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Industry Analysis
Focus on Expense Ratios
Recent research from the Investment Company Institute finds 90% of 401(k) plan equity mutual fund assets were invested in mutual funds with expense ratios of less than 1%.
Reading the Required Disclosures
Should a plan sponsor, beyond fulfilling its duty to get required documents to participants, try to ensure they read them, too?
Most Read
New Retirement Bill Amending ERISA Introduced in Congress
Pensions Will Recoup Losses From Allianz Structured Alpha Investments
Deals and People
Retirement Industry People Moves
Economic Events
Interest rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.65% for the week ending March 19, up from last week when it averaged 3.36, according to Freddie Mac. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.28%. Interest rates for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.06%, up from last week when it averaged 2.77%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.71%.

In the week ending March 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance was 281,000, an increase of 70,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 211,000, the Labor Department reported. This is the highest level for initial claims since September 2, 2017, when it was 299,000. The four-week moving average was 232,250, an increase of 16,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 215,750. This is the highest level for this average since January 27, 2018, when it was 234,500. The increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus, the Labor Department said. A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not.
Market Mirror
Thursday, the Dow increased 188.27 points (0.95%) to 20,087.19, the NASDAQ gained 160.73 points (2.30%) to finish at 7,150.58, and the S&P 500 was up 11.29 points (0.47%) at 2,409.39. The Russell 2000 climbed 67.55 points (6.82%) to 1,058.72, and the Wilshire 5000 closed 334.79 points (1.41%) higher at 24,066.50.

The price of the 10-year Treasury note increased 25/32, bringing its yield down to 1.151%. The price of the 30-year Treasury bond decreased 25/32, bringing its yield up to 1.791%.
Insurance Company to Pay $3 Million to ESOP for Alleged Share Overpayment
The DOL alleges that the company’s president influenced an appraiser’s valuation and the ESOP’s trustee didn’t do his due diligence before the stock purchase.
Getting Portability Right Key to Annuities in DC Plans
Confidence exists that insurers will come up with solutions to address the possibility that plan sponsors may at some point make provider changes.
Small Talk
ON THIS DATE: In 141, the 6th recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet took place. In 1760, the great fire of Boston destroyed 349 buildings. In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” subtitled “Life Among the Lowly,” was first published. In 1854, the Republican Party was organized in Ripon, Wisconsin. About 50 slavery opponents began the new political group. In 1886, the first AC power plant in the U.S. began commercial operation. In 1914, the first international figure skating championship was held in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1922, the USS Langley was commissioned. It was the first aircraft carrier for the U.S. Navy. In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified a peace treaty with Japan. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered 4,000 troops to protect the Selma-Montgomery civil rights marchers. In 1990, the Los Angeles Lakers retired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s #33. In 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones became the first men to circumnavigate the Earth in a hot air balloon. The non-stop trip began on March 3 and covered 26,500 miles. In 1999, Legoland California opened Carlsbad.
SURVEY SAYS: Even for those of us who are retirement plan professionals, seeing what the market is doing to our retirement savings is jarring. This week, I’d like to know, has your firm increased participant communication because of the coronavirus? And, please share any ideas you have for helping participants remain calm during this trying time. Please respond to this week’s survey by 6 p.m. Pacific time today.
And now for some FRIDAY FUN!

Even this dog is hoarding toilet paper.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, the Angel Baby company has mad cheerful face masks to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. The masks are printed with owls, dinosaurs, llamas and monkeys and will soon find their way to hundreds of doctors and policemen who are struggling to get their hands on the protective gear. The AFP reports that the company is giving away the masks for free but warning users that they have not been medically certified, so must be washed daily and ironed at high temperatures. The company says the masks given to police and doctors are not intended for use by those in direct contact with coronavirus patients but for others who deal with large numbers of people on a daily basis. [pic]

In Encinitas, California, disturbed by toilet paper hoarding during the coronavirus crisis, a man stood on a street corner and held up a homemade cardboard sign with a simple request: “Share your toilet paper.” He told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the response was immediate and positive, with drivers honking horns and dropping off rolls of toilet paper. Just as quickly, he handed them out to those in need. The man said he plans to be out on the corner again Sunday to “encourage people to be better” amid the global pandemic.

In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko encouraged citizens to work in the countryside and drive tractors as a way to overcome the coronavirus epidemic. According to the AFP, the former collective farm director, who likes to emphasize his connection to the land and rural residents, told officials at a televised meeting that “there shouldn’t be any panic” over the virus. “You just have to work, especially now, in a village,” he said. “The tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone.”

Hope everyone has a happy and safe weekend!
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