Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back to Work

Markets ended this Tuesday/Monday down. Consumer confidence was up, and there was no real negative news. Maybe, traders are still on vacation. It's the start of Summer, usually, a slow time for stocks. Dow -75.07 NASDAQ - 7.51 S&P 500 - 7.28 The biggest news of the day seems to be Paris Hilton's engagement... talk about a slow day!

Is It Monday or Tuesday?

It's a short week, with the passing of Memorial Day. It's always confusing to me to start my week on Tuesday. Of course, I love seeing Friday show up early! Markets are down today, but not drastically. Consumer confidence numbers are out, and they're better than expected. What difference does this make? When we consumers feel good about our prospects, we spend more money and companies earn more. It comes back to that old saying, "When Momma's happy, everybody's happy!" Meanwhile, the U.S. and China are still battling over underwear. The U.S. has imposed quotas on textile imports from China, and the Chinese are threatening to retaliate. This one really hits you where you live! Here's hoping the first week of June follows in May's footsteps.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Long Weekend

Personal incomes are up, good news for the market. Along with this, we are, of course, spending more. The average savings rate for Americans, including debt repayments, is near zero! Don't save for tomorrow what you can spend today. Markets are flat this morning, as Wall Street prepares for a long holiday weekend and the beginning of Summer. Trading is usually light on the day before a holiday, so don't expect big moves. Have a fun and safe Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The gross domestic product rate for the first quarter of 2005 was revised today, stating the rate at 3.5%. That's not bad considering the ups and downs the first quarter brought. What this number shows is that the economy is not as bad off as some were thinking. This number was three tenths higher than the government expected, and the market reacted well to the news. DOW up 79.80 @ 10,537.60 NASDAQ up 21.12 @ 2,071.24 S&P up 7.61 @ 1,197.62

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wednesday's Wrap-Up

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced today that the crude oil inventory dropped by 1.6 million barrels last week. There's still plenty of oil...the stockpile is actually higher this year than years past, but this much of a decline was not expected and upon the release of that report, oil rose $1.31 to $50.98 a barrel. Stocks also reacted to the report and the market closed as follows: DOW down 45.88 @ 10,457.80 NASDAQ down 11.50 @ 2,050.12 S&P down 4.06 @ 1,190.01

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Tuesday's Close

The minutes from the Fed's May 3rd meeting were released today. You can check these out on the Wall Street Journal. Also today, GM bonds were classified as "junk" by Fitch Ratings. This is the same credit rating GM bonds received from Standard & Poor's earlier this month. The DOW closed at 10,503.68, down 19.88. But, to end the day on a good note, the NASDAQ was up for the 8th straight day in row. It closed at 2,061.62, up 4.97. The S&P also closed slightly higher at 1194.07.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Apple -N- Intel

...could it be?? There are talks that Apple is considering using Intel chips in its Macintosh computers. This would be quite a change for the Mac machines - some say a better price and performance. No definite word from these two companies yet, but it was enough to have technology stocks rising today. DOW up 51.65 to 10,523.56 NASDAQ up 10.23 to 2,056.65 S&P up 4.58 to 1,193.86

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Good Week

Despite the Dow losing a little ground today, it's been a good week for Wall Street. Inflation fears seem to be in check. Oil prices are still volatile, but not hitting record highs. Business is expanding. Summer has set in here in Mississippi, but the lazy days don't seem to be dragging down the market yet. Dow -21.28 NASDAQ + 3.84 S&P 500 - 1.80 Have a great weekend!

A Step Back

It's Friday. The market has had a great week, so I guess it was reasonable to expect some backtracking this Friday morning. The culprit? Oil, of course. The price is back up, but, did you know, if you adjust to today's dollars, the price per gallon of gasoline today is less than it was in 1918. Did you also know that about $0.44 of every gallon of gas is used to pay taxes? The state with the lowest tax? Alaska. As for that backtracking, the Dow is down about 38 points, while NASDAQ is down only about 5 points. One bit of business news... Maytag is being bought out by a private company. It appears that the Maytag repairman may finally get some company.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nearing the End of the Week

Big companies are hanging onto their leads of the week. The Dow gained 28.74 points, and the S&P 500 was up 5.52 points. Nothing major here. But... NASDAQ continues to surprise, up more than 1/2 of a percent with an increase of 11.93 points. How long will this continue? Me, I'm still the optimist, but I have concerns about the deficit. After all, I AM a fiscal conservative. If you want this number to hit you in the face, look at debt. Beware. It could keep you up at night.

It's Still Going Up

Markets are continuing their moves into positive territory this morning. The Dow is up only slightly, while NASDAQ is up nearly 1/2 of a percent already this morning. Wal Mart announced they are giving up the DVD rental business and turning it over to their competitor, Netflix. This was a bit of a surprise, the elephant conceding to the fly. I never thought I'd see the day when Wal Mart would yell "uncle" in any market. The Wall Street Journal conducted a poll on American's views of Congress and the President. No surprises here... most think Congress is out of sync with the regular Joes out there. If you'd like to see the actual survey results, go to Maybe, you should send it your Congressman!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

On A Run!

Wow! Oil dipped again, and markets took off. The Dow gain 132.57 points, over 1%. NASDAQ posted a 26.50 gain, more than 1%. The S&P 500 was up 11.76. And it's only Wednesday. Let's hope this run continues!

What Hump?

Wednesday... and the markets are continuing their upswing. The Dow is up nearly 70 points, and the NASDAQ is hanging onto its 2000+ position nicely. Wholesale prices were up yesterday, while consumer prices report increases today. These numbers don't seem to be affecting stocks, though. What's the deal? Inflation is, usually, a negative on Wall Street. If you're looking for a good mutual fund that weathers all kinds of markets, check out Third Avenue Value. Look on morningstar (on the side bar) for more details. As with any investment, make sure you do your homework!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Over 2000 Again!

NASDAQ climbed 9.72 points to go over the 2000 mark again! Could this be the turning point for technology? Hewlett Packard was the latest technology giant to report good earnings. My guess is that the final quarter of 2005 will make tech a winner. The Dow had good gains on the day, up 79.59 points, while the S&P 500 gained 8.11 points. Fears of inflation didn't hold down the markets today.

Sticker Shock

Prices are rising. For anyone doing the grocery shopping, this is no big news. Rising prices dampen company earnings, and that means lower returns on Wall Street. For now, interest rates remain low, and this is still boosting real estate. New home starts increased 11%. This mixed bag of news is dragging down yesterday's gains only slightly. If the prices are pinching you, check out Just don't say "Charge it."

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Great Start!

What started out as a 1/2 percent gain on the markets ended up being about a 1% gain. Not only did stocks hold onto their early Monday morning increases, but they added to it this afternoon. Home Depot reported strong earnings, and oil stayed on the downside. The week is starting well for Wall Street! Dow +112.17 NASDAQ + 17.65 S&P 500 + 11.64 Suddenly, I'm beginning to like Monday!

A Good Start

The week is off to a good start as the Dow and NASDAQ both post gains of about 1/2 of a percent. There doesn't seem to be any particular reason for the upswing, other than a slight drop in the price of oil. Don't expect that to last, though. As Americans gear up for family vacations, prices will surely rise again. Plan your trip around the pump. Go to for the lowest prices wherever you are headed. MCI shareholders met today, and 30% protested the Verizon purchase. I guess that means the 70% group wins (for now).

Friday, May 13, 2005


Friday, at last! Markets are mixed this morning. The Dow has turned down slightly, anxious for some bit of good news, while NASDAQ has shown a significant turn up, thanks to the likes of Cisco and Dell. The techs are finally showing signs of life and taking the lead from the old-line blue chips. If this trend holds, it could be a good time for bargain hunting among this beaten down sector. I never could resist a sale.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Farmer in the Dell Posted by Hello Dell saw earnings increase 28%. This on top of yesterday's good news from Cisco should have been a boon for the market, but the numbers tell a different tale. Economists have lowered their growth forecasts for next quarter. Ford's bonds were downgraded by Moody's, and suddenly, everyone was skittish. Big tech stocks seem to be the bright spot for now, what a turnaround. The closing numbers... Dow -110.77 Nasdaq -7.67 S&P 500 -11.75 Can't wait till Friday!

The Tea Leaves

It's time to shop! Posted by Hello I'm trying to read the tea leaves this morning as retail sales numbers have been posted. Wal Mart numbers were up (of course), but they warned about profits in the next quarter. Hmm... Meanwhile, Target is blowing and going. Retail numbers for April are quite healthy, overall, with auto sales showing life. What does this mean? If the deep discounters are slipping, while the next guy up the chain looks good, and big ticket items are picking up, I think that means consumers are more confident. We are not buying on price quite so much. We're willing to pay a little more to get a little better quality and better service. We're also confident enough to make a big purchase such as a car. So far, this morning, this report has been greeted with a yawn by the market. Numbers are flat. But alas, diamonds are a girl's best friend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ahh... the wonderful world of Disney Disney posted a 30% increase in earnings, as its movies took centerstage. Will their theme park receipts hold up with the high price of gasoline? If gasoline stays over $2 per gallon, surely more people will vacation closer to home. On another entertaining note... Carl Icahn is pushing for a seat on Blockbuster's board and the chance to turn things around at this business. Is their model obsolete or will they be able to regroup and compete against the likes of Wal Mart and Netflix? Do you like free stuff? Try the free trials offered by these three competitors,,, Don't forget to mark your calendars to cancel the subscription, or you'll get caught holding the tab.The closing numbers...Dow Jones +19.14Nasdaq + 8.78S&P 500 +4.89One tip... stay out of restricted air space. It could be embarrassing

A Bit of Tea and Crumpets

The big news this morning is the shrinking trade deficit. That's good news. It means American companies will benefit as consumers buy more U.S. goods versus the imports. The British Financial Times has an interesting story on this at Make sure you read it with a British accent! Other good news... Cisco reported strong earnings. We've been waiting for technology to benefit from increased corporate spending. This technology bellweather company indicated sales and earnings are good. Other tech companies should follow on their heels. And, oil prices dipped lower this morning. I think it's a triple home run. Let's hope the numbers hold for the closing bell!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tuesday's Close

I must admit that this afternoon's blog may as well be a repeat of my morning blog with the exception of listing the closing numbers for you. The price of oil continued going up today, and the market started off by falling this morning and continued that pattern all day... DOW down 103.23 @ 10,281.11 NASDAQ down 16.90 @ 1,962.77 S&P 500 down 12.62 @ 1,166.22

Tuesday AM Report

The price per barrel of oil rose to 52.22 as the bell rang to get things started on Wall Street this morning. Also moving were the DOW, NASDAQ, and S&P 500, all of which fell as the markets opened. The Commerce Department will release its report on the March trade deficit in the morning. Expect to see the market react as this news reaches investors.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Monday Wrap

It was not such a lazy day after all. While the Dow only gained 38.94 points, NASDAQ finished up a respectable 12.32 points, almost 3/4 of a percent. The inventory numbers were released today, and they were lower than expected. That's good news for stocks. That means demand is strong, and stockpiles of goods are getting smaller. This will encourage companies to gear up again, maybe even hire more employees, as they keep pace with the demand for their products. Next month's labor report will tell the tale on that one.

A Lazy Monday

The markets have started flat this morning. The Dow is up a "pinch," and the NASDAQ has eased up a "smidgeon." Nothing to show clear direction. The news is quiet, no big earnings announcements, no big scandals. I think we're in a holding pattern. Maybe, it's the start of the lazy, hazy days of summer. That time when trading volume drops, and financial news is sluggish. The only big news today is that MCI's stockholders are upset about the Verizon deal. Qwest is back in the game! Will this EVER be settled?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Friday Wrap-Up

The jobs report released this morning was just enough news to keep Wall Street buzzing all day. The "how much" and "what ifs" were thrown around concerning the Fed and just how much interest rates will go up this year. See, I'm even doing it too! The number that got mentioned the most today was 4% by the end of year, but we'll just have to wait and see what Mr. Greenspan has to say... DOW up 5.02 @ 10,345.40 NASDAQ up 5.55 @ 1,967.35 S&P 500 down 1.28 @ 1,171.35

Finally Friday

This morning the US Labor Department released its April numbers showing that the job market continues to grow. That's a good sign that economic growth is not slowing down like many people feared. The unemployment rate is currently 5.2%.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Thursday's Close

Today, just the day after Kerkorian's offer to buy 28 million shares of GM, Standard & Poor's announced they have lowered General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. bonds to "junk" rating. Investors reacted to the news as you would expect, and shares of both companies fell about 5% today. For more on this story, check out The Wall Street Journal. DOW fell 44.26 points to 10,340.38 NASDAQ fell only 0.43 points to 1,961.80 S&P 500 fell 3.02 points to 1,172.63

Thursday AM Report

This morning has started out strong. No big news on Wall Street so far today to sway the market one way or the other. Let's hope for another day like yesterday! And a side note to you shoppers: April proved to be "Cautious Consumer Month" according to some retailers. The ever growing discount store, Wal-Mart, slightly missed its projected sales gains for the month of April. But not all retailers missed the mark last month. Wholesalers did well, as did teen apparel stores and high end department stores.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Wednesday Close

Wednesday started out strong, thanks to the recent headlines concerning GM and Kerkorian, and it ended even stronger. The markets closed as follows: DOW up 127.69 @ 10,384.64 NASDAQ up 29.16 @ 1,962.23 S&P 500 up 14.48 @ 1,175.65 There is talk today of the U.S. Treasury Department bringing back its 30-year bond. That decision will be announced sometime in August.

Wednesday Morning Headline

There is big talk this morning that caused GM stock to go up $2.53 a share as the markets opened. Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. has put an offer on the table to buy 28 million shares of GM @ $31 a share. We will have to just wait and see how this will play out for General Motors and investors as a whole.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More Tuesday News

Today, as expected, the Fed raised the federal-funds rate a quarter point. The rate, at 3%, is higher than it's been in 4 years, but still relatively low when you look at historical numbers. How did this effect the markets? The DOW and the NASDAQ were up 5.25 points to 10,256.95 and 4.42 points to 1,993.07, respectively. The S&P 500 fell only slightly to 1,161.17. In news closer to home... Welcome to the Magnolia State, President Bush. President Bush was at the Nissan plant in Canton today. He gave a little lunchtime talk on Social Security and his plan to "fix" it. I hear, he also caused quite the traffic jam on I-55!

Tuesday, aka Fed Meeting Day

Markets are waiting for an announcement by the Federal Reserve Bank on the direction of interest rates. That should come around 2:15 eastern time. Expect to see a bump up. That's what Wall Street is thinking will happen. No surpise in an increase, but the Street will want to hear from Mr. Greenspan on direction in the future. If Greenspan indicates a hesitancy to continue raising rates, stocks should respond positively. When Alan Greenspan talks, trust me, people listen. The latest on the MCI bidding war has Verizon as the winner. Is it over yet? I think we need to wait for the ink to dry on this one before we declare a winner. I'm starting to feel like I'm watching a tennis match.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Monday Wrap-Up

Monday turned out to be a good day on Wall Street. The Dow finished the day up 59.19 points, while NASDAQ gained 7 points. Verizon is back on top in the fight for MCI, as the board approved a $26 per share offer. Oil prices eased over $50 per barrel to finish the day at $50.92, but the increase did not dampen the start of the May week. Meanwhile, my husband has been calling all day to report gasoline prices on his travels. He's such a romantic!

Monday May Not Be So Bad

The markets are continuing their upswing as oil prices continue to slide. MCI is still up for grabs. Just when it looked like Qwest had won the war, Verizon jumped back in the game. After a stock market scandal, bankruptcy, and a tenuous outlook for telecommunications, MCI must still have value. Another company on the block is the high-end retailer, Nieman Marcus. Last week, McRae's, this week NM. AIG keeps the bad news coming, and investors continue to run for the exits on this one. As for the broader market, let's hope this good Monday morning doesn't give way to the Monday morning blues. The market may be awake, but, right now, I just need another cup of coffee!