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BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
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AP Business Writer
   NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. When it closed at an all-time high of 14,253.77 on Tuesday, it wasn't so much a time for celebration as it was for reflection.
   It's been a long five and a half years.
   The ups and downs of the market touched us all in some manner. Jobs were lost. Retirements were delayed. Even those who came out mostly unscathed were still reaching for Alka-Seltzer during the many turbulent days.
   Through it all, the stock market has slowly climbed back. And many of us have been left with a much more pragmatic view of the economy.
   To mark the new record, The Associated Press asked three people to reflect on the fluctuations in the Dow Jones industrial average and how it shaped their own experiences. Here are their stories:
   Vanessa Loder is the ultimate type-A person, the kind who's often attracted to Wall Street. A self-described perfectionist. An overachiever who graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Columbia University while playing Division I varsity soccer.
   "I thought it wasn't good enough to be smart or athletic, I needed to be both."
   After college, there were jobs at Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan. By age 24, Loder was making $250,000 a year.
   Loder then headed to Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she was co-president of the ski club. After graduating, she took a job with a San Francisco private equity firm.
   It was the spring of 2007 and the stock market was on fire. Her hours were consumed with deal after deal.
   The Dow just kept climbing. In April, it crossed 13,000. By July, it had passed 14,000.
   One of the firm's partners came out of his office and announced the milestone. Many workers had their own investments.
   "We were cheering. Everybody was in a good mood," Loder recalls. "And then within a few months, it all came to a halt."
   Debt markets dried up. Few companies wanted to do mergers or acquisitions. Those that did couldn't get a loan to finance the deal.
   "We were literally twiddling our thumbs in '08 and '09," Loder says.
   Boredom set in, and Loder questioned why she was drawn to Wall Street in the first place.
   I was totally unhappy and I couldn't understand why," she says. "I just felt lost. I felt like something was missing from my life."
   So she quit.
   Soul-searching took Loder about as far from finance as possible. She learned hypnosis and techniques to get subjects to conjure memories believed to be from past lives. She spent 10 days doing a silent meditation retreat.
   "All this crazy stuff out there, it actually works," she says. "I was kind of shocked."
   Today, at 34, Loder runs her own business helping women in finance and Silicon Valley who are unfulfilled by their careers. The company, Akoya Power, runs group coaching programs, corporate workshops and luxury retreats, which can cost up to $12,000 a person.
   "If the Dow kept hitting a new high each month, I would have been so busy with deals that I would haven't had time or perspective," Loder says. "I'm so grateful that the economy slowed down the way it did. That triggered my boredom, which made me realize how unhappy I was."
   Derek Kennedy spent the recession repeating the same message: stay the course.
   The Tennessee financial adviser didn't have clients wake him in the middle of the night worried about their retirement. Instead, he offered plenty of proactive messages telling them to stick to their investment plan.
   He'd start each phone call with a joke to break the tension.
   "Just checking in," he'd say. "Have you been glued to CNBC? Are you chewing ice cubes?"
   The he'd follow up with a somewhat reassuring point: when designing a retirement plan, they had planned for this. Well, not this exact meltdown, but something similar. While stocks were plunging, other parts of the portfolio -- most notably Treasury notes -- were showing a nice return and helping to lessen the overall loss.
   "Stay cool. Times of market volatility are times of opportunity for well-constructed, well diversified and properly allocated investment portfolios," he told clients in an email March 15, 2011.
   Two year before that, he had a similar message: stay the course.
   Sound familiar?
   "There really is no reasonable alternative than to remain patient," he wrote in 2009. "It is often hard not to be seduced into playing musical chairs with Wall Street, out of a desire to take at least some kind of action. Just remember, people are losing their chairs every day in these volatile markets."
   He also noted for younger clients that the low stock prices of 2008 and 2009 will be history's equivalent of a "blue light special at Kmart." So buy while you can at the discounted prices.
   Today, his clients are mostly whole again, but that doesn't mean they are complacent.
   "They feel like it could all change on a dime again," Kennedy says. "They feel like it's only one economic or political event from being 2008 all over again."
   His message -- as it's always been -- is to stay the course.
   Mike Hall was working as a technology manager at a utility company in 2006. He was 57, had enough savings and decided to retire early.
   Instead of collecting a monthly pension check, he decided to take a lump sum payout. He liked the idea that if he died unexpectedly, the money would pass on to his wife or daughter. He invested the money in stocks because the market was booming.
   The Dow kept climbing.
   "I was thinking: Things are going well. I made all the right moves. I was very secure," Hall says.
   That euphoria didn't last long. The market's ascent quickly turned into a tumultuous tumble. Suddenly the decision to retire early, paired with liquidating his pension, didn't seem the best thing to do.
   "My first thought: I can't believe it. I worked 33 years, I retired and six months later, boom, there it goes," Hall says. "I was convinced I had made two very bad choices."
   At the market's low point, Hall's nest egg had lost 40 percent of its value.
   Luckily, Hall and his wife had other sources of income and didn't need their savings immediately. She ran her own small business. He had already taken an entry-level job with the Department of Motor Vehicles to keep busy and get out of their Nevada home.
   He never thought about selling.
   "That's locking in your losses," Hall says. "You need to step back from your emotions."
   Hall knew the problem wasn't his portfolio, but deeper economic issues and  -- at some point -- the economy would recover.
   Today, his portfolio is back to where it was at retirement.
   "This isn't rocket science. This is basic, basic long-term investing," Hall says. "It's pretty boring stuff, but it really does work."
   Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at
   AP-WF-03-05-13 2205GMT

Posted 5:17 AM EST on March 05, 2013

AP-CA--5th NewsMinute,221
Here is the latest California news from The Associated Press
   CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Californians may be paying the highest gasoline taxes in the nation when a 3 1/2-cents-per-gallon increase kicks in this summer. The state Board of Equalization has voted to hike the excise tax to 39.5 cents per gallon. The excise tax is levied on gasoline suppliers but it's often passed on to consumers.
   RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) -- Southern California firefighters have made significant progress against remnants of a wildfire that damaged a home and cut power to about 2,000 residents in Riverside County. A fire department spokesman says flames died down overnight but there are still hotspots and there is concern about winds picking up.
   LOS ANGELES (AP) -- California Gov. Jerry Brown has denied parole for a former Charles Manson follower who has served more than 40 years in prison. Brown told The Associated Press today he has refused to approve the release of 70-year-old Bruce Davis, who a month earlier was found suitable for parole by a state board.
   SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- A federal judge in California is erasing nearly half of the $1 billion in damages that a jury decided Samsung Electronics should pay Apple in a high-profile trial over the smartphone and tablet computer patents.  U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh lowered the damages awarded to Apple by over $450 million.
   AP-WF-03-01-13 2206GMT

Posted 5:24 AM EST on March 01, 2013

Rebel Apple investor tries to rally Street
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AP Technology Writer
   NEW YORK (AP) -- A Wall Street maverick who wants Apple to share more of its wealth with investors took his case to other shareholders Thursday, urging them to send management a message by voting against a company proposal at the upcoming annual meeting.
   David Einhorn, founder of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, laid out his case for "iPrefs," a class of dividend-bearing preferred stock he wants the company to issue as a way of committing to use its massive profits for the benefit of shareholders.
   Apple hands only a small amount of its profits to shareholders. The rest of the money goes in the bank, where Apple's cash hoard amounted to $137 billion at the end of last year.
   Einhorn introduced his plan two weeks ago. Apple responded, saying it would consider the proposal.
   AP-WF-02-21-13 2121GMT

Posted 4:25 AM EST on February 21, 2013




Posted 2:02 AM EST on January 03, 2013

Recall of 55,455 Britax convertible car seats
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government is alerting consumers to a safety recall announced by Britax Child Safety Inc., involving 55,455 convertible car seats sold in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Britax, of Charlotte, N.C., has received reports of children biting and gagging on pieces of the HUGS pads connected to the seat's harness straps. The recall involves models Boulevard 70-G3, Advocate 70-G3, and Pavilion 70-G3 manufactured from June 2012 through August 2012. To address the issue, Britax is providing consumers with a kit containing more durable replacement pads that can be installed on the harness straps.  Owners of affected car seats are encouraged to remove the HUGS pad until a replacement pad is received. For more information contact Britax Child Safety, Inc., at (888) 427-4829 or at
   AP-WF-11-09-12 2256GMT

Posted 6:14 PM EST on November 12, 2012

Last Update on April 15, 2014 17:50 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the housing market is a bit better right now but remains relatively low for the third straight month, reflecting the impact of tight credit for home buyers and a shortage of workers and land.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index for April has edged up to 47 from 46 in March.

Readings below 50 mean builders view sales conditions as poor. The index had been above 50 from June through January. But builders recently have complained that they can't find enough workers or lots.

Builders expect sales to improve over the spring and summer. The index measuring their confidence in home sales over the next six months rose to 57, highest since January.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lower U.S. gasoline prices kept consumer inflation in check last month, helping offset higher costs for food and clothing.

The Labor Department says the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in March, after scant 0.1 percent increases the previous two months. Prices have risen just 1.5 percent year over year. That remains well below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target for inflation.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices increased 0.2 percent in March and 1.7 percent in the past year.

Prices at the gas pump tumbled 1.7 percent in March, lowering costs for the entire energy category.

But food prices jumped 0.4 percent, led by increases in eggs, milk, butter, oranges, pork chops, ground beef and poultry. Prices for clothing, used cars and cable television also rose.


J&J profit up 8 percent on sales jump; Coca-Cola profit dips, but more drinks sold

UNDATED (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson says its first-quarter profit rose 8 percent.

The world's biggest maker of health care products easily beat Wall Street expectations and raised its earnings outlook. J&J's report credits restrained costs and a big jump in prescription drug sales for its gains. Its stock is up more than 1 percent.

Coca-Cola says its first-quarter profit fell nearly 8 percent despite selling more drinks worldwide.

Soda sales actually fell for the first time in a decade, but the drop was offset by stronger sales of non-carbonated drinks, such as juice. Still, a stronger dollar hurt profits.

Excluding one-time items, Coca-Cola's net income totaled 44 cents per share, matching Wall Street expectations. Coca-Cola shares are up more than 3 percent.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

The new regulations are designed to clean the air of toxins such as mercury, lead and arsenic, which contribute to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.

In its ruling, the court rejected state and industry challenges to the rules. Industry groups argue it would cost billions of dollars annually to comply with the new rules and the EPA overstates their benefits.

When the rules were brought forward three years ago, there were no limits on how much mercury or other toxic pollutants could be released from a power plant's smokestacks.

The EPA calls the decision "a victory for public health and the environment," adding that the new standards will "prevent heart and asthma attacks" and slash emissions that can impair children's ability to learn.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A high-tech screening tool for cervical cancer is facing pushback from more than a dozen patient groups, who warn that the genetic test could displace a simpler, cheaper and more established mainstay of women's health: the Pap smear.

The new test comes from Roche and uses DNA to detect the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which that causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. While such technology has been available for years, Roche now wants the FDA to approve its test as a first-choice option for cervical cancer screening, bypassing the decades-old Pap smear.

But a number of women's groups warn that moving to a DNA-only testing model would be a "radical shift" in medical practice that could lead to confusion, higher costs and overtreatment in some women.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says recent initiatives by the Fed and other regulators to help banks make it through periods of financial stress are important, but they may still need to be strengthened.

Yellen believes current rules governing how much capital banks must hold in case of losses do not address all threats. She said that the Federal Reserve staff is actively considering what additional measures may be needed.

Bank regulators need to focus on this area, Yellen says, since bank runs generated at shaky firms were the primary engine that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

Yellen's comments Tuesday came in an address delivered by video to a financial markets conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve's regional bank in Atlanta.


BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union Parliament has completed the biggest overhaul of the bloc's financial system since the introduction of the euro currency.

Lawmakers in Strasbourg today passed laws aimed at minimizing the risk and cost posed by failing banks. They signed off on the establishment of a European authority to unwind or restructure failing banks as well as new rules designed to prevent any further bailouts with taxpayer money.

The EU Parliament also passed legislation that protects all deposits of up to 100,000 euros ($138,000) in case of bank failures across the 28-nation bloc.

The EU Commissioner in charge of financial market reform says the new rules "put an end to the era of massive bailouts and ensure taxpayers will no longer foot the bill when banks face difficulties."

During the global financial crisis, European governments pumped more than $800 billion into ailing banks.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A public employees union is fighting a bipartisan effort in Congress to force the Internal Revenue Service to hire private contractors to collect some delinquent taxes.

The IRS stopped using private tax collectors in 2009 after determining that agency employees could do a better job.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill two weeks ago that included an amendment requiring the IRS to revive the program. The amendment was offered by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. It was accepted without opposition.

The amendment was attached to a bill that extends several dozen tax breaks that expired at the start of the year.

The National Treasury Employees Union said the program failed in the past and should not be forced on the IRS.

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