Editor's Outlook: The Bear Days of Summer
by Wayne A. Thorp
Seemingly to add insult to injury, one of my daily E-mails from a local market research firm informed me recently that we are, officially, in a bear market. By their calculation, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 20.3% as of the close of July 3 from its October peak. While they tried to cheer me up by pointing out that the S&P 500 was down only 19.3%, that index didnt want to be left out and its decline on July 7 took it down 20.5% from its October high. So, it seems that dog days of summer have been chased off by the bears.
During such downturns in the market, many investors prefer to bury their heads in the sand to avoid the bad news. Up or down, rain or shine, it is a good idea to have some idea how your portfolio is performing. For this type of casual observation, an on-line portfolio trackersuch as those covered in Cara Scatizzis in-depth comparison article in this issuewill do quite nicely. Such services are not intended to replace more full-featured portfolio management software, which usually handle investments that are more complex and aid in income tax filings. Instead, on-line portfolio trackers allow you to monitor things on a day-to-day basis. Many even allow you to receive E-mail alerts regarding important news events that may be driving a stocks price. For more information on these services, click here.
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Beesofts ProTA & ProTA Gold
In the May/June issues Messages segment, I pointed out that Beesoft and its programs ProTA and ProTA Gold were still in existence, despite comments to the contrary in our March/April 2008 comparison of technical analysis and charting services. I promised to provide a supplemental write-up of these two programs and include them in this issue. With apologies to Jeff Bizon at BeeSoft, space constraints kept us from running it in the printed issue of CI. However, you can read about these two top-flight offerings for the Mac OS at our Web site: www.aaii.com/ci/200807/prota.pdf. We also plan to merge this into the existing comparison from the March/April issue so you have all of this information in a single downloadable document.
Adieu Bill, Farewell XP (Kind Of)
Finally, Microsoft had two send-offs at the end of June: Bill Gates ended his tenure as a full-time employee after 30-plus years, and the company ended retail sales of Windows XP. I am sure Bill wont miss the paycheck, but only time will tell how much Microsoft will miss him.
As far as XP goes, you cant walk into a retail store and buy copies of Windows XP, as Microsoft attempts to direct consumersand, more importantly, businessesto Windows Vista. But Microsoft is sending mixed messages: You will still be able to buy new PCs with Windows XP installed on them until 2009 and XP will remain under Microsofts support umbrella for at least another seven years. All the while, rumors are flying about the next-generation Windows platform, which could be rolled out in as little as three years. Overall, not a rousing cry of support for Vista.