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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 Jan. 5.

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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.

With the stock market at record highs, it's easy to overspend and put off minding important details, such as tracking expenses and managing your portfolio for tax efficiency. To help you stay on track, Christine Benz, director of personal finance, put together a 12-month calendar that walks you through many common financial jobs and flags important dates for 2018. 

The Morningstar Global Markets Index gained a spectacular 22% in 2017. The runup in equity prices has led to some steep valuations in aggregate: The market-cap-weighted price/fair value estimate ratio for our equity analysts' coverage universe was 1.06 as of Dec. 28, indicating that the median stock we cover is overvalued. But there are still opportunities to be found if you pick your spots carefully. Read our analysts' take on the biggest themes and the 32 best investment opportunities across sectors

7 years
For the full year 2017, auto sales came in at about 17.25 million, which was the third straight year at over 17 million and the fifth time ever. But the 1.8% year-over-year decline was the industry's first annual decline since 2009, ending a seven-year growth streak, says industrials strategist David Whiston. "We expect 2018 sales to again decline but not severely," he said.

Minus 40 degrees
A massive snow storm hit the East Coast on Thursday, with up to 17 inches of snow in some areas and hurricane-force winds; schools and offices were closed and transportation was halted, the Associated Press reported. Forecasters say the storm could be followed by a record-breaking cold that could bring wind chills as low as minus 40 degrees this weekend. Stay warm and check on your neighbors!

Have you been meaning to enroll in your company's 401(k) but keep putting it off? You're certainly not alone. Many people, it seems, need a friendly nudge to get going in the right direction. If you aren't contributing to a 401(k) plan but you've been meaning to start, these five steps will (hopefully) make it easier to get started. 

$17 billion
In a tough environment to active fund managers, American Funds is doing well in terms of fund flows. Though the firm had some outflows in 2016, it rebounded well in 2017, said senior analyst Alec Lucas. "More than $17 billion in new money has come into the firm," Lucas said. "For active managers that's very good. It ranks just behind DFA and PIMCO. They are strong on that standpoint, but certainly, they are far from where they were in the early 2000s."

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