Stock Market Commentary
For the week of September 8, 2008
The Dow and S&P managed slight gains on Friday after declining sharply on Thursday. The Labor Department’s report showing unemployment at a five-year high of 6.1 percent combined with disappointing reports from the nation’s retailers caused the Dow to lose more than 340 points. For the week, the Dow dropped 2.69 percent to close at 11,220.96. The S&P fell 3.10 percent to end the week at 1,242.31, and the NASDAQ lost 4.72 percent to finish the week at 2,255.88.
Working Smarter – U.S. worker productivity rose in the second quarter to 4.3 percent, a percentage point higher than analysts predicted. The Commerce Department said the indicator was nearly double the initial estimate announced in early August. Labor costs dropped by 0.5 percent, also better than expected. The first quarter of 2008 had seen a 1.2 percent rise in labor costs.
Unexpected Service – The Institute for Supply Management announced Thursday that its services sector index rose from 49.2 in July to 50.6 in August, exceeding analysts’ expectations of a 50.0 reading. An index reading of below 50 indicates the sector is contracting, while a reading above 50 indicates expansion.
Almost Twice As Much in Five Years – Monthly exports by U.S. businesses set an all-time record in June 2008. The $164 billion of goods and services sold around the globe is a 95% increase over our nationwide export total of $84 billion from June 2003 (Source: Commerce Department, BTN Research).
Not Totally Honest – The U.S. government believes that sole proprietors, on average, report and pay taxes on only 50 percent of their annual profits, contributing to an overall estimated $345 billion annual “tax gap,” i.e., the difference between what all U.S. taxpayers should have paid in federal income taxes vs. what they actually paid (Source: IRS, Barron’s, BTN Research).
Tax Stat – The top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers is responsible for the payment of 40 percent of all federal income tax. Ten years ago (1998), the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 35 percent of all federal income tax. Twenty years ago (1988), the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 28 percent of all federal income tax (Source: Tax Foundation, IRS, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Emergency Financial Preparedness
Ever had a morning when you can’t find your car keys or your checkbook? Now imagine that you’ve been told by a state police officer that you have 30 minutes to evacuate your home due to an impending disaster. Could you, in just half an hour, gather all your important papers and documents?
Building a financial emergency kit helps ensure you have the information you need to keep yourself and your family safe, clothed and fed during and after a disaster. For some items, your bank safe deposit box will suffice. Just make sure your key is in the kit, along with the following other items suggested by About.com:
– Copies of driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificate and insurance card for every family member, along with a photo ID and/or passport
– Checkbook(s), a supply of cash and change, and copies of the front and back of credit cards and debit cards.
– Contact information for your bank, financial advisor, insurance agent and employer, plus websites, usernames and passwords for financial sites you use
– Insurance policies, living wills and advance directives
– Marriage certificate, citizenship papers, divorce or separation papers, real estate deeds
– Certificates of deposit, stock certificates and IRAs
– Photo or video inventory of personal property such as jewelry, art and antiques
– Contact information for your utility, phone, cable and cell phone companies
– Keys to your house, cars, garage, storage unit, etc.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created a tool in August 2005 that helps you organize your financial and contact information. You can download the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit, or complete it online and store it electronically, at http://www.operationhope.org/effak/effak_english.pdf.
If you need help in compiling your important documents to create an emergency financial kit, please contact our office. We’re happy to work with your tax, legal and insurance advisors to make sure you have everything you need to recover from a disaster.
* 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# 286747