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Market Commentary - Page 3

As 2014 winds down, investors don’t seem to have much faith in the trends they are seeing in the market. Yesterday’s good news is open to reinterpretation as bad news today, even though the news itself hasn’t changed.

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Admit it: You smile every time you pull up into a gas station these days, and for good reason — you know it’s going to cost you less to fill up than last time.

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It’s been a busy few weeks for Japan’s government and its long-running but as-yet-unsuccessful effort to get its economy moving forward again.

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No doubt, 2014 has been a good year for municipal bond investors. Through the first 10 months of the year, the Barclays Municipal Bond Index is up 8.3%. Among major asset groups, that return trails only the Standard & Poor’s 500 index of large-cap stocks.

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In just a few months, oil has plunged roughly 25%, with Tuesday’s closing price of just over $77 for a barrel of West Texas crude marking its lowest level in more than three years. Gasoline at the pump is going for less than $3 a gallon in much of the country. For U.S. businesses and consumers, oil’s freefall amounts to an economic windfall.

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