WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Last winter’s “Snowmageddon”
is not expected to do a repeat performance on the East Coast
this year. That’s the good news for anyone who pays their own
heating bills. But the bad news is that most fuel rates have
The resulting bottom line is this: Most people will pay
roughly the same amount for heat this winter as they did last
winter, the Energy Department predicted on Tuesday. The average
household heating costs between Oct. 1 and March 31 will be
$962, the Department said. That’s just $11 more than last
If you’ve got big plans to fly the family home for the holidays, join the crowd — and expect to pay a lot more than you did last year. The Air Transport Association says it expects 24-million flyers over the Thanksgiving holiday, up 3.5 percent from 2009. That pick up in demand is fueling higher ticket prices.
Airfares are 17 to 18 percent higher, on average, than they were in 2009, said FareCompare. Holiday travelers plan to spend 41 percent more than they did last year, shelling out an average of $1,203 in 2010, up from $854 last year, Maritz Research reported.
Interest rates on bank certificates of deposit are at their lowest levels ever, Market Rates Insight reports. “For the first time since 1952, the average rate for all CDs dipped below 1 percent,” Dan Geller, the firm’s executive vice president, told Reuters.
That’s bad news for savers, but, as Geller points out, “what’s the alternative?”
If brokers had to put their clients’ interest ahead of their own, those clients would pay more for financial advice and their investments, an industry group reported recently. A couple with $200,000 in retirement assets would pay roughly $460 more a year in additional fees.
The study was commissioned by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the group representing megabrokers and banks, as part of its effort to influence a forthcoming rulemaking from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is supposed to report to Congress before the end of January 2011 about whether it should require brokers to be fiduciaries – professionals who are legally required to put their clients interests ahead of their own. Currently, fee-only financial advisors are typically fiduciaries, but brokers are required to meet lesser standards: They simply have to recommend suitable investments, and can put their own interests above their clients, say by recommending more expensive investment choices that pay commissions, as long as they are suitable.
Somewhere between the Halloween candy and the Thansgiving turkey, many workers have something a lot less tasty to digest: It’s that fat packet of insurance information from their HR department.
This is the time of year when employees often have to make choices about their healthcare coverage for the following year. It’s called “open enrollment season,” but this year, it may feel more like open season on your wallet. With government-mandated changes that broaden health care coverage, the policies have gotten better (they typically will pay 100 percent of preventive care, for example), but they’ve gotten more expensive, too. The National Business Group on Health, a group representing large employers, estimates that premiums for company-paid plans will rise about 8.9 percent next year.
The Federal Reserve, in an attempt to stimulate the economy, is coming into the bond market with a pocketful of money, Fed officials confirmed today. They said the central bank would be buying about $110 billion a month in Treasury securities over the next 8 months or more. That’s about $75 billion a month more than it already has been buying.
The question for most investors is whether they should be shopping along with the Fed, or unloading their own bond holdings while the Fed is buying. Some pros see this as a clear sign that the best days for bond buyers are in the past.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans voted their pocketbooks on Tuesday, the pundits say. Weary of high unemployment and a weak economy, voters gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives and a bigger voice in the Senate, too.
That raises the obvious morning-after question: What will it mean for your bottom line? Here are some key areas where the new Congress could affect consumer issues — even before it’s seated.
WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Americans voted their
pocketbooks on Tuesday, the pundits say. Weary of high
unemployment and a weak economy, voters gave Republicans
control of the House of Representatives and a bigger voice in
the Senate, too.
That raises the obvious morning-after question: What will it
mean for your bottom line? Here are some key areas where the
new Congress could affect consumer issues — even before it’s
The widely anticipated gridlock that could stall Washington after the election isn’t so good for financial markets after all, says Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist for Standard & Poor’s Equity Research. The popular-with-strategists view, that a divided Congress would protect investors from having to swallow damaging legislation, is wrong: “History says the opposite is true: Gridlock is NOT good,” Stovall writes in his investment letter.
For more than 110 years, the average return when there was a Democratic president and a split Congress was not a return at all, but a loss of 3.7 percent. When both houses of Congress and the White House were all dominated by the same party, the average return was 7.6 percent. It seems that watching Washington bicker and stall doesn’t engender investor confidence.
Employee contributions to 401(k) and 403(b) plans will be capped at $16,500 in 2011, the same amount they were set at for 2009 and 2010, the Internal Revenue Service announced. The levels are unchanged for the same reason that Social Security recipients won’t see a cost of living increase next year: inflation is too low to trigger an increase.
The income ceilings that determine when savers can contribute to Individual Retirement Accounts largely remain unchanged, too. Workers covered by company plans will find their ability to contribute to a traditional tax-deferred IRA phase out between $56,000 and $66,000; joint filers will hit that IRA phase out betwen $90,000 and $110,000if the IRA contributor is covered by a company plan; and between $169,000 and $179,000 if the contributor is not an active particpant in a company plan.