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Registered Investment Adviser Caleb Lawrence

The major averages enter the final hour about even following generally disappointing economic data. Since Monday the Standard and Poors 500 Index has lost about 10 points or .3% while the NASDAQ has gained 17 points or .25%.

The April Consumer Price Index or CPI advanced .2% for the month while the annualized rate slipped again to 2.2%. Following the usual pattern energy prices are the primary driver, and to a much lesser extent services costs.

April retail sales came in soft at +.4% on weakness in home furnishings, clothing and general merchandise. The annualized figure fell for a 4th month to a still respectable +4.5%.

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released 2015 State Pension Funding Gap report showed that by and large pension underfunding issues continue to grow compliments of the near zero interest rate environment and other items including rising costs and revised actuarial projections. The report noted that California had one of the nation’s widest gaps between earning assets and pension obligations in 2015 and that the state’s two big pension funds had the nation’s sixth-worst record of reducing unfunded liabilities, gathering just 79 percent of the $18.9 billion they needed to keep their pension debts from rising. California is by no means alone in this as the Pew report went on to note that 5 states have greater unfunded pension liabilities Kentucky is the worst, followed by New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado and Pennsylvania, California comes in at 6th place.

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