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Biz bits

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2003

U.S. stocks will surge by more than 25 percent in the first half of 2003, predicts Morgan Stanley's Byron Wien. Watch for the nation's economy to grow by 4 percent this year, as consumers "hold their own and capital spending rebounds," he says. But beware: Wien missed on a few predictions for 2002. He misfired on many of his political prophecies, including the resignations of Alan Greenspan and Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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Kiplinger's Letter predictions for the New Year include a 10 percent gain for the stock market. Institutional investors will lead the way, while stiffer SEC oversight and tighter accounting regs will coax individuals back to the market.

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S&P's PowerPicks 2003 Portfolio offers equity researchers' choices for stocks that are posed for growth. The heaviest S&P sector represented are financial, information technology and health care stocks. The stock pickers also like some stocks that depend on consumers' discretionary spending. For instance, P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc., a Nasdaq stock, was cited for its "exceptional growth opportunities." Read other picks on BusinessWeek.com.

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Morningstar.com named Bank One chief Jamie Dimon CEO of the year for his ability to make tough calls and improve shareholder value. Some of his changes were pretty basic, such as using one computer system instead of different systems at each branches.

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Half of Internet users have made a travel purchase online, and a third have banked online, explaining the 14 percent decline in the number of checks processed by the Federal Reserve between 1995 and 2000.

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Dudley's Dog Bakery in Fort Myers offers birthday parties for your pampered pooch. The bakery's most popular birthday cake is peanut butter. The cakes are shaped like bones or fire hydrants. Owner Vickie Bettes says one of her customers spent close to $500 on a dog's party.

-- Compiled from Web sites and Times wires.

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