Stock Market Commentary
For the week of April 27, 2009
NASDAQ continued its winning streak for the seventh consecutive week, while the Dow and the S&P stumbled with losses after six weeks of gains. American Express and Ford Motor Co. both reported first quarter results that beat analysts’ expectations, giving the markets renewed reason to rally on Friday. Looking ahead, the Federal Reserve meets Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and the Commerce Department releases first-quarter gross domestic product results on Wednesday, followed by March personal income and spending numbers on Thursday. For the week, the Dow dropped 0.63 percent to close at 8,076.29, and the S&P lost 0.36 percent to end the week at 866.23. The NASDAQ gained 1.27 percent to finish the week at 1,694.29.
Looking on the Bright Side – Seventy-five percent of employees working for companies that have cut costs through layoffs, furloughs and 401(k) match suspensions or other measures say their employer is doing what is needed to strengthen the company. A Zoomerang survey for iDashboards found that 60 percent of respondents said their employer has made cuts. At the same time, 68 percent have not experienced a pay cut, and 12 percent have actually had a pay increase. Almost three-quarters said they do not plan to look for another job in the next year.
Doing Things Differently – Four out of every five Americans (79 percent) is either spending less money or is saving more money than they were a year ago (Source: AARP, BTN Research).
You Do The Math – One out of every four American workers (25 percent) has decided to delay their age of retirement in the past year. Less than half of American workers (44 percent) have attempted to calculate the amount of assets they will need to accumulate in order to retire (Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, BTN Research).
Good Call – The morning after closing at a bear market low of 677 on Monday, March 9, 2009, John Authers, journalist from the Financial Times newspaper, wrote that, “perhaps the greatest reason for hope (for the U.S. stock market) at present is that almost all hope seems to have been lost.” At the time of Authers’ writing, the S&P 500 had fallen 56.8 percent over the previous 17 months. As of April 10, the stock index had gained 26.6 percent (Source: Financial Times, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Keep Contributing!
If you opened your first quarter 401(k) statement, you most likely saw another loss. Although the markets have enjoyed a rally over the past several weeks, with a few minor setbacks, it hasn’t been that long since the major indexes reached 12-year lows in early March. Your account most likely has not had sufficient time to recover.
Your 401(k) balance would also be impacted if your employer has suspended its match. A recent Watson Wyatt survey of large employers showed about 12 percent have eliminated their 401(k) match in the past year, while a Spectrum survey showed 34 percent of employers have reduced or eliminated their 401(k) match, with another 29 percent planning to do so in the next year.
That has left many employees wondering if their employer’s 401(k) is still the best vehicle for their retirement savings. Certainly if your employer has not eliminated 401(k) matches, you should continue contributing to your account at least up to the maximum employer match – otherwise, you’re leaving money on the table that your employer is willing to give you. Even if your employer match has been reduced, suspended or permanently eliminated, contributing to your 401(k) is probably one of the easiest ways to save for retirement – regardless of market gyrations.
Because your contribution is taken directly from your paycheck, you aren’t faced with making the decision each pay period of whether or not to put money away – something you may be less likely to do when you’re worried about cash flow. In addition, during market lows, you may be paying less for the investments you purchase within your 401(k) account. If you stop contributing now, you will likely not restart until the market has already logged some significant increases, meaning you may miss out on the upside of those “sale” purchases.
You shouldn’t completely ignore your 401(k), however. Now may be a good time to review the amount you are contributing and consider whether you could be contributing more, thereby potentially leveraging your purchasing power when prices are relatively low. You may also want to make adjustments in your allocations within your 401(k) account.
We can help you review your 401(k) account to ensure you are making the most of this retirement vehicle. We can also suggest ways to potentially supplement your retirement savings with other investments. Call us today to schedule a 401(k) review.
* 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. Written by Securities America. SAI# 297189