A Week's Worth: Quick takes on the world of work and money

The Dow rebounds, year-end bonuses flat at best, and why returning gifts may not be a happy experience.

Expectations of another cut in federal interest rates fueled a three-day trading binge that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 3 percent last week, helping to recoup about half of what it lost in the past seven weeks.

Counting on a year-end bonus from your employer? One may be forthcoming, but you probably shouldn't expect it to be more generous than last year's, according to outplacement specialist Challenger, Gray & Christmas. It polled human resources chiefs around the US and reports that only 3 percent of respondents said bonuses for 2007 have been canceled. On the other hand, only 3 percent said this year's bonuses would be higher than those of a year ago.

Want to reward a client for the association you've had this year? A gift will have more meaning if it has some link to the experiences you've shared, says business ethics expert Dov Seidman. But the more lavish it is, the greater the potential for altering your relationship – for the worse. By the same token, if a pricey gift comes your way from a business associate, you may need to evaluate the giver's motivation, Mr. Seidman says.

That unwanted gift someone gives you for Christmas may be harder than ever to return, Consumer Reports magazine cautions. It studied changes in retailer policies and in many cases found they've toughened. If receipts, tags, the universal pricing code, or even pieces of packaging are missing, some stores will charge a hefty restocking fee, credit only the lowest and most recent price of the item, or deny the return altogether.

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