Dozens of investing websites are bookmarked on my computer, but few are clicked on more than once or twice.
That's because most sites are basically variations on the theme of quotes, news and analysis. What catches my eye are sites that can provide nuggets of information that can't easily be found elsewhere, or that do a better job than others in specific areas like portfolio tracking.
What follows is a tour of some of the bookmarked investing websites I find particularly useful in the writing of this column. Check them out and see whether they belong in your own investing toolbox.
THE BANK OF CANADA
BOND YIELD DATABASE
Long-term, month-by-month numbers:
Bond yields haven't always been as low as they are today. When I need to document this, I head to the historical bond yield and interest rate database on the Bank of Canada website. You can find daily, weekly or monthly data for long, medium- and short-term bonds going back as long as 10 years. In addition to getting the daily data you want, you'll also get a low, high and average yield over the period you're searching.
The five-year Government of Canada bond yield averaged 2.9 per cent over the past 10 years, peaking at 4.6 per cent in July, 2007, and hitting a low of 1.2 per cent in July, 2012. These days, it's in the 1.8 per cent range. Want a longer-term view? Try the historical bond yield charts the central bank also offers on its website. The chart for long-term Canada bonds reminds us that yields hit 18 per cent in September, 1981. Oh, to have bought a 30-year bond then.
HISTORICAL STOCK CHARTS
To put year-by-year stock market volatility into perspective, I'll sometimes look at these charts showing returns going back as far as 1900 for various U.S. stock market indexes and the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond. Take a look at how the long-term rising trend in stock prices has been off kilter since 2000.
I have 23 different watchlists on Globeinvestor.com, some for personal use and many to keep track of stocks, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds I've written about in this column. For example, I have watchlists for the dividend growth stocks, the Big Six banks, insurance company preferred shares and covered-call ETFs (financial instruments called call options are used to generate high levels of income).
Watchlists are a handy way for me to keep an eye on and research investments I'm following. For a more focused view on the performance of investments I have written about, I use the new portfolio tool available to Globe Unlimited subscribers on Globeinvestor. It's simple to operate - just name the portfolio and then select the securities you own, the date you bought them and the price paid.
Need to find a price for a stock from years ago? The historical price database here will give you the open, high, low and closing price for Canadian and U.S. stocks for specific days going back decades. You can also look up a stock's daily trading volume.
Google's charting isn't as crisp as what Globe Investor offers, but it's right at hand when you look up a stock and good for a quick look at how a stock has performed over a particular time frame.
I know there's trouble in the stock markets when they're mentioned on the 7 a.m. news on CBC Radio, which I listen to every morning. The first thing I do when I get to work on those days is visit MarketWatch to get a report on what's happened overnight internationally, and how the day ahead is shaping up in North America. There's a chart on the homepage that shows you the percentage losses or gains on stock markets in the United States, Europe and Asia. MarketWatch is also a very good source of investing news and guidance, although with a U.S. focus.
THE MONEYSENSE LIST OF FEE-ONLY FINANCIAL PLANNERS
The question of where to find advisers who charge an hourly or a flat rate for advice and don't sell products is among the top five reader queries I receive on a continuing basis. My answer to this question is usually to provide a link to this directory of fee-only planners from the personal finance magazine MoneySense.
One thing to watch out for with this list is that many of the people on it are not licensed by regulators to advise about specific securities. They can look at broad investing like asset allocation as part of their financial planning services.
Global investing fell out of favour in Canada as a result of years of bad returns, but we've seen a turnaround recently that reminds us of the benefits of exposure to stock markets in the United States and internationally. When I want to know what's happening in those markets, I use the website run by Morgan Stanley Capital International, an indexing outfit more commonly known as MSCI.
The MSCI website's index performance page lets you look at regional and country indexes for stock markets around the world over time frames of up to 10 years. MSCI's widely followed EAFE (Europe Australasia Far East), world and emerging market indexes can also be followed here.
It is staggering how complex preferred shares are. They're full of minute details that can trip up investors who don't have a resource like this website to help them understand the terms and condition of what's available. The data here is provided by James Hymas, one of the country's top preferred share experts. For commentary on preferred shares, try Mr. Hymas's PrefBlog.
Regulatory filings by publicly traded companies and investment funds are archived on this website and I visit often to look up management reports on ETF and mutual fund performance. They're a great source of information on a fund and include a multiyear rundown on fees.
I'll also look up prospectuses here for new companies and ETFs. Other useful nuggets include annual reports, executive compensation disclosure forms, material change reports and financial statements. By the way, Sedar stands for System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval.
Find all of these links in an online version of this article at tgam.ca/carrick-links
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