Weekly Stock Market Commentary 8 18 2008

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of August 18, 2008

The Market
Wall Street ended the week mixed even after oil fell to its lowest price in three months. The Dow finished the week down 0.49 percent to close at 11,659.90. The S&P rose 0.22 percent to close the week at 1,298.20, while the NASDAQ ended the week up as well, closing 1.59 percent higher at 2,452.52.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 8 18 2008
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.

Record Exports – U.S. exports hit a record high of $164.4 billion in June, causing an unexpected drop in the trade deficit. According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. trade deficit dropped 4.1 percent to $56.8 billion, the smallest deficit in three months and well below the $61.5 billion analysts had forecast.

Young Debt – In a survey of Americans under age 35, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Washington-based polling firm, 55 percent said financial matters topped their list of concerns, a 10-point increase over last year. Thirty-seven percent reported having more debt than a year ago, and 38 percent said they have the same amount of debt. Twenty-two percent owe more than $10,000, and more than half said they make only minimum monthly payments. As with older Americans, medical costs contribute to the debt burden, with 54 percent reporting they have done without health insurance in the past five years and 28 percent having debt due to medical expenses. Only 33 percent have a retirement plan, and only 14 percent said they use a financial advisor.

Doing Without – Consumer price pressures have not caused the majority of Americans to reduce or forego health insurance, with 85 percent maintaining status quo on their policies, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissions. The study did find, however, that 22 percent of consumers report less frequent doctor visits and 11 percent have stopped using medications or reduced the dosage to cut prescription costs.

Buffett Bio Debut – The first authorized biography of Warren Buffett, billionaire investor and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, will be released on Sept. 29. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, written by former Morgan Stanley insurance analyst Alice Schroeder, weighs in at a hefty 976 pages.

WEEKLY FOCUS – Retirement for Two

How well do you and your spouse really know each other?

When it comes to goals and dreams for retirement, many couples don’t know each other as well as they think. A 2005 study by Fidelity Investments found that although 41 percent of couples agree on whether they will work in retirement, more than one-third differ on their expected retirement ages.

Retirement today lasts much longer than for previous generations. A 65-year-old person has a mortality age of 85, meaning half will die before 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. Taking into consideration that mortality tables are based on the entire population, those who receive above- average nutrition and health care may increase their odds of living even longer.

For couples, that means even more years of enjoying retirement together, but the transition from working years to semi-retirement or full retirement can also be challenging for couples. Each of your individual visions of retirement – and your preparedness for the emotional, physical and spiritual changes retirement can bring – may be very different. And that may result in one or both of you being unsatisfied during the golden years of your lives.

Our retirement planning process encourages frank discussion between you and your spouse and helps you build a plan that you can both feel good about. Call our office to schedule an appointment to talk about what each of you wants in your retirement – and how you can get there together.

* 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# 285651