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Stock Market Barometers

October 20, 1998

Fundamental and technical indicators of the market's health

Key indexes vs. their 200-day moving averages:

A stock index's 200-day moving average indicates the basic trend, up or down. It is generally bullish if the index stays above the average.

S&P 500 (blue-chip stocks), Friday: 1,056.02

200-day moving average, Friday: 1,056.42


Russell 2,000 index (smaller stocks), Friday: 342.88

200-day moving average, Friday:432.80


Price-to-earnings ratio of Standard & Poor's 500: 23.27*

Based on operating earnings per share, 12 months ended June 30;

average since 1923: 13.5


Dividend yield of the Standard & Poor's 500: 1.54%

Average dividend yield of blue-chip stocks; avg. since 1923: 4.5%


Weekly new highs vs. new lows on the NYSE: 93/403

Data for the week ended Friday. More highs indicate a bullish trend.


Investment newsletter sentiment:

Stocks' near-term trend as predicted by 135 independent investment newsletters, weekly survey by Investors Intelligence. The data are often viewed as a contrarian indicator: A rising percentage of bulls can signal a topping market.

Oct. 9

Bullish: 38.5%

Bearish: 42.7

Correction: 18.8



Bullish: 41.0%

Bearish: 41.9

Correction: 17.1


Put-call ratio: 0.55

The ratio of stock put options to call options traded last week on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Ironically, a low put-call ratio--under 0.40--can be construed as bearish because it indicates a high level of optimism, leaving a lot of room for disappointment.

* Now calculated based on operating earnings, which exclude one-time charges--so P/E is lower than if actual earnings were used.

Source: A.G. Edwards & Sons. More information can be found at on the World Wide Web.

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