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Dow's six-month loss worst since '84


Stocks closed higher on Friday in slow pre-holiday trading of 199 million shares. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 21.69 points, closing at 3,646.65.

But the Dow suffered a bad loss for the first six months, which ended Thursday night. The blue-chip indicator sank 129 points, or 3.4 percent, the worst first-half performance since 1984.

Worse yet, the Nasdaq composite index lost 9.1 percent and the Dow utilities plunged 22.7 percent.

AND NOW WHERE? "Though sentiment is bearish, earnings are on the rise and many stocks are attractively valued." (United & Babson Investment Report) . . . "One of the last great short- to intermediate-term buying opportunities lies ahead." (The Richland Report) . . . "I am officially announcing the start of the second phase of the bear market. The public will be increasingly on the 'sell side' as they see their portfolios shrink." (Joseph Granville) . . . "Despite ugly weeks, we hold to our bullish view of Dow Jones 4,200." (Gail Dudack, S. G. Warburg Co.)

HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "Your stake in a company can grow dramatically via a Dividend Reinvestment Plan. As an example of the power of compounding in a DRIP, $1,000 invested in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index at the end of 1983 would have been worth $2,828 on Dec. 31, 1993, but with dividends reinvested, the total would have ballooned to $4,020." (S.& P. Outlook)

MONEY SAVER: As promised on WBAL Radio, here is an expanded list of stocks that you can buy directly from the companies, without paying a broker's commission:

Barnett Banks, Central Vermont Public Service, Comsat, Dial, DQU, Exxon, First Alabama Bancshares, Johnson Controls, Kellwood, Kerr-McGee, Mobil, SCANA, Texaco and U S West. Call the firms -- most have toll-free numbers -- for minimum investment data, etc., by dialing 1-800-555-1212. For non-800 numbers, ask your broker to help. (Data from Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, July.)

TRAVEL TIP: Now that most major airlines reserve bulkhead seats for premium-class fliers, the only oases of comfort for coach passengers are emergency-exit rows. They're usually roomier; on a 737, the FAA requires 20 inches of unobstructed floor space, which means several more inches of legroom. They're also quieter; kids under 15 can't sit there. The only catch is that most airlines won't reserve these seats over the phone, in case you're too old, ill or frail to open the exit door.

LEADING THE PACK: When the Dow Jones average closed out the first six months at 3,624.96 on Thursday, the following Ticker contest forecasters were closest. If nothing changes between now and December 31 -- an unlikely happening -- Irving Zweier, who predicted 3,639, will win dinner for two at his favorite restaurant as guests of Mr. and Mrs. Ticker. Same for lunch for runner-up Bernie Vandersmith, who picked 3,610.

The 10 next closest, in order, each of whom will receive financial books, are: Dr. Irving Raksin, Charles Wyble, Richard Lewis, Keith Harmeyer, Ginny Sinsz; Ray Smith, Macille Raab, John McDonough, Ronald DeCarlo and Adele Smith.

MARYLAND MEMOS: Local Honor Roll: Andrew Marcus and George Robertson of Alex. Brown and Kara Chesby of Legg Mason are listed under "Best Stock Pickers: Wall Street's Top Guns" in the Wall Street Journal's June 29 "All-Star Analyst" 1993 rankings. Eugene Meinitchenko of Legg Mason appears under "Most Accurate Earnings Forecasts" in the same listing . . . PHH Corp. raised its dividend last week . . . The stock of Becton Dickinson, a national medical supply firm with a local installation, reached a 12-month high in recent trading.

PENNY PINCHINGS: "Want to save money? For a free copy of the Penny Pincher, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 809M, Kings Park, N.Y. 11754 . . . Have reason to celebrate? Don't keep it to yourself. When her first wedding anniversary approached and Stephanie Janower of Chicago *T called the nearby Drake Hotel, where she had honeymooned, and asked for a complimentary night's stay (value about $200), her request was granted . . . Also, offer to become a new customer by sampling a manufacturer's new products. Many companies routinely send free samples of cereal, shampoo, coffee, soap, detergent, etc., to attract new customers. Plug into dozens by answering listings in Freebies magazine; for a sample issue call 805-566-1225." (Smart Money, July.)

JULY JOURNAL: If you want an information kit about "The Young Investor's Fund" (Disney, MacDonald's, Toys 'R' Us, etc.), dial 1-800-338-2550 . . . Interest rates last week reached their highest levels in two years . . . Why do Cadillac TV ads tempt viewers to drive the new models at 100 miles an hour when the top U.S. speed limit is 65 miles m.p.h., 55 in many states? . . . "Bond investors ran scared recently; in March alone, $22 billion (!) was pulled out of bond mutual funds." (Smart Money, July) . . . "Youngsters with summer jobs can now earn up to $5,800 without paying income taxes. The first $3,800 is covered by the child's standard deduction, and another $2,000 can be used to make a deductible IRA contribution." (Tax Hotline, June) . . . "You can tell a lot about a hotel's security by its room keys. The best system employs electronic locks with 'card keys' that are changed with each new guest." (Consumer Reports, July.)

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