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Stocks Kick Butt in April -- But It Still Looks Like a Rough Retirement for Americans

Stocks kicked butt in April, led by a resurgence in financial companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.4 percent, capping its best two-month rise in seven years and the S&P 500 has surged almost 30 percent since the March lows. Bond investors were also rewarded in April, as the US high-yield bond index soared almost 10 percent.

March's extreme pessimism, combined with better-than-expected earnings and "less bad" economic reports, provided the platform for the April rally.

So why am I fretting?

The economy may be bottoming and the stock market has rebounded, but the past 25 years of living beyond our means and partying like rock stars means a rough retirement for Americans.

Payback stinks, but check out these numbers to see why we have our work cut out for us:

  1. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's 2009 Retirement Confidence Survey, one in every four Americans has decided to postpone their retirement in the past year.
  2. In a sign of denial, only 44 percent of Americans have attempted to calculate the amount of assets they will need to accumulate in order to retire.
  3. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College finds that 61 percent of American households won't be able to maintain their current standard of living into their retirement years. This means that they'll either have to spend less in retirement or save more now.
Here's the take-away: enjoy the delicious April gains, but don't think for a minute that the stock market (or any asset) is going to bail out your future. Take this good news as a nudge to rebuild your retirement.
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