Archive for Currency

10 Surprising Ways Spring Is Gonna Cost You

By Tim Lemke…

If you live in a colder part of the country, you probably can’t wait for this winter to end. The New York City area, for example, has experienced its second-coldest February in history. But before the warmer months hit, it’s important to understand how the change in seasons will impact your finances. While winter brings its own financial burdens, spring and summer can empty your pocketbook, as well.

Here’s how to stay within your budget as the temperatures warm up.

1. Go Green With Transportation

You’ll probably drive more when it gets warmer, and may even take long road trips. You can expect gas prices to rise as demand increases and fuel companies switch from winter to summer fuel blends. Gas prices will remain low by recent standards, but it might help to consider walking or biking to work, or using public transit.

2. Register Early for Summer Camp

Summer can be a challenge for working parents, as the kids are out of school and need someone to look after them during the day.This means that many families explore summer camps and other activities. A week of summer camp will set you back an average of $304, according to the American Camp Association, with some for-profit camps costing more than $500 weekly. It helps to register in the winter to take advantage of early bird registration deals, and you may get a discount by signing up for multiple weeks at the same location. There may also be discounts for families with multiple children at the same camp.

3. Start Saving for New Family Additions

If you or your partner are not pregnant already, you can probably disregard this one. But statistics show that more children are born during the spring and summer months than other times of the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that August is the top month for new babies. New arrivals aren’t cheap, and you can definitely expect to spend some money in the months leading up to the delivery. Now is the time to start banking as much cash as you can.

4. Travel Within Your Means

With an improving economy, the American Automobile Association expects more people to take trips this summer. According to American Express, an average vacation will set you back $1,145 per person, or $4,580 for a family of four. The good news is that gas prices are lower than in years past, and a strong dollar means that it’s cheaper to travel overseas.

5. Budget Home Expenses

When it’s cold and snowy outside, there’s no lawn to mow (and you’re probably postponing the construction of that backyard patio until the thaw). Warmer weather is when you whip out the lawnmower and make the call to that contractor. It’s also when you might make any repairs necessitated by the snow, ice, and wind of winter. Various sources suggest that a homeowner will spend about 1% of their home’s value on maintenance each year. Much of this …read more

Read more here: 10 Surprising Ways Spring Is Gonna Cost You

Category: budgeting, money, personal finance, spending

3 Nasdaq-100 Stocks With Bullish Crossovers

50/200 moving average crossovers can detect trend changes before price action sets off broad based buy or sell signals.

50- and 200-day EMA crossovers can generate predictive patterns that tell observant traders when downtrends have ended, allowing them to open positions that take advantage of new uptrends, often before traditional buy signals attract the attention of the broad market. The trick is to enable price action to interact with the moving averages, highlighting the best entry prices.

These early signals have specific requirements. First, the 50-day EMA must penetrate the 200-day EMA, with both moving averages pointed lower. Then, the short-term average needs to turn higher and cross above the long-term average. The 200-day can turn higher before or after the crossover, but the trade entry doesn’t come until both slopes point higher while price pulls back to test new support. The strongest signals come when moving averages are tightly aligned, and price touches that alignment.

Let’s look at three Nasdaq-100 components that recently flashed buy signals with this technical methodology. Keep in mind; the best entry comes near the moving average convergence because that level allows placement of a relatively tight stop loss in case the trade fails to work as expected. Patience is a virtue with this process because pullbacks to new support can unfold many weeks after the initial signal requirements are met.…read more

Read more here: 3 Nasdaq-100 Stocks With Bullish Crossovers

Category: CHKP, INTU, ADP

ChartAdvisor for March 11, 2016 (SPY, DIA)

By Justin Kuepper

Weekly technical summary of the major U.S. indexes.

The U.S. markets moved lower over the past week, as of Thursday’s close, with the exception of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Over the past couple of weeks, crude oil prices have rallied from their lows of below $30 to nearly $40 per barrel, which could help reduce pressure on some energy companies at the expense of consumers. Employment data continued to improve; however, with employment claims falling to 259,000, compared to the 272,000 figure economists estimated on Thursday.

International markets also moved lower over the past week, as of Thursday’s U.S. close. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.11%; Germany’s DAX 30 fell 0.1%; and, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.95%. In Europe, the ECB announced that interest rates would be cut to zero, bank deposit rates would be cut to -0.4% and its QE program would be expanded to 80 billion euros per month. In Asia, Chinese markets moved sharply lower after bearish trade data showing a dramatic slowdown in exports.

The S&P 500 SPDR (ARCA: SPY) fell 0.41% over the past week, as of Thursday’s close. After briefly breaking out from its 200-day moving average at 200.74, the index moved modestly lower as traders locked in profits. Traders should watch for an ongoing move higher toward the upper trendline at 205.00 or a move below the 200-day moving average to the 50-day moving average at 193.18. Looking at technical indicators, the RSIappears overbought at 63.72, while the MACD remains in a bullish uptrend.

spychart03112016
The Dow Jones Industrial Average SPDR (ARCA: DIA) rose 0.06% over the past week, as of Thursday’s close. After breaking above its 200-day moving average at 169.75, the index moved past 170.00. Traders should watch for an ongoing move higher toward R2 resistance at 175.80 or a move lower below its 200-day moving average toward its 50-day moving average at 164.23. Looking at technical indicators, the RSI appears overbought at 65.22, while the MACD remains in a bullish uptrend. …read more

Read more here: ChartAdvisor for March 11, 2016 (SPY, DIA)

Category: SPY, DIA, IWM, QQQ

Free trade

By The Economist online
BACK in the 1970s, after American regulators abolished fixed commissions for brokers who helped their clients trade shares, the likes of Charles Schwab and Fidelity were the insurgents. They dispensed with the expensive frills that most rivals offered, such as research and investment advice. That, in turn, allowed them to offer share trading to the masses at bargain prices. Twenty years later, the internet spurred the growth of a new wave of discount brokers, including E*Trade and TD Ameritrade. Now for the next challenger.

Whereas full-service brokers demand a percentage of the value of the assets in their clients’ accounts (typically 1-1.75% a year), the discount firms charge around $9 a trade. That is highway robbery, however, by the standards of a new online brokerage, Robinhood, which enables clients to trade shares free of charge, via a new mobile app.

 

Instead of taking commissions from customers, Robinhood receives them from the trading venues to which it steers their orders, a controversial but common practice. It also earns returns from the cash clients leave in their accounts, and plans soon to offer margin trading—the buying of…

…read more

Read more here: Free trade

Category: Business and finance, Approved, Finance and economics, FINANCE

Loyal Nike Shareholders Hanging Tough (NKE)

Nike has held up well in the first quarter but has more work to do before entering a new uptrend.

Nike Inc. (NKE) performed well in 2015, gaining nearly 30% while lifting into a leadership role in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This follows a long tradition of superior performance that’s included six splits in the last 26-years. Volatile price action, starting in November 2015, has brought the stock well off rally highs, raising doubts about the future of its uptrend. Fortunately for bulls, it looks like the malaise will eventually pass, allowing a resumption of its upward trajectory.

The company has expanded out of sporting, textiles and footwear in recent years, into a variety of equipment, accessories and services. It’s made dozens of profitable endorsement deals to build and expand its iconic brand, showing surprising loyalty to its image makers, as we saw after Tiger Woods got into a well-publicized 2009 scandal. The company chose to retain his services at that time, weathering the media maelstrom while he was dumped like a hot potato by other sponsors.

A multiyear uptrend topped out at 9.55 (post-splits) in 1997, giving way to a rounded correction that lasted into a 2004 breakout. That rally failed to gain steam until 2006, when it took off in an assault that booked a 60% gain into the April 2008 top. It sold off with world markets during the economic collapse but held up well compared to broad benchmarks, finding support at a four-year low in single digits.

The stock lifted to a new high in 2010, entering a stair stepping phase that carved brief rallies, interspersed with many weeks of sideways consolidation. This is a typical rally pattern for securities with high institutional ownership that can be frustrating for traders looking to book quick profits. A single major correction marred the nearly textbook price action, dropping price 25% in just three months.

The uptrend ejected into a momentum phase in 2013, lifting into the 2015 high in a rising channel that more than doubled the stock’s price. A sudden decline in August 2015 waved a red flag that warned of rising volatility, which was confirmed when the rally stalled above 66 in October. That yielded a triple top in December, followed by a two-legged selloff into the low 50s. …read more

Read more here: Loyal Nike Shareholders Hanging Tough (NKE)

Category: NKE

High tech meets low finance

By The Economist online
TECHNOLOGY ought to have revolutionised finance more than any other industry. After all, modern money is mostly an entry on a computer—capable of being transmitted instantly and virtually costlessly around the world. Stockmarket activity is now dominated by high-frequency traders, who make deals faster than they can blink.

The finance sector spends more on technology, as a proportion of its revenues, than any other industry. Nevertheless, compared with the world of e-commerce, banking still sometimes gives the impression of a Volkswagen Beetle instead of a Formula 1 racing car. It took many years of effort to get to a world of “T+2”, where securities are settled two days after the trade is made, rather than the “T+3” system that preceded it.

 

The international payments system still looks like a “spaghetti junction”, in the words of Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, with money passing through several hands on the way from payer to recipient. The annual revenues earned by the banking system for processing payments are huge, at $1.7 trillion, and rising (see chart).

One reason for…

…read more

Read more here: High tech meets low finance

Category: Business and finance, Approved, Finance and economics, FINANCE

Don’t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students

By Damian Davila ..

Dear students, I’m sure that you have heard the news: Every single year the average student loan debt per borrower is increasing. For example, the average class of 2015 graduate with student loan debt will owe a little more than $35,000.

Still, there is a silver lining: College students and grads often qualify for significant tax breaks and deductions. To minimize your tax bill and increase your chances of a refund, here are eight tax deductions and breaks worth knowing about.

1. 529 Plans

If your parents or other donor started a 529 plan for you, you’re in luck. Also known as qualified tuition programs, 529 plans allow individuals to save for education expenses on a tax-deferred basis and allow a designated beneficiary (ideally, that’s you) to use those funds, including interest gains, for qualified expenses free of taxes or penalties.

But few people know that you can also start a 529 plan for yourself. Yes, if you anticipate returning to school for any reason, you can save for related expenses in your own 529 plan – at any age. The list of qualified education expenses goes beyond tuition and academic fees, including expenses for room and board, transportation, equipment, and accommodations for individuals with special needs, so adults can benefit, too. (See also: The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans)

2. Qualified IRA Distributions

Qualified distributions taken from a traditional IRA for use in qualified higher education expenses create no tax burden or penalty for you, assuming you only withdraw contributions, and not any earnings on the contributions. (Note: If your spouse, parent, or grandparent takes distributions from their own plans to fund your educational expenses, they would have to pay applicable income taxes on those funds, but don’t have to pay the early distribution penalty which applies if under age 59 1/2.)

3. American Opportunity Credit

Replacing the Hope Scholarship credit, the American Opportunity Credit allows you to cover up to $2,500 of undergraduate college costs, including:

  • 100% of your first $2,000 qualified education expenses; and
  • 25% of next $2,000 qualified education expenses.

Keep in mind that you can claim the American Opportunity tax credit on your own academic expenses or on those of your spouse and kids. This means that you can claim up to $2,500 per student living in your household. However, to be eligible for the full credit, your modified adjusted gross income must be $80,000 or less (those making more receive a reduced amount of the credit).

Another advantage of this tax credit is that 40% of it is refundable, meaning that the IRS will issue a refund for that amount even if you don’t owe any federal income tax.

4. Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit allows you to deduct up to 20% of your first $10,000 in qualified education expenses, up to $2,000 per taxpayer.

Unlike the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit isn’t refundable. You can use it …read more

Read more here: Don’t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students

Category: college, millennials, students, tax, tax breaks, taxes

Microsoft Could Head Much Higher (MSFT)

By Alan Farley
Microsoft may start a successful assault at multi-decade resistance near 60.

Dow component Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) had a great run between 2009 and 2015, rising to a multi-year high after underperforming the broad tech universe for many years. Cloud revenues have driven the company’s most recent growth, partially overcoming stiff headwinds from the worldwide contraction in PC sales. Meanwhile, flat, but impressive Xbox One sales continue to provide a key revenue stream.

The stock has been losing ground since the start of 2016, with many shareholders wondering if it’s time to pull up stakes and rotate freed up capital into another core holding. Price action may provide useful insight, especially when looking at long and short term performance. We’ll need to hit the rewind button to accomplish this task because the high printed just before the Net bubble burst in 2000 is still in play.

The stock moved sharply higher in the 1990s, driven by impressive growth that earned the company a spot in the Four Horsemen quartet of tech behemoths touted by analysts of that era as essential components in all portfolios. The uptrend peaked just above 53 at the end of 1999, with price turning sharply lower a few months later, in reaction to a government anti-trust lawsuit that didn’t settle until June 2004.

The downtrend ended in the upper teens in December 2000, giving way to a recovery wave that stalled at 34 in June 2001, with that price level offering stiff resistance for the next 12 years. The stock broke the 2000 low in 2008 and dropped to a 10-year low at 14.87 in March 2009 before turning higher with the broad market. That uptrend remains in force seven years later.

 

…read more

Read more here: Microsoft Could Head Much Higher (MSFT)

Category: MSFT

These Charts Suggest Metals Are Headed Lower (PICK, DBP)

By Casey Murphy

Traders are starting to chase gains in the metal markets. These charts suggest that it might be best to proceed with caution.

Active traders around the globe have turned their attention to metals and mining producers over the past couple of weeks because of the strong surges in underlying prices. The sentiment of a long-term reversal has started to gain traction over the past several trading sessions, and many pundits are even starting to suggest that a bottom is in place for a long-term trend reversal. In the article below we’ll take a look at several charts of mining-related assets to see whether the patterns are confirming the mood. (For more on this topic, check out: Commodities: Introduction.)

iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers

One of the best ways to gauge the direction of the metals market is to analyze the pattern of the iShares MSCI Global Metals & Mining Producers ETF (PICK). This fund seeks to track the performance of an index composed of stocks of companies from around the globe that are primarily engaged in mining, extraction or production of diversified metals such as aluminum, steel and precious metals and minerals (excluding gold and silver). The fund has total net assets of nearly $100 million, and it carries a reasonable expense ratio of 0.39%. The PICK ETF is comprised of 186 holdings and is one of the most popular choices of retail traders looking to gain exposure to this segment of the commodities market.

Taking a look at the two-year chart below, you can see that the price is nearing the combined resistance of the 200-day moving average (red line) and the descending trendline. This chart is a textbook example of how these levels tend to act as a strong barrier to moves higher in the past and at this point, many traders would watch for this type of bounce to happen again. Bearish traders will likely look to enter a position as close to the trendline as possible because it maximizes the risk/reward of the trade. Stop-loss orders will likely be placed directly above the 200-day moving average, which is trading at $10.12. Given the dominance of the downtrend, bullish traders might want to consider staying on the sidelines to see if the momentum will be strong enough to send the price above the resistance, which would then signal a likely reversal. (For more, see: 3 ETFs That Suggest Commodities Are Headed Lower.)

 

 

 

 

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Read more here: These Charts Suggest Metals Are Headed Lower (PICK, DBP)

Category: PICK, DBP, REMX

10 Money Moves to Make After a Promotion

By Damian Davila …

Congratulations on your promotion! You’ve just made another step toward a successful future.

Still, this isn’t the time to become complacent. A promotion comes along with new challenges and tasks. To help you make the very best out of your new job, here are the 10 money moves to make after a promotion.

1. Revisit Your Tax Withholding

Most promotions don’t come with just a title upgrade, they come with a well-deserved raise. If that’s your case, calculate whether or not you need to adjust your W-4 form and submit it to your HR department.

Let’s assume that you file a joint return with your spouse and your combined taxable income was $90,000. Your tax due would be $18,293.75 ($5,156.25 + 25% of the amount over $37,450). After your promotion, your new combined taxable income is now $100,000. Your new tax bill is $21,071.25 ($18,481.25 + 28% of the amount over $90,750). Assuming no offsets to your salary bump and no changes to your W-4, you would be $2,777.50 short of your tax bill! (See also: Top Three Tax Facts to Know for 2016)

Use the IRS Withholding Calculator and determine if you need to update your W-4.

2. Calculate Vesting of Company Shares

Vested company shares are another way that your employer could reward you. Very often, these restricted stock units vest over time, meaning that you gain ownership of those shares the longer you stay. The idea is that your employer wants you to perform well and remain with the company. Contact your HR department to find out the vesting schedule of your company shares so that you know how much you would actually take with you if you were to part ways with your employer.

3. Time Profit Sharing and Bonus Checks

When your promotion includes a large bonus or profit sharing check, pay attention to the date that the
payment will be issued on. An elective deferral contribution to your retirement accounts must be deposited by the tax filing due date (April 19, 2016 for Maine and Massachusetts residents and April 18, 2016 for everybody else). For 2015 and 2016, the contribution limit to 401K, 403B, and most 457 plans is $18,000, and to regular and Roth IRA plans it’s $5,500. If you’re age 50 or over, you can make an additional $6,000 in catch-up contributions. When you haven’t met the applicable contribution limit, take advantage of that windfall to fatten up your retirement accounts.

4. Identify Additional Costs

With great power comes great responsibility, Peter Parker! Take stock of the responsibilities of your new position and determine how much additional time you may need to perform those tasks successfully. Having to stay a bit longer at work may increase several costs, including paying higher fees for babysitters or preschools, and dining out more often than before the promotion. Your first weeks in your new position will provide you an idea of how much your budget will need to adjust.

5. Determine …read more

Read more here: 10 Money Moves to Make After a Promotion

Category: income, money, new job, personal finance, promotion, salary

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