Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Pfizer was the winner today. The drug company jumped 1.6% when they introduced a new drug that will increase good cholesterol. Exxon Mobile also had a good day, rising 1% on higher crude. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough to outweigh DuPont's and GM's falls. Kerkorian is continuing to pull out of GM, forcing the auto maker to lose 1%. I've especially enjoyed watching which retailers are doing well this season. Online shopping is having a huge impact, and some larger retailers (like Wal-Mart) are showing a surprising decline. Target seems to be on top of things so far; it should be very interesting to see how this race ends. DJIA: -4.80 Nasdaq: -0.46 S&P 500: +1.15
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
No slump for this mid-week trading day. GDP numbers looked solid, despite the continued slowdown in housing. Yes, there is a decline in the number of homes sold, and the median sales price is down 3%, but this is after tremendous gains in real estate over the last few years. We can give back a little and still have a good market. Sellers are finally coming down to earth, and this is being reflected in the numbers. With lower sales prices have come more interested buyers. It looks less like a burst bubble and more like a correction. GM announced plans to concentrate on hybrid cars. The announcement came with much pomp and ceremony... and a few hecklers. Finally, GM is responding to demand, but don't expect to see these cars on the lot for several years. See the heckling incident on CNN video. The sponsor for the piece? Honda! (They are years ahead of GM on that hybrid thing.) Markets had a nice bounce today. Ben who? Dow +90.28 NASDAQ +19.62 S&P 500 +12.76
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The Dow started the morning off a little rocky, but stocks recovered, thanks to blue-chips. Exxon closed up 2.3% as oil prices settled at $61 per barrel, and Disney climbed 1%. Apple and Cisco helped the Nasdaq climb more than six points.
The housing market saw a record drop in prices last month. Bad for sellers, good for buyers. Analysts predict the weakness in housing prices to continue through the end of this year, lightening up at the beginning of 2007. My "For Sale" sign is staying in the garage.
Monday, November 27, 2006
My husband and I ventured into Wal Mart around 8:45 on Black Friday. Originally, he thought about trying the 5 am thing but changed his mind. He had an eye on some televisions, you know flat screen LCD, HDTV. Don't ask me! I can't tell the difference. By the time we arrived, the parking lot was practically empty. We wondered, "Where are the crowds?" Was the rush over, or was the rush nonexistent? We ambled into the electronics section to find plenty of empty shelves. We ended up buying a strand of lights and left the store. I couldn't believe how calm things were in the store. Had the swarm moved to more fertile ground? Wal Mart tallied the weekend numbers and reported bad news. It didn't look like a good start to the holiday retail season. Wall Street ran for cover, on the news. All indexes were off drastically, with the NASDAQ dropping over 2%. While I had observed the fall off in our Wal Mart, I didn't necessarily think it bad news for everyone. I plan to do a lot of shopping online this year, and I'm less inclined to fight the rush. It will be January before we know for sure, but I'm not crying "Scrooge" yet! Dow -139.24 NASDAQ -54.34 S&P 500 -19.01
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Its true - turkey makes me sleepy. Or maybe its all the food that goes along with the turkey. Nonetheless, I'm typically very lazy on Thanksgiving. I like to blame it on the turkey.
Traders acted today like they had already eaten turkey. Trading was very slow, as investors weighed news and the upcoming shopping extravaganza (on Friday). GM didn't help much, with their third day in a row of a decline. Worried about their largest investor, Kirk Kerkorian, GM announced plans to drop a new line of minivans. As it turns out, Kerkorian is swapping some of his GM stock for MGM Mirage, up 10%. And Dell reported a third-quarter profit of 12%, which was higher than expectations.
Look for a short day Friday; the market is open only half the day. Enjoy the holiday, and watch out for the turkey - it encourages naps!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Economists predict a profitable shopping season this year. The Dow got a boost today as traders weighed oil costs against predictions of the upcoming shopping season. Boeing also contributed to the Dow's good fortune as it jumped 2.2%. Google topped $500 for the first time, sending the tech-heavy Nasdaq up more than 2 points. This record closing price for the search-engine giant is up 408% from the closing price of Google's first day of trading! DJIA: +5.05 Nasdaq: +2.12 S&P 500: +2.31
Monday, November 20, 2006
It's Thanksgiving week, and it's a short one for investors. The Dow saw a slight pullback today, while NASDAQ took another solid step forward. A new WSJ poll of economists says the housing bust is over. Around here, the bust felt more like a small bump. With interest rates still low and business still rolling, it appears the rumor of a bursting bubble in housing was just that... a rumor. Dow -26.02 NASDAQ +6.86 S&P 500 -0.70
Thursday, November 16, 2006
It's dreary and cold in Mississippi. After the storms blew through, the cold air followed. I think tonight will be a "fire" night. The famous economist, Milton Friedman, died today. His ideas and philosophies permeate our modern thinking. He was 94 years old. HP reported earnings today, and the story was good. Their profits increased 4 fold, no small feat. Of course, they were helped by a lack of restructuring costs on this report. All indexes reported positive numbers, with large caps winning the day. Dow +54.11 NASDAQ +6.31 S&P 500 +3.19
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The day started in Mississippi with strong storms blowing through. By now, though, the sun has come out in full force, and it's beginning to feel like summer again. The markets started off with a bang, adding to the week's gains. Minutes from the Fed were released, and they revealed a reluctance to lower interest rates. Yes, I said LOWER. For months, the talk has been that rates would be lowered to spur further economic development. The problem is, though, that the Fed has more concerns about inflation. Inflation would cause them to raise rates. The combination means there will be no Fed action... for now. Stocks still managed nice gains. Dow +33.70 NASDAQ +12.09 S&P 500 +3.35
Monday, November 13, 2006
It was a good start to the week, with positive comments from one of the Fed guys. No, it wasn't Mr. Bernanke, but the result was similar. Markets responded positively, and all indexes added to the year's gains. The NASDAQ is, once again, leading the pack. Techs may finally experience a Merry Christmas. Dow +23.45 NASDAQ +16.66 S&P 500 +3.52
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The reality of the elections may be seeping into markets, as all indexes took a breather. The numbers were negative all around. Disney reported stellar earnings, showing you can never give up on a strong franchise. Disney went back to its roots, and it's paying off. The shakedown in D.C. may also be weighing on stocks. The question is, "Who will be next?" Dow -73.24 NASDAQ -8.93 S&P 500 -7.39
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
When the markets opened this morning, Wall Street was trying to digest the political news from the evening before. It was clear the Democrats had clinched the House, but the Senate remained in question. As of this writing, there is only one seat still up in the air. At the beginning of the day, stocks dropped. Was this a reaction to a Democratic run Congress? Or maybe it was simply the market's response to uncertainty. As the day wore on, and the uncertainty became more certain, markets relaxed. By close, the numbers were all positive. Add in a surprise announcement about Rumsfeld's departure, and you've got a strange brew. Surprisingly, Wall Street seemed to like the way the election went... at least in the short run. The question is "Will Wall Street like what the Democrats do with their newfound power?" Stay tuned! Dow +19.77 NASDAQ +9.06 S&P 500 +2.88
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
All bets are off with the mid-term elections. Conventional wisdom says that Wall Street likes Republicans, but this year is different. The mood seems to be one of change, and the signs of those changes are breathing life into the market's numbers. Despite the possibility of a Democratic controlled Congress, the indexes posted another strong day. Dow +51.22 NASDAQ +9.93 S&P 500 +3.06
Monday, November 06, 2006
It was raining cats and dogs in Mississippi today, but the sun was shining brightly on Wall Street. Mergers took a front seat, signaling good things for the economy. All indexes rose significantly, with the NASDAQ gaining more than 1 1/2% on the day. With days like this, who cares what the weather is like? Dow +119.35 NASDAQ +35.16 S&P 500 +15.48
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Markets were lukewarm today. Wal Mart is already cautioning about the Christmas retail season, but this may not be the trend for ALL retailers. Could it be that deep discounters are falling behind, as shoppers aim for the higher end experience? If you really want the best, check out http://biz.yahoo.com/special/luxury110206_article1.html. Surprise! Surprise! Mortgage rates FELL last week. As the real estate market slowed and inflation stayed in check, long-term rates fell into line. This slowdown may actually be good news, since we face the possibility of slow, steady growth. That could translate to a long-term expansion. For now, though, markets yawned. Dow -12.48 NASDAQ -0.33 S&P 500 -0.47
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
It's November 1st, and, while retailers are looking towards their biggest season, Wall Street is bracing for year-end tax sales. I'm spending my days looking at the damage I've done so far this year and hoping for ways to mitigate it on my tax bill. One fuzzy area is mutual funds. Most declare dividends and capital gains one time a year. Even funds with low turnover rates and value investment philosophies may face big payouts at the end of the year. Start looking on your funds' websites for information about these. You may decide to make changes in funds before those critical dates. Don't forget to wait until after the payouts before putting new money into mutuals. Mutual funds are great when it comes to convenience and instant diversity, but they can be h**l on your tax bill! Wall Street took a breather today. NASDAQ fell 1.37%. The drop came even with Time Warner's excellent earnings report. TWX has been down, but today, they proved they are not out! Dow -49.94 NASDAQ -32.32 S&P 500 -10.00