With five days left before Halloween, we can hear stocks and earnings reports begin to scream. But don't groan, moan, or start to fret, because I've got the news and on that you can bet!
The Dow continues to summon record numbers
What happened? Though it has slowed as of late, the Dow Jones established solid ground above the 12,000 mark, rising on continued positive earnings numbers and mixed housing news.
What does this mean for your portfolio? Since its incredible upswing on Monday, the market has made much more modest growth, mainly because of a mixed bag of OPEC decisions, unimpressive numbers from companies, and conflicting housing numbers. Despite all this, earnings seem to be generally strong and are pushing the market to greater heights. Long story short: This guy thinks the market is a little expensive and is waiting for the bottom to fall out.
Bernanke holds fast on benchmark interest rate
What happened? On Wednesday, during the monthly policy meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank, Ben Bernanke and fellow board members maintained the 5.25% interest rate, keeping the cost of money at its current rate for the third straight month.
What does this mean for your portfolio? Without speculating too much, it appears that the Fed has cradled the economy into a soft-ish landing after several months of prolonged inflation. The question remains, where to from here? Analyst sentiment is that rates should remain unchanged for the next few months. Bernanke must take into consideration a falling housing market and cheaper energy prices, as well as future concerns with respect to inflation.
Earnings reports are generally pleasing
What happened? There were several spots of bad news and negative results amid a larger bag of very positive news this week. On the whole, however, the economy reacted well to this past quarter's biggest reports week.
What does this mean for your portfolio? Losses continued to pour out from all three major U.S. auto majors: Ford
Homebuyers cash in to cheaper prices
What happened? The price of the average American home has fallen the most since the 1970s, further indication of a slumping industry. Numbers-wise, we are looking at a 9.7% decrease in the median price of the American home since last year.
What does this mean for you portfolio? Although this decrease in price prompted a now two-month resurgence in the pure number of homes sold, the truly telling data for the overall health of the industry is the change in the pricing figures. If home developers like Pulte Homes
Mutual funds step into some hot water
What happened? This is a late-breaking story, but one that could nonetheless prove to be important. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating 27 mutual funds for reportedly receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks and misusing investors' funds.
What does this mean for your portfolio? In recent years, scandals have plagued the mutual fund industry. According to The Wall Street Journal, critics and regulators have repeatedly said that fund companies are misusing shareholder money for their own benefit, with this investigation adding to the fire. Before investing your money in a mutual fund, do some of your own probing. Websites like fundalarm.com are dedicated to providing consumers intelligence to make Foolish decisions.
One block to Starbucks is just too far
What happened? Starbucks
What does this mean for your portfolio? As a non-coffee drinker, this figure absolutely dumbfounds me. However, I am aware that any company that can capture this kind of consumer loyalty means big bucks on the balance sheet. Perhaps the most telling aspect of this aggressive growth campaign is that Starbucks is planning numerous multiblock locations -- a process called infill -- for individuals who just can't make it a few dozen yards to the barista down the street. Addiction, brand loyalty, and nearly free rein from the government? Caffeine surely must be the last fully legal drug.
Don't have kids? Start saving for college anyway
What happened? New data emerged this week, putting the national average of one year's private college costs above the $30,000 mark. That number includes tuition, room, board and other significant costs associated with attending school. These costs have been rising well ahead of inflation for over a decade now.
What does this mean for your portfolio? This is a particularly terrifying statistic. Without doubt, the importance of a college degree continues to rise, and equally the implications of not having one are becoming more severe. As the wage gap continues to increase, more and more Americans who can't afford a college education will literally be blocked from comfortable middle-class opportunities. Start making plans early for the young ones.
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Fool contributor Nick Kapur doesn't own any shares of the companies mentioned above. Microsoft is a two-time Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Wrigley is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.