Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What the Dow record means for you 

Erin McClam, Staff Writer , NBC News – 3 hrs.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images 
Traders work on the floor of The New York Stock Exchange on March 5, 2013 in New York City.
The Dow Jones industrial average just set a record high. Feel rich yet?

With the economic recovery still lumbering along, you could be forgiven for scratching your head rather than tossing confetti. But the journey to a new high took more than five years, starting just before the financial crisis and the Great Recession, and it's a milestone that matters to tens of millions of Americans.

Three big questions about the Dow’s big day:

1. Have I missed the boat?

Yes and no.

The market surge began in the thick of the recession. And it’s been one for the history books. The Dow’s closing low was 6,547.05 on March 9, 2009, which means that if you’ve kept your cash out of stocks, you’ve missed a double-your-money rally and then some.

If you’ve been too skittish to jump back in, you’ve got company. Investors have pulled more money out of stock mutual funds than they have put in every year since the Dow’s last peak in 2007.

Only this January, when the market was near a five-year high, did they start consistently putting money in, according to data from the Investment Company Institute, which tracks so-called fund flows.

The good news: Money managers say the market still has room to run.

“If you look for those things that tell you it’s too late — signals that say the end of the bull market is close, the end of the economic recovery is close — the answer is we don’t have those signals,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer and chief economist at Hugh Johnson Advisers, an asset management company in Albany, N.Y.

Among other factors, Johnson says he’s encouraged by the so-called index of leading economic indicators, which points to a sluggish but still growing economy.

And since the market’s most recent rally began last June, he points out, stocks that generally hold more risk, like companies whose fortunes rise and fall with the economy, have performed better than safer stocks, like utilities.

And because corporate profits keep rising, stocks are still reasonably priced by historical standards. Investment experts often judge whether stocks are cheap or expensive by comparing the prices to how much money the companies are earning.

“We get good news after good news for companies,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Tuesday. “How do you get people to get out of stocks when Qualcomm gives you great news or Google? Google is making a lot of money. All they seem to do is get stronger.”

Some market experts say it’s better to wait for a slight pullback in the market, then get in.

“We now believe we are at the first of three market pivot points this year and suspect a drop is now likely to unfold over the next several months,” Craig W. Johnson and Leah Williams of the investment bank Piper Jaffray said in a market analysis. Such a drop, they said, could be “the single-best buying opportunity this year.”

2. Isn’t all this just about the fortunes of Wall Street itself — the 1 percent?

Not if you have a 401(k) plan, an IRA or any other retirement account tied to the stock market.

Index funds, which track the major market indexes stock-for-stock, have soared in popularity over the past two decades because they carry extremely low fees and leave less to the success or failure of money managers.

The most popular of these funds track the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which hasn’t quite beaten its record but has logged an even more impressive rally since 2009 than the Dow. It’s up 127 percent.

Something else to consider is what’s known as the wealth effect, the idea that people are more comfortable spending money when they feel wealthier. Headlines about the stock market’s record run only help.

“Consumer spending is not what it should be — a 2 percent growth rate, and it should be closer to 3 — but it’s getting better,” Johnson says. “It tends to feed on itself. It makes people feel better.”

3. So why don’t I feel wealthier?

Because you’re not — at least not judging by the other statistics that are close to Americans’ pocketbooks, and certainly not compared with the boom years of the mid-2000s.

Household income in the United States, measured by what the median family makes and adjusted for inflation, has fallen every year since 2007, according to the Census Bureau.

The figure for 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, was $50,054, about $4,400 less than at the peak.

Home values — the biggest source of wealth for most Americans — have been on a tear, but it’s going to take them a lot longer than it took the stock market to recover the ground they lost during the crash and recession.

Home prices in January were almost 10 percent higher than a year ago, the data analysis company CoreLogic said Tuesday, and they rose in every state but Delaware and Illinois.

But home prices are still 26 percent below their peak, in April 2006. And that’s to say nothing of a 7.9 percent unemployment rate. And gas prices marching steadily higher. And never-ending budget squabbles in Washington.

On top of all that, unless your boss was feeling holiday cheer and gave you an end-of-the-year raise, your paycheck is a little smaller than it was at the end of last year.

That’s because Washington allowed a two-year cut in the payroll tax, which pays for Social Security, to expire. The cut was 2 percentage points, so if you pull in $50,000 a year, your paycheck is shrinking by $1,000, or about $40 every two-week pay period.

So it’s worth keeping the good times on Wall Street in perspective.

“I think we expect too much out of the market,” Nicolas Colas, chief market strategist for Convergex Group, a technology company that serves investment advisers and hedge funds, told CNBC. “We expect it to be the central litmus test for social welfare. Really, it’s just a measure of corporate profitability.”

One other reason to buy stocks: They’re the only game in town. Other places that looked like surer bets aren’t so sure anymore.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, what the government will pay you every year to lend it money, is below 2 percent. As recently as 2006, it was above 5 percent.

Warren Buffett — preacher of the buy-and-hold stock strategy, so-called Oracle of Omaha and probably the most famous investor in America — told CNBC earlier this week that stocks are still cheaper than other forms of investment.

“Anything I bought at $80, I don’t like as well at $100,” he said. “They’re not as cheap as they were four years ago, but you get more for your money.”

Analysis: Chavistas begin search for Latin
America's next 'Comandante'

Venezuela's future uncertain after Chavez's death

News analysis

By Carlos Rajo, Commentator, Telemundo

Love him or hate him — and plenty of people in Venezuela and around the world felt one of the two emotions — firebrand President Hugo Chavez’s brand of leadership will be hard to replace.

Chavez died Tuesday at age 58, after a long battle with cancer that was shrouded in mystery and prevented him from being inaugurated for a fourth term.

Beyond the country’s borders, question marks loom as to whether any regional leader will step into Chavez’s shoes and become the region’s voice of socialism and anti-Americanism.
Chavez, a self-declared socialist, often criticized the United States on its history of intervention in the Americas and Washington's stance on countries such as Iran.

In a 2006 address at the U.N. General Assembly, Chavez called President George W. Bush "the devil."

"The hegemonistic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very existence of the human species," he said during the speech.

Such declarations gave voice to many wishing to shake-off perceived American dominance of Latin America. His habit of using Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to help prop-up governments in the name of the "Bolivarian Revolution" — named after Simon Bolivar who led 19th-century movements to end Spain’s colonial rule throughout Latin America — won him many friends.

NBC's Mark Potter discusses the impact of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's death on the country and on the relationship between Venezuela and the United States.

He also supported cooperation among Latin American nations, and helped establish the Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and the Bank of the South.

Nobody in power in the Americas has Chavez’s charisma or power to galvanize millions. More importantly, no other leader — even the ones that share his ideas like Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Bolivia’s Evo Morales or Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner — has the resources and influence of a country such as Venezuela, which has the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

So while many Chavistas are saying "Long live to the King," it is not clear how long the king’s project will survive internationally. The same is the case within Venezuela, but more so.

According to Venezuela’s constitution, an election will need to be called within 30 days of Chavez’s death. Who the Chavistas choose to succeed "El Comandante" will help determine the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.

If Chavez’ will carries beyond the grave, Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be the candidate in the upcoming election. It isn’t only that the 50-year-old former Caracas bus driver and union organizer was appointed by Chavez as his successor, but also that he represents the closest thing to 'Chavismo' without Chavez.

Preferred candidate
Maduro lacks Chavez’s charisma and popular appeal. At the same time, Maduro accepts all the tenants of Bolivarian socialism – a mix of authoritarianism, state owned enterprises and anti-U.S. rhetoric functioning under some form of democratic governance.

Leo Ramirez / AFP - Getty Images
Hugo Chavez, seen here in 2011 standing next to his daughter Rosa Virginia, right, Minister of Penitentiary Services Maria Iris Varela, left, and Venezuelan Minister of Health Eugenia Sader.

It is no coincidence that Maduro is the preferred candidate of Cuba, Chavez’s closest ally and supporter.

Maduro’s main opposition within his sphere is Diosdado Cabello, a former military officer and currently the President of the National Assembly. Cabello is as wooden publicly as Maduro, but he has the support of another major player in Venezuelan politics and Chavismo itself — the army.

The men in uniform may decide that it is time for a change of regime and not just a change in leader. Under their influence, there could be a rapprochement with the business sector and thawing in relations with United States.

Nevertheless, whoever ends up being the Chavistas’ candidate, and assuming he wins the election, the project may still be in danger: Venezuela is still dogged by inflation rates of between 5 and 30 percent a year, a large government deficit, alarming rates of urban violence, shortages in many goods and services, such as electricity, milk, meat and toilet paper.

So even if the military accepts a Maduro presidency, it isn’t a given that they will support civilian leader to whom they see as too leftist and too close to the Cubans indefinitely. It is also possible that there will be infighting among the Chavistas’ civilian groups, both the politicians who are in charge of the state machinery and the "boligarchs," the moguls who have profited immensely with Chavez in power.

The reaction of the Chavista popular bases is another potential problem. El Comandante won’t be there to convince them to wait for better times, to accept the shortages, inflation, insecurity and other realities of a dysfunctional and inefficient government.

But equally important, these sectors could become a threat to Chavez’s successor as many are more radical than their leaders...and some are armed.

World leaders pay tribute to Chavez
The Life and Legacy of  venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News

As Venezuela’s Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, broke the news of Hugo Chavez’s death Tuesday, he urged the nation not to cry, but instead carry on with “much strength, much prayer” and “the greatest of loves that Hugo Chávez Frías planted in our heart.”

"It's a moment of deep pain," he said in the address.

Chavez, the charismatic leftist who dominated his country with sweeping political change and flamboyant speeches, died Tuesday at age 58, after a long battle with cancer that was shrouded in mystery and prevented him from being inaugurated for a fourth term.

Following the news and Maduro’s call for solidarity, Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost to Chávez in the October election, tweeted his own message for the nation: "My solidarity with all the family and followers of President Hugo Chávez, we advocate for the unity of Venezuelans at this time," he said.

A vote is expected to be held within 30 days and will likely pit Maduro against Capriles.

Reactions to the death of a leader who was both loved and reviled at home and abroad poured in from around the world, with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offering his "deepest condolences" to the people of Venezuela.

'A tragedy'
Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, suspended activities after receiving the news. She and her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, were close friends of Chavez.

And Russia's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin said of the death: "It's a tragedy. He was a great politician," while Bolivia's President Evo Morales announced he would travel immediately to Caracas to pay his respects. Uruguayan president José Mujica is also expected to travel to Caracas in the morning.

Chile and Ecuador released official notes of condolence, while in Peru a minute of silence was held in Chavez’s honor.

Colombia's President, Juan Manuel Santos tweeted: "I profoundly lament the death of the president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez Frías. Our sincere condolences … " a message also echoed by Mexico's President, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, says she is mourning the loss of a great "friend" of her country, the BBC reported.

"This death should fill all Latin and Central Americans with sadness," she added, according to the BBC. "Hugo Chavez was without doubt a leader committed to his country and to the development of the people of Latin America."

In the United States, Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., who represents a largely Hispanic district, tweeted his condolences: “Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.”

While former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said in a statement that Chavez "will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments."

Joseph P. Kennedy II, chairman of non-profit Citizens Energy, which was criticized for receiving heating oil donations from the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, released a statement thanking Chavez for his generosity.

"There are close to two million people in the United States who received free heating assistance, thanks to President Chavez's leadership," Kennedy's statement read. "Our prayers go out to President Chavez's family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity."

But Chavez has often criticized the United States on its history of intervention in the Americas and Washington's stance on countries such as Iran.

And the friction between the U.S. and the Chavez regime lasted until the end of his life. Only minutes before the Venezuelan leader’s death was announced, the State Department issued a statement rejecting Maduro’s earlier accusations that Chavez’s enemies gave him cancer and that U.S. diplomats in Venezuela plotted to destabilize the government.

Support for the Venezuelan people
Following the news of his death, the White House released a statement reinforcing its goal of developing a better relationship with the Venezuelan government.

“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,” President Barack Obama’s statement read. “As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Mike Rogers, R-Mich., also said he hoped for the two countries to turn a new leaf in their relationship.

"Hugo Chavez was a destabilizing force in Latin America, and an obstacle to progress in the region. I hope his death provides an opportunity for a new chapter in U.S.-Venezuelan relations," he said.

But Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., took a different stance with the following statement: "Sic semper tyrannis,” which translates to, “Thus always to tyrants." That also happens to be what John Wilkes Boothe said before fatally shooting President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre.

"After the welcome news of Hugo Chavez's death, I hope that the oppressed people of Venezuela will be able to live in freedom, not under miserable tyranny. I look forward to working in the House to promote a free, democratic, and pro-American government in Venezuela," Cotton added.

NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, Edgar Zuniga, Sofia Perpetua, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Venezuela's 'Comandante' Hugo Chavez dies

Hugo Chavez, socialist leader of Venezuela, dies after long battle with cancer at the age of 58.
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the charismatic leftist who dominated his country with sweeping political change and flamboyant speeches, died Tuesday at age 58, after a long battle with cancer that was shrouded in mystery and prevented him from being inaugurated for a fourth term.

Adored or reviled for his self-styled populist revolution, Chavez held sway over Venezuela through a cult of personality, government reforms that championed the downtrodden, and an endless stream of rhetoric denouncing capitalism, imperialism and the United States.

The "Chavistas" praised El Comandante for reducing extreme poverty and expanding access to health care and education. Critics blamed him for high inflation, food shortages, escalating crime and mismanagement of the country’s oil industry.

Human rights groups lambasted him for politicizing the judicial branch, and undermining the democratic system of checks and balances.

To many he was a charming populist who sang and danced on his weekly television show and gave the impoverished a voice; others saw him as an autocrat who plastered his portrait all over the country and failed to deliver on the promises of what he called the "Bolivarian revolution."

"He will be remembered as someone who generated over 14 years an international presence and impact way beyond his country's size or wealth and beyond his own talent and personal charisma," said Jorge Castenada, the former Mexico foreign minister and NBC's Latin American policy analyst.

"And I think he'll be remembered for having tried to make a life of poor people in Venezuela better but in the end of the day, having made it worse. When the consequences of his economic policies become apparent, it will end up that he spent an enormous amount of money to make people a little better off for a short period of time."

The last two years of his presidency were overshadowed by his health struggles. After declaring himself free of an unspecified cancer, he fended off a tough challenge to win re-election in 2012 — even giving an epic nine-hour speech during the campaign.

He soon relapsed and was rushed to Cuba for surgery. He was deemed too sick to be sworn into office in early January, and was still gravely ill when he made a surprise return to Venezuela in mid-February, heralded on a Twitter account with 4 million followers.

His deputies insisted he was still in control, signing documents and holding meetings in a Caracas hospital room even if a tube in his throat had silenced his well-known voice. But by this week, the end seemed imminent with reports of a new respiratory infection.

The life of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez from his rise as a lieutenant colonel after his failed coup attempt in 1992.

In an address to the nation Tuesday afternoon, Vice President Nicholas Maduro said Chavez was facing his "most difficult hours" and claimed the cancer was an "attack" by his enemies. A few hours later, he announced Chavez's death at 4:25 p.m.

"Honor and glory to Hugo Chavez," an emotional Maduro said in Spanish on Venezuelan television, calling for public memorials at every town square in the country but warning against violence or hatred.

Born July 28, 1954, to schoolteachers in a small Venezuelan village, Chavez was raised by his grandmother and entered the military academy in Caracas at age 17. Six years later, inspired by the life of 19th century South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar, he formed a secret movement within the army.

Rising through the military to the rank of captain, he led a bloody coup attempt in 1992 that failed and landed him in prison. Pardoned two years later, the ex-paratrooper re-launched his revolt against the ruling class and announced his candidacy for president in 1998.

"The resurrection of Venezuela has begun, and nothing and no one can stop it,'' he bellowed to a roaring crowd after a landslide victory made him the youngest president in the history of Venezuela.

As president, Chavez created a new constitution and had the name of the country changed to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. He took greater control of the state-run oil company, expanded the country’s armed forces, and instituted government programs to create jobs, housing and services for the poor.

A 2009 report by the progressive think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research found poverty was cut in half during the first decade of Chavez’s rule; child mortality fell by a third; malnutrition deaths were down by 50%; and college enrollment almost doubled.

At the same time, one non-government report estimated Venezuela’s murder rate quadrupled while Chavez was in power. In 2012, inflation hit 18%. Accusations of corruption and nepotism dogged his administration.

Problems aside, he enjoyed tremendous loyalty from his supporters. A 2002 coup during an economic crisis kept him out of power for just two days — and he claimed the United States had orchestrated it.

Chavez’s relations with the U.S. — referred to derisively as the "empire" in his epic speeches — were icy. He called President George W. Bush "the devil" and "the king of vacations." In 2010, he demanded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resign "along with those other delinquents working in the State Department."

He often lavished praise on Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, but his staunchest ally was Cuba. He kept the island nation flush with oil in exchange for its well-trained doctors and teachers, and he was visiting Havana when he fell ill in June 2011.

In an address to the nation a few weeks later, he admitted neglecting his health and said it was Fidel Castro who got him to admit he wasn’t feeling well, leading to the discovery of a tumor in his pelvis and emergency surgery.

In the following months, the twice-divorced Catholic shuttled between Cuba and Caracas for treatment even as he sought a fourth term, made possible because he had pushed through the abolition of term limits in the constitution he had rewritten.

Days before the election he would win with 54 percent of the vote to his opponent’s 45 percent, he spoke to a rally of supporters in Caracas, displaying the trademark swagger that had made him one of Latin America’s most captivating, if polarizing, leaders.

"Since I haven’t failed you in these 14 years," he said, according to the Associated Press. "I promise I won’t fail you in the next presidential term.

"Because Chavez doesn’t lie. Because Chavez doesn’t sell out. Because Chavez is the people. Because Chavez is truth. Because all of you are Chavez. We all are."

Dow closes at all-time high, tops 2007 record 

JeeYeon Park , CNBC – 5 hrs. 

Riding a wave of optimism, the Dow Jones industrial average closed Tuesday above levels not seen since before the financial crisis and before the Great Recession.

It was a journey more than five years in the making, as investors slowly and then with greater urgency over that time, plowed money into stocks, mainly because there were few other places in the economy in which to make more money.

The blue-chip index, the best known and most widely followed measure of stock prices, rose 125.95 points, or 0.89 percent, to end at 14,253.77, led by Boeing and United Technologies. The Dow Jones Transportation Average also touched a record high.

More than 100 companies ranging from retailers to Internet giants, food makers and industrial companies rose to annual, multiyear or all-time highs. Since the Dow's last all-time high in 2007, Home Depot and IBM have been the biggest gainers, while Alcoa and Bank of America have been the worst performers.
So far, the Dow is up nearly 9 percent in 2013, surpassing the 7.3 percent gain for all of 2012.

The broader S&P 500 index closed up 14.59 points, or .96 percent, to 1,539.79. The tech-laden Nasdaq jumped 42.10 points, or 1.32 percent, to 3,224.13.

Stocks got a big boost Tuesday from upbeat economic data from Europe. China helped too, pledging to meet its growth targets.

But the main fuel for the record-setting climb has been near-zero interest rates from the Federal Reserve, which have spurred the housing market, but also made it difficult to make money buying bonds or holding money in savings accounts.

But what does the new high mean for the economy?

"It's meaningful in the sense it obviously has a lot of media potential - it's likely to move stories about the stock market to the front page from the financial section," said investor Hugh Johnson. "From that point of view it is good news in that it tends to lift spirits or raise confidence. There is the wealth effect of the fact that when you start to lift confidence it leads to stronger consumer spending. From that point of view it will have positive feedback on the economy," he added.

In Johnson's view, the gridlock in the nation's capital is unlikely to bring the market down.

"The question it is going to raise - which this market has raised continuously - is how is it this market is doing so well in the face of meaningful spending cuts coming out of Washington with the sequester? The message of the markets is although the sequester is likely to impact gross domestic product, it is not likely to end the current stock market business cycle, or the bull market expansion. It is not likely to interrupt the current cycle."

(Read More: Cramer: Near All-Time Highs, Should You Buy?)

On the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) non-manufacturing index, which tracks monthly changes in the services sector, said the pace of growth in the vast U.S. services sector accelerated to its fastest pace in a year in February, helped by a rise in new orders and demand for exports.

ISM said its services index rose to 56 from 55.2 in January, exceeding economists' forecasts for 55. It was the highest level since February 2012. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

The new orders index jumped to 58.2 from 54.4, while orders for exports rose to their highest level since May 2007 with that gauge at 60.5, up from January's 55.5.

"This was no question a positive number," said Michael Woolfolk, senior currency strategist at BNY Mellon. "It reflects improvement in reinforces the view that the economy continues to improve and should contribute to gains that have driven the stock market to a new record."

European shares were boosted by the news that euro zone finance ministers have struck an agreement to bail out Cyprus by the end of March, although they have yet to work out the details of the 17 billion euro ($22.1 billion) financial aid package.

Shares in mainland China recovered 2 percent after hitting a six-week closing low in the previous session, as outgoing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao set out a reform plan at the National People's Congress in order to achieve a 2013 growth target of 7.5 percent.

(Read More: Why China's Property Market Is Getting Scary)

The Senate Budget Committee is meeting to discuss reducing the fiscal deficit by eliminating wasteful spending in the tax code.

"We are seeing money going into the asset class," said Shawn Matthews, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, but at some time investors can expect a "pause," he added.

House Speaker John Boehner said President Barack Obama and he had made no headway on a deal to avoid sequestration over the weekend. Meanwhile, House Republicans are expected to introduce a bill to extend government funding through September, to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.

While stocks so far have largely ignored sequester concerns, analysts say signs the cuts are beginning to impact the economy could eventually move markets.

On Monday afternoon, Stephen King, chief global economist at HSBC, said that the U.S. was living in "a fantasy world" over the impact sequestration would have on growth.

"If you look at the projections from the Congressional Budget Office, they assume that growth goes back to between four to five percent in real terms between 2014 and 2018. Their numbers suggest that the U.S. will post the fastest rate of productivity growth of any decade in the last 50 or 60 years," King told CNBC Europe. "Even allowing for the fact that there's some debt reduction, coming through sequestration, there's still a degree of wishful thinking with regard to the economy which probably isn't going to come true."

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

Boy keeps dad alive for 10 days after fall
Peter Asumani, a 10-year-old boy from Nebraska, looked after his injured father for more than a week, giving him food and fluids until police found them while responding to concerns from the boy's school.

Published: March. 4, 2013 at 4:08 PM
Peter Asumani's teacher worried when a student didn't show up for school for four days.

As it turns out, the 10-year-old wasn't cutting class -- he was saving his father's life.

Peter cared for his father, Bienvenu Asumani, 45, for ten days after the older man slipped on a wet floor and was unable to get up, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Police found the boy and his father at their home in Lincoln, Neb., after Jeff Rust, the principal from Hartley Elementary School, called to report Peter's four-day absence.

In an affidavit filed with Lancaster County Juvenile Court, Investigator Cynthia Koenig-Warnke said she found Bienvenu Asumani lying on a footstool inside his home, unable to speak or answer questions, but his eyes were open and he was breathing.

According to court documents, Peter told Koenig-Warnke he had given his father food and fluids for more than a week after he fell, unable to move or use the bathroom. Peter told officials he was unable to communicate with his father.

Reports said it was unclear if the boy was aware of the 911 emergency phone system or if he tried to get help from a neighbor. Father and son live alone: Peter told police his mother lives in Africa and their closest relatives are in Arizona.

Bienvenu Asumani was transferred to Bryan Medical Center for treatment.

Judge Linda Porter granted permission to place Peter with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services while his father is treated.