George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

April 17, 2014

A bullish trifecta. Stocks rose yesterday for the third consecutive session with the Dow industrials gaining 162 points and all the major indexes posting gains of more than 1.0 percent. So far this week, the Dow is up about 400 points and unless things really fall apart today, it will be the fourth time in the past five weeks the index has posted a weekly gain. That, of course, is a well-kept secret on Wall Street. The financial markets will be closed tomorrow for the traditional observance of Good Friday.

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A bullish trifecta. Stocks rose yesterday for the third consecutive session with the Dow industrials gaining 162 points and all the major indexes posting gains of more than 1.0 percent.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week to 304,000, an increase of 2,000. However, the Department of Labor says the number of people receiving jobless benefits on an extended basis fell to 2.74 million, the lowest level since 2007. This is another sign things are moving in the right direction as fewer companies are laying off workers, but there is still a hesitancy to increase payrolls.

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It was a big day for Boeing yesterday as it handed over the keys for a new 737-900ER to United Airlines. This marked the 8,000th 737 to come off the production line in Seattle since the plane was first introduced in 1965. No other commercial aircraft has come close to that production, and many more planes are yet to be manufactured as Boeing currently has back orders for other 737s. The single-aisle aircraft is a real workhorse. If you have flown anywhere lately, especially on Southwest Airlines, you have probably been on a 737. Interestingly, Boeing almost dropped the plane when early orders disappointed. New versions of the aircraft are more fuel efficient and can fly longer routes.

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Another company is reporting impressive sales. Sony said yesterday that it has sold 7 million PlayStation 4 video game consoles since the product was introduced at the end of November. The company said it is struggling to keep up with demand as the PS4 is now available in 72 countries. Sales have topped the Xbox from Microsoft, its biggest home entertainment competitor.

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Corporate earnings reports for Q1 are starting to flow. This morning we're getting updates from a lot of consumer products companies. Pepsi said sales of soft drinks were down slightly in the first three months of the year and sales at its Frito-Lay snack food division were up by more than 3 percent. Chipotle Mexican Grill said traffic at its restaurants has increased steadily in recent months and sales growth has followed. The shares are up more than 3 percent in early trading. However, over at Mattel, sales came in way below expectations. In particular, Barbie doll sales dropped 14 percent as kids opted for newer products such as Disney Princess and Ever After High dolls. Mattel acknowledges sales are affected as kids using iPads and other tablet devices continue to get younger and less interested in traditional toys. Too bad.

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Chicken of the Sea, the San Diego company known for its tuna and other products, is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Part of the festivities was a contest to name the mermaid that has been part of its logo for more than 60 years. A contest to come up with a name drew 49,000 entries and the winning entry was Catalina. "Along with it being a naturally beautiful name suitable for our mermaid, it connects to our rich local history, as well as the adventurous spirit and lifestyle indicative of both our brand and our Southern California home," said Christie Fleming, SVP of marketing.

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Break up the Padres. Yes, a win today would get the guys to .500 for the early season thanks to solid pitching and despite the terrible performance by the guy they signed to a massive contract a year ago. Amazing how production by baseball and other professional sports figures drops significantly once they get a new contract with all kinds of guarantees. Pretty hard for us working folks to understand the life of sports and entertainment stars.

More George Chamberlin Columns

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The financial markets were mixed Thursday ahead of a long weekend. The markets are closed Friday for the traditional observance of Good Friday.

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