George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

December 19, 2014

It was a sight to behold. First, let me make a confession. I was actually on the golf course yesterday when the stock market was closing so it was a real shocker when I looked on my phone and saw the Dow industrials had gained 421 points, the biggest one-day gain for the Dow in three years. Not that it came as a surprise. The markets this year have been immune from a sustained decline in prices. Sure, a 5 percent correction here and there, but the big drop remains elusive. Many thought it was at hand last week when the Dow dropped 3.8 percent but that turned out to be just another bullish head fake. With less than two weeks -- just eight trading sessions -- left in the year there is still a pretty darned good chance 18K is doable.

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It was a sight to behold. First, let me make a confession. I was actually on the golf course yesterday when the stock market was closing so it was a real shocker when I looked on my phone and saw the Dow industrials had gained 421 points, the biggest one-day gain for the Dow in three years. Not that it came as a surprise.

As we have seen all year long, gains are ignored by the money media while declines are celebrated. Consider today's Wall Street Journal. The front page has stories on the Sony hacking, banking fines, Elizabeth Warren and how maternity hospitals in China use electrodes on husbands to simulate labor pains. If you wanted to find out about the biggest one-day rally in stocks in three years you had to go to Page C-1.

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It looks like a tuna monopoly is being created. The Thai Union Frozen Products Public Co. has entered an agreement to buy San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods for $1.5 billion. The Thai company already owns another historic San Diego tuna company, Chicken of the Sea, which got its start as Van Camp Seafood back in 1914. Bumble Bee's history goes back to 1899. Both companies were very big players in the region's dynamic seafood industry in the early 1900s. It wasn't that long ago when you would walk along the Embarcadero from one end to the other and see tuna ships docked three-deep. Both companies are still headquartered here in San Diego but gather their tuna crop from other areas around the world.

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The residential real estate market has gone through a consolidation period in 2014 but, to be sure, but most homeowners have reason to celebrate. A report today from Zillow says home values rose by $1.7 trillion this year, an increase of 6.7 percent. Add them all up and the value of U.S. homes stands at $27.5 trillion. Pretty impressive when you consider home values dropped $6.1 trillion during the down days between December 2006 and December 2011. In San Diego, total home values are $538 billion, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.

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If you went to Las Vegas this year you weren't alone. It is reported the city will have hosted a record 41 million visitors this year, breaking the old record set in 2012. Vegas has benefited from an increase in the number of direct flights from Canada and Mexico as well as other international areas. Anyone who thought Las Vegas would dry up and blow away because of the expansion of tribal casinos in California and elsewhere has been terribly wrong.

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Big game for the Chargers tomorrow night in Santa Clara against the bumbling 49ers. The Bolts have to win and get help from the losses by other teams to make the playoffs. It could happen, I suppose.

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Here's another good sign for the economy: 77 percent of employers plan to offer a holiday party this year, up from 70 percent last year. So, lots of office parties are coming up as we move through the holidays. One of my favorite lines comes from the late Joan Rivers who said, "The thing I hate the most about office parties is looking for a new job the next day." Be careful.

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