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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

The Wall Street winning streak has reached five days. The Dow Industrials continue to move higher even though recent gains have been modest. But a gain is a gain, and to my best count, there have only been two down days for the Dow out of the 10 days of trading so far in 2013. The index is up 3.3 percent so far this year.

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The Nasdaq was dragged down again yesterday by Apple. The shares fell below $500 -- dropping to $485 -- for the first time since February of last year. The stock is rebounding some this morning but the shares, once beloved by every analyst on Wall Street, are now treated like the plague. I was thinking this morning of how a few months ago there was a big rush to encourage adding Apple as a Dow component. Good thing that didn't happen, although it wouldn't be a bad idea now that it has gone through a big correction.

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Boeing stock is weighing on the market today. The shares are down 3.5 percent after it was announced two Japanese airlines have grounded their fleets of 787 Dreamliners because a series of problems, ranging from electronics to fuel leaks, have raised concerns. Yesterday an All Nippon Airways 787 made an emergency landing at a Tokyo airport because of the smell of smoke in the cockpit. Video of people exiting the plane by sliding down emergency ramps was not a confidence builder. Some are saying the problems are minor and typical with the launch of a new plane. Passengers who had to jump down the inflated ramp might think otherwise.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the cost of living, as measured by the consumer price index, was unchanged in December. A modest increase in food prices was more than offset by a 1.2 percent drop in energy prices. For all of 2012, the CPI was up just 1.7 percent, down from 3.0 percent in 2011. Over the past 10 years the average increase in the CPI has been 2.4 percent.These numbers will probably help Ben Bernanke sleep comfortably and not have to worry about raising rates to fight inflation any time in the near -- or distant -- future.

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The much-hyped announcement yesterday by Facebook turned out to be quite a dud. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, doing his best Steve Jobs impersonation by wearing a T-shirt, jeans and a hoodie, introduced Graph Search. Not meant to be a challenge to Google or any other Internet search engine, the new service allows users to search their universe of friends, another tool for extremely lonely people with too much time on their hands. The news that actually moved Facebook stock lower yesterday was a report the number of users in the United States declined by 1.4 million in December. Granted, there are still 167 million Facebook users, but the report suggests a certain weariness is impacting people who are growing tired of invasive ads and an experimental user fee that seems to have caused some to drop the social network.

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The National Retail Federation says Americans spent $579.8 billion this past holiday season, exactly in line with expectations. The number is an increase of 3 percent from 2011 and includes a 12 percent jump in online sales. The only weak spot was a drop in electronics, while apparel, furniture and sporting goods all saw solid increases.

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I'm not sure if it has been my constant whining or the mere fact that the company could no longer ignore the California market, but Dunkin' Donuts apparently is on its way to SoCal. The company said it is looking for franchise operators in all Southern California counties including San Diego. It won't happen anytime soon but a DD could be on its way to your neighborhood.

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