Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Friday, March 31, 2006

The End of March Madness

One more weekend to go, and it will all be over. Basketball won't be playing on every television set in the house, at least not for another year. I received a call today from a friend, just wanting to remind me he was an alum of George Mason. George Who? I said. Ahh, yes, the Cinderella story. I told him I'd send flowers if they were left standing after Final Four weekend. In Mississippi, we have our own Cinderella story, of sorts. Delphi, the former GM subsidiary, plans to close 29 of its plants. They will keep only 8 plants open and operating. Two of those are the only two in Mississippi, thank goodness. Markets slipped a bit today, but nothing dramatic. Geaux Baby! Dow -41.30 NASDAQ -1.03 S&P 500 -5.42

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Relieving Release

The first news I heard this morning was that American journalist Jill Carroll had been released. To everyone's relief, she was unharmed, and appeared to be very stable. Bush and Rice had plenty to say regarding their gratitude for her release, also. Investors thought they too could breathe a sigh of relief after Wednesday's rally. But a selloff on the bond market drove stocks lower as the 10-year note yield leapt past 4.8% to its highest level since June 2004. Its possible the Fed may have to raise rates further than expected...and this news did not make Wall Street happy. DJIA: -65.00 Nasdaq: +3.04 S&P 500: -2.64

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday Wrap Up

I was one of the first to buy a PDA (back in the day). Of course, I still have the same clunky model, which looks more like a thick wallet than a sleek electronic device. And I still use the same free Nokia phone. No picture phone for me! And my ringtone sounds suspiciously like a real telephone. I don't even have TiVo! I admit it. I've reached the age where I don't need the "latest." I just need what works. Thankfully, there is a huge group out there still chasing the latest trends. Witness the growth of NASDAQ this year, and the train (sorry, rocketship) keeps on going! Techs gained about 1.5% on the day, beating the 0.5% gain of the big caps. Dow +61.16 NASDAQ +33.32 S&P 500 +9.66

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bernanke Raises Rates

The new Chairman of the Federal Reserve held his first meeting today. And just as investors suspected, he raised interest rates, picking right up where his predecessor (Greenspan) left off. And there are references of more increases to come. With a .25% raise (bringing rates to 4.75%), bond and stock prices declined, reflecting the certainty of additional raises. On the other side of the world, scientists are preparing for what may turn into the the world's first real eclipse witnessed in a virtual world. Early Wednesday morning, a total solar eclipse will be visible from places like Side, Turkey and South America. But don't worry - now you can watch the eclipse from the comfort of your home. Scientists are taking great measures to broadcast the solar eclipse live. Click on the picture for details of how to view the eclipse at your desk! DJIA: -95.57 Nasdaq: -11.12 S&P 500: -8.38

Monday, March 27, 2006

Waiting for Bernanke

Tomorrow is the first big day for Mr. Bernanke. Expectations are that the Fed will raise rates by 1/4 point. Short-term rates are already paying off nicely, as money market rates head towards 5%. If you're still living with those paltry yields from your local bank, get with the program. Take a look at some of the best yielding accounts around. Markets were tepid on this day before the big announcement. Dow -29.86 NASDAQ +2.76 S&P 500 -1.34

Friday, March 24, 2006


Investors are already hunkering down in preparation for next week's Fed meeting. Trading was thin today, and a report came out showing fewer new home sales than expected. Investors are hoping this will convince the Fed NOT to raise rates too many times, giving stocks a boost. And our "interesting" story from yesterday may have come to quick end. After a new $19.73 billion offer from Bayer, Merck has surrendered in this bidding war. It is unlikely a new bidder will appear, and investors are turning to Bayer with more specific questions of what this acquisition will mean to its employees. DJIA: +15.52 Nasdaq: +12.67 S&P 500: +1.28

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Familiar Foe

Stocks slumped today against two very familiar foes: oil prices and interest rates. Light, sweet crude oil rose $2.14 after another report that supply is low. This also raised concerns about the upcoming summer travel season. How far will prices climb before that road trip to Disney World? Perhaps the Fed will address this growing concern in its meeting next week. Along with other important issues, the Fed is suspected of raising short-term rates next week to prevent inflation. On the other end of things, Bayer and Merck are going head to head in a bidding war over German drug maker, Schering. The bid is currently at $19.7 billion. This should be an interesting acquisition to follow in the next few weeks. DJIA: -47.14 Nasdaq: -3.20 S&P 500: -3.37

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ccccold Spring Day!

And it's another good day on Wall Street, with the Dow gaining almost 82 points. NASDAQ was up nicely, as well. GM came to an agreement with its union employees, offering up to $140,000 to quit. Wow... $140,000 NOT to work. Markets liked this move. Morgan Stanley reported a 14% earnings increase, showing investors are still bullish. Oil's move to $62 a barrel didn't effect stock prices. It's Spring, and everything's comin' up roses! I'm back in the swing on the tennis courts, and I'm ready for the latest gadget... an automatic line caller. Dow +81.96 NASDAQ +9.12 S&P 500 +7.81

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Credit Card Secrets

You may think all this talk about the Fed raising rates (or not) doesn't affect you. After all, your mortgage rate is locked in for the next 30 years or so, and that's really the only place a rate increase could affect you. Think again. Look in your wallet and count your credit cards. Now, do you know how many have a fixed or floating rate? Do you know what those rates are? The top story on today was concerning credit cards and their dangerous trends - trends you may not be aware of. The bottom line? Pay attention! them off! Speaking of rates, Bernanke delivered a speech this morning concerning interest rates that made stocks come to a screeching halt. Then about mid-day, the market mysteriously jumped up. Some say it was a technical move, others claim it was cash moved in from the European market, and at least one rumor led to Osama bin Laden. Whatever the cause, it didn't last long. Thanks to oil prices and higher bond yields, the market ended down today. DJIA: -39.06 Nasdaq: -19.88 S&P 500: -7.85

Monday, March 20, 2006

So This Is Spring?

I'm back from my short Spring Break. We spent a long weekend at the beach and, actually, managed to get a little sunburned. We came back home to chilly temps and stormy weather. I guess I shouldn't complain. At least, it's not snowing! Oracle reported after the bell, and the news was good... no, it was great. Their net was up 42%. This showed up in an increase in the NASDAQ today and should play well tomorrow. Oil dropped by about $2 per barrel, but you couldn't tell it by the numbers from the large caps. It was a flat day for these guys. Disney is going full steam ahead. If oil prices stay below $60, this should be good for their theme parks this summer. Summer and beaches remind me that hurricane season is just around the corner. Australia has experienced the first of Mother Nature's wrath in this department this year. Let's hope for a quieter year for the Gulf. Dow -5.12 NASDAQ +7.63 S&P 500 -2.17

Friday, March 17, 2006

Approaching a Six-Year High

The Dow continued to approach a six-year high today, gaining 23%. This climb was despite heavy losses in AIG and GM. GM continues to sink, announcing yesterday that its 2005 loss was greater than originally reported. Its also struggling with some accounting errors, and is subsequentially delaying its 10-K report. Maybe they should hire the young man on the Today show; he recited 9000 digits of Pi, the mathematical term. Watch this video of his performance - its amazing! And have a safe weekend...maybe study your pi digits! DJIA: +26.41 Nasdaq: +6.92 S&P 500: +1.92

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A High For the DJIA

Microsoft lined the news today, announcing its plan to spend $500 million in a special promotion this year. This large expenditure will promote its "people-ready" business, focusing on products such as Windows Vista and Office 2007. This a very different approach from their arch-rival, IBM, who have been focusing on combining their consulting and technology to help companies innovate. And the Dow rose today to 11253.24, close to a six-year high. This was after a report on consumer inflation turned out to be much milder than expected. DJIA: +43.47 Nasdaq: -12.28 S&P 500: +2.31

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mid Week Climb

Markets added more to their gains today, as reports of increasing incomes and limited signs of inflation hit the news. Real estate may be cooling. If you're looking to cash in, check out least expensive places to live in the U.S. Tupelo is on the list. Microsoft is at it again, using a character called Fergie Fudgehog to increase market share among the very young. Next thing you know, we'll have newborns in front of computer screens! The NASDAQ continues to win the day. Dow +58.43 NASDAQ +15.94 S&P 500 +5.54

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Up, Up, and Away

Goldman Sachs released earnings today that had Wall Street applauding. The brokerage firm reported an increase of 64%, nothing to sneeze at. The news sent all indexes higher, with NASDAQ gaining the most, 1.27%, with the Dow up only 0.68%. For an interesting look at the different ways men and women view money, check out "Men, Women... and Money." Dow +75.32 NASDAQ +28.87 S&P 500 +13.35

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spring Break Monday

It's Spring Break around here, which means less traffic on the road, fewer people in church, and fewer people manning the office. We're still here, coughing and sneezing our way through the week, as we watch the pollen accumulate. Check out the link to see where you are on the "sneeze" barometer. Most folks around here have flown the coop for the week, while we plod along. But don't feel sorry for us. We head to New York in April for a short trip. I've found a new airline search site. It's called I found a great fare with Delta. Now, I just hope their pilots aren't too upset about the loss of a pension. Markets seem to be vacationing, as well, with indexes somewhat flat. NASDAQ showed the most life today. Dow -0.32 NASDAQ +4.99 S&P 500 +2.55

Friday, March 10, 2006

All Clear on Friday

We shut the office down on Thursday as severe storms rolled through the area. We have surge protectors on all computers, but I didn't want to take any chances. The sky became black. The winds blew... hard, and the rains came. Within hours, the sun was beaming brightly through the clouds. Today has been glorious. The sun was shining on Wall Street today, as the latest employment figures came in. They were good, but not so good that we were ready to start worrying about inflation. Markets responded well, with large-caps taking the prize today. One tech company with a problem is Motorola. Their new Razr phone has a few glitches and just may slice off your conversation in mid-sentence. Yikes! It's back to the drawing board for MOT. I guess I won't give up my bag phone yet. Dow +104.30 NASDAQ +12.32 S&P 500 +9.35

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Stock Market Goes Public??

Today, the New York Stock Exchange began selling shares of... THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE! What a strange world! NYSE (symbol NYX) finished the day at $80 per share, up about 25% on the first day of trading. Stocks trading ON the exchange did not fare quite as well, as the Dow and the S&P were up slightly, while the tech-laden NASDAQ barely ticked down. As always, the brokers beat the investors. I'm counting the days till April 15th. I'm not even close to being ready to file my taxes. I only have four more things on my "to do" list. Then, I can procrastinate no longer. If you're looking for a few last minute breaks, try this site. There are some deductions related to the hurricane. I'm afraid it still won't be enough to get me out of hot water! Dow +25.05 NASDAQ -0.92 S&P 500 +2.59

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Interest Rates Still Climbing

The market was up today, but then fell before close as investors grew wary of yet another rates increase. The good news is, high interest rates are a sign of inflation, which is brought on by strong growth - and growth is always good. Experts are watching the effects of the increase closely - higher rates may mean more debt. And speaking of watching closely, soon we will be able to examine the differences and similarities of Greenspan and Bernanke ourselves. Greenspan has just sold his memoirs to Penguin Press to be published. The selling price? Over $8 MILLION! The book won't be out until 2007, but you can be sure I'll be on the waiting list for that one! DJIA: 22.10 Nasdaq: -17.65 S&P 500: -2.38

Monday, March 06, 2006


We were glued to the Oscars last night, not for the awards but for the fashion. Our favorite activity is assessing each starlet's choice (who cares about the guys, anyway). What was she thinking was our favorite refrain. The surprise came at the end of the evening, when Crash won for best picture. We turned to each other with puzzled looks. We didn't know anything about this movie. Hadn't we already seen it on the shelves in the video store? Hmmm... we shrugged. It's Hollywood! Wall Street didn't crash today, but it did take a slight spill, dropping about 3/4%. The big news was AT&T's decision to buy BellSouth. Again, puzzled looks. Didn't we spend a lot of time and energy breaking these two up years ago? What goes around comes around. DJ -63.00 NASDAQ -16.57 S&P 500 -8.97

Friday, March 03, 2006

Quiet Friday

The sun in shining brightly in Mississippi today. What a glorious day! It was a quiet day on Wall Street, with the large-caps drifting down just a bit. The biggest bang could be heard from Intel, as they warned about earnings going forward. This caused the techs to suffer a 1/3% drop. The sizable gains of early in the week held, though. As long as consumers keep spending and holding up earnings, the sun will shine on Wall Street.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The hot and cold weather has directly effected the market once again. Many retailers reported low sales for February. Investors want to blame the weather. The Northeast saw a terrible snow blizzard last month, slowing sales down dramatically. I guess the old saying is true, "When it rains, it pours!" I'm just thankful we've had such beautiful weather these past few days. It sure does make ME want to shop! And the housing market is finally slowing down. Houses just aren't selling at such a fast rate anymore. And with interest rates promising to climb, the housing bubble may be about to officially pop! Check out what news reporters are saying. DJIA: -28.02 Nasdaq: -3.53 S&P 500: -2.10

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Light is Back on Google!

I spoke too soon! Although Google's announcement yesterday of its "maturity," and thereby shooting down its stock, its back up today! The Nasdaq jumped 1.46% after Google stabilized and semiconductor stocks rallied. Since its been in the news this week, I decided to explore further. Know what I found? Froogle! Its yet another search engine by Google, only this one is for merchants. You can't buy anything directly from Froogle, but you can find whatever it is you're looking for and where to get it. What can this internet giant be lacking? On the other side of things, we're keeping our eye on GM and Ford. They've just recently announced more declines in sales, and are talking less production. DJIA: +60.12 Nasdaq: +33.25 S&P 500: +10.58