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No January Effect This Year?

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There is an old adage on Wall Street that says, ‘as goes January, so goes the year.’  The indicator has accurately predicted the market’s direction for the full year in 48 of the past 51 years.  The Vietnam War affected the results of two of the three incorrectly predicted years just as September 11th may impact this year’s results.  But if the indicator has any validity at all, it doesn’t look like 2002 will provide the comeback we were hoping for. 

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Earnings Time Again

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Earnings season stirs the market like few other forces, but especially in these times of economic uncertainty.  Investors and analysts hang on every word uttered as managers discuss their results for the quarter and hint at what their future might bring.  Body language, pauses, annunciations, and emphases are all noted and endlessly scrutinized.  Early in the week, the news was decidedly negative as Intel, Juniper Networks, and RF Micro, followed by General Motors, JP Morgan, and others disappointed with their earnings releases. Then on Wednesday afternoon, the tide shifted with positive earnings news from Advanced Micro, Compaq, Symantec fueling the

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Trees Are As Important As The Forest

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The tug-of-war between the Bulls and the Bears continues as analysts and investors fret over half-full or half-empty scenarios.  There is little argument that the economic numbers suggest a bottoming in the economy.  The rise in unemployment is slowing, consumer confidence is improving, commodities’ prices are rising from their lows, and bond prices are declining.  The big question centers on the speed of the recovery and the vitality of corporate earnings.  The stock indexes, historically the best leading indicators, are signaling recovery sooner, rather than later.  The NASDAQ Composite index reached a six-month high on Wednesday. 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR?

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It’s 18 degrees outside with more than a foot of snow on the ground, but news of Washington politics, worse than usual, still manages to make my blood boil.  I know it’s 2002 and control of the Senate and House are up for grabs by Republicans or Democrats.  But, I still manage to allow my optimistic nature the latitude to expect that, occasionally and for longer than a few days, congressmen and women could place concerns of our economy and our national well being above political point making.  Tom Daschle, Senate Majority Leader, in a noon speech today, will call

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and All Through the Senate

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Did you really expect the U.S. Senate to come together at the last minute to craft a stimulus bill in time for Christmas?  The last target date for such an economic lifesaver was Thanksgiving.  They are further apart now than they were before Thanksgiving.  Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle “Dr. No,” said the Senate wouldn’t take up the stimulus bill passed by the House early Thursday, or any other stimulus bill this year.  He left open the possibility that talks will resume when Congress returns in late January.  Investors took their anger to the markets yesterday as the Dow and

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‘Tis the Tax Selling Season

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To the casual observer, this week’s markets seem overly concerned with news that should have been expected and already priced into stocks.  We know, for instance, that a recession means higher unemployment numbers, declining payrolls, and weaker retail sales.  So why did it seem like investors ran for the exits this week after the buying spree of the week before?  The answer lies somewhere between human nature and the tax code.  Last week saw a market poised shake off months of pessimism in favor of the possibility that the economy would be turning soon.  Stocks rallied as investors and portfolio

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Recovery Ahead? – The Market Believes

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In April of 1991, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that a recession had begun eight months earlier in July of 1990.  They later announced that same recession had ended in March of 1991.  The recession was actually over and recovery in progress before the recession was officially declared.  The same official body recently declared that our economy entered a recession in March of this year. The economy contracted at a 1.1% annual rate between July and September as consumer spending slowed, business spending slumped, and companies slashed inventories. It is the largest decline since the first quarter of

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The ‘R’ Word is Out

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Often, the fear of the monster lurking in the darkness is greater than the actual sight of it.  The monster’s out, the U.S. is in recession.  The National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday said the U.S. entered a recession in March even though contraction did not actually show up until the third quarter.  A common definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, but the NBER, considered the official arbiter, relies on a variety of factors to determine the state of the economy.  Most expect contraction in the fourth quarter of this year as well.  On

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Strong Signs the Worst Is Over, But Recovery Remains Elusive

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On Tuesday of this week the government announced that U.S. retail sales rose more in October than in any month in the government’s 10 years of record-keeping.  Consumers spent money at auto dealers, department and discount stores, and building supply outlets.  Sales surged 7.1%, almost three times analysts’ expectations, after falling 2.2% in September. The Commerce Department’s report also showed sales excluding a record increase in purchases from car dealers rose 1% after falling 1.5% in September. The rise in vehicle sales was a result of no-interest financing offered by automakers.  General Motors has announced a continuation of their 0%

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Money Goes Where It’s Treated Best

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Over long periods of time the stock market outperforms bonds by a substantial margin.  But, it should come as no surprise that bonds were the winners over the past two years.  In fact, bonds have outperformed the S&P 500 by a 60% premium, the strongest difference in seventy years (1931 and 1932).  Tom Galvin of Credit Suisse First Boston notes that the year following the strong bond performance, stocks posted a 54% return in 1933 as the cycle reversed.  A similar story of good treasury returns during two consecutive bad years for equities came during 1973 and 1974.  That period

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