COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE CHAMBERLIN

George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

The beat goes on. With little fanfare the stock market has strung together a series of winning sessions, pushing the Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 Stock Index to new five-year highs. Yesterday was a good example of recent trading trends as the markets opened cautiously but later picked up momentum to finish higher. The Dow has been up in eight of the past nine trading sessions.

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Corporate earnings for the last three months of 2012 are coming in rapidly this morning and most are topping expectations. Google is the big winner, up 5.3 percent in early trading and back above $740 a share after reporting revenues from ads rose to a record high in the fourth quarter. Also benefiting from earnings are companies like McDonald's, IBM, Intuitive Surgical, and KB Homes. A disappointing report came from Coach, which is down 15 percent in early trading after saying sales of luxury items in North America were below expectations.

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One stock trading lower on its earnings news is General Dynamics, a large employer in San Diego. It's no big surprise the fourth-quarter numbers were down as they "reflect the fact that some of our markets are contracting as government budgets shrink at home and abroad," said CEO Phebe Novakovic. The shares dropped 3.6 percent at the start of trading today.

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Home improvement retailer Lowe's has put out the "help wanted" sign. The company looks to hire 45,000 seasonal workers to help during the spring season, the busiest time of the year for Lowe's. The company also said it will be hiring 9,000 permanent part-time employees. "We are looking for candidates who are experienced in any of the home improvement trades, and, most importantly, those who are committed to providing customers with an exceptional service experience," said Scott Purvis, VP at Lowe's.

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Speaking of jobs, you might want to start updating your resume if you have some economic skills because the position as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board may soon be open. Ben Bernanke's term expires on Jan. 31, 2014, and the bet is he will opt out of the third term. When you consider the economic mess he has been forced to deal with you can certainly understand why he would prefer to return to academia and collect a multimillion dollar deal to write a book about his tenure as the head of the Fed.

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Phil Mickelson will hold a press conference at Torrey Pines today ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open, which starts tomorrow. Unfortunately, the press will probably pepper Lefty with questions about his recent tax comments rather than the condition of his golf game. Turns out Phil won't be the only golfer to kiss off California because of its high state income taxes. Tiger Woods confirmed yesterday he packed up and left California back in 1996 and fled to Florida, where there is no state income tax. Speaking of Tiger, his pairing with Rocco Mediate in the first two rounds has changed. Woods will now play with Temecula's Rickie Fowler, always a crowd favorite, and Nick Watney, Farmers champ in 2009. Phil will be playing with Bubba Watson and last year's champ, Brandt Snedeker.

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Today is National Pie Day. Americans spend $700 million a year buying pies at grocery stores and probably a whole bunch more at places like Marie Calendar's and other restaurants. A recent study finds apple pie is still America's top choice, followed by chocolate and pecan. I would have thought pumpkin was higher on the list. If I could only have one more piece of pie it would definitely be blueberry.

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