Right now might be an ideal time to look at your 401(k) statement. With the stock market closed today, the first quarter finished at an all-time high for the most important big stock index. The Standard & Poor’s 500, for the first time since 2007, is at a new record high. Analysts give three reasons for the latest nudge higher: 1. The Federal Reserve’s policy of bond buying and keeping interest rates extremely low has made stock investments more attractive than bonds. 2. Increasingly, economists are raising their forecasts for growth this year. 3. Fears that the crisis in Cyprus would re-ignite the long-running European financial may have been unfounded.
Savers who did not panic when the market hit bottom in March 2009 have been reaping the rewards. Stocks may be risky, and there has been a large amount of volatility over years, but the averages have been better long-term bets than money market funds or bonds. “The stock market has consistently grown every decade over 10 percent,” says Mark Wojno of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. “Decade over decade for almost 100 years now.” Wojno says you should check your fund statements at least twice a year. (“You have to keep in mind that there’s a long-term approach to looking at things and not to over-react or to panic.”
Tough new standards to cut pollution from car exhaust might hit you in the wallet. Oil refiners are not happy about the latest ruling from the Obama administration that calls for less sulfur in gasoline and stricter rules to reduce soot and other particles. An oil industry study says the proposed rule could raise gas prices by up to 9 cents a gallon. The EPA disputes that claim, arguing the price increase will be only a penny per gallon.
A federal appeals court in Michigan says government regulators can try to halt construction projects at power plants if they think the companies didn’t properly calculate whether the changes would increase air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency sued DTE Energy in 2010 because the company replaced boiler parts at its Monroe Unit 2 without installing pollution controls that are required whenever a utility performs a major overhaul. DTE said the project was only routine maintenance. Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman threw out the suit, saying EPA went to court too soon. But the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his decision . In a 2-1 ruling, the court says the law doesn’t block EPA from challenging suspected violations of its regulations until long after power plants are modified.
Amazon is buying Goodreads. The world’s biggest online retailer says it “shares a passion for reinventing reading,” with Goodreads. In addition to recommending books to read based on what other books people have liked, Goodreads also serves as a social network for bookworms. It has 16 million members. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc