equity Fund heading, Equity Leverage Funds which were hotsy totsy the week before lost ground from their up 7.52% average with  YTD returns now at  5.59%. Next in performance were Large-Cap Growth Funds up 4.27% followed by Multi-Cap Growth Funds, up 4.14%.

Precious Metals Equity Funds scored the highest under the Sector Fund heading, up 17.38% on average. The average YTD return for the 2,307 funds under the Sector Fund heading was up 2.48%.

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.

 

  • Let’s talk unemployment and say “Thank You, Obama.”

When it comes to the unemployed, there are fewer of them now (on record) than there were seven years ago.

Jon Erlichman, a journalist for Fortune, the Business News Network and a number of other outlets, posted the U.S Unemployment Rates based on end of January figures.

In a nutshell, they reveal that at the end of Jan. 2010 the unemployment rate was 9.8%—at the end of Jan. 2017, that rate stood at 4.8%.

Thank you, President Obama.

The bar has now been set for President Trump, who took office officially on Jan. 20, 2017.

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POCKETBOOK:Week ending Dec.24, 2016

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  • Holiday peace and joy to all

To honor the true spirit of the holiday season, this week’s money-focused POCKETBOOK will be brief. My hope in doing so is to remind everyone that what’s most important in this life is the wealth that lives within your heart and not the material wealth you may have been fortunate enough to have accumulated.

  • Market Quick Glance

Below are the weekly and 1-year performance results for four popular stock indices based on the close of business prices on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016, according to Bloomberg.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +17.51 YTD up from last week’s 16.96%

  • 1yr Rtn +16.65% down from last week’s 18.99%

 

-S&P 500 +13.17% YTD up from last week’s 12.84%

  • 1yr Rtn +12.27% down from last week’s 15.07%

 

-NASDAQ +10.55%YTD up from last week’s 10.02%

  • 1yr Rtn +9;68% down from last week’s 11.96%

 

-Russell 2000 +22.47%YTD up from last week’s 21.82%

  • 1yr Rtn +20.55% down from last week’s 23.55%

 

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016, the performance of the average U.S. Diversified Equity Fund was 11.53%, off a bit from the previous week’s close of 11.73%, according to Lipper.

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

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