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Last updateWed, 06 Dec 2017 2pm

Why are global stock markets performing so well this year?

The year 2017 is shaping up to be one of the best years in a generation for international stock market investing.

For the first time in any year, the Morgan Stanley Capital International All Country World Index has posted a gain every single month through October. The media will offer all kinds of explanations, most of which are speculative and unsupported. Pick your cause: low oil prices, low interest rates, improved gross domestic products, Trump, Obama. In the end, no one really has any clue about what drives the investment markets.

Not paying attention to IRA rules can prove costly to contributors

Most people I speak to are aware of the 10 percent penalty for withdrawing from an IRA prior to age 59 1/2. But there also are penalties for contributing too much in a given year or for not withdrawing enough each year in retirement. Which is worse? By far it’s the latter.

The penalty for making excess contributions to your IRA – more than $5,500, or $6,500 if you’re over age 50 – is only 6 percent of the excess amount. That’s less than the penalty for withdrawing too soon. As long as you withdraw the excess amount prior to Oct. 15 of the year the tax is due (that’s Oct. 15, 2018, for the 2017 tax year), no penalty will be imposed.

Better Business Bureau: beware of scammers on Facebook Marketplace and meet in person

Facebook Marketplace may be a great place to find deals on items for sale in your neighborhood, but like any online classified site, watch for warning signs before handing over money. The Better Business Bureau reports Facebook Marketplace scams on its BBB Scam Tracker, especially for big-ticket items such as used cars and RVs.

How the scam works

You are shopping on Facebook Marketplace and spot a listing that looks like a good deal, so you contact the seller. The seller replies, claiming that he or she is out of the country, in the military or otherwise unavailable. Instead, the person tells you they are using “eBay,” “Amazon” or another reputable third-party company to sell and ship the item.

Protecting your online assets

Much has been written about the recent Equifax data breach. While I will share ways to keep credit data safe, I also will emphasize other common-sense precautions to keep online data safe.

A few weeks ago, an especially concerning security breach affecting 143 million Americans took place when Equifax, a leading online aggregator of consumer spending, personal and financial data, was hacked.

Picking winning stocks can be a losing strategy

Here’s a simple question: Which has had better historical returns, stocks or one-month U.S. Treasury bills?

The answer is pretty much of a no-brainer. Since 1926, Treasury bills have returned a paltry 3.5 percent annually on average, versus more than 10 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. But that’s the average return for all large-company stocks.

Differences separate Generation Z and millennials as they enter workforce

There’s a new generation entering the workforce, and it’s one that employers will need to prepare for, as it’s 23 million strong and will flood the job market by the end of the decade.

Generation Z, born in the mid- to late-1990s, primarily to Generation X parents, is a confidence-filled group that doesn’t want to miss a thing, has the shortest attention span of any generation and isn’t quite as open as its predecessors – the millennials. Born in the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, primarily to baby boomer parents, millennials taught Generation Z that not everything needs to be shared online.


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