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Money in the Morning

Slow growth as the fallout from the real estate sector slowly works its way out of the economy ... That's the prognosis for the U.S. and California economy from the UCLA Anderson Forecast released this morning. "Based on comparing the current economy to past recession episodes, we once again conclude that real estate weakness will remain a significant drag on the economy, leaving us treading water in 2008 but not slipping under the waves into recession," cites the Bruin forecast.

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Weakness in the construction industry will have an impact on hiring plans in the second quarter of 2008. That's the word from Manpower, which announced this morning that 26 percent of the companies it surveyed plan to increase payrolls in the next three months, down from 28 percent a year ago. Only 5 percent of the 14,000 companies polled by the staffing company say they are likely to cut in the quarter.

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It was eight years ago yesterday that the tech stock bubble burst. The Nasdaq composite index hit an all-time high of 5,048.62 on March 10, 2000. It didn't take very long for the air to go out of the bubble as the index dropped all the way down to 1,114.11 on Oct. 9, 2002. Since then there has been a gradual recovery with the Nasdaq closing yesterday at 2,169.34. It had been closing in on 3,000 in mid-2007 before the most recent selloff took more the tech index down more than 20 percent.

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Congratulations to Linda Byerline, founder and CEO of Happy Heiny's of El Cajon. It was announced this morning that she has been selected as a winner of the 2008 Working Mother magazine's Entrepreneur Mom Award. Her company is a true home-based business, making re-useable cloth diapers. Time magazine recently reported that lower costs and less waste -- pardon the pun -- have created a growing market for the company's products.

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Shareholders attending today's annual meeting for Qualcomm will be celebrating some good news. The company just announced that it is raising its quarterly dividend by 14 percent to 16 cents a quarter or 64 cents a year. "We continue to execute on our strategic objectives, driving strong operating cash flows and enabling us to return capital to stockholders through repurchases and dividends," said CEO Paul Jacobs. The company says it has returned $8.5 billion to shareholders through repurchases and dividends since 2003.

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