It was a volatile week on Wall Street as the yen surged against the dollar. Stocks rose on Friday, thanks to more than a 6 percent increase in oil prices after the Keystone pipeline to Cushing, Okla., was shut down, and Russia announced its crude output fell. For the week, the Dow fell 1.15 percent to close at 17,576.96. The S&P lost 1.15 percent to finish at 2,047.60, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.30 percent to end the week at 4,850.69.
Losing the Safety Net–
On Friday, April 1, the first of at least 500,000 Americans (up to as many as 1 million Americans) were dropped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps. A three-month limit on food stamp benefits that has been waived since 2008 was reinstated at the beginning of 2016 in 22 states (source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, BTN Research).
The total market capitalization of the U.S. stock market was $23.7 trillion as of March 31. At its bear market low on March 9, 2009, the country’s total market capitalization was $8 trillion (source: BTN Research).
Hot and Cold -
The best performing individual stock in the S&P 500 index during the first quarter 2016 gained 52.7 percent. The worst performing individual stock in the S&P 500 index during the first quarter 2016 lost 54 percent (source: BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – National Financial Literacy Month
April has been designated National Financial Literacy Month since 2004, when the United States Senate passed a resolution highlighting the importance of financial literacy and teaching consumers of all ages to manage money wisely.
Because of the financial challenges American families are currently facing, the observance may be particularly important today. Five years after the Great Recession, many are still feeling insecure financially. Wage growth has been weak in recent years. Researchers combining U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve data found 38.1 percent of households are carrying credit card debt, with an average balance of $15,863.1
If you have a family member who is feeling pressured financially, you may want to tell them about FinancialLiteracyMonth.com, a site Money Management International created to educate consumers. The site offers a variety of informative resources and planning tools including: free webinars on helpful financial topics; income, expense and net worth worksheets; financial goals and priorities worksheets; and an eBook titled “Tips for Change.”
The following sites offer helpful resources to teach kids and teens about money skills:
- Money Savvy Generation at www.msgen.com
- The Institute for Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) at http://www.financial-education-icfe.org (click on the Children and Money link)
- Money Instructor’s section for kids at http://www.moneyinstructor.com/kids.asp
National Financial Literacy Month provides a timely reminder to review your financial situation, increase your savings, develop a comprehensive estate plan or encourage family members to take steps to secure their future. Please give us a call if you’d like to go over your portfolio, discuss retirement distribution, develop an estate plan, or have us talk to your children or grandchildren about their finances.
1”American Credit Card Debt Statistics & Key Findings” – Updated Feb. 2016, http://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt
The Dorion-Gray Team
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisory Firm. Dorion-Gray Retirement Planning is a trade name of Dorion-Gray Financial Services, Inc. located at 2602 IL Route 176, Crystal Lake, IL 60014. Dorion-Gray and the Securities America companies are separate, unaffiliated entities.
Diversification seeks to reduce the volatility of a portfolio by investing in a variety of asset classes. Neither asset allocation nor diversification guarantee against market loss or greater or more consistent returns.
© 2013. Dorion-Gray Financial Services, Inc.