Inching to its 33rd record high this year, the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.56 yesterday to close at 3,794.33. A report that the leading economic indicators moved higher for the fourth consecutive month encouraged investors in the lackluster between-the-holidays" session.
YEAR-END TAX TIP: "Mail your January mortgage payment by this Friday [tomorrow] night. Though the tax law doesn't allow taxpayers to claim extra deductions by paying interest in advance, mailing a payment early isn't pre-payment of interest because mortgage installments typically include an interest charge for the previous month. So if you mail a day early you'll be able to deduct the December interest payment on your 1993 return." (Barron's, Dec. 27).
HAPPIER WORKPLACE: Some New Year's workplace resolutions, from an old issue of Working Woman magazine: "Smile at a co-worker you don't especially like. Give a newcomer a shoulder to lean on. (Remember when you were new?) Bring a snack to 'back-office' workers who rarely see other people. Tell the cafeteria cook how good the beef stew was. In the cafeteria, let someone in line ahead of you; there'll be plenty of food. When the boss bawls you out, shake it off and don't respond for 24 hours; the boss probably has nothing against you -- he/she is protecting him or herself. When a subordinate complains, take it seriously. Offer to take an elderly co-worker home on a snowy night." And here's a Ticker suggestion: If a co-worker or friend has a baby, buy a U.S. Savings Bond on that day, date-stamped clearly, so the new arrival will have a souvenir of his/her actual birthday. (If you're a day late, some banks will back-date a bond for you; one bank did it for me and nobody went to jail.)
BALTIMORE BEAT: T. Rowe Price GNMA (Ginnie Mae) Fund is listed under "Low Expenses Make Good Returns" in Barron's, Dec. 27, in a story titled, "Cost Conscious: The Beauty of Tightfisted Bond Funds." The fund showed a 9.11 percent annualized 1990-1992 return . . . The same issue lists USF&G stock under "Insider Transactions: Purchases," showing that 7,000 shares were bought by three insiders in the seven-day period ended Dec. 22, 1993. The purchases represent a 350 percent "change in holdings."
IF YOU WIN: What should you do if you win the Lotto? Suggestions: Put some money away for taxes; the IRS withholds 20 percent but you'll probably have to come up with more. Give some winnings to charity. Pay off your mortgage and other debts. Spend some; money is to enjoy. With the rest, consult an experienced financial planner with a demonstrated history of success. My recommendations would be: Put 10 percent of the remainder in a money fund for safety and a buying reserve, 5 percent in gold coins. Then buy double-A or triple-A tax-free bonds (you'll be in a high tax bracket) and quality stocks or stock mutual funds, including the "Dow 5." For actual percentages, subtract your age from 100, and invest that percentage in stocks. (Example: If you're 25, put 75 percent into Wall Street.)
MARYLAND & MORE: These local stocks reached 12-month highs in early-week trading: AlliedSignal (Bendix) and Computer Data . . . The highest-yielding area insured money market funds are now offered by Chevy Chase Savings, Loyola Federal, Washington Savings Bank (Waldorf), Eastern Savings Bank and Maryland National Bank. (Data from "100 Highest Yields," Dec. 20) . . . Reminder: Time is running out for making year-end changes to reduce taxes. (Judge Learned Hand once ruled, "Nobody owes any public duty to pay more taxes than the law demands.") If you have losses, use them first to offset gains, then apply up to $3,000 against ordinary income. See your tax person promptly for details . . . Tax suggestion: Although your next Maryland estimated income tax payment is not due until Jan. 18, 1994, you can take a 1993 deduction by mailing your check before midnight tomorrow. Be sure to enclose your voucher . . . Tomorrow night, "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser" conducts its year-end review, with 1993 top stock-picking panelists William Waters, Elizabeth Dater, Michael Holland and Laszlo Birinyi.
LOOKING AHEAD: "January 1 shapes up to be a big day for the municipal bond market. As with recent New Year's days, a huge volume of munis will be called or will mature -- $20 billion by most estimates this time around. It's no wonder everybody is bullish on tax-free bonds, but not everyone agrees. Bond prices are high and a strong economy could push interest rates higher." (Randall Forsyth, bond specialist) . . . "As long as the blue-chip market continues to make higher highs and higher lows, the bull market lives on." (RMC Capital Market Forecast) . . . Happy New Year to all, and watch for our 1994 Dow Jones forecasting contest rules and prizes, coming early in January.