NASDAQ index is playing catch-up with Dow stocks


Wall Street's early rally faded in late trading yesterday, but the Dow Jones industrial average held on to a slim gain, edging up 1.62 points to close at 3,704.28. The Nasdaq over-the-counter index climbed sharply, "catching up with last week's Dow," as one local broker put it.

Speaking of Wall Street, here's the prize "as if-we-didn't-know" recent financial headline: STOCKS ARE DOWN AT MIDYEAR, in huge type at the top of Page 1 of Standard & Poor's Outlook, July 5.

LOOKING BACK (1): When Neil Armstrong became the first person to land on the moon 25 years ago next week -- July 20, 1969, to be exact -- the Dow Jones average stood at 845.92. If you had constructed and bought a Dow Jones "index fund" then, you would have more than quadrupled your money, all in high-quality stocks, without getting out of bed.

LOOKING BACK (2): In 1907, Col. Wm. Hunter wrote a thoughtful book, "Dollars And Sense," which I found on an unoccupied seat of an Air India jetliner. Excerpts: "You are playing against odds when you speculate in stocks. You can't win . . . The boss must know how to do things he hires others to do. Where you find a hard-working boss, you find hard-working employees . . . Learn to say no. Of the thousands who have failed in business, the cause was often the inability to say no . . . Employees are divided into two classes: the kind that make profits and those on the expense side. Stay on the selling side, the side that brings in profits. Bookkeepers get lower salaries than salesmen."

LOOKING AHEAD: (1): Some year-end Dow Jones predictions, made around Jan. 1, 1994 (DJ 3,754), by some of our local "experts," and randomly selected from 50 forecasters listed in Ticker, Jan. 11. In order of optimism, Bob Lopez, 98 Rock, 4,549; Ron Smith, WBAL talk host, 4,457; George Collins, CEO, T. Rowe Price, 4,333; Chris Poindexter, CEO, BGE, 4,050; Rich Palmer, Alex. Brown, 3,912; Robert G. Wood, investment counselor, 3,900; Liz O'Neill, WBAL-TV anchor, 3,721 (closest at midweek); Mathias DeVito, CEO, Rouse Co., 3,600; Rich Dubroff, "Wall Street Week" producer, 3,413; and Bob Fisher, Legg Mason, 3,300.

LOOKING AHEAD: (2) "Bank certificates of deposit (CDs) are becoming attractive places to park cash for six months. Though the average rate on a six-month CD is 3.32 percent, many banks are offering between 4.7 and 5.06 percent. Strategy: Check the 'Top Savings Deposit Yields' table in Barron's for CD rates and bank phone numbers. But remember: you can't touch the money for six months without incurring a withdrawal penalty." (Alexandra Armstrong, financial planner)

MONEY SAVERS: "The best way to avoid huge charges for a phone call is to pay with cash. The higher charges apply when you use a credit card." (Dollar Stretcher) . . . "People who have too little tax withheld from paychecks face a stiffer penalty next April. Starting July 1, the IRS began charging 8 percent annual interest on underpaid tax, up from 7 percent. (U.S. News & World Report.)

NOTES & QUOTES: "In assessing your portfolio's risk profile, keep in mind that strategies involving more risk have generally provided greater returns over the long term." (T. Rowe Price "Summer Report," which Steven Norwitz will mail you if you write him c/o the firm at 100 E. Pratt St., Balto, 21202. The report's charts show the risk/reward characteristics for four strategies since 1950) . . . "Owning a business is like a trip to DisneyWorld. It's tiring, the lines are long, everything is overpriced and people bump into you with their ice-cream cones. But you don't regret it. For a lot of reasons, you're really glad you went." (Inc., July)

TRAVEL TIP: "Is your hotel safe? You can tell a lot about a hotel's security system by its room keys. The best system uses electronic locks with card keys that are changed with each new guest. Metal keys that operate tumbler-style locks are less secure, especially if room numbers are stamped on the keys." (Working Woman)

GREENBELT GRIST: "The growing demand for more and better services is beginning to have an impact. Local phone companies are upgrading their systems. Doug Humphrey, president, Digital Express Group, a Greenbelt provider of Internet services, says phone companies are gradually fixing problems that give data transmissions fits, but that were tolerated because there was little or no effect on voice calls." (Business Week, July 11.)

MARYLAND & MORE: "Black & Decker is the seventh most powerful brand name in the United States, ranking ahead of Kellogg's, McDonald's and Hershey, according to the Landor Associates' Image Power Survey." (Legg Mason's Research Monthly, July) . . . Sign under a time clock on a Curtis Bay factory wall: "It's earlier than you think." (Sent in by a reader) . . . "There is no fundamental reason for the dollar slide, and therefore we look for the tide of dollar speculation to turn in the near future." (Investment Counselors of Maryland) . . . "Qualities of an ideal boss: tough, but fair." (Leadership) Tomorrow night, "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser" will focus on private banking with guest Edward Riley, chief investment officer, The Private Bank of Boston, and panelists Alan Bond, James Grant and Bernadette Murphy. Frank Cappiello will host the program.

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