Stock Futures Point to a Higher Open on Wall Street

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Richard Drew/AP

By Sreeja VN

U.S. stock index futures point to a higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday, ahead of the publication of the House Price Index and corporate earnings statements from tech majors Apple, AT&T and Electronic Arts.

Futures on the Dow Jones industrial average(^DJI) were up 0.3 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) were up 0.1 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 index were up 0.3 percent.

Investors will also be turning their attention to the publication of the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index at 9 a.m. Eastern time. The index provides the monthly average change in house prices across the country or a certain area, using data provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The index is expected to nudge up to 0.8 percent in May, from 0.7 percent recorded in the previous month.

In addition, a number of major companies, including United Parcel Service (UPS), Altria Group (MO), Lockheed Martin (LMT), MGIC Investment (MTG), Wendy's (WEN) will announce quarterly earnings before market hours. Altera (ALTR) and Broadcom (BRCM), along with Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T) and Electronic Arts (EA), will announce their earnings after markets close.

European markets were trading flat after climbing higher earlier Tuesday, as Asian markets rallied following recent reports from China indicating Beijing might take measures to support the country's economic growth, and the Japanese government upgraded its outlook of the country's economy for a third consecutive month.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.1 percent, London's FTSE 100 was flat, Germany's DAX-30 was up 0.1 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading up 0.05 percent.

In Asia, Chinese stocks led a rally in the region's markets, with the Shanghai Composite index surging 2 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index soared 2.3 percent. Shares jumped after several local media reported that Premier Li Keqiang, at a cabinet meeting last week, gave an assurance that the government won't allow China's economic growth to fall below 7 percent.

Japan's Nikkei ended up 0.8 percent after the government said that the recovery in the world's third-largest economy had turned self-sustaining, MarketWatch reported. South Korea's KOSPI Composite index rallied 1.3 percent, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent and India's BSE Sensex was trading up 0.8 percent in late-afternoon trade.


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Stock Futures Point to a Higher Open on Wall Street

Warren Buffett is a great investor, but what makes him rich is that he's been a great investor for two thirds of a century. Of his current $60 billion net worth, $59.7 billion was added after his 50th birthday, and $57 billion came after his 60th. If Buffett started saving in his 30s and retired in his 60s, you would have never heard of him. His secret is time.

Most people don't start saving in meaningful amounts until a decade or two before retirement, which severely limits the power of compounding. That's unfortunate, and there's no way to fix it retroactively. It's a good reminder of how important it is to teach young people to start saving as soon as possible.

Future market returns will equal the dividend yield + earnings growth +/- change in the earnings multiple (valuations). That's really all there is to it.

The dividend yield we know: It's currently 2%. A reasonable guess of future earnings growth is 5% a year. What about the change in earnings multiples? That's totally unknowable.

Earnings multiples reflect people's feelings about the future. And there's just no way to know what people are going to think about the future in the future. How could you?

If someone said, "I think most people will be in a 10% better mood in the year 2023," we'd call them delusional. When someone does the same thing by projecting 10-year market returns, we call them analysts.

Someone who bought a low-cost S&P 500 index fund in 2003 earned a 97% return by the end of 2012. That's great! And they didn't need to know a thing about portfolio management, technical analysis, or suffer through a single segment of "The Lighting Round."

Meanwhile, the average equity market neutral fancy-pants hedge fund lost 4.7% of its value over the same period, according to data from Dow Jones Credit Suisse Hedge Fund Indices. The average long-short equity hedge fund produced a 96% total return -- still short of an index fund.

Investing is not like a computer: Simple and basic can be more powerful than complex and cutting-edge. And it's not like golf: The spectators have a pretty good chance of humbling the pros.

Most investors understand that stocks produce superior long-term returns, but at the cost of higher volatility. Yet every time -- every single time -- there's even a hint of volatility, the same cry is heard from the investing public: "What is going on?!"

Nine times out of ten, the correct answer is the same: Nothing is going on. This is just what stocks do.

Since 1900 the S&P 500 (^GSPC) has returned about 6% per year, but the average difference between any year's highest close and lowest close is 23%. Remember this the next time someone tries to explain why the market is up or down by a few percentage points. They are basically trying to explain why summer came after spring.

Someone once asked J.P. Morgan what the market will do. "It will fluctuate," he allegedly said. Truer words have never been spoken.

The vast majority of financial products are sold by people whose only interest in your wealth is the amount of fees they can sucker you out of.

You need no experience, credentials, or even common sense to be a financial pundit. Sadly, the louder and more bombastic a pundit is, the more attention he'll receive, even though it makes him more likely to be wrong.

This is perhaps the most important theory in finance. Until it is understood you stand a high chance of being bamboozled and misled at every corner.

"Everything else is cream cheese."
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