Stock Market Commentary
For the week of June 15, 2009
After three consecutive months of gains, small positives in economic news may be losing their impact. The major indexes saw only small improvements this week on some concerns about rising inflation and interest rates. The Dow gained 0.50 percent for the week to close at 8,799.26, its highest close since Jan. 6. The S&P climbed 0.71 percent to end the week at 946.21, and the NASDAQ gained 0.51 percent to finish the week at 1,858.80. All three major indexes are now positive on year-to-date returns.
Donation Decline – Charitable giving in 2008 dropped 2 percent from 2007, or 5.7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to Giving USA’s annual study. As a percentage of gross domestic product, giving was down just slightly from 2.3 percent in 2007 to 2.2 percent or $308 billion in 2008. It was the first decline in charitable giving since 1987 and only the second since Giving USA began tracking donations in 1956.
High Hopes – Consumer confidence hit its highest reading since September 2008, when the Lehman Brothers failure started the financial crisis felt ‘round the world. The Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers marked a preliminary reading of 69.0 for June, compared to 68.7 in May. Economists had expected an index reading of 69.5, just below the September 2008 mark of 70.3.
Driving Retail Sales – Renewed purchases of cars and gas helped balance continued slow sales for department stores, taking total retail sales for May to the largest increase in four months. The Commerce Department report released last week showed a 0.5 percent increase, matching analysts’ expectations. It was the largest increase in retail sales since January’s surge of 1.7 percent, which followed six consecutive months of decline.
Health Care Debate – Employees who receive employer-provided health benefits do not recognize as taxable income any of the economic benefit they are receiving (i.e., the employer pays some portion of the employee’s medical insurance premium). The lost tax revenue to the IRS by not taxing this benefit is $133 billion annually (Source: Grand Valley State, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Is Your Retirement Parachute Big Enough?
Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 85th birthday this past weekend by making a parachute jump near his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. And while a life in the military might leave a retiree hungry for the occasional extra thrill of free fall, many 85-year-olds already face plenty of risk – particularly the risk of outliving their retirement savings.
According to the Society of Actuaries, today, a 65-year-old person has a mortality age of 85, meaning half of Americans age 65 will live past age 85. For a couple age 65, there is a 50 percent chance one will live to age 92 and a 25 percent chance one will live to 97. In contrast, when the Social Security retirement age of 65 was enacted in 1932 (Social Security Administration), the average mortality age for a man was 64 – meaning half of American men weren’t expected to even live until retirement. Now take into consideration that mortality tables are based on the entire population. Those who receive above-average nutrition and health care increase the odds that their retirement healthcare stretching into decades.
That health care, however, comes with a price tag: a 2006 issue brief from the Employee Benefit Research Institute estimated that a couple both age 65 today living to average life expectancy could need as much as $295,000 to cover premiums for supplemental health insurance coverage and out-of-pocket expenses during retirement. A couple who lives to age 95 could need as a much as $550,000. And that does not include any long-term care expenses.
Ensuring you will have enough to fund your retirement – no matter how long it lasts – requires planning for accumulation, distribution and risk management, including the risk that your life lasts longer than your assets. It also requires periodic review of your plan, especially if you or your spouse experience changes in your health or, if you are still working, in your ability to earn income and accumulate assets.
Contact our office to review your existing plan or to start planning today for those years between now and your 85th birthday – whether or not you plan to celebrate by parachuting!
* 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# 298257