A Week's Worth

Without a lot of news to drive the market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended last week's trading at 10,778.58, a dip of 0.9 percent from the week before. At least one analyst sought to explain the development by pointing to investor concerns about what will happen to oil and natural gas prices as winter weather descends on the United States. Other investors, he said, want to wait and see whether short-term interest rates will be hiked yet again this week when the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meets.

All that glitters is not gold. But if you own any, it's probably the shiniest investment in your portfolio now. When markets closed Friday, gold was at almost a quarter-century high of $519.50 an ounce - and $530.20 for February delivery. That's a 20 percent gain so far this year and twice as much as five years ago. Reason: Because of inflation worries, many investors are switching from paper securities to precious metals in a search for higher returns. In the third quarter, demand for gold and bullion-backed shares rose a whopping 56 percent over the same period a year ago, the World Gold Council reported.

Roughly 7 million retirees have returned to work for pay, at least part-time, according to results of a new national survey sponsored by Putnam Investments - two-thirds of them because they "wanted to." Most respondents said they're in jobs that call for the same levels of skill and experience as their last full-time positions. The average time before the respondents reentered the workforce: 18 months. An estimated 21 million Americans are retired.

Perhaps because of the roaring economy, many Americans unhappy with their jobs have found the courage to quit, says a research study conducted by Sirota Consulting LLC of Purchase, N.Y., and quoted by Standard & Poor's weekly Outlook newsletter. Outlook said nagging dissatisfaction with one's work (and especially with the conditions) was the No. 1 reason for resigning, rather than an overbearing boss or the least significant factor: a too-low salary.

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