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@theMarket: S&P 500 Enjoys Best Quarter Since 2009
By Bill Schmick,
06:56PM / Friday, March 30, 2012
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It was a quarter to write home about. All three indexes made substantial gains but the S&P 500 Index had a great quarter and its best start of the year since 1998. Will it continue?

In the short term the answer is a definite maybe. If you put a gun to my head, however, I would bet that sometime in the second quarter we will have a correction. In April, if history is any guide, we usually see the peak in stock market performance. As the month progresses, investors begin to "sell in May and go away."

Monday, the markets received its latest shot of adrenaline when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured investors that the easy money we have become addicted to is still

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The Independent Investor: Hire a Veteran
By Bill Schmick,
06:21PM / Friday, March 30, 2012
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Over 2.2 million of our men and women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today 7.6 percent of them are looking for jobs. Hiring them should be a no-brainer for this country's employers.

Don't get me wrong, things have improved for returning Gulf War era veterans over the last two years. In 2010, their unemployment rate was 11.6 percent and spiked to 12.1 percent in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fortunately, the economy has improved since then and both the public and private sectors have pitched in to aid our returning vets in their job search.

However, more needs to be done. Although 1.9 million of these ex-soldiers hold private-sector jobs today, another 90,000

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@theMarket: Markets Mark Time
By Bill Schmick,
12:03PM / Saturday, March 24, 2012
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Questions concerning China and its economic future kept the market's exuberance in check this week. Given that China is key to most global growth forecasts, any hint of a slowing of the Chinese economic engine is taken seriously. This week we received a bit of bad news.

Over the last seven years, Chinese government central planners have established a stated economic growth rate for China's economy of 8 percent. This week, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao set a growth target for his nation's economy at 7.5 percent for 2012, which is half a percent lower than targeted.

At the same time, government forecasters in Australia indicated that iron ore exports may decline by as much as 8.5 percent

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The Independent Investor: Stubble and Scruff
By Bill Schmick,
08:36PM / Wednesday, March 21, 2012
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Facial hair is back in a big way among men. That is nothing new, but the time, effort and expense of looking so scruffy might surprise you.

Back in the day, you were either clean shaven or grew a beard. During the Hippie Era, it was all long hair and beards, which sent many a barber to the poor house. Hair length gradually shortened, beards and moustaches were trimmed and barbers breathed a sigh of relief. Over a decade ago, American men grew older and fatter. To add insult to injury, their hair started to thin as well. The fashion industry quickly came to the rescue and convinced the nation that bald was beautiful.

I, for one, embraced the idea and quickly learned to shave my own

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The Independent Investor: Clients Last? Welcome to Wall Street
By Bill Schmick,
04:26PM / Thursday, March 15, 2012
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Sam Rogers, head of trading: "And you're selling something that you 'know' has no value."
John Tuld, CEO: "We are selling to willing buyers at the current market price."
John Tuld: "So that we may survive."

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