Each of the benchmark indexes listed here advanced last week, led by the S&P 500, which rose 1.6%. Corporate earnings data for the third quarter has gotten off to a solid start to help push stocks higher. However, investors are paying close attention to elevated inflation, driven higher by global supply-chain constraints and labor shortages. According to Chair Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve is closely monitoring price pressures, which may last longer than previously expected, increasing the possibility that the Fed may raise interest rates sooner than anticipated. Treasury yields and crude oil prices rose last week, while the dollar slid. Gold prices climbed higher but remain well below their 2020 year-end values. The market sectors closed last week generally higher, with only communication services lagging. Real estate (3.2%), health care (2.9%), and financials (2.8%) led the advancing sectors.
During the 12 months ending in June 2021, consumer prices shot up 5.4%, the highest inflation rate since 2008.1 The annual increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) — often called headline inflation — was due in part to the “base effect.” This statistical term means the 12-month comparison was based on an unusual low point for prices in the second quarter of 2020, when consumer demand and inflation dropped after the onset of the pandemic.
Among the many provisions in the multi-trillion-dollar legislative package being debated in Congress is a provision that would eliminate a strategy that allows high-income investors to pursue tax-free retirement income: the so-called back-door Roth IRA. The next few months may present the last chance to take advantage of this opportunity.
Despite a shaky start, Wall Street enjoyed a strong week of gains. A favorable start to corporate earnings season helped lift equities higher. Each of the benchmark indexes listed here posted solid weekly gains, led by the Nasdaq and the S&P 500. The dollar and Treasury yields slipped, while crude oil prices rose 3.5% to $82.25 per barrel. Despite the generally positive week, investors will continue to keep an eye on economic data and rising prices. Higher oil, gas, and other commodity prices could raise concerns about inflationary pressures and how they could drag down corporate profit margins. Materials shortages, rising wages, and shipping bottlenecks have driven up costs for producers. Many have passed these costs on to consumers, leading to more persistent inflation. Initial earnings data comes from banks and financial institutions. The next few weeks will see earnings reports from the bulk of companies in most sectors and may reveal the impact that inflation and supply demands has had on earnings margins so far in the third quarter.
In 2020, 31% of U.S. workers with employer-sponsored health insurance had a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), up from 24% in 2015.1 These plans are also available outside the workplace through private insurers and the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Although HDHP participation has grown rapidly, the most common plan — covering almost half of U.S. workers — is a traditional preferred provider organization (PPO).2 If you are thinking about enrolling in an HDHP or already enrolled in one, here are some factors to consider when comparing an HDHP to a PPO.
Medicare beneficiaries can make new choices and pick plans that work best for them during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period. Each year, Medicare plan costs and coverage typically change. In addition, your health-care needs may have changed over the past year. The Open Enrollment Period — which begins on October 15 and runs through December 7 — is your opportunity to switch your current Medicare health and prescription drug plans to ones that better suit your needs.
Stocks closed last week generally higher, despite a weak jobs report. A Congressional deal to extend the debt ceiling until early December helped drive stocks higher during the middle of the week. A poor showing last Friday was not enough to prevent the benchmark indexes from closing the week mostly in the black. The Dow enjoyed its biggest weekly gain since June. The S&P 500 advanced, while the Global Dow ended the week up over 1.3%. The Nasdaq eked out a gain, but the Russell 2000 dipped nearly 0.4%. Among the market sectors, energy jumped 5.0%, financials rose 2.3%, industrials climbed 1.8%, utilities increased 1.5%, and consumer staples advanced 1.4%. The yield on 10-year Treasuries gained 14 basis points to close the week at the highest level since June 4. Crude oil prices continued to rise, closing in on $80.00 per barrel. The dollar rose marginally, while gold prices declined.
The COVID-19 economic crisis tested the mettle of all Americans, particularly working mothers. Research shows that the pandemic’s impacts on women have been far-reaching and potentially long-lasting. Now that the U.S. economy is picking up steam, it may be more important than ever for women to re-examine their retirement planning strategies.
Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, which means today’s workers are paying taxes for the benefits received by today’s retirees. However, demographic trends such as lower birth rates, higher retirement rates, and longer life spans are causing long-run fiscal challenges. There are simply not enough U.S. workers to support the growing number of beneficiaries. Social Security is not in danger of collapsing, but the clock is ticking on the program’s ability to pay full benefits.
A rally last Friday helped drive stocks generally higher last week. The Dow, the Russell 2000, and the Global Dow were able to post gains, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed the week in the red. Declines in the market sectors were broad-based, with only energy (5.8%) climbing higher. Growth shares fared worse than value stocks, as evidenced by the dip in the tech-heavy Nasdaq. While the federal government averted a partial shutdown, no progress was made on raising the federal debt limit. Investors also saw the prospects of inflationary pressures continuing as supply constraints are driving production costs higher. Ten-year Treasury yields rose 13 basis points to 1.46%. Some analysts suggest that a spike in Treasury yields may be reflective of investors’ expectations that the Federal Reserve could start tightening its monetary policies as early as November. Crude oil prices increased more than $5.00 per barrel. The dollar continued its bullish run, while gold prices dipped.