COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Investors just went through the motions yesterday as the unknown consequences of the fiscal cliff remained top of mind. The Dow Industrials drifted lower by 14 points and the other major indexes were also little changed. It is looking very likely the boys and girls back in DC will take this thing right down to the last minute -- or beyond -- before taking any action. The growing consensus is even when they do act it will be a Band-Aid rather than a long-term fix.

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The first in a series of job reports is out this morning. ADP reports U.S. civilian payrolls rose by 118,000 in November. Unlike previous months, the majority of the new hiring was done by large companies, where hiring rose by 66,000. However, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, said the numbers could have been a lot better. "Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the job market in November, slicing an estimated 86,000 jobs from payrolls. Abstracting from the storm, the job market turned in a good performance. This is especially impressive given the uncertainty created by the presidential election and the fast approaching fiscal cliff," said Zandi. The official government report on November employment will be released on Friday.

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Contrary to national trends, apartment rental costs in San Diego County are declining. The apartment association here says the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city of San Diego fell to $1,193, down from $1,285 five years ago. Countywide, the price fell to $1,089, down from $1,177 five years ago. However, that could be changing. Alan Nevin of The London Group said, "The combination of new job formations, households undoubting and the negligible addition to the rental housing inventory will result in a very tight apartment market in 2013 with rising rents."

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Let's give credit where credit is due. Shares of Facebook have staged an impressive rebound in the past month after the final expiration of the lockup of shares owned by insiders. The stock bottomed out at $17.55 on Nov. 13 and has increased to today's trading price near $27.50. True, that is still well below the inflated IPO price of $38, but it is a move in the right direction. It was announced this morning that Facebook will be added to the Nasdaq 100, the companies with the highest market value traded through the Nasdaq exchange.

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A couple other tech-related companies are not doing so well today. Shares of Pandora Media have dropped to $8, half the IPO price for the online radio service back in June 2011. The company did say its user base has increased to more than 59 million, up 47 percent from a year ago. However, revenues and profits remain elusive. Also down today are Apple shares, down more than 5 percent to $548. No specific reason for the decline.

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An interesting survey was released yesterday by Charles Schwab. The company asked people what their holiday wish would be this season, not including a sweater or new Porsche. Topping the list with 46 percent was a lower unemployment rate for the country. Second, people said they would be thrilled to see the national debt decline and third was a better housing market. According to the survey, the most uncomfortable topic for Americans to discuss with their family members this season at the holiday dinner would be the cost of health care expenses for aging family members.

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Congratulations to SDSU Aztec football coach Rocky Long for being selected as the coach of the year for the Mountain West conference. Long will take his team to one more game this season against BYU in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 20.

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