The Dow Jones Industrials closed Tuesday down almost 300 points. And there were dropping at the close. What's going on here? Should you be worried? If so, how much?
Answers: Hard to say, about what's going on. Stocks are a gamblers game, always have been, always will be. Trying to figure out the market is a guessing game.
Among analyses of the past few days, including this one, are these: Worries that the nation's overall economy may - may - be slowing. Fears that Asia's financial crisis, especially in Japan - a bulwark of the world's economy - may hit the U.S. economy harder.
Fears that deflation, a general decline in price levels, may sweep the world, partly as a result of what's happening in Asia and Russia. Also, corporate profits generally have declined some in this country.
And then there are the worries about the investigation of President Clinton and where all of that may be headed.
Should you be worried: Yes. At least a little. For the year, the market remains up. It has been drifting, some would say sliding in recent days. The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain very strong. Unemployment is low, interest rates are low, inflation is low.
That's why some people believe now is a good time to buy stocks. But, there is legitimate question about how long this can last. The market reflects that question.
So, how much should you be worried about your own stocks, your mutual funds, your pension fund and so forth? Well, at least some. For the medium to long run, so the preponderance of Wall Street thinking goes, stock market investments continue to be promising. For the short run: Muddled outlook. Caution advised. Special caution for the short run.
In a new sign of a possibly slowing economy, a closely watched barometer of America's manufacturing health was announced as having slipped for the second straight month, and American's incomes showed the smallest increase in three and a half years.
You may want to know that it has been a very successful three and a half years. And a slowing still leaves the figure in at reasonably healthy shape.
Many guesses, which are all anyone has, go along this line: The U.S. will experience neither booming growth nor outright recession in coming months. More likely a slow but steady economic growth.
Overall guesses are: the U.S. economy remains healthy.
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