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Trade pact with Japan spurs on Dow


The Dow Jones industrial average soared 31 points yesterday after President Clinton announced a trade agreement with Japan but edged lower in mid-afternoon and closed with a 14.18 point advance. The blue-chip index finished at 4,556.79, still up 722 points so far this year.

SAFE HARBORS? "Convertible bonds and convertible preferred stocks give you many advantages, namely the high yields and downside protection of a bond and some upside potential of a stock." (Moneypaper, June.)

TAX TIP: "The key to deducting summer travel is to take a trip that combines business with pleasure so you can claim a business deduction for your expenses. You may be able to deduct most of the cost of bringing your spouse as well." (Ernst & Young.) See your tax person for details.

EARLY BIRDS: "More and more workers are saving early for their retirement. Over 60 percent of today's workers are starting to save at an average age of 30. Best savings choice: 401(k) plans." (Employee Benefit Research Institute survey.)

MONEY SAVER: "If you're interested in cutting your phone costs, you must pay close attention to your monthly bill. According to Tel-Adjust, a phone bill auditing service, as many as 80 percent of phone bills contain errors." (Inc., June.)

WORKPLACE WISDOM: "What matters most to employers who are hiring new people? In order: Applicant's attitude, his or her communications skills, work experience, previous employers' recommendations, years of schooling, score on interview tests, academic grades, teacher recommendations." (National Center on Educational Workforce, University of Pennsylvania.)

LEST WE FORGET: Poor men, women and children get hungry in midsummer, too, not only around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our Daily Bread's latest wish list includes oatmeal, coffee, eggs, sugar (lots of it), No. 10 cans of vegetables, tea bags, peanut butter and money. The soup kitchen is located at 411 Cathedral St.; phone 659-4000 for delivery assistance.

COUCH POTATOES: "Our 20-year study found that men who were initially unfit were 44 percent less likely to die if they improved their fitness. And men who were already fit and remained so were 67 percent less likely to die than those who remained unfit." (Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Dallas.)

LOCAL LINGO: "Karen Holt, investment v.p., Gray & Co., says Black & Decker is a rare example of a company with $6 billion in revenues that offers growth opportunities. The power tool and home appliance leader is implementing a plan to cut its top-heavy debt. The stock, now around $28, could move up to $40." (Black Enterprise, July.)

HOPKINS HEADLINER: Scott Black, "a graduate of Johns Hopkins University with a degree in applied math and economics," is pictured and written up at length in this week's Barron's, June 26. ("The Delphi Management portfolio which he heads gained 1,021 percent in 15 years vs. 801 percent for the S&P; 500 over the same span.")

SECOND CHANCE: "The plunge in 30-year fixed mortgage rates from over 9 percent in January to around 7.8 percent now means another opportunity for people who refinanced or took a new mortgage a few years ago. But the best candidates are those who missed refinancing in 1993 because of falling home values that wiped out their equity." (U.S. News & World Report, July 3.)

HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "Returning to College For Job Search Help" is worth reading in the June 25-July 1 National Business Employment Weekly. Highlights: "Many institutions offer free or low-cost career guidance and job listings to alumni . . . Far-away alumni can receive many job-search services on-line or by phone and mail . . . If your career is in transition, phone your alumni association or college."

TIME IS NOW: Midyear is an appropriate time to sit down with your broker, financial planner, mutual fund person, etc., to review your year-to-date results. Ask if your objectives are being followed and if your stocks have kept up with the popular averages. Have a list of questions to ask and topics to discuss.

TAX CONFESSIONS: "Four out of 10 of us admit we've gotten away with all we could -- and then some -- on our income tax returns. A third of us exaggerate our expenses or deductions, 28 percent never even filed a return and 21 percent didn't report all of our income." (Roper Survey via the Wall Street Journal.)

WALL ST. WATCH (in proportion received): "Our strength line remains strong, showing that institutional money is still committed to stocks." (Leedom's Strength Indicator Report.)

"Putting all the factors together, I feel that the stock market could more than double during the next five years, putting the Dow average at a whopping 10,000 by the year 2,000." (Charles Clough, chief investment strategist, Merrill Lynch.)

"We continue to believe that a short- to intermediate-term top is forming and that a correction will unfold in the coming weeks." (Stan Weinstein, The Professional Tape Reader.)

"Stocks appear at a 'mid-point' rather than at a 'topping' formation. This suggests Dow 3,600-4,500 could be matched with another 900 points before the next bear market." (Personal Capitalist.)

Coming next week: At midyear, which readers are closest in our Dow Jones forecasting contest.

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