A robust emergency fund is the most critical component for your investment portfolio, according to Suze Orman.

The personal finance guru, appearing Monday on CNBC’s “The Exchange,” said the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the need to have money saved in the bank for unforeseen challenges. She experienced it recently in her own life, after having emergency surgery this summer to remove a tumor on her spinal cord.

“The most important thing in anybody’s personal financial portfolio — more than all the stocks and everything — is at least an eight-month emergency [fund], maybe even a year emergency fund,” Orman said.

“If you haven’t learned that after this past year of what we’ve been through, I don’t know. You have to be on another planet,” added The New York Times bestselling author.

In late March, three days after the S&P 500 hit its intraday low of the coronavirus era, Orman told CNBC that she saw a perfect buying opportunity. “There couldn’t be a better time to start investing [than] right now,” she said after the bell on March 26. “Fortunes are going to be made out of this time.”

The benchmark U.S. stock index has risen nearly 35% since its March 26 close.

While equity investors may have seen strong gains in recent months, Orman emphasized the need to be clear-eyed about the possibility of financial hardships springing up that require people to rely on their savings. It may be a health scare or the loss of a job. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought significant economic and health challenges for millions of Americans.

The personal savings rate has climbed during the pandemic, reaching an all-time high of 33% in April. It has declined since, however, and was at about 14% in August. That is still higher than the 7.6%

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is planning to set emissions targets for its financing portfolio, joining other massive banks in bringing climate goals to its lending activity.

The biggest U.S. bank will establish goals to be achieved by 2030 for each each industry in its portfolio, starting with oil and gas, automotive manufacturing and electric power. It will begin announcing the targets next year.

JPMorgan is also working to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint for its own operations starting this year as part of a broader commitment to align its activity with the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Morgan Stanley had pledged to eliminate the net carbon emissions generated by its financing activities in three decades.


The changes send a signal that JPMorgan is thinking more seriously about its role in fighting climate change. The bank has been under increasing pressure from environmental activists to divest from the fossil-fuel industry. In February, the firm said it would tighten its financing policy and pledged to stop advising or lending to companies that get the majority of revenue from the extraction of coal.

In May, a shareholder resolution requesting that the firm issue a report outlining how it intends to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions associated with its lending business received support from 49.6 percent of shareholders — just missing a majority threshold, according to the preliminary tally. The bank has also replaced Lee Raymond, the former Exxon Mobil Corp. boss, as lead independent director of its board after nonprofit groups and some large investors pushed to remove him due to his track record on climate change.

The Rainforest Action Network said the bank’s new policy is a “welcome step forward” but “falls short,” according to Patrick McCully, climate and energy director of the group. “If

You can increase your investment income by buying a mutual or exchange-traded fund that owns dividend-paying stocks. Whether you should is a thornier question.

Dividends can be dependable — many companies increase theirs year after year — but the prices of the stocks to which they’re linked won’t necessarily be so steady. A fund or E.T.F. of dividend payers provides no guarantee against losses.

So far this year, the S&P Dividend Aristocrats Index — an index of dividend payers in the S&P 500 — lost 2.6 percent year-to-date through Sept. 30, even after factor in those dividends. The S&P 500 returned of 5.57 percent, including dividends.

What’s more, the pandemic has increased the risks that dividends will be cut as some companies’ earnings and cash flow diminish.

“If you’re Walt Disney and you had to close all your parks, your cash flow dried up,” said Scott L. Davis, lead manager of the Columbia Dividend Income Fund. Disney announced in May that it was suspending its dividend for the first half of its fiscal 2020.

Dozens of companies have slashed their dividends this year.

“We’ve seen more cuts and suspensions in 2020 than we had in the prior 10 years,” said Christopher Huemmer, a senior investment strategist at Northern Trust Asset Management.

And the upheaval may not be over, especially with flu season overlapping with the pandemic this fall.

“If there’s another huge round of Covid and lots of shutdowns, I think you’ll see lots more companies get pinched and say they can’t afford their dividends,” said Clare Hart, lead manager of the JPMorgan Equity Income Fund.

Despite these heightened risks, Jennifer Ellison, a financial adviser at Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough in San Francisco, said she understands why people might want to add a fund or E.T.F. of dividend payers to

Small-cap growth funds are natural choices for investors with a high-risk appetite when capital appreciation over the long term takes precedence over dividend payouts. These funds focus on realizing an appreciable amount of capital growth by investing in stocks that are projected to rise in value over the long term.

Meanwhile, small-cap funds are good choices for investors seeking diversification across different sectors and companies. These generally invest in companies having market cap lower than $2 billion. The companies, smaller in size, offer growth potential and their market capitalization may increase subsequently. Also, due to their lower international exposure, small-cap funds offer higher protection than their large- and mid-cap counterparts against any global downturn.

Below we share with you three top-ranked small-cap growth mutual funds. Each has earned a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and is expected to outperform its peers in the future. Investors can click here to see the complete list of funds.

Meridian Growth Fund Legacy Class MERDX aims for long-term growth of capital. The fund emphasizes small- and mid-capitalization growth companies and invests in securities of foreign companies, including emerging market companies. MERDX has three-year annualized returns of 10.1%.

As of the end of June 2020, MERDX held 90 issues, with 3.30% of its assets invested in Trinet Group Inc.

BlackRock Advantage Small Cap Growth Fund Investor A Shares CSGEX aims for long-term capital growth. The fund invests the majority of its assets in securities of small-capitalization companies. Its advisor defines these companies as those that have market capitalization in the range of those included on the Russell 2000 Index at the time of purchase. CSGEX has three-year annualized returns of 12.9%.

CSGEX has an expense ratio of 0.75% as compared to the category average of 1.22%.

Great-West Small Cap Growth Fund Investor MXMTX

The chemical industry is gaining momentum after being stuck in a rut for a spell. The industry’s upturn is backed by improved macroeconomic conditions and a revival of demand across major chemical end-use markets.

The chemical industry reeled under the effects of the coronavirus pandemic during the first half of 2020. The pandemic put brakes on industrial activities globally, squeezing demand for chemicals across key end-markets. Nevertheless, an economic rebound in China, a top consumer of chemicals, and a return of economic activities across the world augur well for the industry for the remainder of 2020.

With the easing of restrictions on business activities globally, demand for chemicals has recovered of late across major end-use industries such as construction and automotive. The global economy is gradually pulling out of its coronavirus-induced slumber as businesses reopen following lockdowns and restrictions. Moreover, recent positive manufacturing data from the United States, Eurozone and China indicates that the global manufacturing recovery remains on track.

Economic activities in China are picking up speed as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic-led slowdown. Notably, the recovery in the country’s manufacturing gathered momentum in September on government stimulus to boost consumption and strong growth in new export orders driven by a rebound in overseas demand. China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (“PMI”) expanded to 51.5 in September from 51 in August, per National Bureau of Statistics.  A reading above 50 indicates expansion in activity.

Moreover, the U.S. manufacturing sector kept the momentum going in September although activities rose at a slightly slower pace than that of August. According to the Institute for Supply Management (“ISM”), the U.S. Manufacturing PMI clocked 55.4% in September compared with 56% in August. The September figure indicates an expansion in the overall economy for the fifth straight month following a contraction