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Good news appears to be outweighing the bad

April 2nd, 2010

It’s always dangerous to write about a certain trend in stocks, but as of this writing, stocks are on the verge of going above 11,000 for the first time in more than 18 months.
A lot of that recently is on the backs of tech stocks as Apple and Verizon jumped after The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was making phones that could be used on Verizon’s network.
Having said that, Mississippi’s unemployment has risen again to 11.4 percent with the largest increase in the nation during the last month.
So, it is hard to really jump for joy when so many, particularly here in our state, are still hurting badly.
But there is room for good news, like:
• Mississippi is on track to exceed its projected monthly tax collections for the first time in more than a year and a half.
State Tax Commission spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said last week that collections were about one-quarter of 1 percent — or $1.2 million — ahead of where experts predicted they would be in March.
• Viking Range is reporting an uptick in sales for the first time in more than a year.
• In our business, advertising sales seem to heading back in a positive direction.
• A steady climb in stocks over the past two months could give investors reasons to collect some profits. The Dow had risen 22 of the past 25 days and is now at its highest level since Sept. 2008.
And, the index had its best first-quarter performance since 1999.
Stocks have now had a nearly unbroken advance since early March of last year. The Dow made an even larger leap of 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
• An incentives war touched off by Toyota boosted sales at most major automakers last month.
GM reported a 21 percent jump in new vehicles sales last week, while Ford’s climbed nearly 40 percent over last March, when economic uncertainty and rising unemployment kept buyers from showrooms. Sales at Hyundai and Subaru also rose, but Chrysler continued to struggle with sales down 8 percent.
• A government report showing initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week added to the market’s enthusiasm following upbeat manufacturing reports overseas. In the U.S., a trade group’s report signaled that manufacturing is growing faster than expected.
So, while we aren’t out of the woods just yet, there are plenty of indicators, just in the last week, to suggest that the worst of times is certainly behind us.

MBJ editor Ross Reily can be reached at (601) 364-1018 or ross.reily@msbusiness.com

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