OBAMA SIGNS TAX DEAL INTO LAW President Obama signed the 2010 Tax Relief Act into law on December 17 after overwhelming passage in the House and Senate. The Bush-era tax cuts are thereby extended. Through 2012, the federal income tax tops out at 35% and taxes on dividends and capital gains top out at 15%. Next year, the estate tax returns at 35% with a $5 million dollar exemption, effectively permitting couples to pass estates as large as $10 million to heirs; tax-free charitable IRA donations also come back in 2011. Employee payroll taxes will drop from 6.2% to 4.2% next year.1,2,3,4,5
A POSITIVE SIGNAL FOR THE FUTURE The Conference Board's leading economic indicators index (designed to be a gauge of economic momentum or lack thereof) jumped by 1.1% in November - the biggest gain in eight months. This follows a revised 0.4% advance in the index for October.6
PRODUCER PRICES OUTPACE CONSUMER PRICES Consumer prices inched up 0.1% in November according to the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index. The core CPI rose 0.1%. The Producer Price Index, on the other hand, rose by 0.8% last month. Consensus polls of economists at Briefing.com had projected a 0.2% rise in the CPI and a 0.5% gain in wholesale prices.7
HOUSING STARTS TURN NORTH They improved for the first time in three months. The Commerce Department said November's housing starts were up 3.9% from October levels. The 555,000 annual pace topped the 550,000 consensus projected in a Bloomberg News survey.8
STOCKS ADVANCE It was a pretty quiet week on Wall Street, and major index performance across the five trading days was as follows: Dow, +0.72% to 11,491.91; S&P 500, +0.28% to 1,243.91; NASDAQ, +0.21% to 2,642.97. As of Friday, the DJIA had traded within a range of 100 points for six straight market days - that hadn't occurred since January 2006. All three indices ended the week at +10% or better for 2010.9
COMING NEXT WEEK: No notable releases on Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday, we have the latest existing home sales figures and the final estimate of 3Q GDP. Thursday, we get data on consumer spending and durable goods orders for November, new home sales figures for November, the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey for December, and the latest initial and continuing claims numbers. That's it for the week.
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"It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts." - Adlai Stevenson
With the new year coming, one of your resolutions can be reviewing and/or rebalancing your portfolio, to see that your investments are in sync with your objectives.
What 9-letter word begins and ends with the letter S and has only one vowel?
Last week's riddle: You are to put five different letters into five addressed envelopes. If you do this completely at random, what are the chances that only four letters will end up in their correct envelopes?
Last week's answer:
There is no chance of that happening. If four of the letters end up in the right envelopes, then the fifth must also be in the right envelope.
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A degreed engineer (in a past life) business owner, business development coach, project manger, and organizational strategist with a strong background in surveillance, ES&H redesign, project management, process engineering, organizational operations, management, business law, and ISO internal auditing. Am an organzing member of NSBE-AE, Organizing Board member Greenwood Festival Chorale, former Omega Psi Phi Graduate Chapter President (Baselius) a former Shelter BOD Chair, a former Regional Chair, former Lander Board of Visitors Member, former Chamber BOD member, as well as many other organizational leadership positions. Owner Spearman Enterprises and Managing Partner Top Flight LLC.