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@theMarket: Will Stocks Break Out or Break Down?
By Bill Schmick,
05:23PM / Friday, August 10, 2018
The S&P 500 index is within a hair's breadth of breaking out. This week we topped 2,850, which we haven't done since March. The record high for the index in January was 2,872.   Can we top that?   The S&P 500 Index traded within 0.5 percent of its record high this week. If we can close and hold a new high, it will be the 18th time the benchmark index has closed at a new all-time high after going six months without one. Statistically speaking, the odds of doing so are against us. Normally, if we use historical data, it should take the index another year before we reach a new high, but there is nothing normal about the environment we live in

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The Independent Investor: Should You Pay Down Your Mortgage?
By Bill Schmick,
04:16PM / Thursday, August 09, 2018
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, together with rising interest rates have changed the calculus in determining whether to pay down your mortgage or let it ride. Let's examine the pros and cons.   Over the last 10 years, as interest rates fell to almost zero, it made total sense to pay off your high-interest mortgage. At the very least, one could re-finance and save on monthly payments. This was especially true if your mortgage was in the last stages of a 30- or 15-year life.   At that point, the interest portion of the payment, (which is tax deductible) was minimal, while the principal payments represented the lion's share of the monthly bill. For those

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@theMarket: Stocks Set for a Volatile August
By Bill Schmick,
04:23PM / Friday, August 03, 2018
This month would be a good time to go on vacation. Otherwise, you might be tempted to do something rash like chase stocks or sell at their lows. That is the kind of market volatility investors should expect in August.   The market's trading range is still intact and should continue and keep stock market values corralled into September and probably October.    We had our moves up to the old highs (or slightly beyond) in most of the averages in July. A combination of anticipated stellar second-quarter earnings and somewhat less rhetoric from the "Trumpster," allowed equities to notch their fourth month of gains. Second quarter earnings have come

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The Independent Investor: The Incredible Shrinking Stock Market
By Bill Schmick,
04:44PM / Thursday, August 02, 2018
There was a time, back in the late Nineties, that publicly-traded stocks were the envy of all companies, great and small. But times have changed, and since then the number of public companies have fallen by 50 percent.   You might have missed that trend, however. That's because the market capitalization of equities has been increasing for a decade. This year the market cap of the U.S. stock market hit a record $32.2 trillion. Globally, the World Bank estimates stock market capitalization is above $80 trillion. The largest contributor to this trend has been the large increases in stock prices.   Bottom line: investors are simply bidding up the prices of

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@theMarket: Markets Remain Range-Bound
By Bill Schmick,
04:18PM / Friday, July 20, 2018
It's the same old song. It has been playing over and over since the end of January. Higher interest rates, a stronger dollar, and, of course, the inevitable and meaningless stream of tweets from our Tweeter-in-Chief are keeping stocks range-bound. How long will this condition persist?   Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index have now posted their longest consolidation since 1984. The two indexes have been in correction territory for 113 trading days. That is a longer stretch than we have seen in decades — including the period of the 2008 Financial Crisis.   In 1984, it took the S&P 500 Index 122 days to emerge from the

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