A Week's Worth

For the first time in six weeks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost ground, closing Friday at 10877.51, despite more solid economic reports from the government. But that's the very reason, say some analysts, that investors worry the Federal Reserve may keep jacking up interest rates.

So there won't be a lavish Christmas party in your place of employment this year? Maybe it's one of the companies that's throttling back on the festivities in favor of contributing to charities engaged in disaster relief. Eighteen percent of employers polled by the search firm Battalia Winston International said that's where some of what they'd otherwise spend on food, drink, and gifts will go.

Close to 2.5 million Americans have had long waits when trying to buy new cars with fuel-efficient engines, according to the nonprofit Civil Society Institute, even though at least 86 models that deliver 40 or more miles per gallon are on the market. The problem: While many of them are built in the US, that is not where they're sold. (Nor do they tend to be gas/electric hybrids. In fact, almost all have a "clean diesel" power plant.)

Counting on a hefty dividend from your Standard & Poor's 500 stock? Don't be disappointed if there isn't one. S&P's weekly Outlook estimates the payout ratio for 500 shares will be 31 percent, a big drop from the 44 percent that the first four years of this century have averaged. Reason: Earnings growth has been outpacing dividend growth dramatically. In 2003, for example, the ratio was 77 percent to just 4.8 percent.

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