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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

The stock market returned to its winning ways yesterday after a one-day decline. The Dow Industrials gained 85 points and continue to close in on the all-time high of 14,164 set on Oct. 9, 2007. The index is now just 4 percent away from the record. Had it not been for the "fiscal cliff" fiasco of late 2012 we probably would have broken the high in November or December. Investors should take heart from another gain yesterday. The Dow Transportation Index closed at an all-time high and is often considered a leading indicator for the overall market.

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Wall Street welcomed its newest stock this morning with the IPO of Norwegian Cruise Line. The offering was priced at $19 a share and the stock immediately jumped to $25 with the start of trading. Norwegian is the third largest cruise line, operating 11 ships in various ports of call. The stock trades under the symbol NCLH.

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Another hot stock this morning is Life Technologies. The Carlsbad-based biotech company issued a brief statement today saying, "The board of directors has retained Deutsche Bank Securities and Moelis & Company to assist in its annual strategic review. The board of directors has not decided on any specific course of action." Similar statements by other companies have been translated to mean the company is for sale and is looking for the best deal possible. As a result, Life Technologies shares are up more than $6 a share to $61, a 52-week high.

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Alaska Airlines announced today it will open a flight attendant base in San Diego at the start of April. As many as 200 flight attendants will be flying out of San Diego, the fifth largest base in its network. "As one of our fastest-growing cities, the time was right to open a base in San Diego, a city where many of our flight attendants already live," said Andy Schneider, VP of in-flight services. The airline will save more than $1 million annually in travel-related costs by opening the base here.

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Household formations are back on the rise and that is really good news. A report from RBS estimates 1.1 million households were created in 2012, in line with historic growth. The number, however, had dropped down to about 500,000 during the Great Recession, mostly the result of adult children either staying with their parents or moving back in with mom and dad. "The rise in household formation bodes well for the housing recovery. Instead of having too many houses, we are turning to a situation where there aren't enough," said RBS economist Guy Berger. This is a condition local economist Alan Nevin of the London Group first alerted me to last year. He said the situation in San Diego is critical as children finally leave home -- much to the satisfaction of the parents -- only to find a shortage of apartments with higher prices.

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I'm heading overseas today to speak at the annual installation lunch for the Coronado Association of Realtors. Should be a pretty happy group with report after report showing the housing market is well on its way to a massive recovery. Most people in the industry have to rein in their enthusiasm for fear another bubble could be created. We're a long way from a bubble, but I think most people will be surprised by the strength of the market at the end of this year. Of course, whenever you get optimistic about housing prices just tune in to CNBC. The real estate reporter there quickly puts a negative spin on any good news and can't be happier when the news isn't so good.

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Looks like Tiger Woods is going to be able to show up at Torrey Pines for a little pre-tournament practice. Tiger and Rory McIlroy both failed to make the cut at the European PGA tournament this week in Dubai. Both guys, and most players in the event, were given appearance fees topping a million bucks so they can cry all the way to the bank. The Golf Channel has announced it will expand its coverage of the Farmers Insurance Open as a result of Tiger's participation. Rory, unfortunately, will not be here. CBS will provide coverage on Saturday and Sunday, the first network broadcasts for 2013. They are all hoping Tiger makes the cut here.

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