Stocks run out of steam on U.S. job jitters, yen gains By Reuters

© Reuters. A currency dealer works in front of electronic boards showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) and the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and South Korean won, in Seoul

By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A two-day equities rally lost momentum on Thursday, and investors sold riskier currencies, as stimulus negotiations dragged on in Washington and investors fretted over a likely spike in U.S. jobless claims.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan wobbled either side of flat. slumped 4% and U.S. stock futures fell 1%.

The dollar climbed around 1% against the Australian and New Zealand dollars and the yen rose 0.4% against the dollar as investors sought shelter.

“We are not out of the woods just yet,” said Stephen Daghlian, at brokerage CommSec in Sydney. “There are plenty of risks in the next couple of weeks.”

First among them are initial jobless claims in the United States due at 1230 GMT, with forecasts in a Reuters poll ranging from 250,000 claims all the way up to 4 million.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is also due to appear on NBC television around 1100 GMT.

The Fed’s promise of unlimited bond buying has eased some of the virus-driven financial stress this week. But Powell is also likely to be asked about the real economy, and the apparent divide between health officials and President Donald Trump as to how quickly the country can return to work.

Meanwhile, as Senate leaders in United States hoped to vote on the stimulus package late in the Washington night, markets’ patience and optimism are beginning to waver.

“There has been so much stimulus thrown at this,” said Jun Bei Liu, portfolio manager at Tribeca Investment Partners in Sydney.

“But the positivity related to it is really just sentiment,” she said. “A lot of companies have withdrawn earnings guidance…these are still ahead of us. We don’t know how bad it could be.”

Hong Kong’s was down 0.5% by mid-morning while regional trade was mixed. Indexes in China posted meager gains and Australia, Indonesia and Thailand advanced.


The money at stake in the stimulus bill amounts to nearly half of the $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.

But it also comes against a backdrop of bad news as the coronavirus spreads and more signs of economic damage.

Singapore’s economy suffered its biggest contraction in a decade in the first quarter, data showed on Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic prompted the city-state to cut its full-year GDP forecast and plan for a deep recession.

Spain’s coronavirus death toll has overtaken China’s and a total of 21,221 people have died globally.

California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters on Wednesday that a million Californians had already applied for jobless benefits this month – a number that knocked stocks from session highs and has analysts bracing for even worse to come.

RBC Capital Markets economists had expected a national figure over 1 million in Thursday’s data, but say “it is now poised to be many multiples of that,” as reduced hours across the country drive deep layoffs.

“Something in the 5-10 million range for initial jobless claims is quite likely,” they wrote in a note. That compares to a 695,000 peak in 1982.

Citi Private Bank said the peak could reach 15-18% of the total U.S. workforce, some 25 million people.

In currencies, the mood was to duck and cover. The Australian dollar fell 1.3% to $0.5879 and the pound fell half a percent to $1.1833.

The safe haven yen rose to 110.70 per dollar.

Oil steadied with stimulus hopes offsetting fears of plunging demand. futures slipped 35 cents to$24.14 per barrel and futures fell 0.9% to $27.15.

Gold fell 1% to $1,597.91 per ounce.

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How can women do a better job preparing for retirement?

In 1758, Ben Franklin wrote in his book “The Way To Wealth” that “an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

When it comes to managing your personal finances, that adage is as germane today as it was then. So let’s start with a simple quiz.

Question 1: Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% a year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

a) More than $102

b) Exactly $102

c) Less than $102

Question 2: Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account was 1% a year and inflation was 2% a year. After one year, how much would you be able to buy with the money in this account?

a) More than today

b) Exactly the same as today

c) Less than today

Question 3: Do you think that the following statement is true or false? “Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”

a) True

b) False

The answers are at the bottom of this column, but no cheating, please.

These three basic questions were developed by Annamaria Lusardi, an economist and professor of economics and accountancy at The George Washington University School of Business and Olivia S. Mitchell, an economist and professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

They’ve been used in more than 20 countries to measure financial knowledge. Evaluations of results across countries have verified that financial illiteracy is a global problem, and that women unfailingly score lower than men. No big surprise there, but disturbing nonetheless.

The new Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey highlights that finding once again. The survey of 14,400 employees and 1,600 retirees in 15 countries — from Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement and nonprofits Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) and Instituto de Longevidaded Mongeral Aegon — found that financial literacy is far worse among women than men. Less than a quarter (23%) of the 8,067 women surveyed answered all three questions correctly, compared with 36% of men.

Not only did most of the women stumble on their financial savvy, they’re anxious about being prepared financially for retirement. Only one in four women workers (26%) are very or extremely confident that they will achieve a comfortable retirement, compared with 32% of men, according to the research. Just 21% of women currently in the workforce feel they’re on course to achieve the retirement income they expect to need (compared with 29% of men). And more than a third of women workers don’t know if they are on course to achieve the income they expect to need in retirement. (To be fair, men aren’t doing so great on these measures either.)

The takeaway: It’s not an easy skate for most women, me included, to stash away enough retirement savings to cover potential living expenses for our last decades. A recap of the challenges women face: There’s the pay gap between women and men, the cost of time out of the workforce for caregiving, and the often-devastating financial reality of a divorce at midlife. And of course, there’s the fact that so often women are contract workers like me with no employer retirement plan. They may also work part time, or are employed by a small business that doesn’t offer an employee retirement plan. Finally, we tend to live longer lives than our male counterparts, so we have extra years of living to fund.

One of the biggest worries women have is how they’re going to pay their medical bills when they are in their 70s and beyond. Even women who are saving adequately regularly tell me that they worry that all they’ve built up will get eaten up by health costs. And it just might.

When it comes to saving for health care costs in retirement, women must set aside much more to cover their medical bills post retirement than their male counterparts. According to Fidelity, a 65-year old couple who retired in 2019 can expect to spend $285,000 in health care and medical expenses throughout retirement. For single retirees, the health care cost estimate is $150,000 for women and $135,000 for men.

For older women, though, some good news in terms of financial security is that a large portion of women are working in full-time jobs past their 60s and even into their 70s. In fact, according to The Pew Research Center, 25% of boomer women are in the labor force at the ages of 65 to 72.

Working longer makes it possible to contribute to retirement accounts and to dodge dipping into them for living expenses. It also often comes with employer-based health insurance.

What’s the difference between a 401(k) and a Roth 401(k)?

Another upside of working longer can be a bump to your financial benefit in Social Security. The extra years of earnings at these ages can replace earlier years of low or zero earnings in the retirement benefit computation formula. That’s encouraging for women who stepped out of the workplace to care for children or aging relatives.

And a new law should help women save more: The federal Secure Act offers small businesses tax incentives to provide automatic enrollment in retirement plans for its workers, or lets them join together with other companies to provide retirement accounts to their employees. The law also removes the maximum age cap for contributions to traditional individual retirement accounts and encourages employers to allow part-time employees to put money into workplace retirement plans.

These changes may be incremental, but they’re positive and the more ways we have to save at work, the better.

As for the lousy literacy results for women, do something about it. Seek out investor educational resources offered by your employer, the Women’s Institute For A Secure Retirement (WISER) website, the Investor Protection Trust website. You’ll find investing education primers on most financial services websites such as Vanguard, T. Rowe Price
and Fidelity. Read personal finance articles on websites such as HerMoney. Take a personal finance course at a community college. Start a money book club with your gal pals and learn together about investing and finances. Trust me that can be fun.

And now drumroll for your quiz answers: 1. A; 2. C; 3, B

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Airbus defense division to start talks on job cuts By Reuters

MUNICH (Reuters) – The head of the defense business of Airbus (PA:) said he would start talks with labor representatives next week on job cuts, as the German-based group retrenches following setbacks with its A400M military transporter.

“We will enter the first talks soon with the European works council,” Airbus Defence and Space chief Dirk Hoke told Reuters in an interview cleared for publication on Saturday, adding that negotiations would then take place at national level.

Recurring technical problems with the A400M led the German air force to refuse delivery of two of the aircraft last autumn.

The group has also taken a 1.2 billion euro ($1.3 billion) charge on the worsening sales outlook, with a German ban on defense exports to Saudi Arabia causing Airbus Defence and Space to lose a promising potential customer, said Hoke.

German-headquartered Airbus Defence and Space, formed in 2014 as part of a broader restructuring, employs 34,000 staff – 13,000 of them in Germany – and contributes around a fifth of revenues to parent group Airbus.

“The works councils know that I will fight to keep every job I can. We won’t come with disproportionate numbers,” Hoke said.

Job cuts would depend on capacity utilization and project pipeline at different facilities: “Here I have to tell local politicians that the guarantees to keep plants open that many of them demand depend on projects.”

Hoke expressed optimism over the prospects for a project to develop joint next-generation Franco-German fighter jets and military drones after German lawmakers allocated nearly 80 billion euros for the test phase of the project.

($1 = 0.9234 euros)

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The ‘best job in America’ pays $105,000 — and you’ve probably never heard of it

Looking for a six-figure job that makes you happy in 2020, but is also increasing in demand?

Front-end engineers had an average overall job satisfaction score of 3.9 out of 5 on Glassdoor, making theirs the No. 1 profession for 2020 in terms of job satisfaction, salary and job openings, according to a new ranking, knocking data scientists off the No 1 spot. Front-end engineers develop the code that enhances a customer’s or user’s experience, and essentially create, install and test the user interface elements of a website.

As unemployment hovers at a 50-year low, there are more available professions that give people meaningful, in-demand work that pays well and offers opportunity for advancement. The job market may be less robust in 2020: The U.S. created 145,000 jobs in December as hiring slows and wage growth softens.

So why did front-end engineers top the list? Amanda Stansell, senior economic research analyst at Glassdoor, said there’s more competition between tech and non-tech companies for these roles. Google

GOOG, -1.48%,



and Microsoft

MSFT, -1.48%

 typically hire front-end engineers, but they are also increasingly in demand by any company that relies on a website for its business.

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The “Best Jobs in America in 2020” ranking listed java developer at No. 2, followed by data scientist (which previously held the No. 1 spot), product manager, devops engineer (which oversees code releases and the testing of new programs), data engineer, software engineer, speech language pathologist, strategy manager and business development manager.

“Because of the stiff competition to recruit and retain this talent, more companies are investing in their employees’ experiences at work,” Stansell said. “As these companies look to develop and maintain their online experience for customers, they’re willing to offer competitive benefits and perks to keep tech workers, including front-end engineers, happy in their day-to-day jobs.”

A separate report by U.S. News & World Report that looked at work-life balance, salary and career development lists software developer as the No. 1 job, which has a median annual salary of $103,620. It was followed by a slew of jobs in the medical profession, including dentist and physician assistant, orthodontist and nurse practitioner.

Read MarketWatch’s Moneyist advice column on the etiquette and ethics of your financial affairs.

Wages and salary now make up less than three-quarters of employees’ total compensation, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Bank of America

BAC, -1.94%

 Merrill Lynch. Meanwhile, more companies are offering “wellness programs” to help workers improve their fitness and health.

In its own research, Glassdoor previously looked at perks that lead to an increase in employee satisfaction. The analysis concluded that workplace health insurance was the No. 1 perk, followed by generous paid vacation time and paid time off, pension plans, 401(k) plans, retirement plans, dental insurance and maternity and paternity leave.

Recommended: Here is the No. 1 highest paid, fastest-growing job in every U.S. state for 2019 — most of them are NOT in tech

Access to career-momentum opportunities in the workplace is one of the strongest predictors of employee satisfaction, based on millions of reviews left on Glassdoor, in addition to culture and values and quality senior leadership, according to Glassdoor. Tech, finance, health-care and marketing roles all have strong career paths, the site said.

For those seeking a six-figure job with no experience necessary, Jeff Gillis and Mike Simpson, who operate the career and resume advice site, said pharmacists came out at No. 1. They analyzed the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Requirements Survey, which gives information on factors including physical demands and cognitive requirements.

Approximately 64% of pharmacist jobs require no previous work experience in that field, and have a median salary of $126,000 per year, more than twice the national average. Some 60% of nurse practitioners, who have a median salary of $114,000 per year, also require no work experience, according to the analysis by Gillis and Simpson and the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. (Some such jobs could still come with educational requirements, they added.)

Here are the top 5 jobs on Glassdoor’s list:

1. Front-end engineer

Job Satisfaction Rating: 3.9/5

Number of job openings: 13,122

Median base salary: $105,240

2. Java developer

Job satisfaction rating: 3.9/5

Number of job openings: 16,136

Median base salary: $83,589

3. Data scientist

Job satisfaction rating: 4/5

Number of job openings: 6,542

Median base salary: $107,801

4. Product manager

Job satisfaction rating: 3.8/5

Number of Job Openings: 12,173

Median base salary: $117,713

5. Devops engineer

Job satisfaction rating: 3.9/5

Number of job openings: 6,603

Median base salary: $107,310

A decade-long bull market and continued economic growth have contributed to a tighter labor market in 2019. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, -2.09%

 is up 20% over the last 12 months, while the S&P 500

SPX, -1.77%

 is up 25.8%. A recession is more of a risk in 2021 than next year, according to a recent survey of the National Association for Business Economics.

Software developers, physical therapists and physician assistants crop up frequently among the highest-paid and fastest-growing jobs in every U.S. state, according to a separate analysis by CareerBuilder, a jobs and careers site. The site analyzed government data to project the careers most likely to be lucrative and in demand. Most of these jobs require some level of college education.

Home-health and personal-care aides were among the lowest paid, fastest-growing in every U.S. state and Washington, D.C. Only one state (Michigan) didn’t list home-health aide or personal-care aide as among the lowest paid, most in-demand jobs. (It did, however, list physical-therapy aides, in addition to nonfarm animal caretakers, and meat, poultry and fish cutters and trimmers.)

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