Stock Market Today: Threat of Capital Gains Tax Hike Thumps Stocks

After three days of placid macroeconomic news, the markets swung on a pair of big announcements Thursday – good news on the labor front, but bad news for wealthy Americans paying capital gains taxes.

Earlier in the day, investors were encouraged by another drop in weekly unemployment filings. Initial jobless claims for the week ended April 17 dropped by 39,000 to a recovery-era low 547,000.

“Altogether, the sharp decline in the rate of job separation is consistent with an improvement in labor market conditions, likely on account of progress on vaccinations and an easing of social distancing restrictions in many states,” say Barclays strategists Michael Gapen and Pooja Sriram.

However, the market took a sharp turn lower in the afternoon after Bloomberg reported that President Joe Biden will propose roughly doubling the capital gains tax rate for Americans earning at least $1 million to 39.6%.

This proposal, which would result in federal tax rates of up to 43.4% for the wealthiest Americans after also factoring in the Net Investment Income Tax, has been floated as a possibility for some time, but Bloomberg’s report was the most concrete indication yet that such a hike could be on the table.

The blue-chip indexes, which were on track to finish with modest gains to marginal losses, finished solidly lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.9% to 33,815, the S&P 500 lost 0.9% to 4,134 and the Nasdaq Composite fell by 0.9% to 13,818.

Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 wasn’t dinged up as hard, slipping 0.3% to 2,232.
  • U.S. crude oil futures clawed out a 0.1% gain to $61.43 per barrel.
  • Gold futures declined 0.6% to $1,782.00 per ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) rebounded 7.1% to close at 18.74.
  • Bitcoin prices sank by 4.8% to $52,967. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
stock chart for 042221stock chart for 042221

Will a Capital Gains Tax Hike Weigh on Stocks for Long?

Not everyone agrees that the sky is falling. Some market watchers – such as Ben Carlson, director of institutional asset management at Ritholtz Asset Management, and Dave Nadig, CIO and Director of Research for ETFTrends and ETFdb – questioned, via tweet, how much impact capital gains taxes really have on stock market performance.

Others doubt such a tax can even pass Congress.

Gene Goldman, chief investment officer at Cetera Investment Management, cites three reasons he thinks Biden’s pitch won’t win in its current form: “1) This is a drastic tax change; 2) Republicans will not go along with it, and even some Democrats might not be on board, though they could be persuaded if the tax change includes a removal of the SALT tax cap; 3) Though the economic recovery is broadening, this could hurt this still-delicate recovery.”

Still, even the mere proposal could keep the market in seesaw mode, once again emphasizing the psychological benefits of having blue-chip holdings you can trust. That includes blue chips like these 25 stocks selected for their elite balance-sheet strength. But another way to sniff out solid blue-chip holdings is to eyeball the hedge fund space, where billionaires and other large-money managers’ inexhaustible research resources sometimes point all these pros to the same high-quality holdings.

Here, we examine a couple dozen blue-chip stocks that are widely held among the hedge fund set and, in many cases, are high-conviction plays for notable managers.

Source: kiplinger.com

9 Energy-Efficient Home Improvements Worth Your Money

How would you like to invest $30 and be paid a $45 dividend on your investment every year after that?

That’s essentially what you do when you make certain energy-efficient home improvements to lower your expenses.

If you pay for powering your home, you know that the dollars can really add up. The average monthly electricity bill in the U.S. was $115.49 in 2019, but your bill can vary widely depending on where you live — and whether you also rely on alternative energy sources like gas or solar power.

If you take the steps suggested below — especially if you do the work yourself — you could save a bundle. And if you think of the improvements as an investment, you can enjoy a healthy annual rate of return and won’t pay income taxes like you would with regular investment returns.

9 Energy-Efficient Home Improvement Tips That Will Also Save You Money

When you invest in your home to lower your bills, every penny saved is yours to keep.

Ready to get started? Here are nine ways to save money by improving your house.

1. Insulate Your Water Heater

An insulating jacket for your hot water heater will cost $30 or so, and you can install it yourself in about an hour.

According to the experts at the Department of Energy, insulating a hot water tank saves 7% to 16% annually.

In other words, assuming the average hot water costs $438 to operate annually, you’ll have $30 to $70 more in your pocket each year.

If you’re able to make a bigger up-front investment, you may consider replacing your traditional electric water heater with a heat pump water heater.

Instead of generating heat directly, heat pump water heaters act more like refrigerators in reverse — they pull heat into the device instead of pushing it out.

The bigger your family is, the more you’ll save by using heat pump water heaters, according to the DOE. Two people would save $170 every year while a family of four would save $350 a year. The DOE estimates the cost to switch is approximately $800, so that family of four would start seeing savings after a little over two years.

The Energy Star site has a questionnaire to help you decide if heat pump water heaters are a good fit for your home.

A woman adjusts the thermostat.
Getty Images

2. Install a Programmable Thermostat

You don’t need as much heat when you’re in bed at night, and you don’t need as much heating or air conditioning when you are out of the house. But you don’t want to climb out of bed on a cold winter morning or come home to a hot house in the summer.

A programmable thermostat solves these problems by automatically adjusting the temperature settings for you.

Ten minutes before you get up in winter, the heat turns on. Ten minutes before you get home after a hot summer day at work, the air conditioning adjusts to cool the house. You use the heating and cooling only when you actually need them.

A programmable thermostat can save you $50 on heating and cooling costs each year, according to the government’s Energy Star program. Starting around $60, many models are simple enough to install on your own.

3. Switch Out Your Light Bulbs

Another bright idea for savings? Replacing your light bulbs.

Light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs are 90% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last up to 20 years.

LEDs used to be expensive for a single bulb, but today, you can get a two-pack of LED bulbs for under $5.

Pro Tip

Before starting a home improvement project, check out the DOE’s Energy Star site to find out if the product you need is eligible for a tax credit or rebate.

By using the LEDs, you can save $4.10 per bulb per year on energy usage compared to an incandescent. The average American household has 50 light bulb sockets, according to the EPA’s Energy Star program, which means a potential annual savings of $205 if you replaced every bulb in your house.

4. Bundle Up Those Water Lines

Bare water lines leak heat, so you have to set the temperature of the hot water heater higher to still get a hot shower at the other end of the house.

Solve this problem with a little pipe insulation: an inexpensive foam tube with a slit down the side. Just cut it to the required length with scissors and push it onto the pipes.

This project will take you about three hours for a small home and cost $10 to $15 total, according to the Department of Energy. Each year, you’ll save 3% to 4% heating your water.

5. Replace Your Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans in general can help you save on heating and cooling costs.

In the summer, run the fan blades counterclockwise to generate a cool breeze — thus reducing the need to run the more expensive air conditioning. Running the blades clockwise helps circulate warm air that rises back down into the room, helping cut heating costs in the winter.

You can realize even more savings by replacing your old, inefficient fans with Energy Star certified fans, which are 60% more energy efficient than older models, according to the DOE. (And be sure to use your energy efficient light bulbs in the fixtures.)

A woman opens up the fridge in her home.
Getty Images

6. Buy a New Refrigerator

If your refrigerator is working fine, there’s normally no good reason to replace it, even if the new one is a bit more efficient. But if you have a fridge that’s more than 15 years old, it might be time to replace that one.

A new fridge uses about $80 less in electricity each year compared to one from 2005.

7. Insulate Your Attic

If you run your heater or air conditioner most days, you might save some serious money by adding new insulation to your attic.

Upgrading attic insulation from R-11 to R-49 is something you can do by yourself in a day or two for about $750, according to HouseLogic.com. (The cost is about double if you want professionals to install it.)

You’ll save about $600 per year on heating and cooling costs, depending on where you live and the type of heat you have. It also adds value to your home if you decide to sell in the future.

8. Seal Those Air Leaks

Check for cracks or spaces around door frames, windows and entry points for pipes and cables. You lose heat from these gaps during the winter and cool air in the summer, adding to your heating and cooling costs.

It takes about $20 in caulking and peel-and-paste insulating strips to seal these up all over the house.

Pro Tip

If you’re looking to replace an exterior door, a steel or fiberglass door is a more energy efficient option than wood. Some steel doors even have insulated cores, so no need for weatherstripping.

The experts at Energy Star say doing this will cut your heating and cooling costs by an average of 15%, depending where you live. That’s potentially hundreds of dollars saved for an investment of an afternoon and $20. Not bad, right?

9. Replace That Toilet Flapper

If you hear your toilet running when it isn’t being used, you probably have a leaky flapper.

It’s not just an annoyance — a leaky flapper can waste up to 200 gallons of water every day.

Since a new flapper valve can be bought for under $10 and can save you $50 per month, this little investment might have the highest rate of return of any on our list.

Steve Gillman is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Staff writer/editor Tiffany Wendeln Connors also contributed to this post.. 



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Renovation vs. Remodel: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a homeowner considering a range of home improvements, you may not know if what you’re planning is a renovation or a remodel. Does it matter? Yes, because there are key differences.

A renovation is an update of an existing room or structure, while a remodel affects the design and purpose of an area. The more extensive work in a remodel will influence the cost and length of your project.

What Is a Renovation?

During a renovation, one or more rooms are updated and repaired. This might include new cabinets, flooring, and paint.

The bones of the room are typically left intact, though some structural issues may be fixed in a renovation, such as replacing rotting wood or swapping out window frames suffering from water damage.

A kitchen renovation might include replacing appliances, faucets, and knobs, while a bedroom reno might call for paint, new rugs, or new lighting.

Bathroom renovations often involve installing new tile, towel racks, and faucets.

Recommended: Home Improvement Cost Calculator

Advantages of a Renovation

Renovations are typically less costly than remodels, thanks to several factors.

You Can DIY

If you’re handy, you can slash some of the cost of hiring someone to undertake your renovation by doing some of the work yourself.

Because most renovations don’t require structural changes, you likely won’t be on the hook to hire licensed professionals to get it done. That means anything that you’re capable of—painting, wallpapering, floor sanding—you can do and pocket what it would have cost to hire help.

Just make sure you are skilled enough; hiring a professional to redo what you couldn’t complete may cost you money you didn’t plan on spending.

You May Get a Better Return on Investment

Since a renovation doesn’t call for major expenses like hiring licensed professionals or other construction-related outlays, in some cases the project offers more bang for the buck than a renovation does.

Renovation-related tweaks will still improve the look and feel of your home, and thus increase the value of your home, without the major expense a renovation entails.

You might want to try this handy home improvement ROI estimator.

You Can Expect Fewer Hidden Costs

When you’re renovating a room, your action plan is pretty cut and dry, and there aren’t likely to be surprises that require you to spend more than you planned.

Not so with a remodel, which, due to its scope, may result in additional costs to fix unforeseen problems such as hidden water damage, termites, or asbestos. These surprises can also lengthen the time of your project.

What Is a Remodel?

Remodels are typically more extensive than renovations. They include altering the function and sometimes the structure of an area of the house.

If your project calls for tearing down or adding walls, or changing the layout of a room, you’re planning a remodel.

Some examples of remodels: changing a powder room into a laundry room, knocking down a wall between a dining room and kitchen to create a great room, building an addition to your existing home, or expanding a closet into a dressing room.

Even if you’re not tearing down or adding walls, your project may be a remodel. This might include moving kitchen appliances around to improve room flow, tearing out a tub and installing a walk-in shower in a bathroom, or turning a small guest bedroom into a home office.

Recommended: Closet Remodel Guide

Advantages of a Remodel

Many homeowners find there are pluses to a remodel as opposed to a renovation.

You Have the Opportunity to Customize Your Home

As homeowners grow with their home, they may find that their needs change.

Some may want an addition to accommodate an aging parent, while others may have expanded their families and need to convert a home office into a nursery. Empty-nesters may want to use one of their bedrooms as a study or gym.

A remodel affords them more options than a renovation does because they can make the necessary changes—however major—to achieve their needs.

You May Experience Hidden Benefits

Adding an island to a kitchen and removing a wall to create a larger space might mean more than increased room to prepare meals. You may find your family spends more time together in rooms that are spacious and inviting.

Similarly, retrofitting your heating and cooling system, adding under-floor heating, and replacing insulation might result in lower utility bills, freeing up money for hobbies or vacations.

Why a Remodel May Cost More Than a Renovation

All of that means remodels are costlier than renovations. Here’s why.

You May Need Permits

Thanks to the extensive nature of most remodels, many cities require homeowners to secure a permit before they begin work, especially if the project involves creating an addition to the home, or if new walls or new roofs are being installed. This is to ensure that building codes are followed.

If you need permits, you will want to factor the time it takes to secure them into your timeline. Once the permits are approved, the project may begin. And once it is completed, it will likely need to be approved by a local inspector.

You May Need Professional Help

If your remodel requires electrical, duct, or plumbing work, you will likely need to hire a licensed professional to complete it.

You may also need to hire a general contractor to hire and oversee these workers and others for larger remodels like adding a guest suite to the home or converting an attic to a home office with an en-suite bathroom.

These vendors, while necessary, can be costly since you are paying for their time in addition to any materials.

You May Be Dealing With Construction

While it can be exciting to imagine what your home will look like after a remodel, getting there can be taxing. That’s because you may be living in a construction zone as the project is underway.

It can be difficult to have to eat multiple takeout meals because your kitchen is being worked on, or deal with dust from work being done in the next room over.

If their remodel is especially extensive, some homeowners find they need to rent a home nearby until the remodel has been completed.

Recommended: Average Cost To Remodel

Paying for a Remodel or Renovation

Whether you’re undertaking a renovation or remodel, you’ll want to have a budget and a payment plan. Some renovations are small enough that homeowners can pay upfront.

Those tackling remodels and larger renovations might tap a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, when the home is used as collateral.

An unsecured, fixed-rate home improvement loan is another option.

A cash-out refinance also can free up part of the difference between the mortgage balance and the home’s value.

Recommended: Home Equity Loans vs Personal Loans for Home Improvement

The Takeaway

Undertaking home improvements can be exciting for homeowners. But before you embark on a project, know whether you’re looking at a renovation or a remodel, how much inconvenience you’re willing to put up with, and what you are willing to pay.

SoFi offers no-fee home improvement loans of up to $100,000.

If a cash-out refinance makes more sense, SoFi offers that as well.

Or if you’re in the market for a home loan, SoFi has that covered, too, with competitive rates and options requiring as little as 5% down.

Check your rate and start planning that remodel or renovation.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOHL21006

Source: sofi.com

How Professional SEO Services Can Help Your Website

Attracting customers to your website is very important for a strong online presence. Professional SEO services can help your website succeed.

By

Andrew Charles, Partner
April 16, 2021

major search engines. To do this, you should consider working with a professional SEO service. Professional SEO services can help your website in a variety of different ways.

No matter what type of business you are in today, having a strong online presence is very important.

Consultation for current website

When you hire a professional to help with SEO, the first thing that they will do is provide you with a consultation on your current website. The service will be able to provide you with data on where your visitors are coming from, how many visitors you are receiving and what is attracting visitors and customers to competitor’s websites as well. They can then help you identify what part of the website is attracting customers and what may be reducing visitation. They can show you what landing pages are effective and what landing pages could use some improvement.

Development of strategy

A professional SEO service can also provide you with the guidance to help you develop a strategy for your website. After assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your website, the team can help you develop a strategy that will be effective to maximize the SEO position of your website. This can include coming up with target phrases that will help you to attract your desired customer base and including content that will help improve the overall integrity and quality of your website. A lot of aspects of SEO require strategy and expertise, such as creating a landing page that converts. Professional SEO services know the best practices for landing pages and what is needed to improve SEO rankings and increase conversions.

Implementation of SEO strategy

Once you have agreed upon a strategy with the SEO service provider, the next thing that they will do is implement it for you. The SEO service will spend time altering content to include target keywords, placing new blog posts, and making website adjustments that will help to make your website more SEO-friendly. When this occurs, you will start to show up higher on the relevant search engines when people perform relevant keyword searches. The team will also add valuable content to your site and help you make your website a more enjoyable place to visit, which will help ensure people continue to come back after they have found your site.

Professional SEO services know the best practices for landing pages and what is needed to improve SEO rankings and increase conversions.

Evaluation and management of campaign

While implementing the initial SEO strategy is important, the plan and process do not stop there. To have an effective SEO plan in place, you will need to continue to monitor it on an ongoing basis. An SEO service will be able to provide you with real-time information about your visitation and other data. Based on this and changes in the search engine algorithms, the SEO service will be able to make additional changes to your website to ensure that you continue to show up high on the top search engines.

Identify other revenue streams

Once an effective SEO campaign has been implemented, it should help to drive more and more traffic to your website’s landing pages. If this happens, your website will be more attractive when it comes to receiving ad revenue and placing relevant outbound links. Both of these can be a great way to earn some additional income for your business, which could then be invested into other areas of your website or business in an attempt to help it grow.

Anyone that is going to try to improve their business needs to have a quality online presence. Part of this includes making sure that you are able to attract customers to your website. Through the use of professional SEO services, you can appear higher on the relevant search engines while also having a quality website that will keep customers coming back.