A Week's Worth

• It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas 2001 - the last holiday season US markets reached such highs. With the NASDAQ briefly topping 2,000 and the Dow flirting with 10,000, investors have gotten jolly. They have good reason. The US unemployment rate slipped to 5.9 percent last month, the lowest level in eight months, and companies like Intel are posting strong numbers. But optimism varies. When JPMorgan Fleming, the asset management arm of JP Morgan Chase & Co., surveyed a small sample of wealthy Americans (those with $500,000 or more in investment assets), 59 percent of men said the economy would improve next year. Only 43 percent of female investors agreed.

• Holiday hunt: This is one of the best times of year to look for a job, says CareerJournal.com. Firms are hiring temporary workers, staffing new projects to be ready for January, and replacing transitioning employees who often move in December. Tip: Include job-search updates with your holiday cards, thanking friends who have helped, and letting them know of your status.

• Dot.gum: Gumballs.com, a four-year-old online retailer, sold its 5 millionth gumball last week - enough to fill two Olympic-sized pools or 260 VW Beetles.

• Full disclosure: Last Monday's analysis of the US tax system did have an author: staffer David R. Francis. Also, a Sept. 22 article on philanthropy miss attributed a statement. It should have read: "Only 2 percent of the $240 billion Americans gave in 2002 was real estate, says Chase Magnuson of the National Real Estate Foundation."

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