Dow inches up 9 points shy of peak


The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 3.64 points yesterday to close at 3,755.21, only nine points shy of its all-time high. Just for comparison, 10 years ago today, the Dow closed at 1,254.98. The Dow is up 2,500 points, or 199 percent, in the last decade.

If you think the stock market is too high now, consider buying the Treasury's two- and three-year notes being issued this week. Call your broker or the Federal Reserve ([410] 576-3500) for details.

MONEY MATTERS: "On Wall Street, people who know don't talk and people who talk don't know.'" (Frederick Rowe, Jr., hedge fund manager) . . . "When a fellow says, 'It ain't the money but the principle of the thing,' it's the money." (Frank McKinney Hubbard) . . . "Virtue has its own reward, but no sale at the box office." (Mae West, 1892-1980).

BALTIMORE BEAT: Legg Mason's Research Weekly has comments on Giant Food ("Third quarter better than expected; 1994 earnings estimate increased") and McCormick ("Earnings appear to be on track; we anticipate that the firm may increase its dividend soon.") The brokerage firm includes Black & Decker on its current recommended list . . . Friday night, locally produced "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser" (8:30 p.m., Channels 22 and 67) looks back over memorable moments of the past year's programs . . . These stocks with local connections reached 12-month highs in recent trading: AlliedSignal (Bendix), Baltimore Bancorp, CSX Corp., EA Engineering, Micros Systems and Times Mirror.

MARYLAND MEMOS: "I'm going to challenge your organizations to try to transform the idea of Total Quality Management into Total Performance Management." (Westinghouse CEO Mike Jordan at the corporation's recent "Total Quality Symposium," reported in the Baltimore Westinghouse Electronic Systems house organ, The Westinghouse Circuit.) . . . Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, 411 Cathedral St., across from the Enoch Pratt Free Library, desperately needs peanut butter, jelly, sugar (lots of it), bread, tea bags, muffins, eggs, coffee and money. Sister Gwynetta, director, told me, "In October this year we served 27,414 meals compared to 23,880 last October." The facility serves breakfast and lunch (plus a bag of supper food) 365 days a year. Please help in any way you can. There is plenty of easy parking when you deliver your food.

GIFTS FOR KIDS: Here are some last-minute practical ideas for children's Christmas and New Year's presents. For children 6 and up, "Parentbanc" helps boys and girls keep track of where their allowance money goes. It has a checkbook in which the parent serves as banker, and the youngster is the customer. The parent's wallet stands for the bank's vault, and when the child needs money, he or she writes a check. Cost $24 at toy stores . . . "Stocks and Bonds" for children 12 and up is a board game in which the player with the most money at the end of "10 years" wins. It teaches long-range goals, stock selection and spreading risk. Cost $25, made by Avalon Hill, available at most toy stores . . . A good book for children, available in many book stores, is "How To Survive Without Your Parents' Money," by Geoff Martz. Random House $9.

HOLIDAY HASH: Stock and bond markets will be closed this Friday, the day before Christmas, but will be open on Friday, Dec. 31.

LOOKING AHEAD: "Avid Bull Becomes Avid Bear" is worth reading in this week's Barron's, dated Dec. 20, on newsstands this week. ("He believes that stocks have traced a long-term top that will be followed by a bear market of ugly proportions, explaining, 'I see the worst set of ingredients since the market's 1968 high.' ") . . . "Interest rates are topping out; it's OK now to buy natural gas and electric utility stocks." (Frank Cappiello, local mutual fund manager) . . . "I particularly like the technology stocks at this time, especially Intel." (Eddie Brown, Baltimore-based investment adviser) . . . "The bull market has a long way to go, I'm not a bit bearish. This year's record number of IPOs [initial public offerings] doesn't bother me a bit." (Bernadette Murphy, technician) . . . "The housing stocks that look attractive now include Toll Brothers and Continental Homes. I also like Ethan Allen and Lowe's stocks." (David Dwyer, housing analyst, Kidder, Peabody.") Last four quotes from Friday's "Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser."

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