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Investing Specialists

Morningstar Runs the Numbers

We take a numerical look through this week's Morningstar research. Plus, our most popular articles and videos for the week ended July 7.

Inspired by Harper's Index (with a tip of the hat to FiveThirtyEight's Significant Digits blog), Morningstar Runs the Numbers uses a numbers-based approach to highlight recent Morningstar research, along with some outside news stories.

The U.S. economy added 222,000 new jobs in June, above consensus forecasts and the expectations of Bob Johnson, director of economic analysis for Morningstar. Although the data revealed that wage growth isn't accelerating, lower inflation levels mean there is more room for consumer spending growth, he said.

"We feel a little bit better about the consumer than we did three or four months ago, because we were looking at that wage growth of 2.5% and inflation being the same. Now fortunately, inflation's looking like it's running a little bit behind that wage growth, which is great news for consumer spending."

Looking for ways to save money in retirement? Start with healthcare, says Morningstar contributor Mark Miller. He runs through five ways to optimize Medicare coverage, especially at initial enrollment--the point where many of the most costly mistakes occur.

The Morningstar Global Markets Index has returned 11.7% year to date and 19.5% over the past year. The run-up in equity prices has led to some steep valuations in aggregate: The market-cap-weighted price/fair value estimate ratio indicates that the median stock under our coverage is slightly overvalued. Despite the lofty valuations, however, there are bargains to be found for investors who do some digging and pick their spots carefully. Here are 31 best ideas in every sector from our equity analysts.

For LEGO fans who crave a real challenge, check out the Mental Floss list of the five biggest LEGO sets. Topping the list is the Taj Mahal set, which contains over 5,900 pieces.

International diversification can mitigate a portfolio's volatility and even enhance returns, said Alex Bryan, director of passive strategies research for North America. He reveals the optimal allocation investors should strive for if they are looking to reduce overall portfolio volatility. He also names two of our favorite picks for getting exposure to international stocks.

For those who are surveying your portfolio at midyear, director of personal finance Christine Benz weighs in on five key trends. These forces have likely affected your portfolio's performance, for better or worse, she says. She also weighs in on what--if anything--you should take away from those trends.

$3 Million
Hobby Lobby was the subject of a civil complaint filed this week that says the arts and crafts supplies retailer imported "thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts." According to The New York Times, Hobby Lobby will be required to return the artifacts and pay an additional $3 million.

Most Popular Articles, Videos, and Securities

Most Popular Articles 

Most Popular Videos  

Most Requested Stock Quotes
Berkshire Hathaway

 Most Requested Stock Analyses
General Electric
Advance Auto Parts
O'Reilly Automotive

Most Requested Fund Quotes
Vanguard 500 Index Investor
Fidelity Contrafund
Vanguard Wellesley Income
Vanguard Total Stock Market Index
Vanguard Dividend Growth

 Most Requested Fund Analyses
Dodge & Cox Income
Vanguard Wellesley Income
Fidelity Total Bond
T. Rowe Price Real Estate
Oakmark International

Most Requested ETF Quotes
Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF
Vanguard S&P 500 ETF
PowerShares QQQ ETF 
Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF

 Most Requested ETF Analyses
WisdomTree International Hedged Quality Dividend Growth ETF
Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF
Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF
Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF
iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.