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Trade Deficit Shows Weak Q1 Contraction

tradedeficit

The trade deficit in March reached a 6 year high which makes many feel the economy contracted in the first quarter of the year. Yet the general feeling is that the economy rebounded in April with stronger service sector activity. The issues faced in the first quarter are not present in the second quarter, giving people a positive perspective on GDP.

The trade deficit moved higher by 43% to over $53 billion in March of 2015. The jump was 9 year high with the number itself being a 6 year high. West Coast ports were stalled with trade talks until just recently, creating the surge. US Stocks, Treasuries, and the Dollar all fell today.

Apple Becomes a Big Dividend Payer

AppleInc

Exxon Mobile Corp was the largest dividend payer in the S&P 500, paying out over $11.5 billion per year to stock holders. But with Apple increasing their dividend by 10% with their most recent earnings report, they will now be paying out over $12 billion yearly in dividends. This dividend raise was in addition to the companies large stock buyback program which is investing $140 billion in Apple stock.

The company has become a cash cow with the popularity of its phone and tablet products. Even with the large stock buyback and the huge dividend payouts, the company still has plenty of cash on hand to invest in research and development of new products.

Microsoft Beats Estimates On New Products

MicrosoftProfit

Microsoft reported its 3rd quarter results tonight, beating analyst estimates with stronger sales in cloud services, tablets, and software. Windows sales were soft during the period. Revenue beat estimates at $21.7 million, an improvement of 6% when compared to the same quarter last year. Earnings beat by 10 cents, coming in at 61 cents a share.

Microsoft touted its cloud services as evidence that companies are moving away from server based technologies to its cloud products. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, also mentioned the upcoming Build developers conference as something we should look forward to, to see more cloud products from the company.

Analysts Cheer As Netflix Stays Bullish

netflix

The wind of change is blowing in the television and content delivery space. Netflix has done it again, increasing its share prices by nearly 14% to end at $65.28 at the close of trading. This was surely helped by the release of its first quarter report that showed steady progress in subscriber acquisition. Other news included not so stellar profit figures and the possibility of a stock split.

The company hosted a Q&A session after the report was made public. Its CEO Reed Hastings sounded triumphant as he emphasized the growth of Internet TV. He did not show concern about the moves of his competitors, saying instead that more players mean a greater attraction for the audience to try this new wave.

Are you A Millionaire In The Making

moremillionaires

Millionaires have changed over the years and today you will find that 66% are female while 25% are non-white, this according to a new Fidelity study. The outlook found that there are 6 traits that make the millionaires (starting with only $250,000 in assets) standout from the crowd. To begin with they still have a lot of time before retirement, normally more than 25 years.

Big Rally To Start The Week

The stock market jumped higher today with some considering the market oversold, government reports due this week, and new stimulus in Asia. Personal income came in a little bit better than expected and homes sales were higher last month thanks to the mid-west and sales in the west. The Dow Jones was up almost 300 points while the S&P 500 moved up 1.25% overall. Energy stocks were the strongest even as oil prices declined more.

How Long To Hold Your Tax Records

taxdocs

The IRS is able to audit your tax return for three years after you file it and  you are able to amend a tax return for three years after it is due. So you should keep at least 3 years of tax forms and tax documents, showing all your income, expenses and deductions for that amount of time. This year, you will want to have tax files for 2014, 2013, and 2012. Obamacare has also added the need to keep track of health insurance records along with your tax documents starting this tax season.

Winning The March Madness Office Pool Leads to Tax Liability

MarchMadness

Winning the office pool this March for the NCAA Tournament is something that needs to be claimed on your taxes as a gambling win. Luckily you can offset the win with any gambling loses that you had during the year. Keep track of your loses so you do not need to pay taxes this year on the gain. Winning the brackets is never easy but in case you have the best one in your office, keep some things in mind.

Americans Saved For College $248 Billion

Mar 04 2015
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529plan

Americans have utilized the popular 529 plans to save for college to the tune of $248 billion. The amount in those plans grew by 9% last year. And it has become very popular to save for college as early as when a child is one years old. The College Savings Plans Network advices that this is a smart move by parents as the cost of college continues to rise. The average value of these accounts is now at $20,000. But costs continue to rise and the government only finds new ways to keep the cost of college on an upward trend.

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