Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cool Temps, Cool Trading

I woke up to wonderful temperatures this morning. Its only a temporary cold front, but this smallest relief from the sweltering heat has reminded me that autumn WILL come. But first - Labor Day Holidays! Everyone is taking that one last trip to the beach, and investors are apparently no exception. It wasn't Bernanke's speech that slowed trading down today, nor was it all due to the payroll report being released tomorrow. Analysts say its because everyone is on vacation, sitting on the beach. Sounds like a good idea to me! My pal Warren Buffet tied the knot yesterday at the ripe age of 76. And researchers made a signifcant and exciting breakthrough in treating and even healing cancer. Finally, Lockheed Martin was chosen by NASA to rebuild the Orion capsule, in an effort to revive US space exploration. DJIA: -1.76 Nasdaq: -1.98 S&P 500: -0.45

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oil Relief

Ernesto is making its way through Florida. While that is bad news for Floridians, it's good news for the rest of us. It means the oil rigs of the Gulf of Mexico are safe... for now. Added to this, inventory for oil is up. Does that mean demand is down? Or is the supply more than normal? Hmmm. Whatever the cause, oil prices have dipped below $70 per barrel, and pundits are saying we may go back to $2 a gallon gasoline. Say it ain't so! Wall Street responded, on the large-cap side, with a yawn, while techs added more than 1/2% on the day. It's left me scratching my head. What a strange day. Dow +12.97 NASDAQ +13.43 (up 0.62%) S&P 500 -.01

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


The Dow was up today, despite low consumer confidence and suspicions that, despite the Fed's minutes from their last meeting, rates just might go up again this year. Investors don't seem too worried, as oil prices dropped (down to below $70/barrel) and small businesses popped up in trading today. But the real focus of everyone today was on the Coast. Today marks the one-year anniversary of Katrina hitting our Gulf Coast, and services were held all day. For some tear-jerking broadcasts this evening, you have your choice of programs (abc, nbc, cnn - just to name a few) as our country focuses on both the tragedies and heroes of the worst natural disaster in America's history. DJIA: +17.93 Nasdaq: +11.6 S&P 500: +2.5

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto's Save

Investors were worried last week that hurricane Ernesto would sail into the Gulf and hit oil refineries and drilling rigs. Thankfully, forecasters show Ernesto's path going up the East Coast - and missing energy facilities. This caused energy prices to drop dramatically, which helped stocks. Wal-Mart had good news today, which announced August same-store sales rose 2.7%. Transportation stocks were also up, all helping set the pace for the Dow's finish at 11352.01, up 67.96 points. Not bad, for a hurricane-scared Monday. (I think I'll keep my TV tuned to the weather station, just in case!) DJIA: +67.96 Nasdaq: +20.41 S&P 500: +6.69

Friday, August 25, 2006

Forming Clouds

All eyes are on Tropical Depression 5. The storm looks like it will head into the Gulf. News sent oil prices higher and large-cap stocks lower. It's been eerily quiet this hurricane season, but growing up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has taught me that this could change on a dime. While oil prices climbed and auto makers languished, one car company took a bold move. Toyota may delay some model roll outs due to quality issues--Wow, what a concept! I think Detroit should take note. Retirees facing rising prices and dwindling assets are considering stints as truckdrivers. It gives new meaning to traveling in your retirement! NASDAQ was the only winner on the day. Dow -20.41 NASDAQ +3.18 S&P 500 -0.97

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Reports

As we head into the last half of the week, economic reports looked weak. Again, housing is slumping. Mortgage rates have actually dropped. It's a buyer's market, and buyers may be able to ask for special deals. The report on durable goods orders was also weak. We're not buying as many cars and tractors. Ford is offering special long-term financing incentives to move their cars, and the Ford family is considering taking the company private! Despite the news, markets managed to eke out slight gains, with all indexes in the green. Apple is following in Dell's footsteps, as it issues recalls on its computer batteries. Who will be next? Dow +6.56 NASDAQ +2.45 S&P 500 +3.07

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday News

It was all about housing today. A few weeks ago, the report on new houses was released, and it looked bleak. Today, the report on existing houses came out and... ditto. Sales of existing houses are at their lowest level in 2 1/2 years. Anyone watching their local real estate market could tell you that! Rising interest rates and rising inventories have both conspired to derail the real estate market, but don't despair. It's not the end, just a slowdown and a return to reality. Stocks dipped in response to the numbers. Dow -41.94 NASDAQ -15.36 S&P 500 -5.83

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Caution is Encouraged

Two Federal Reserve officials commented today about inflation, and how investors may be getting ahead of themselves. Last week, after positive comments were made in regard to the economy, investors were certain there would be no more rates increases. Moskow and Guyunn warned today that caution may still be necessary; this could have been an attemp to inject a degree of uncertainty back into an overly-confident market. These were the comments that sent blue chips squirming, and there was little movement at the end of trading today. And while we're thinking "caution," check out what some experts are saying about the future of hurricanes and the coastline. Its a little scary! DJIA: -5.21 Nasdaq: +2.27 S&P 500: +1.30

Monday, August 21, 2006


We spent one last weekend at the beach, before our fall schedules take over. Apparently, Wall Street did the same thing. Last week, it was all green, with five up sessions. That ended today, as all indexes fell back. It's the end of August and time for investors to regroup and get ready for the fall trading schedule. Real estate is still looking weak, as Lowe's announced poor earnings. As we head into the final season of 2006, all eyes will be on interest rates. Oh, Mr. Bernanke, don't fail me! Dow -36.42 NASDAQ -16.20 S&P 500 -4.78

Friday, August 18, 2006

Quarter High Despite Ford

Ford announced today that it is planning on closing even more factories and cutting salaried jobs and benefits. Its US production will be decreased by 21%. Despite this news and more news of inflation, the market was up today - for the 5th day in a row. That's five whole days with a gain, a feat not seen yet this quarter (whew!). Speaking of records, the Nasdaq hit its highest weekly point performance since May of 2002!! That's the kind of note I love to end my week with! Happy weekend! DJIA: +46.51 Nasdaq: +6.34 S&P 500: +4.82

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Barely Three

Wall Street made it three straight up days. Of course, large caps barely eked out gains, but techs were the winners again, gaining almost .4%. This came despite the bad news from Dell. The recall, poor sales, and now a probe into their financials have hit this stock HARD. Other techs are making gains, and this may signal a good year-end for the group. Today, Bush signed a new law governing 401(k) plans. It will allow employers to automatically enroll employees and to automatically increase contributions with salary raises. Sound a little like big brother? Maybe, but with most people over 40 not even participating in retirement plans, this is a step in the right direction, especially with many employers doing away with the old pension plans. This move should also bolster stocks, as more money pours into Wall Street. Dow +7.84 NASDAQ +8.07 (+0.38%) S&P 500 +2.05

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

TWO days in a ROW!

Wow! Another big day on Wall Street. After the bell, Hewlett Packard announced good news, so it's possible we could make this 3 straight up days. Again, technology led the charge, with the NASDAQ gaining about 1 3/4%. One of the Fed members indicated, despite the high fuel prices and the crunch in real estate, there is no sign of a recession. I repeat... no sign of recession. Oil prices are hovering around $3 per gallon, but that doesn't seem to be slowing us down, not personally or professionally. Have we come out of the summer doldrums now that school is back in session? Hold your collective breaths for more good days! Dow +96.86 NASDAQ +34.83 S&P 500 +9.85

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2% Tuesday

The beaten up NASDAQ gained more than 2% today. Large caps had a good day, as well, just not quite as good. Retail numbers were good, with Wal Mart and Home Depot reporting brisk sales. Wal Mart's net income was down, but revenue was up 11%. Inflation numbers came in, and they were tame. The one dark spot on the day was housing. With mortgage rates easing up and inventories high, real estate is looking weak, the lowest it's been in 6 years. Maybe, it's tech's turn! Dow +132.39 NASDAQ +45.97 (+2.22%) S&P 500 +17.37

Monday, August 14, 2006

Score One For The Ladies!

A new CEO has been named at Pepsi, and it's a SHE! The roster at the top is mostly male, but this announcement makes Pepsi looks cutting edge. Added to that, she is not American but is Indian. It's a changing world. And the cola is no longer leading sales at this iconic company. Gatorade is saving the day!

On another front, the ceasefire in the Middle East helped ease fears on Wall Street. NASDAQ was the big winner, gaining about 1/2% on the day. Larger companies had flat showings. Wall Street is still spooked about inflation, and this week's numbers will give us better direction.

Dow +9.84 NASDAQ +11.33 (The Winner!) S&P 500 +1.47

Friday, August 11, 2006


Retail sales have suddenly popped out of the shoot, gaining more than economists expected in July. Suddenly, Mr. & Mrs. Consumer are loosening their pocketbooks. My trip to the mall last weekend was verification of the numbers. It looked like they were giving things away! I was glad to escape the crowds. There was nothing I needed THAT much! But this is good news for business and should be seen in the final quarter's numbers on Wall Street. A former retailer was sentenced to house arrest today. The former Wal Mart VP was convicted of stealing from the company. His salary was over $1 million a year, but, apparently, that wasn't enough. He seemed to think it was OK to glide through the store, picking up whatever odds and ends he needed (like a cooler). This guy should be put UNDER the house. Markets slipped today, as we all digest the details on the terror plot. Maybe, we could put them in the cell with the Wal Mart guy! Dow -36.34 NASDAQ -14.03 S&P 500 -5.08

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What Terrorists?

I was hit with the news of a foiled terrorist plot, when I turned on my morning news show. Uh, oh! It was going to be a tough day on Wall Street. For some reason, traders took it in stride and managed to make it an all green day. Strange. Concern about air travel, along with BP's announcement to hold off on the shut down of its line, caused oil to drop more than $2 a barrel. Add in a report that mortgage rates were at a 3 month low, and suddenly, it was a good day for stocks. So, what does the stock market convey in the short run? Confusion, I think, which is why I'll stick to my long-term strategy. Dow +48.19 NASDAQ +11.46 S&P 500 +5.86

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cool Houses?

Toll Brothers, the big residential developer, isn't looking too cool these days. There are way too many houses on the market and too few buyers. It's a cold combination. The housing market and the oil market seem to be the biggest drags on the economy right now. Techs started the day with a bang, but ended up flat. The Dow dropped almost 1%. While McDonald's and Starbucks look tepid, Disney is red hot. Who needs flame-broiled when you can have a nice, cool theater? Dow -97.41 NASDAQ -0.57 S&P 500 -5.53

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Flat Fed

The long-awaited Federal Reserve meeting occurred today, and nothing happened. They left rates the same at 5.25%. If you'd like to read the actual press release, try this link-- . Markets responded by dropping from 1/3 to 1/2%. The one bright spot came after market close, and it came from technology. Cisco's earnings were flat. What's bright about that? Well, their sales were up over 20%, and this could mean good news tomorrow on NASDAQ. Dow -45.79 NASDAQ -11.65 S&P 500 -4.29

Monday, August 07, 2006

Martha on Monday

Martha Stewart agreed to pay up on charges of insider trading. It's the end of her tale of woe. If you've been watching the tube lately, you'll notice this hasn't hurt her any! Oil headed north as the northern fields in Alaska were shut down by BP. Oh, no! Higher prices at the pump will follow. I guess it's a good thing vacation season is over, now that the kiddies have headed back to school. Large caps gave up slightly on the day, while techs dropped about 1/2%. Tomorrow is the big day for the Fed. Will they or won't they? Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets! Dow -20.97 NASDAQ -12.55 S&P 500 -3.59

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hot and Not So Hot

We're frying in Mississippi! When I wake up at 3 am, the AC is running. Of course, the heat wave has hit the entire country. To combat the heat, Starbucks started making frozen drinks. My daughter is among their new employees, so I'm learning all their trade secrets. It seems that making these drinks takes longer than pouring a cup of coffee, and this has cost them a little business. I also understand these new fruity drinks are LOADED with calories. SBUX will soon add hot breakfast sandwiches to their lineup, so I'm not concerned about the decline of their franchise. Their product has prestige, and they treat their employees well... a good combination. Another Gen X product is coming under fire, though... Apple. They've been caught in the options scandal, and this may slow their stock climb. Expect to see an IPOD connection as an option on GM products soon-- not your father's oldsmobile. And stocks today? NOT so hot, just flat. Dow -2.24 NASDAQ -7.29 S&P 500 -0.91

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sales vs. Employment

Retail sales were high for July, despite a decline for Target and Gap. And investors are optimistic before Friday's release of the employment report, which will largely effect the Fed's decision on raising rates...again. Some are calling this entire week a "warm up" before Friday's report. I'm warm enough, thank you (temperatures almost topped 100 today!). Speaking of employment, AOL announced today that they will cut over 5,000 jobs as it stops actively marketing. The online giant is having to offer free services to avoid taking large hits to its profitability. DJIA: +42.66 Nasdaq: +13.53 S&P 500: +1.72

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Changing World

AOL is giving it away as fast as it can. News that the internet provider will allow e-mail accounts for free and access to broadband users for free sent its parent's stock, Time Warner, higher on the day. What gives? Well, the world is rapidly changing. While print media, like Gannett and NY Times, are reporting poor earnings from falling ad revenue, and while even television networks are struggling to keep up, internet advertising is booming. AOL will make up the revenue by increasing its attractiveness to advertisers. MSN, Google, Yahoo, and now YouTube are stealing the show, when it comes to the ad dollars. Even blogs are getting in on the action, as companies look for new ways to reach their market. Maybe, I could get a few extra dollars by plugging some product, like DentureCreme. Nah! We'll leave that one to Paul Harvey! Wall Street liked the good earnings news today. Stocks climbed about 3/4%. Dow +74.20 NASDAQ +16.82 S&P 500 +7.63

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Waiting for the Fed

It's a guessing game as all sides weigh in on the next Fed move. Some say it's a definite, while others claim they'll leave the rate at 5.25%. The market is holding its breath for the outcome. Meanwhile, oil prices are slipping a bit, but not enough to help us at the pump. Even my daughter is complaining about the price of gasoline. Of course, that's because she's paying her own bills these days! If you're looking for ways to cut those pump costs, try this site... . The Dow and the S&P 500 gave up about 1/2%, but the NASDAQ took it on the chin today. Dow -59.95 NASDAQ -29.48 S&P 500 -5.74