Weekly Stock Market Commentary 10 5 2009

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of October 5, 2009

The Market
Disappointing news from the Labor Department on Friday took the major indexes lower for the fourth consecutive day and led to a second week of losses. The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September from 9.7 percent in August, its highest level in 26 years. Although the percentage matched predictions from economists surveyed by Briefing.com, the number of jobs lost was higher than expected. The Dow ended the week down 1.80 percent to close at 9,487.67. The S&P dropped 1.80 percent to finish the week at 1,025.21, while the NASDAQ fell 2.05 percent to end the week at 2,048.11.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 10 5 2009

Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.

More Paying Less – Approximately 47 percent of American households will owe zero federal income tax for 2009, according to the Tax Policy Center, an increase from the Center’s original estimate of 38 percent.

Spending Spike – Consumer spending in the U.S. increased 1.3 percent in August, the fourth consecutive monthly increase and the largest increase in almost eight years. According to the Commerce Department, the results exceeded market expectations of a 1.1 percent gain.

Land of the Midnight Sun –
Alaska is the only state in the U.S. that does not have a state income tax and does not have any state sales tax. New Hampshire does not have a state income tax but does tax dividend and interest income that exceeds $4,800 (for joint filers), while also avoiding any state sales tax (Source: Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, BTN Research).

More School – An average American male that graduates from college will earn $367,000 more during his lifetime than he would have earned if he had achieved only a high school degree (Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, BTN Research).

Cheaper Gas – American consumers spent $31.2 billion at gas stations in August 2009, down $11.4 billion from the $42.6 billion spent at gas stations in August 2008 (Source: Commerce Department, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Two Good Reasons for Working Longer

The number of retirees feeling “very confident” that they have sufficient assets to maintain their lifestyle in retirement has dropped by approximately 50 percent in
the past two years, from 41 percent to 20 percent, according to the 2009 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Declines in portfolio values and increased life spans have made longevity risk a top concern for Americans nearing oral ready in retirement.

With retirement lasting longer, it makes sense that the working years last longer as well. Working longer not only results in the ability to save more, but it increases the
number of years (and presumably higher paying years) upon which your Social Security tax tables are based. If, instead of applying for Social Security at the earliest age of 62, you wait until age 65, you will receive 25 percent more in benefits. If you don’t apply until age 70, you more than double the benefit versus age 62. For more information and a benefit calculator, visit Social Security Online.

In addition, if you participate in an employee pension plan or a 401(k) plan with an employer match, working a few more years increases your employer’s contribution to your retirement kitty. And since Medicare isn’t available until age 65, retiring at that age or later eliminates the need for higher-cost individual health insurance in between.

Beyond the financial reasons, new research indicates retiring later may carry health benefits as well. A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in May 2009 showed that each extra year of work correlated to a six-week delay in the onset of dementia. The September 2009 issue of the Psychological Science in the Public Interest reported on research that found four factors that could delay cognitive decline: mental engagement, social involvement, certain personality traits and physical fitness. Work may encourage one or more of those factors.

Early retirement became a common goal and something of a status symbol with boomers. But working a few more years can help ensure you retain that retirement status, instead of taking a low paying job to make ends meet. Call our office for a full discussion of how delaying retirement in the short term can pay off in the long term.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S.stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. bond investment grade, fixed rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America. SAI# 300555

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