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At $10 a share, it’s a plunge into the risk pool (access required)

The stock market has had a phenomenal rise of more than 40 percent in the past 30 months. Unfortunately, none of my annuities or mutual funds or my good stocks – e.g., Microsoft, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Emerson Electric, General Electric, General Dynamics, Cisco and Procter & Gamble – has done as well, though my dividend income has increased. How much longer do you think the market will continue upward? Last year, you recommended some risky dividend stocks, and I bought all of them because they looked good and had nice dividend yield. On average, they are up 45 percent. I have $43,000 of speculative money remaining and want your recommendation of some cheap issues – about $10 a share – that might have some appreciation. I'd like to buy 1,000 shares of each. My broker at UBS recommended several issues, but his cheap-stock recommendations have failed in the past. What would you recommend?

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Ignore the cliche`s; focus on the stocks (access required)

I had $66,000 to speculate with. Last year, my neighbor introduced me to his son in another city who specializes in trading stocks. Now I have $47,000 left to speculate with. I know you seldom recommend trading stocks, but could you recommend about six speculative stocks that also have dividends? I'd like to buy a few hundred shares of each and also get income. I won't hold you to your recommendations. – KH, Wilmington, N.C.

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Is there a really good mechanic in the galaxy? (access required)

Four years ago, I lost my job, and because I used your "100-Plus Ben Franklin Savings Ideas," we were able to keep our household spending in order. That was a lifesaver. Thanks to you, it was simple. Why can't the government discipline its spending as we did and get its house back in order?

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Seek annuity assurances, or sock cash into stocks (access required)

I'm a 74-year-old widow with an $87,000 certificate of deposit coming due next week. I visited two brokers. Each wants me to buy a variable annuity, and both sounded very good. I've enclosed my notes and the pamphlets and prospectuses in this envelope. What do you think? If you don't care for them, please recommend five or six stocks paying at least 5 percent that a gal like me could comfortably live with. I can afford moderate risks.

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