Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Friday, December 30, 2005

Year-End Roundup

I'm back! I've spent most of the holidays traveling to and fro to family gatherings. We had a wonderful and peaceful Christmas, but I'm tired! I've also been cramming in wedding plans with my daughter, trying to nail down some details while she has been home. Of course, I've been busy taking care of year-end "stuff" on the investment side. While November was a great one for stocks, December did not fare as well. Markets ended the year on a down note. A few hiccups in the bond market caused the Nervous Nellies to head for the exits. Markets fell about 1/2% today. The 10 year Treasury yield fell below short-term yields, causing speculation of a possible downturn. Is it a yield curve inversion or a temporary "hump?" I vote for the latter and expect 2006 to offer steady, solid returns. Dow -67.32 NASDAQ -12.84 S&P 500 -6.19

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Two More Days!

Two more days 'till Christmas, and I'm ready! I've finished my shopping, made my cookies, and finalized all my family outings. Time to sit back and enjoy. And I can't wait. Speaking of enjoying, the market did well today. The Dow rose 55.71 points, the Nasdaq gained 15 points, and the S&P rose 5 points. I love Christmastime. Even New Yorkers are happy, now that the transit strike is over. And speaking of traveling, I found some interesting holiday travel tips today. Be safe out there and prepare for a very merry Christmas! DJIA: +55.71 Nasdaq: +14.83 S&P 500: +5.33

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winding Down

The weekend draws near. Christmas is 4 days away, and the end of another year will soon be here. The older I get, the faster time flies! We've spent the last few weeks taking care of year-end "stuff." That means keeping an eye on tax bills which will arrive next April and completing contributions for the year. Around the office, we've been jumping! People coming and going. Checks to be mailed. Forms to be completed. I'm feeling like Santa in his last minute push to Christmas Eve! Markets managed a good day, despite more dismal news from GM. One bright spot... FedEx. Their earnings increased by 1/3. I'm sure my online ordering had something to do with their success. NASDAQ added 1/2%, but the Dow only eked out about 1/3%. Dow +28.18 NASDAQ +9.24 S&P 500 +3.17

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Oops! I counted wrong...

Yesterday, I said there were 8 days till Christmas! I was wrong, because today there are only 5 days till Christmas. I'll go home and wrap presents tonight. Tomorrow night, I'll start cooking. It's down to the wire on this holiday thing. Morgan Stanley reported an increase in earnings of a whopping 49%. It's a good Christmas for the financials. Markets were flat today, with the Dow losing the most (about 0.4%). GM is still struggling, looking like they will officially lose their spot as the world's number one automaker. If you can't remember the 12 Days of Christmas, try I want you to be ready for the long ride to Grandma's! Dow -39.06 NASDAQ -0.32 S&P 500 -0.30 How about a little green Wall Street?

Monday, December 19, 2005

8 Days to Spare

Eight more days to Christmas, and I finished my shopping at 1:30 today. Dashing through stores like one of Santa's reindeer, I crossed names off my list with lightning speed. Forget about finding the perfect gift. These days I'm about keeping it simple and stress-free. If they don't like it, they can take it back. Won't hurt my feelings. In fact, I'm thinking of wrapping the receipts with the gifts. Speaking of taking it back, I wish Wall Street would take back the day. The Dow and the S&P 500 slipped, but the NASDAQ fell with a thud. Chip makers were hit hard today, knocking techs down by about 1 1/2% on the day. One of my favorites, Intel, sidestepped the fall and came out with only a minor bruise. Retailers are still looking good this season, though. Those cash register bells are still ringing! Dow -39.06 NASDAQ -29.74 S&P 500 -7.40

Thursday, December 15, 2005

10 More Days!

I ventured out at lunch, list in hand, ready to make headway on my gift-giving. After a trip through Loew's and Home Depot, I came up empty. I thought these guys had every tool known to man. Two hours later, I managed to find my way back to my work home. I found what I needed online and placed the order. Now, I just have to keep my fingers crossed on the shipping. Will my gift make it on time? To cover my bases, I've printed out the product description, which I can place in a gift-wrapped box. If you're behind on your Christmas cards, try sending them by e-mail. is the place to customize your "cards." I don't know if I'm ready to go this far, but the traffic is quickly changing my mind! Oh, and, it was a flat day on Wall Street. Dow -2.24 NASDAQ -1.96 S&P 500 -1.86

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

11 Days Till Christmas

I made progress on my Christmas list last night. I hit Old Navy, Barnes & Nobles and Target. And I didn't go overboard! Still no sign of a Christmas tree at our house. We thought we could make a run to the fairgrounds for a tree this evening, but the rain put a damper on that plan. Christmas came early for Pfizer and Honeywell stockholders, as they both released good news. The ever popular Apple was downgraded today on concerns about their high price. Of course, I don't see a slowdown for the Ipod. The big boys were the winners today, while NASDAQ slipped slightly. If you're scratching your head for good gift ideas, try Dow +59.79 NASDAQ -2.41 S&P 500 +5.31

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

12 Days Till Christmas!

Okay, I'm heading to the shops after work to get started on my Christmas list. I'm sure I'll be a wreck by the time the evening is over. My goal is to make this short and sweet. I've already ordered some things online. Thank goodness for Amazon and Ebay. I've also ordered some of my holiday party treats from The Mississippi Gift Company. Nothing like a taste of home. Markets responded well to the gift from the Fed today. Read about it at They increased rates by another 1/4 point. Now, you may think that's bad news, but they announced the increase by saying it would be some time before they take this action again. What a nice Christmas gift! Dow +55.95 NASDAQ +4.05 S&P 500 +7.00

Monday, December 12, 2005

13 Days Till Christmas!!!

Only 13 days till Christmas, and I haven't bought a single gift! For some reason, I'm not terribly worried about it, either. We've decided to change the focus of our Christmas by buying less for ourselves and giving more to others. I know the retailers won't be happy about this decision, but I think it will be better for my nerves AND my attitude. If you need to get away from all the doom and gloom, try logging on to The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 managed gains on the day, but the Dow slipped only slightly... now, that's what I call happy news. Dow -10.81 NASDAQ +4.22 S&P 500 +1.06

Friday, December 09, 2005

At Last... Friday

It's finally Friday, and I'm heading to my first Christmas party. I had planned to lose 5 pounds before I started the season, but it's too late. It's time to eat, eat, eat! I'll finish my decorating this weekend. Our life-sized Santa is in the dining room right now, scaring the living daylights out of me each time I pass! The only thing left is the Christmas tree. Markets finished the week on a good note. The Dow and the S&P 500 gained only slightly, while the NASDAQ tacked on another 1/2%. Oil slipped below $60 per barrel and spurred things on. In keeping with the festive season, gold hit a 25 year high of $530 per ounce. I think I know what Santa can bring me! Dow +23.46 NASDAQ +10.27 S&P 500 +3.53

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dreary Weather, Warm Inside

Suzanne and I kept two small heaters running in our office all day today. I think it was an effort to feel cozy inside with the weather so dreary outside, more than it was an effort to keep warm! And the invitations for holiday parties have started I received two! The food at Christmas parties is always wonderful, it's an excuse to buy something new to wear, but often we find ourselves stumbling around for enough to talk about. I found a useful hint for this season: small talk tips. The market stumbled again today. GM experienced yet another fall, and crude oil prices rose. Energy and natural gas prices were also high, mostly as a result of the colder weather, but analysts don't think the high costs will last. And Toll Brothers reported a 72% increase in this quarter's profits. Mortgage applications are at an all-time high, and that may be due to the 2.6% increase in the net worth of U.S. households, according to a Federal Reserve report. DOW: -55.79 Nasdaq: -5.55 S&P 500: -1.53

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Winter Wonder Wednesday

I tried a different approach to my shopping today. I got out early enough to need coffee as I ran around, trying to finish my errands. And yet, traffic was still horrendous, people were everywhere, and the lines were only slightly shorter! The change in the atmosphere really does make me wonder... The market jumped around today for a while, but cut its losses when GM rallied after news of the Tracinda talks. GM confirmed today that it's considering board representation by the investment giant Kerkorian's Tracinda. Despite the market's taking a hit, prospects are still high for retailers and the market as a whole. Nasdaq: -8.75 DOW: -45.95 S&P 500: -6.33

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday Tuesday

I headed out at lunch to pick up a few more items for decorating. Boy, was that a mistake! The shelves in Fred's were nearly bare. The lines in Target were extremely long. And the traffic... don't get me started. It's that time of year when the rush is on for gift-giving, decorating, and celebrating. I'm no Scrooge, but I can do without the crowds. I made it back to the office an hour and a half after venturing out, much worse for the wear. Markets started exhuberant, with the Dow up more than 85 points during morning trading. Productivity numbers were better than expected, causing a flurry of activity. By the afternoon, the excitement had begun to wane. Oil prices dampened traders' spirits. Despite this, all indexes managed a positive day. An interesting note... KB Homes is planning to take New Orleans by storm (no pun intended). They will begin building new houses on a grand scale. There's hope for The Big Easy yet! Dow +21.85 NASDAQ +3.12 S&P 500 +1.61

Monday, December 05, 2005

My Decorating is Done!

I've almost finished all of my Christmas decorating! I need just a few more hours of uninterupted diligence, and everthing will be complete. This week should help, as its a light week for economic releases on Wall Street. The Dow ended a slight 0.4% down today, despite the continued rise of gold and a huge rally by Guidant stock. Guidant received a $25 billion bid from Boston Scientific today, topping Johnson & Johnson's bid. Its a daring offer from Boston, and this should be an interesting takover to watch unfold. Meanwhile, all I have to do is my Christmas shopping...only 20 days left! DOW: -42.50 Nasdaq: -15.73 S&P 500: -2.99

Friday, December 02, 2005

First Friday

It's the first Friday in December. We've spent the afternoon finishing up our Christmas decorating in the office. Suzanne has the place sparkling! I may have to put on some Christmas music to match the decor. Wall Street has had a good first week, despite a 1/3% give-back on the Dow. Techs are still going strong, as the NASDAQ gained about 1/3% on the day. The S&P is up slightly. If you're in the mood for shopping and you have deep pockets, try hot wheels for the superrich. If you're in the mood for shopping on Wall Street, try tech bargain hunting. I think the latter is a better use of your green. Now, I just have to go home and decorate! Dow -35.06 NASDAQ +6.20 S&P 500 +0.41

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On the First Day of Christmas!

It's December 1st, and it's feeling like Christmas on Wall Street. The markets took off today, as stocks responded to good news on the inflation front. Retailers managed a modest start to the season, and consumers seem prepared to celebrate. Large-caps gained about 1% on the day, while the technology-laden NASDAQ pulled off about a 1.5% gain. This makes me so happy I want to sing. In fact, if you're in the mood for a few Christmas carols, try Pick your favorite carol and enjoy. Let's hope this trend on Wall Street continues. Maybe, Scrooge won't appear this year! Dow +106.70 NASDAQ +34.35 S&P 500 +15.19