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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Well, what do you know? Stocks don't go straight up forever! The Dow Industrials did something yesterday they have only done in five of the 18 sessions in January: They went down. The index fell just 14 points after rising in 11 of the previous 12 sessions. The decline represented a loss of 0.10 percent, a rounding error. The slight drop is to be expected as investors continue to wait for more earnings reports, a series of employment reports and, of course, the two-day meeting of the Bernanke bunch that started today. The Dow is still up a very solid 5.9 percent in January with just three trading sessions remaining.

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The Conference Board reported this morning a big drop in consumer confidence in January. Economist Lynn Franco said the decline erased "all of the gains made through 2012. Consumers are more pessimistic about the economic outlook and, in particular, their financial situation." Oh, the joy. The Conference Board is so relieved to see confidence drop because they kept saying throughout all of 2012 that consumers were way off base being confident. Quite honestly, I can't imagine why we would have seen such a big decline. Stocks are rising, the housing market is improving and the jobs situation seems to be better.

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Speaking of housing, the Case-Shiller home price index of 20 large metropolitan areas rose in November. Over the past 12 months prices nationwide were up 5.5 percent, and in San Diego prices rose 8.0 percent. "Housing is clearly recovering. Prices are rising, as are both new and existing home sales. These figures confirm that housing is contributing to economic growth," said David Blitzer of the S&P.

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The National Retail Federation is forecasting retail sales will increase in 2013 by 3.4 percent, down slightly from its prediction of 4.2 percent at the start of last year. "The administration and congress need to pursue and enact policies that lead to growth and economic expansion, or it could be another challenging year for retailers and consumers alike," said NRF president Matthew Shay.

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One thing people are not cutting back on is pizza. Yes, with the Super Bowl this Sunday fans will keep the large national chains and local pizza shops very busy. Domino's reports it will sell 11 million slices of pizza on Sunday as well as 2.5 million chicken wings. Those numbers are about 80 percent higher than a normal Sunday. The press release from Domino's is interesting in that it does not mention the Super Bowl or the names of the two teams facing off in New Orleans, instead referring to San Francisco and Baltimore. The situation is simple: Papa John's is the official pizza sponsor of the NFL and the Super Bowl. That precludes anyone else from using the term "Super Bowl" or team names like "49ers" and "Ravens" in their advertising or marketing, but you can bet they will still benefit from the "big game."

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Tiger Woods held on to win the Farmers Insurance golf tournament at Torrey Pines yesterday, but it wasn't easy. None of the other players in the field were able to make a charge at Tiger even though he posted a 72 in the final round, his worst score in the four rounds. He shot a 39 on the back nine yesterday, a very high score for any professional player. In the press room after the tournament Tiger said he was disappointed by the very slow play. In particular, he said it took three and a half hours to play the last nine holes. Welcome to the world of mini golf, Tiger. Slow play is an absolute curse that frustrates all players regardless of the level of play. On another subject, Tiger was asked about the impact of letting spectators in for free yesterday and he said it seemed "more libation was consumed" than in the earlier rounds.

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