A Week's Worth

Inaugural ball - and chain: Stocks usually don't flourish in the first year of a president's term. Since 1949, the Standard & Poor's 500 index has averaged only a 3.9 percent gain in those years. So far this year, the picture looks worse with the major stock indexes notching three straight weeks of decline. That's the first time that's happened in any January since 1977. But this year will outperform the average, S&P analysts say, because the economy's positives will outweigh the negatives.

Tsunami tax break: Even if you contributed this month to US charities helping victims of the disaster, a new law allows you to deduct it on your 2004 tax return.

That cautious year: Americans pulled more money out of mutual funds in 2004 than they put in, Lipper estimates. Money funds saw the biggest net outflow - some $240 billion; bond funds shrank by about $14 billion. While stock funds saw a net inflow of about $220 billion, more than half of that came from retirement-plan accounts. So despite last quarter's rally, investors didn't exactly pile in.

Hard truth? Only 36 percent of workers believe top managers act with honesty and integrity, according to a survey of more than 7,700 US employees conducted for Age Wave, a think tank.

Financially fit: Residents of Newark, N.J., and Wilmington, Del., have the most financially fit residents of any major metro area in the United States. They rated the best on benchmarks of income, employment, credit scores, savings, and refinancing, followed by the residents of San Francisco and Boston. Trenton, N.J., ranked best among mid-sized metros; Bloomington, Ill., topped the small ones.

Mess with success: Two-thirds of workers making $35,000 or less a year called themselves "neat freaks," while only about one-tenth of those earning above $75,000 claimed the same in a survey by Ajilon Office, a staffing firm.

'Ethical Marketplace' - a weekly TV show on social and environmental business trends - will debut on PBS stations nationwide March 15.

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