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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Count 'em down: just 20 trading sessions left in 2013. I have a hunch if you asked most people on the street what kind of year it has been for investors in 2012 they would say it hasn't been very good. After all, the election was tough, unemployment remains high and, of course, there's that fiscal cliff thing. Well, in fact, the markets have actually performed well. After 11 months the Nasdaq Composite is up 15.5 percent, the S&P 500 has gained 12.6 percent and the Dow Industrials are up 6.6 percent.

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This will be a busy week for economic news with the release of a series of employment reports for November. Interestingly, with the elections behind us the jobs reports don't seem to have the same sense of urgency. However, the reports could have an impact on the stock market. The key report comes on Friday when the Department of Labor reports on payrolls and the unemployment rates for last month. It will be interesting to see what impact Superstorm Sandy has on the numbers.

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Already out this morning is the Intuit small business index on employment trends for businesses with fewer than 20 employees. The report says small businesses added 30,000 new jobs in November as both hours worked and average monthly pay also increased slightly. "We began seeing some employment gains in April 2010, but between March and September 2012, the numbers began to drop again. The good news is they are back up for October and November," said economist Susan Woodward.

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Yahoo! is out with its list of the most searched terms in 2012. No surprise the word "election" topped this list followed by "iPhone 5." I guess it isn't surprising Kim Kardashian came in third on the list followed by Kate Upton and Kate Middleton.

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Speaking of the iPhone 5, Apple has announced it will begin selling the device unlocked. That means you do not have to sign a two-year service contract which subsidizes the price of the iPhone. However, you'll pay dearly to have the flexibility of picking your service. The price will range from $649 to $849 depending on memory and other features.

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A global survey by Skandia International finds it takes an annual income of $161,810 to make people feel happy. That happens to be 15 times the global average of individual income. The report also found it would take $1.76 million in disposable assets for a person to regard themselves to be wealthy. "There are many more things in life that can make people happy but there is no doubt that money can help," said Phil Oxenham of Skandia. Or as comedian Joe E. Lewis, amongst others, said, "I've been rich, I've been poor. Rich is better."

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How sweet it was watching the SDSU Aztecs men’s basketball team take it to UCLA on Saturday night. The 78-69 win in the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim capped off a big week that also included a win over the USC Trojans. It sure seemed there were a lot more Aztec fans at the game than people rooting for the Bruins. Thank goodness for SDSU for saving the 2012 sports season in San Diego especially considering the fizzled performance of the professional teams here.

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