Two months ago you couldn't give away stocks. However, thanks to the latest leg of the recent rally -- a gain of 217 points yesterday in the Dow industrials -- the major indexes are at their highest level in eight weeks. The day before, the index was down more than 150 points with a big chunk of the decline tied to a 10 percent fall in Wal-Mart shares. The stock was slightly lower yesterday but it didn't slow down the return to equities we've seen in October.
The latest government report on employment shows there are still lots of jobs out there. The so-called JOLTS report -- job openings and labor turnover survey -- showed there were 5.4 million jobs available in the U.S. as of the end of August. That is slightly lower than the previous month because of seasonal conditions. There was a decline in government workers (teachers on summer vacation) and manufacturing (auto workers furloughed because of plant retooling for the new models). It still works out there was one job available for every 1.5 people looking for work. Seven years ago during the Great Recession there was one job for every eight people looking for a job.
The U.S. and Mexican governments are teaming up to build new border inspection stations to speed the movement of agriculture and other products between the countries. One of the first locations will be at the Otay Mesa crossing. The new checkpoint will be on the Mexican side of the border but will be staffed with agents from both countries. Currently these shipments are inspected on both sides of the border. The new station will require only one inspection, speeding up the movement of goods. No date on when the Otay Mesa site will be up and running.
More bad news for Barbie. Mattel reported on the third quarter yesterday and the numbers were mostly disappointing. Sales of Barbie products were down 14 percent, dragging down overall sales by 2 percent. However, sales of Hot Wheels and Matchbox racers were actually up 19 percent. Mattel and Barbie have had a tough time keeping up with the shift by youngsters to technology from traditional toys. My own granddaughter, Sophia, was all about Barbie when she was 7 and 8 years old, but gradually started making the shift to electronics. Now that she is 11 she is making videos on her smartphone, using social media and pretty much bumping Barbie to the side of the road. Too bad.
Just in time for the holidays, UPS is raising the rates for the delivery of large and heavy packages and increasing the fuel surcharge. The increase goes into effect on Nov. 2. In recent years the delivery companies have failed to get all of the packages delivered on time, creating some difficult conditions. By raising fees, the company says it will enable them to cope with the increasing number of packages to be processed as people do more shopping online.
Well, this will do it. Today's "Money in the Morning" is the last and marks another page in the final chapter of the San Diego Source / San Diego Daily Transcript Corp. Preparing these reports has been a lot of fun and provided me a great way to churn through the news of the day with a few personal opinions. There will be a huge void in my mornings. I will, however, soon be creating a blog at KOGO.com, the website for my work on the radio.
It is hard to thank all of the people I have gotten to know, both inside the San Diego Source and in the business community, as a result of the work I have been honored to do here. Many new friendships have been created and will last for many years to come. My speaking calendar is loaded through the rest of this year and into 2016, so I hope to see many people out and about.
If I don't get a chance to say it again, best wishes to everyone for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!