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It's Only Money

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – It's Friday so "It's Only Money," a review of the big and not-so-big stories of the week. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays

This week was a perfect example of why I'm so intrigued with the market. It's all about the game. Just when I think I've got a handle on what's going on, I lose my grip, I scratch my head and watch in wonderment. Why is the market up this week? I was glad - just surprised. If the NASDAQ closes up today it will be five consecutive days of higher closes. But I'm afraid, even the good news from our friends down in Austin, Dell Computer, might not be able to stop the inevitable profit taking after this up-week.

On Wednesday, everyone was amazed that retail sales rose much higher than economists had expected. Following suit, retail stores were showing profits. And then today, the University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index rose to 96 from 93 in April. Economists that were surveyed expected it to be unchanged. Why is there such a hoopla made over this?

Consumer spending fuels two-thirds of the economy. What's perplexing is that these numbers can still rise as jobless claims continue to rise. Though we've been told time and time again that employment is the last to recover from a recession, the question on some economists' minds is, "can consumer spending continue at these high levels of unemployment?"

In April, Dallas' unemployment had a slight rise, while Fort Worth's remained steady at 5.5%. Statewide, unemployment rose to a high we haven't seen since November of 1995.

Also released late yesterday, an industry report that North American makers of semiconductor equipment recorded an increase in orders. That's the fifth consecutive month. Some say this is proof that the semiconductor slump is officially over. The question for North Texans, will these companies hopefully start hiring back the hundreds they laid off?

And it's too bad we don't have the time to watch the Arthur Andersen obstruction of justice trial. The judge is flying off the bench, Andersen screams they resent her attitude and the judge replies, "Resent away." I love it. For KERA Marketplace Midday, I'm Maxine Shapiro.


Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.