Weekly Stock Market Commentary 5 11 2009

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of May 11, 2009

The Market
The NASDAQ extended its winning streak to nine consecutive weeks of advances, its longest since an 11-week run in December 1999. Federal regulators on Thursday announced the results of bank stress tests, which indicated most U.S. banks remain on solid ground, and financial shares responded with broad increases on Friday. For the week, the Dow gained 4.54 percent to close at 8,564.65. The S&P rose 5.95 percent to finish the week at 929.23, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.15 percent to end the week at 1,739.00.

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.

Credit Plunge – Consumer borrowing dropped in March by 5.2 percent, the fastest rate since 1990, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. The $11.1 billion plunge is the largest since the Fed began keeping records in 1943 and is about three times larger than economists predicted. The Commerce Department reported last week that the personal savings rate reached 4.2 percent in March, its first three-month stretch above 4 percent in 10 years.

Less Layoffs – Aided by a government hiring binge, U.S. employers cut 539,000 jobs in April, the smallest decline in six months and significantly below the 620,000 lost jobs that analysts expected. The rise in unemployment to 8.9 percent in April from 8.5 percent in March matched expectations, according to the Labor Department.

Know More – In a survey by research firm Age Wave, 95 percent of respondents agreed that financial management should be part of standard high school curricula. Eighty-one percent said that living within your means is the best financial advice parents can give their kids – an increase from 69 percent a year ago.

Either One or the Other – Based upon the past 75 years (1934-2008), the S&P 500 is as likely to gain at least 24 percent (total return) in any single calendar year as it is to have a negative total return for the year. Both events have occurred 20 times each over the 75-year period (Source: BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Letting Mom or Dad Move In

Earlier this year, we looked at whether parents should help their adult children during financial difficulties. With many retirement nest eggs down considerably because of the bear market, more adult children may face the decision of whether to help their parents financially. In fact, in a recent survey by Age Wave, a San Francisco based research firm, 40 percent of respondents said they expect to support their parents, in-laws or siblings at some point in the future.

According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the average debt load for households of people age 75 and older grew 160 percent to an average of $20,234
between 1992 and 2004 (the last comparison available). Most of those individuals turned to credit during a crisis, usually a medical problem, because they do not have adequate cash or insurance coverage.

A growing number of families have turned into multigenerational households as a way of combining expenses and stretching the limited incomes of elderly parents. A U.S. Census Bureau report released last fall showed a 67 percent increase between 2000 and 2007 in the number of adult heads of households who have parents living with them. Not all of those parents were elderly: The number of parents under age 65 who live with their adult children grew 75 percent, while those 65 and older were up 62 percent.

The decision to combine households with a parent should be undertaken with care. Details regarding the finances, shared child care responsibilities, living space and even refrigerator space should be discussed, first by you and your spouse and then by both of you and the incoming parent. You also need to consider the extent of your cohabitation – will your parent continue to live with you if his or her health deteriorates? If not, what options will be considered, and what will trigger those options?

You also need to discuss the arrangement with your siblings. If you assume financial responsibility for all or part of your parent’s living expenses, will your siblings help repay you? Or will your parent’s estate plan be adjusted to reflect your contribution?

Having your parent or other relative live with you can bring you closer and help your children develop stronger bonds to their grandparents and extended family. Without proper planning, however, it can also lead to strained relationships of all sorts. If you are considering combining households with a parent or other family member, contact our office. We can help you develop the financial strategies and find additional resources to make such a move a positive experience for your family.

* 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# 297473