Stock Markets Wild Ride
By Saghir Aslam
Rawalpindi, Pakistan

(The following information is provided solely to educate the Muslim community about investing and financial planning. It is hoped that the Ummah will benefit from this effort through greater financial empowerment, enabling the community to live with dignity and fulfill their moral obligations towards charitable activities)
Big up and down moves in the stock markets understandably make many investors wary and uncertain. What should we do in such volatile times?

• Take a Long-Term View.
First, put market volatility in perspective. Swings in the stock market over a few months or even a few years should not affect a long-term investment strategy. Historically, investing over the long term has tended to smooth out the bumpy rides that have occurred over the shorter periods of time.

• It has often been said that two emotions, fear and greed, are what determine such of the trading in the market. When stocks rise in a bull market, many investors may develop a false sense of security that nothing can stop this continued upward trend. They mistakenly believe that large gains made over a short period of time can be projected into the future indefinitely.

The “flip side” of false optimism is the disappointment that may set in when the market drops sharply in one day. In a bear market, many investors ay panic as they imagine their nest eggs vanishing before their eyes. Some may even sell when the market has gone down on the fear that it could go even lower. In either of these cases, it’s important to keep your long-term perspective in mind.

Stay Focused on your Objectives
• A steady course, somewhere between the extremes of bull market euphoria and bear market despair is the approach that long-term investors take toward investment, always keeping their future financial objectives in mind. As a long-term investor, don’t let yourself get caught up in predictions of what will happen tomorrow or next month. Even stock market professionals cannot always accurately predict the future of the market. In addition, be sure you understand what report in the newspapers and on television mean before reacting to them. Discuss it with your financial advisor. He can provide insight and play a valuable role in helping you maintain your focus on your focus overall investment strategy, which is extremely important. Have a well thought out, written plan, follow it and stay on course.
The key to keeping short-term volatility in perspective is to review your overall asset allocation strategy periodically, including your long-term savings goals. A proper asset allocation strategy, which takes into account your time horizon and risk tolerance, should factor in periods of market volatility. Bear markets and bull markets are part of the overall history of the markets. If you have a plan in place and learn to expect both kinds of markets, you can take the good and the bad in stride and know that you are indeed an investor for the long term. Furthermore, learn the difference between an investor, trader or speculator. I am discussing investing for the long-term. InshaAllah by following a sound investment plan you will come out ahead in the long run. May the Almighty God place Barakah on your life and on your investments.
(Saghir A. Aslam only explains strategies and formulas that he has been using. He is merely providing information, and NO ADVICE is given. Mr Aslam does not endorse or recommend any broker, brokerage firm, or any investment at all, nor does he suggest that anyone will earn a profit when or if they purchase stocks, bonds or any other investments. All stocks or investment vehicles mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. Mr Aslam is not an attorney, accountant, real estate broker, stockbroker, investment advisor, or certified financial planner. Mr Aslam does not have anything for sale.)

India's Techies Fear US Crackdown on High-Skilled Visas
Indian student Sunny Nair has always dreamt of working for a technology giant in the United States (US) but fears that President Donald Trump will crush his life ambition.
The 19-year-old worries that Trump's crackdown on immigration will include restrictions on so-called H-1B visas, which India's IT sector uses to send thousands of highly-skilled workers to America every year.
Analysts say the issue also threatens to sour Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's burgeoning relationship.
The leaders have extended mutual invitations to visit their respective countries but are heading for a clash on visas.
“I had always dreamt about going to the US and working for a major company like Infosys but now all that will change,” Nair told AFP despondently before trudging into class.
The aspiring techie had planned to head to the US for further study next year after completing his bachelor's degree in engineering at the Don Bosco Institute of Technology in Mumbai.
He hoped that would help land him the opportunity of a lifetime at one of India's top information technology exporting firms, such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) or Wipro.
But Trump has pledged to prioritize jobs for Americans.
Shares in India's three largest tech firms took a hit last week after White House spokesman Sean Spicer suggested that presidential and congressional action could be taken on H-1B visas as “part of a larger immigration reform effort”.
Three bills have been introduced to Congress which reportedly seek to restructure the H-1B visa program, including one that would raise the salary threshold, making it more expensive for Indian firms to send employees to America.
Scores of high-profile Indians, including Google Chief Executive SundarPichai, have followed a well-trodden path from Indian IT institutes to a master's degree in America before landing a plum job in Silicon Valley.
Nair is now anxiously plotting a different road map for his future.
“(Restrictions)... would be a major negative decision by Trump and would mean fewer international opportunities so my goals have shifted drastically now. I am looking at other venues for my future studies like Canada and Europe instead of USA,” he said.
India's IT outsourcing industry is worth around $108 billion, according to industry body, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, with almost four million people employed in the sector.
Nasscom president R Chandrashekhar said restrictions would create uncertainty and leave US businesses short of the skilled workers they need.
“It's a myth that these workers replace American workers,” he told AFP.
“Given that there aren't enough people with the qualifications to fill these jobs, two things can happen ─ these jobs can remain unfilled or companies can ship these jobs overseas. Neither is a good thing for the US.”
India's IT sector has become a boom industry in recent years with companies, especially in developed nations, subcontracting work to firms such as TCS, taking advantage of the country's skilled English-speaking workforce.
It makes more than $60 billion alone from the American market, providing IT and engineering services to major US businesses.
The United States offers 85,000 H-1B visas every year, most of which are snapped up by Indian outsourcers whose employees fill a skill gap in US engineering.
Applications are vastly oversubscribed and are allocated via a lottery system.
Industry experts say any clampdown would force Indian tech titans to radically rethink their business models.
“Indian IT firms may start focusing on Asia-Pacific and expand their businesses here instead of in the US,” DD Mishra, an analyst at technology research company Gartner told AFP.
Infosys has said it is looking into reducing its dependency on visas to stay competitive, while worried software executives are due to travel to the US later this month to press their case with lawmakers.
Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani told AFP there would certainly be an impact, adding: “It is unfortunate that we are talking about protectionism and creating artificial trade barriers in the age of globalization.”
“(Any) restriction is always a concern and we hope that the Trump administration will take into consideration all factors, before making any decision,” he added.
A spokesman for India's external affairs ministry said earlier last week that New Delhi had conveyed India's “interests and concerns” to “senior levels” in the US administration and Congress. - AFP



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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