Ford and GM Get Hammered As Manufacturing Data Destroys Dow

Good morning, good lookin'. Here are the three things you need to know on Feb. 4.

Feb 4, 2014 at 6:00AM

We're not sure which was worse -- the stock market's performance on Monday, or these 20 times that Peyton Manning almost cried during the Super Bowl. Negative econ data spooked investors again on Monday to smack the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) down 326 points.

1. U.S. manufacturing falls to lowest pace since May
You can't manufacture good news, and according to the Institute for Supply Management research firm, or ISM, the pace of growth of U.S. manufacturing slowed for the second straight month to its lowest level since May. The ISM polls managers of manufacturing plants about the level of activity and orders, and Monday's result was a 51.3. That means manufacturing is growing, but barely. And it was down 5 points from December's 56.5 measure.

The takeaway is that stocks fell big-time because of one key detail within the report: forward-looking new orders (that's upcoming demand for factory-related products). That stat suffered the worst monthly decline since 1980. (We weren't born then. By far.) That makes the Broncos' first half look not half bad. And with lots of question marks already spinning around this young 2014 market decline, the markets freaked out on the news.

2. Janet Yellen sworn in at the Fed; Bernanke lands a new job
It's out with the old, in with the new over at America's favorite central bank. Fresh-faced, bowl-cut hair champion, and avid Brown University alumna/lacrosse fan Janet Yellen was sworn in for a four-year term as the first female chair of the Federal Reserve. Wall Street expects her to largely continue her predecessor's stimulus policies.

Speaking of predecessors, what happened to Big Ben? Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke didn't hit the links down in Boca on his first day off the job -- instead, he assumed a new role at Washington-based think tank The Brookings Institution, where he'll give great speeches and have a recent Ivy League grad as an intern to schedule all his meetings and appointments.

3. U.S. car companies have mixed sales in January
Sunday's Super Bowl commercials showed a strong, proud, mostly annoying U.S. auto industry. The romantic Chevy bulls and James Franco in a Ford Blue tux just make us want to buy American. But after two polar vortexes, U.S. auto sales in January were frostbitten, according to Monday's report. U.S. car sales rose a smidge in January from the year before, but two of the Detroit "Big Three" blamed cold weather for their king-sized drop in sales. 

It's not fun shopping for cars when you're covered in three layers of Champion hoodies and your grandma's quilt. The leaders of Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) blamed cold weather for keeping consumers away from chilly dealership lots. Ford sold 7% fewer cars than last January, and GM was down 12%. Both stocks fell more than 2.3% Monday. It hit the Midwest pretty bad, which is Ford and GM's strongest market.

Chrysler was feeling tough after bucking the trend of its two Detroit competitors with sales growth of 8%. The times, they are a Changing at Chrysler. Their acquisition by European carmaker Fiat is nearing completion, and there was a wicked long-winded Super-Bowl commercial by Bob Dylan telling us to buy American (specifically Chrysler, even though it's being taken over by the Italians).


  • Factory orders data
  • Fourth-quarter earnings: Buffalo Wild Wings, Michael Kors, Sirius XM Radio

MarketSnacks Fact of the Day: The Seinfeld reuinion clip was the most re-watched commercial during the Super Bowl, according to TiVo.

As originally published on

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Nick Martell and Jack Kramer have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Buffalo Wild Wings, Ford, General Motors, and Michael Kors Holdings and owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings, Ford, and Sirius XM Radio. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

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I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

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Everything else is details. 

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