George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

October 17, 2014

It's probably too early to declare the recent correction in stock prices to be over, but today's early rally is a welcome relief. The Dow industrials jumped 200 points in the first half-hour of trading despite few changes in the circumstances that have dragged down stock sharply in the past two and a half weeks. The Ebola situation continues to dominate the headlines with every event -- even the bogus scare at Southwestern College yesterday -- adding to the panic. The fact the stock market is moving higher as we go into the weekend is a bit unusual. Usually, when investors are nervous, the prospect of something bad happening when the markets are closed usually results in profit-taking on Fridays.

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It's probably too early to declare the recent correction in stock prices to be over, but today's early rally is a welcome relief. The Dow industrials jumped 200 points in the first half-hour of trading despite few changes in the circumstances that have dragged down stock sharply in the past two and a half weeks.

There are a couple of encouraging reports out this morning. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index showed a big increase in the past two weeks as Americans apparently are shrugging off the stock market decline and Ebola scare and just moving along with their lives. The survey measures people’s attitudes about the economy and their own personal finances. The sentiment index rose to its highest level in seven years.

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Also, the Commerce Department reported new home construction activity rose by 6.3 percent in September, a nice bounce back from the sharp decline in August. Residential building activity is up 17.8 percent compared to a year ago. Almost all of the increase is in the multifamily area such as apartments and condominiums. New construction of single-family detached homes rose only 1 percent in September. Also, building permits, a sign of future construction activity, were also up last month by 1.5 percent, with apartment apps rising 7 percent while single-family permits were actually down slightly.

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Very little excitement over the announcements yesterday from Apple for the newest version of its tablet device, the iPad Air 2. It is the thinnest, most powerful version of the tablet since the iPad was introduced in April 2010. Seems like it has been around a lot longer than that, huh? The company also announced upgrades to the Mac computers, saying the new version is "insanely great." So is the price at $2,500.

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You'll notice something new at your neighborhood Starbucks on Monday. No longer will workers be wearing long-sleeved shirts with high collars to cover their tattoos. In an email to employees, Troy Alstead, chief operating officer, said, "As partners, your appearance is a reflection of the Starbucks brand and how you show up collectively is important to our customers. At the same time, we want to build a company where self-expression, empowerment and inclusion are nurtured. With this balance in mind, and with your thoughtful feedback, we have updated our dress code. Effective Oct. 20, visible tattoos, colored ties and neck scarves, and black denim are allowed." It seems kind of strange that employees have been able to come to work with rainbow-colored hair but not be allowed to show a little ink.

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A West Coast team will be playing in the World Series starting on Tuesday and, of course, it’s not the Padres. The San Francisco Giants, courtesy of a walk-off home run last night to win the NL championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals, will play the Kansas City Royals, who have yet to lose a game in the playoffs.

More George Chamberlin Columns

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Video Interviews

Andrew Lee, Kenneth Slaght on cybersecurity

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