Low interest rates aid Dow index's rise

The Ticker

June 22, 1993|By Julius Westheimer

Recouping more than half of Friday's 27-point drop, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 16.05 points yesterday to close at 3,510.82. Since Jan. 1, 1991, the Dow has surged 877 points, or 33 percent. Analysts credit lower interest rates with much of this astonishing 2 1/2 - year advance.

WALL ST. WISDOM: "Bonds are the house you live in." --Milton F. Westheimer (1872-1956), my father, a member of the New York Stock Exchange, whose notes I read and re-read every Father's Day.

HANG 'EM UP? National Business Employment Weekly, June 18-24 issue, on newsstands this week, runs a good story, "Should You Accept an Early-Retirement Offer?" Excerpts: "Before deciding to retire, think hard about what stereotypes you assign to people who don't work for a living . . . One retiree recalls, 'When being introduced, I used to be Bob Lurz, Engineering Manager, Eastman Kodak. Now I stumble when people ask what I do.' . . . Another says, 'I'm less uncomfortable now that I've started a one-person consulting business.' . . . Another: 'The word retiree makes me cringe; I see myself sitting on a porch in a rocking chair. Is that what I want to do the rest of my life?' "

FAILED ATTEMPT: Regarding the above, about 10 years ago I announced to family and brokerage business associates that, from then on, I would be taking every Friday off. That program lasted exactly one week. I spent most of the first Friday phoning my secretary, being threatened with divorce (not really) and otherwise trying to fill the long day.

HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "Take the plunge with $1,000," says Money magazine, July. The article reads, "Begin by socking away cash for emergencies in a money fund, and then put your cash to work in stock and bond funds. Given today's low money-market yields and risky securities markets, experts say these funds are right for the job. All are distinguished by solid returns, comparatively low risk and modest expenses." Read on:

$1,000 AND LESS: Referring to the above article, an accompanying chart lists these funds (minimum investment in parentheses, followed by five-year compound annual gain percentages and phone numbers): Money Funds: United Service Gov't. Securities ($1,000), gain percent not available, 800-873-8637; Strong ($1,000) 6.6 percent, 800-368-1030; Kemper Tax-Exempt ($1,000) 4.8 percent, 800-621-1048. Bond Funds: Scudder Short-Term ($1,000) 9.9 percent, 800-225-2470; Columbia Fixed Income ($1,000) 11.5 percent, 800-547-1707; Babson Bond L ($500) 11.1 percent, 800-422-2766. In Thursday's Ticker, we'll print the numbers for "total return" funds and stock funds.

"Fewer than 40 percent of employers now reimburse employees for business use of their cars at a rate as high as the standard mileage rate allowed by the IRS, currently 28 cents a mile." (Bureau of National Affairs) . . . The following mutual funds are listed, in order, under "1993's Best Returns" in Business Week's "Where to Invest" issue, June 21. Total return percentages (gain plus income) from 12/31/92 through 6/4/93 appear in parentheses: Lexington Strategic Investments (181); United Services Gold Shares (81); Van Eck International Investors (74); Fidelity Select Precious Metals/Minerals (64); Bull & Bear Gold Investors (63).

MARYLAND MEMOS: T. Rowe Price International Stock Fund is listed under "Five Ways to Play the Japanese Market" in Money magazine, July. The fund showed a one-year gain of 6.5 percent. Others (with one-year percentage gains in parentheses) are Vanguard International Index Pacific (41.7); Japan Fund (29.0); Merrill Lynch Pacific A (23.5); Scudder International (11.3) . . . In Pikesville, a perspiring Coca-Cola deliveryman told me Saturday that his business has "picked up real good" since the Diet Pepsi scare. . . . Martin Marietta stock touched a new 12-month high (78 1/4 ) last week.

STOCK WATCH: Safe Money magazine, June, picks these issues as "The Five Best Investments for 1993": Outboard Marine, Chase Manhattan, Intel, Walt Disney and 10-year municipal bonds . . . "I'm optimistic on the market. With many businesses trimming costs, earnings are rising and that pushes stock prices higher." (John Dessauer) . . . "Short-term, Wall Street looks attractive and I expect another rally from here. Railroad stocks are especially attractive." (Gail Dudack) . . . "Interest rates are the key; as long as they remain low, the stock market won't get hurt. But this is a tougher year to make money than last year was." (Harvey Eisen). (Preceding three quotes from Friday's "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser) . . . The program's guest, Morningstar Mutual Funds' Don Phillips, said he liked these funds: Clipper, Gabelli, Vanguard and the Strong Common Stock Fund . . . "Stocks are overbought in the near term. However, given a growing 'wall of worry,' they should eventually work their way higher." (Institutional Strategist).

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