Welcome to our investing news blog. Here we’ll bring you investing and retirement news from the past week or so. Bookmark this page to read the latest each week. You can also email us if you’d like to be notified when this page updates.
January historically has been one of the strongest months for the U.S. stock market — and this year didn’t disappoint. The S&P 500 jumped 7.9%, for its strongest January since 1987. It didn’t crawl back entirely from December’s bruising 9.2% slump, but the S&P 500 is a more comfortable distance from a much-feared bear market now. That said, professional investors caution in our February stock market outlook that volatility — those wild daily swings that seem to be the norm lately — will likely continue.
You get free trades! You get free trades!
Paying commissions on stocks and exchange-traded fund trades is starting to feel passe, with a variety of brokers (including Vanguard, Robinhood, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab) offering commission-free trades to select customers. In late January, Merrill Edge announced plans to expand eligibility for commission-free online stock and ETF trades to all Bank of America Preferred Rewards members (customers with combined balances of $20,000 or more). This benefit was previously offered only to the highest-tier members and will take effect in the second quarter. If you’re still paying high commissions, check our picks for the best discount brokers.
How does your 401(k) stack up?
If saving more for retirement is on your 2019 to-do list, you’re probably not alone. NerdWallet’s Arielle O’Shea recently broke down the median and average 401(k) balances for employees of various age cohorts with plans held at Fidelity Investments — and 401(k) millionaire-wannabes may have some work to do. Of possible help? The IRS increased 401(k) contribution limits for 2019 — now $19,000 (up from $18,500), with an additional $6,000 catch-up for employees 50 and over. Separate figures from Fidelity showed that the average 401(k) balance fell 10% in the fourth quarter of 2018 amid all the market volatility, but that a majority of investors continued contributing to their accounts and didn’t make significant changes to their investments. Want to see how your savings add up over time? Consult our 401(k) calculator.
Remembering Vanguard’s vanguard
Even outside of investing, Warren Buffett is a household name. John “Jack” Bogle? Not so much. But tributes from the investment community poured in after Bogle, founder of Vanguard, died in mid-January. Bogle was the visionary behind index funds, which have made it easy for investors to diversify their portfolios on the cheap. As Buffett put it: “Jack did more for American investors as a whole than any individual I’ve known.” My colleagues and I also recalled some of our favorite Bogle investing wisdom and his enduring legacy.
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