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Dow sets record after wild swings


After a wild roller-coaster ride -- up 46 points at lunchtime, down 10 in midafternoon -- the Dow Jones industrial average hung on to a minor gain of 8.99 points yesterday and eked out "TC record closing high of 4,160.80.

Stocks began to sag after the Treasury's five-year note auction met with only lukewarm investor reception.

Speaking of stocks, April in Wall Street has historically been one of the year's strongest months, rising an average of 1.2 percent (about 50 Dow Jones points from today's level). And the 1995 Stock Trader's Almanac comments, "The market gains more ground in the two weeks prior to the April 15 (this year, April 17) federal tax deadline than in the last two."

LOOKING FOR WORK? "Temporary help is one of the hottest commodities in health care. Hospitals, nursing homes and home service providers can't get enough of it, especially licensed staff in physical, occupational and speech therapy. Many institutions are discovering that temporary staffing is a cost-effective way of providing quality care." (Business Week, April 3)

BE CAREFUL: "Life insurance 'churning' is on the rise as tricky agents hustle commissions by urging people to switch policies or buy additional coverage at 'special low prices.'

"What they may not tell you is that surrender fees are high and that premiums for 'low-cost' coverage may come out of your existing policy's cash value. Solution: Carefully evaluate any proposal to replace or add to an existing policy." (Glenn Daly, independent insurance consultant)

OF LOCAL INTEREST: "Financial World, March 28, runs an optimistic article on Bethlehem Steel, stating, "With large expenses behind it, Bethlehem's earnings will rebound this year and will dwarf its peers' profits. For the next few years, Bethlehem's earnings could be red hot. One Wall Street analyst says, 'The stock is a compelling buy.' "

"In the Mid-Atlantic states, the existing single-family home price increase since 1990 is 11 percent." Maryland is included in this category. (Merrill Lynch data)

BALTIMORE BEAT: "The best-performing world bond fund for the past five years is the unhedged T. Rowe Price International Bond Fund, with an average annual return of 12 percent, as opposed to 8 percent for its peers." (Business Week, April 3)

Alex. Brown has a new "Buy" report on Finova Group, a firm active in real estate, financial services and insurance fields. The report, reprinted in part in Barron's, March 27, says, "Finova's recent acquisitions are helping the company to gain market share in new businesses."

LOCAL QUOTES: Frank Cappiello, Baltimore-based mutual fund manager, says, "This stock market rally has farther to go, maybe to Dow Jones 4,400 after a possible pullback. Alan Greenspan will engineer a soft landing for the economy, keeping inflation in check."

Baltimore-based investment adviser Eddie Brown comments, "The market is not too extended, but one danger is that there could be a buying panic from people who stayed on the sidelines too long. We're fully invested." (Above two quotations from "Wall Street Week With Louis Rukeyser")

CAREER CORNER: "Executives Are in Demand at Small to Mid-size Firms" is worth reading in the current (March 26-April 1) National Business Employment Weekly, available at many newsstands.

Highlights: "Best employment bet for executives these days is with small and growing companies. . . . Many of these firms offer top executives who sign on a piece of the action. . . . The companies typically keep low profiles, don't rely on executive recruiters and advertise in local newspapers. . . . Ideal candidates should be driven, energetic self-starters and excellent communicators. . . . Finding small to medium-sized companies on your own requires extensive research and networking."

WALL ST. WATCH: "Sun Stocks" reaching 12-month highs recently include Black & Decker, Manor Care and Super Rite. Duty Free International and North American Vaccine slipped to yearly lows.

Loyola Capital Corp. is Legg Mason's "Purchase Recommendation This Week." Phone 539-3400 for your copy.

"There is no correlation between a falling dollar and a declining U.S. stock market." (Mark Hulbert in Forbes, April 10)

"I'm betting interest rates will drop soon. To bet on lower rates, buy financial stocks; lower rates reduce their cost of money. Or buy five-year Treasury notes." (Shelby White.)

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