Weekly Stock Market Commentary 6 22 2009

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of June 22, 2009

The Market
All three major indexes declined last week for the first time in five weeks. A three-month rally that brought the S&P up as much as 40 percent above its 12-year low in March has many investors wondering if the markets have reached the point of a correction. The Dow and S&P felt the drag of energy shares as oil prices dropped below $70 a barrel, according to the New York Mercantile Exchange on assumptions that the fuel supply would be adequate for summer vacation travel. For the week, the Dow lost 2.94 percent to end at 8,539.73, the S&P fell 2.62 percent to close the week at 921.23, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.69 percent to finish the week at 1,827.47.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 6 22 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.

Brighter Jobs Picture? – The number of Americans receiving unemployment numbers dropped by 148,000 for the week ended June 6, the largest decline in seven years, according to the Labor Department. The decrease ends a run of 21 consecutive increases, the last 19 of which set record highs. The four-week average of new claims, which levels out weekly fluctuations, fell by 7,000, bringing the average to 40,000 below its current-recession peak in April.

Price Check –
The consumer price index (CPI) rose to a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in May, below the 0.3 percent increase economists had predicted. Low inflation enables the Federal Reserve to maintain the near-zero short-term interest rate it has held for months. The Fed meets this week to revisit interest rates, which it last raised three years ago. According to the Federal Reserve, the Fed funds futures market is priced to reflect a nearly 100 percent chance that the Fed will raise rates at least once by the end of 2009.

Healthy Increase –
The amount employers pay for supplemental health insurance coverage for their workers could increase 9 percent in 2010, according to a report last week from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report attributed the increase to employees who fear losing their jobs using their health care more while they still have benefits. The report projects the anticipated per person increase for employee benefits plans, factoring in price increases and usage changes. The 9 percent projected increase is actually less than the 9.2 percent PricewaterhouseCoopers projected for 2009, and the 9.9 percent hike predicted for 2008.

WEEKLY FOCUS – Women at Greater Retirement Risk

A recent study by the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) found that women continue to face greater financial risk for retirement than men. With nearly 40 million women reaching retirement age over the next 20 years, planning for retirement needs and accumulating the necessary assets to pay for those needs has never been more important.

According to WISER, one in five single women age 65 or older lives in poverty. A number of factors contribute to that problem, which could worsen as retirees struggle to make up for losses experienced in the recent bear market.

Despite advances in the workplace, women continue to earn on average 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Two-thirds of working women earn less than $30,000 a year and nearly half of all women work in jobs without retirement plans or 401(k)s. Women are also more likely than men to work only part-time, which generally means lower wages and fewer benefits.

Women at age 65 are expected to live 20 more years, on average – four years longer than the average for men.

Women spend an average of 13 years out of the workforce for family caregiving. Over her lifetime, the average woman will spend 27 years in the workforce, compared to almost 40 years for the average man.

While women historically may have relied on their spouse to accumulate wealth to see the couple through retirement years, for most those days have passed. According to the Department of Labor, almost 90 percent of adult women will manage their finances alone at some point in their lives. Beyond saving for retirement years, women should learn early to manage their finances and ensure they understand their finances at any stage of life, even if their spouse actively manages the family money.

Make sure the women you care about – regardless of their age – have the knowledge they need. You can count on us to always be available to answer your questions or to speak with someone you know that could benefit from our financial experience and knowledge.

* 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# 298434