Some experts are quite cautious about stock market's prospects


The phone number to request Social Security Form SSA 7004 was reported incorrectly in Wednesday's Business section. The correct number is (800) 772-1213.

The Sun regrets the error.

WITH THREE trading days to go until midyear -- and both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite index this morning up about 12 percent since New Year's Day -- many people ask, "Where does the stock market go from here?"

CRYSTAL BALL: "In 1987, bonds peaked six months before stocks. Based on the long bond January peak, we're near end of the road for stocks." (Wall Street Notes.)

"Major averages are consolidating in the [upward movement of the stock market], which should resume -- but with volume uninspiring, don't jump in yet." (Trader's Focus.)

"Stocks offer little upside and considerable risk, given stretched valuations and looming shift in Fed policy." (BCA ForeTrends.)

"This is the slow season, but things should look up before election." (Pado's Perceptions.)

Of the comments recently received, about 70 percent were gloomy or cautious.

INVESTING IDEAS: Regarding Wall Street, and responding to several requests, here are some financial tips:

When buying mutual funds, buy "B" shares. for which you pay no front-end load and no commission if you hold the fund six years. Loads, or commissions, decrease during each of first five years.

Stagger your certificate of deposit and bond maturities -- some short, medium and long. That way you don't have to worry which way interest rates go.

It pays to be patient. Most investments don't show a profit for at least six months to a year.

FAVORITE FIVE: "We could have a 10 percent correction [a drop of 550 points in the Dow Jones industrial average] but not a full-fledged bear market. If stocks fall, small ones will fall farther.

"My favorites are firms that sell more and more outside the U.S., like McDonald's and Procter & Gamble -- also Intel, Lilly, Pfizer." (Marshall Acuff, Smith Barney, in a July 8 Fortune article that says, "Mr. Acuff has made many sage calls.")

CAN YOU RETIRE?: "Many executives find they can't afford early retirement -- and no wonder. Most retirees need 70-80 percent of previous salaries to maintain current living standards.

"If you want to quit before 65, review your finances to see if you can pull it off. Social Security, pensions and savings will provide most of your income. Request Social Security Form SSA 7004 by calling 800-722-1213." (National Business Employment Weekly, June 23-29, on newsstands this week.)

TICKER ADVICE: Regarding the above, a retiree can rarely replace earned income with investment returns. To come close, build a 401(k), IRA or any retirement program with stocks that pay a rising dividend stream. Check with your broker.

COMPUTER CORNER: "Cyberhelp for Your Investment Portfolio" in Working Woman's Special Technology Issue, June, has valuable advice. Excerpts:

"The easiest way to tap computerized investing resources is to subscribe to a major commercial online service. For the basic cost of $9.95 a month for five hours online, plus $2.95 for each additional hour, America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy offer stock and mutual fund quotes. They also let you scroll through financial magazines and newsletters."

EMPTY PLATES: "Tonight, more than 800,000 Marylanders will be hungry, really hungry," reads a Maryland Food Committee mailer. I figured that that number of hungry men, women and children would fill about 17 stadiums the size of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Want to help? Call me mornings at (410) 659-4694.

MARYLAND & MORE: Bethesda-based Marriott International is featured favorably in Financial World, June 17, which is still on newsstands. ("The firm caters aggressively to geriatric set with retirement and nursing homes.")

"65 percent of 500 unemployed executives feel optimistic about 'job prospects in next two months,' up from 45 percent five years ago." (Business Week, July 1.)

"With the economy in its sixth expansion year and wages rising, we must guard against inflation. It's not dead." (Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley.)

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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