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January often proves a winner, and can set tone for the year


JANUARY on Wall Street is historically a strong month, tied with December for first place. Over 47 years, each month showed an average 1.7 percent gain, as measured by the S&P; 500-stock index. Year-end bonuses, pension plan investments and cash gifts account for much of the advance.

"Based on whether the S&P; 500 is up or down in January, most years followed suit in 42 out of 47 times -- an 89 percent batting average. And the 'January Barometer' scored 100 percent in odd years when new congresses convened." (1999 Stock Trader's Almanac.)

CONTRARIAN CORNER: Want to go "against the crowd?" Business Week says, "It's been an awful decade for Japan -- a world-class market blowout, banking crisis and severe recession. Although they admit it's not for the squeamish, some strategists think the Nikkei average could rally 20 percent or more in 1999."

NOTES & QUOTES: "Consider reducing your withholding tax for 1999 if you expect a large tax refund. A large refund means you're giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan." (Financial Perspectives.)

"The Dow could fall below 5,000." (Charles Allmon, publisher, Growth Stock Outlook.)

"Alan Greenspan opportunistically keeps interest rates too high when the economy is strong, but backs off his inflation-bashing mode when business conditions weaken." (Money.)

Pub Date: 12/30/98

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