&l;!–donotpaginate–&g;&l;p&g;Wall Street was crowing about the &l;a href=&q;http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/04/investing/dow-25000-stocks-wall-street/&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Dow Industrial Average crossing the 25,000 mark&l;/a&g; yesterday. What does it mean? To&a;nbsp;quote the Bard, it was &q;sound and fury, signifying nothing.&q;
While index averages are benchmarks, I won&s;t deny there&s;s a lot of good economic news propelling stock prices, which often have no connection to the rest of the world.
&l;img class=&q;dam-image getty size-large wp-image-632701652&q; src=&q;https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/dam/imageserve/632701652/960×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;630&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Corporate profits continue to be strong, and both unemployment and inflation are low. Even though interest rates will tick up this year, it won&s;t probably be enough to convince investors that bonds are better investments than stocks. And the U.S. and global economy continue to grow.
&q;Thanks to those economic gains, corporate profits have never been higher,&q; writes &l;a href=&q;http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/04/investing/dow-25000-stocks-wall-street/&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Matt Egan for CNNMoney.&l;/a&g;&a;nbsp;&q;Companies are sitting on record amounts of cash, a chunk of which is being returned to shareholders. That makes stocks more attractive.&q;
If you held those Dow 30 stocks, you have a few more dollars in your account. Ever better, if you owned Dow member &l;a href=&q;https://www.marketwatch.com/story/biggest-dow-winners-and-losers-in-2017-boeing-soars-to-record-levels-while-ge-slumps-2017-12-29&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Boeing &l;/a&g;last year &a;mdash; up nearly 90% &a;mdash; you had a stellar year.
But &l;a href=&q;http://news.gallup.com/poll/211052/stock-ownership-down-among-older-higher-income.aspx&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;nearly half &l;/a&g;of Americans don&s;t own any stocks, much less invest in a company retirement plan. Most of the gains in the market are going to the top 10% of income earners.
So the Dow run-up doesn&s;t mean everyone is getting rich, and is not a signal that the economy or market will stay strong, nor does it say anything clear about the political climate, which could turn cyclone-bomb turbulent any day.
&l;strong&g;What You Need to Know Now&l;/strong&g;
Ignore the Dow. Look to your portfolio this year. Here are &l;a href=&q;https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/wrong-investing-questions.html?cmp=EMC-DSO-NLC-RSS—CTRL-010418-P4-2671456&a;amp;ET_CID=2671456&a;amp;ET_RID=3774826&a;amp;mi_u=3774826&a;amp;mi_ecmp=20180104_DailyBulletin_Control_247401_320001&a;amp;encparam=DUO1XtqODcqfeuz01cBqkKKtcIQyze4ceifMNHadiw0=&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;six questions&l;/a&g; to ask:
&a;mdash; Do you have a diverse mix of global stocks of all sizes?
&a;mdash; What about bonds from all across the globe?
&a;mdash; How much do you own in real estate, which includes everything from your own home equity (if you own properties) to real estate investment trusts that own everything from office buildings to storage facilities?
&a;mdash; Are you investing in ultra-low-cost index or exchange-traded funds that own broad baskets of all of the above?
&a;mdash; What&s;s your cash position? Do you have enough to cover emergency repairs, out-of-pocket health/property insurance expenses or job loss? This is even more important than the above four items.
&a;mdash; Is your mix of stocks, bonds, cash right for your age and profession? If you&s;re loading up on U.S. stocks or cryptocurrencies, you could be in trouble. There&s;s much more safety in a diverse mix of everything.
The best way to invest in stocks is through a broad-based global index fund, which you could open at any time. If you&s;re offered a 401(k), set aside money every paycheck &a;mdash; and ignore the headlines.&l;/p&g;