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OPINION: I can’t help keeping one eye on the stock market

Keeping an eye on the latest trends of the recession and the stock market as it relates to us normal folks in Mississippi can be maddening.

You check the stock market early in the morning, and it is up a little. You hope it might keep going that way. Then somewhere during the day, it plummets another 110 points.

Anyone with any business sense will tell you to never live and die with the daily fluctuations of the market.

It is, of course, an imperfect economic measure. And Wall Street is not the only gauge of America’s financial well-being: People have grown all too familiar with other measures that deal with things like foreclosures, consumer confidence, unemployment and inflation.

Moreover, “the Dow” — an index of 30 big companies from General Motors to Wal-Mart — is arguably not even the best measure for Wall Street.

Still, it seems clear that the Dow does have a considerable hold on the national psyche. In all types of places and for a range of reasons, it seems that the number that appears at the bottom of the TV screen has become an important barometer.

But it’s hard, at least for me not to keep one eye on the market.

Then came the last couple of weeks.

There was one day of good numbers, followed by another, followed by a down day, followed by another couple of good days.

Could a positive trend really be rearing its head?

As of this writing, Wall Street had rallied for the fifth time in six sessions, leaving some key indexes up 15 percent or more from their recent lows and reversing another chunk of this year’s damage.

The Dow had gained 848 points, or almost 13 percent, since it hit a 12-year closing low of 6,547 on March 9.

Then there was the other news last week that consumer prices rose in February by the largest amount in seven months as gasoline prices surged again and clothing costs jumped the most in nearly two decades.

Despite the February blip, most news agencies reasoned, the recession was expected to dampen any inflation pressures for at least the rest of this year.

With so much bad economic news to be depressed about, the combination of a few positive news items is something to hang your hat on.

We’re not saying to go out and buy, buy, buy. But when most of the news is bad, you can’t help but watch, wait and hope for the best.

Let’s just hope that by the time this column reaches your home or business, the market hasn’t fallen off from its mini rally of the last week to 10 days.

Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com.

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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