Weekly Stock Market Commentary 9 14 2009

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Stock Market Commentary
For the week of September 14, 2009

The Market
Although stock markets declined on Friday, the previous five-day rally allowed the markets to still have big gains for the week. Optimistic news came from Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers which showed consumer sentiment rose more than expected in early September. For the week, the Dow ended up 1.80 percent to close at 9,605.41. The S&P climbed 2.63 percent to finish the week at 1,042.73, while the NASDAQ rose 3.08 percent to end the week at 2,080.90.

Weekly Stock Market Commentary 9 14 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.

Cutting Credit Cards – Americans have put themselves on a serious get out of debt diet, cutting $21.5 billion from their outstanding credit in July – an annualized decline rate of 10.4 percent. Households have saved about 5 percent of their income in recent months, compared to 1 percent before the recession. The July drop marks the sixth consecutive month of credit cuts, the longest stretch since late 1991. (Source: Federal Reserve)

Bear Ends, Then the Recession Ends – In the past half century, the only time the U.S. experienced an official recession and an S&P 500 bear market (defined as a 20 percent or greater peak-to-trough tumble) where the recession ended before the bear market bottomed was in 2001. Every other time where a recession and a bear market took place concurrently in the past 50 years, the S&P 500 always started a bull market run before the recession officially ended (Source: BTN Research).

Exclusive Group – To rank in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all U.S. taxpayers (i.e., 1 out of every 1,000) required an adjusted gross income (AGI) level of at least $2.16 million based upon calendar year 2007 tax data. This group earned 12 percent of all AGI nationwide and paid 20 percent of all federal income tax in the country (Source: Internal Revenue Service, Tax Foundation, BTN Research).

Bundle of Joy/Dollars – A family with before-tax income of at least $100,000 that had a newborn in 2008 will spend $367,000 (in 2008 dollars) to raise that child through age 17 (i.e., not including the cost of college). After factoring in the impact of inflation, the 17-year cost rises to $484,000 (Source: Department of Agriculture, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Financial Sandwich

Paying for a child’s college education while also investing for retirement has become a difficult dilemma for many parents.

Trends in today’s families and in how retirement is funded have forced some parents to face the decision to fulfill one goal at the expense of the other. Better nutrition and health care mean retirement is lasting longer for many people, while fewer pension options mean more employees are individually responsible for their retirement income. Outliving retirement savings has become a primary concern for many adults.

At the same time, college tuition rates have risen at more than twice the rate of income since 1977, according to a Putnam Investments report issued in July 2008. Many families are waiting longer to have children, meaning fewer years between the end of college tuition payments and the beginning of retirement – less make-up time, so to speak. And in the past two years, approximately 50 lenders, both private and nonprofit, have dropped out of the student loan market, which may make it more difficult for parents and students to borrow money for college expenses.

To complicate matters further, the impact of the recession and market decline on retiree portfolios has put many working adults in the position of providing financial support to their parents. A 2009 Country Financial survey reported that 47 percent of parents have made college saving a higher priority than retirement, an increase from 42 percent last year. And in a 2009 survey by Caring.com, 45 percent of respondents said they provide some kind of financial support to elderly parents because of the recession.

College for your children or grandchildren and a comfortable retirement for yourself and possibly your parents don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you are torn between saving for your child’s future education and providing for your own retirement, call our office. We can help you create or revise a plan that addresses both goals. We can even work with your accountant or tax preparer to help you implement tax efficient strategies for retirement and college savings accounts. Call us today.

* 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. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment grade, fixed rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America. SAI# 300160