Weekly Stock Market Commentary 12 28 2009

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of December 28, 2009

The Market
The equity markets hit new highs for the year on Thursday after positive news from the Labor and Commerce departments. Despite a disappointing new home sales report for November released on Wednesday, the markets rallied around a drop of 28,000 in new unemployment rate claims for the week ending Dec. 19, and a 2 percent jump in durable goods orders, excluding transportation. The markets will be open regular hours on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), but will be closed all day on New Year’s Day (Jan. 1, 2010). For the week, the Dow gained 2.06 percent to close at 10,520.10. The S&P rose 2.80 percent to finish at 1,126.48, and the NASDAQ climbed 3.35 percent to end the week at 2,285.69.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 12 28 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.

Subprime Switch – In February, the Credit Card Act will take effect, limiting the annual fee that card providers can charge to 25 percent of the credit line. First Premier Bank, a (what is a subprime mortgage) credit card issuer affiliated with Premier Bankcard of Sioux Falls, S.D., is testing a way to make up for the loss of its $256 in first year fees for a $250 credit line. The company has raised the interest rates on the card from 9.9 percent APR to 79.9 percent – that’s right, just under 80 percent interest. The company, which targets people with credit scores below 700 who can’t get approved for lower-rate cards, said it is simply pricing its product based on the risk associated with its market. The rate hike comes just less than two months before the Credit Card Act would also limit the bank’s ability to raise interest rates. (Source: USA Today)

Boomer Rebound? – The number of unemployed baby boomers rose in November to 7 percent compared to 6.6 percent in October. Unemployment may become a permanent condition for many workers in that age group, with an estimated 378,000 baby boomers potentially forced to retire instead of resuming working, according to economists with Wellesley College. The number of Social Security applications for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 was 21 percent higher than the prior fiscal year.

Make More, Spend More – The Commerce Department reported last week that personal incomes rose by their fastest pace in six months during November, and spending marked its second consecutive increase. Personal income rose 0.4 percent in November, boosting spending by 0.5 percent. Both increases were slightly less than analysts had predicted, according to the Associated Press. Taking into account inflation, after-tax incomes are increasing at a 1.2 percent annualized rate.

WEEKLY FOCUS – Five Tips For Keeping Your Financial Resolutions

Financial resolutions can be especially difficult to stick with because, like eating and exercising, our spending, saving and investing habits tend to be tied to our emotions more than our logic. Here are Five Tips For Keeping Your Financial Resolutions:

1. Form new habits by tying them to current behavior. If you have a regular system for paying bills, make a “bill” from your retirement plan and pay it (by making a contribution to your IRA) while you pay the other bills.

2. Put them on autopilot. One of the easiest ways to keep saving and investing goals is to set up automatic deposits or investments. Payroll deduction for 401(k) contributions is a great example – you never have possession of the cash, so you don’t feel the pain of taking it out of your spending money. Contact your human resources department now about starting or increasing your contributions.

3. Make your resolutions achievable and realistic. Many people make resolutions without much planning or forethought – and fail the same way. If you are serious about your financial resolutions, do some homework, crunch some numbers and put your plan in writing.

4. Break them down into small steps. Trying to keep too many resolutions at once will leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead of making resolutions for the whole year now, break them down and add one or two each quarter.

5. Work with an accountability partner or coach. Anyone who has tried to implement a weight loss or exercise plan knows that a buddy system increases the odds of success. If you need help sticking to your financial resolutions, we can work with you to create a plan for keeping your resolutions, whether they include college planning for your child or funding your retirement.

Call our office for an appointment to discuss your financial resolutions and how we can work together to make 2010 a happy and prosperous new year!

* 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. 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# 302262