Weekly Stock Market Commentary 5 4 2009

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of May 4, 2009

The Market
The consumer confidence index rose in April marking its largest single-month increase since October 2006, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers. That news, along with better than expected data on first-time unemployment claims, home prices and corporate profits, helped the markets overcome a gross domestic product (GDP) report showing the U.S. economy shrank 6.1 percent in the first quarter, more than analysts’ expectation of 5 percent. The S&P ended April with a 9.4 percent gain, its best month since March 2000, and its 18.7 percent gain over the past two months is its best in 34 years. The NASDAQ gained 12.4 percent in April, its best month since November 2001. The market will be closely watching the results of the bank stress tests, originally scheduled for release last Friday, then today and now delayed until Thursday. For the week, the Dow Jones gained 1.69 percent to close at 8,212.41. The S&P rose 1.33 percent to end the week at 877.52, and the NASDAQ climbed 1.47 percent to finish the week at 1,719.20.

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.

The Oldest Index – The Dow Jones Industrial Average turns 113 years old this month. Only 12 stocks were used in the index’s original calculation in May 1896, and only one stock in that group remains in the index today. The index was expanded to 30 stocks in October 1928, just one year before the 1929 stock market crash. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a popular indicator of the stock market based on the average closing prices of 30 actively-traded U.S. blue chip stocks (Source: Dow Jones, BTN Research).

Debt-Free – More than twice as many households own their home “free-and-clear” of debt (25 million) compared to the number of households (10 million) where the outstanding mortgage debt exceeds the market value of the home (Source: American Housing Study, Money Magazine, BTN Research).

Don’t Stop Now – A 40-year old employee who invests $1,000 at the beginning of every month in a tax-deferred 401k account will accumulate $510,000 by age 60 if the funds grow at 7 percent per year. If that individual was forced to suspend his/her monthly deferral for just four years from ages 45-48, the account is worth just $394,000 at age 60. This mathematical calculation ignores the ultimate impact of taxes on the account which are due upon withdrawal, is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to reflect any specific investment or performance. Actual results will fluctuate with market conditions and will vary (Source: BTN Research).

Do As I Say – Although only 40 percent of American adults currently pay their outstanding credit card balances each month, 63 percent of Americans surveyed in early March are committed to eliminating any monthly credit card debt in the future (Source: Consumer Education Services Inc., Money Magazine).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Could Long-Term Care Threaten Your Retirement?

The economy over the past six months has caused many Americans to re-examine their spending priorities. Unfortunately, too many see insurance premiums for long-term care coverage as a discretionary expense – at a time when retirement accounts have likely been shrinking and they need to protect what they have left.

Premiums for long term care insurance (LTCI) can be several thousand dollars a year, depending on the amount of coverage and your age when you purchase the policy. Costs for in-home and nursing home care have been rising, to a current rate of $74,208 a year or $203 a day, according to a recent survey by Genworth. The Genworth survey said if rates continue to rise atmore than 4 percent a year, one year of nursing home care could run $270,000 in 30 years.

That has made it difficult for insurers to keep premiums affordable for consumers but at a level that covers the actual expenses. Some companies have raised the health requirements for LTCI applicants, making it more difficult for people to qualify. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) 23 percent of applicants age 60-69 are rejected, increasing to 45 percent of those age 70-79 and 70 percent of those over 80.

Cost has long been the incentive for waiting to secure long term care insurance until a decade or even two before retirement, but the reasons for purchasing long-term care coverage earlier in your adult life can be persuasive. Younger policy purchasers can lock in discounts based on health qualifications as well as premiums based on today’s costs, plus spread the premiums over more years. According to AALTCI, for those 60 or older, rates can go up 8-9 percent per year for each year you delay buying coverage.

Thanks to medical advancements, accidents and illnesses that once caused death can now impair you – mentally, physically and financially. The cost of in-home or nursing home care could place your years of saving and investing for retirement at risk. Regardless of your age, long-term care coverage should be part of regular reviews of your risks and insurance needs. For more information on long-term care insurance planning for you or a loved one, or to schedule a review of your risk management plan, contact our office.

* 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# 297307