Money Minute: Winter's Expected Toll on GDP; Retirement Savings Hits High


Gauging the economic toll of the winter that just won't end. There are lots of economic impacts from the repeated bouts of extreme winter weather. The Wall Street Journal reports the poor and the elderly are especially susceptible, especially in terms of food.

Many people have to take money from their food budgets to pay the added costs of keeping their homes warm enough. Many lower income workers also suffer a drop in pay. They are more likely to be hourly rather than salaried employees, so missing a day of work means less money to pay those rising bills.

A monthly survey by the Journal finds the weather has prompted economists to trim their forecast for gross domestic product growth in the first quarter by about 0.3 percent -- even though some of that lost growth could be pushed into the second quarter.

The surging stock market sent the average 401(k) retirement fund to record highs.
Fidelity Investments says the average balance rose 15.5 percent to more than $89,000. Not surprisingly, older workers -- those aged 55 to 64 -- had higher average balances of above $165,000. The bad news is 35 percent of workers with 401(k) accounts cashed out after leaving their jobs, and that can be a big setback in retirement planning.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 63 points Thursday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 10, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rallied 39 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is riding a six-day winning streak.

Men's clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank (JOSB) has agreed to buy Eddie Bauer for $825 million. What's most significant about this deal is that it may help Jos. A. Bank fend off an unwanted takeover bid from rival Men's Wearhouse (MW).

And some U.S. athletes at the Olympics are blaming Under Armour (UA) for their disappointing performances. Speedskaters says the Mach 39 suits have a design flaw that may be slowing them down, by allowing too much air flow.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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