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Computerized Investing > July/August 2008

Editor's Outlook: The Bear Days of Summer

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

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 didn’t 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 tracker—such as those covered in Cara Scatizzi’s in-depth comparison article in this issue—will 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 stock’s price. For more information on these services, click here.

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